Come Explore Minnesota’s Winter City on a Fat Bike!
When a person thinks of biking, you often think of summertime and sunshine while enjoying a nice ride along a paved bike trail. However, what do you do when those paved trails are covered in ice or snow? Well, you grab your fat bike of course!
People have been riding bikes since the early 1800’s. Up until recently, most of those bikes have had tires that, by today’s standards, have been fairly narrow allowing them to only be ridden on paved paths or harder surfaces. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that the “mountain biking” really started to gain traction. Mountain bikes were a subset of bikes that had a bit wider tire that allowed them to traverse a wider variety of terrain due to the tires being wider and having a bit more aggressive tread. Mountain biking became very popular in 1980’s and was added as an official Olympic sport in 1996. This then got the world’s attention It has continued to become more and more popular to this day.
Advancements in technologies tend to keep things moving in certain direction and bikes are no different. Ever since the inventions of bikes, people have been pushing the boundaries of where they could take them. It only made sense that bikes would eventually end up on the snow packed trails. Fat bikes, as we call them today, were yet another subset of bikes that came to be right around the same time as the mountain bike actually. Once people discovered that a wider tire allowed them to ride across softer and uneven terrain with more ease, they started putting two tires on side by side. Eventually, a wider rim was introduced with a specially made wider tire and fat biking was born.
While it has slowly been growing in popularity, fat biking as of recently has started to become front and center of the biking industry. There are now dozens of manufacturers of fat bikes. While fat bikes have typically been more expensive due to their unique capabilities, the price is slowly coming down due to the increase of companies building them and joining in the fat bike market. A typical fat bike ranges from $1000 up to $7000 plus depending on frame material and componentry. However, as of recently you can find them as low as $500 for entry level models. Some companies are now starting to come out with electric fat bikes even! While there has been some controversy over the use of electric bikes, they too are gaining in popularity.
Fat bikes are typically considered aby bike with a tire size of 4+ inches in width and get as wide as 5 inches. These wider tires offer distinct advantages over bikes with a standard size tire. Particularly on softer terrain such as sand and snow. When it comes to bike tires, the narrower the tire the higher the pressure that is required to ride on them. Road bikes typically run pressures of 80+. Whereas mountain bikes typically run pressures of 30+. With the wider tire of the fat bike, it allows to run pressure as low as 5psi in some cases! This of course varies with terrain and rider size and preference. This extremely low tire pressure allows the tire to flatten out and disperse the weight distribution amongst a larger area therefor allowing the bike to ride on top of the softer surface rather than sinking into it. This is what makes fat bikes such a great choice for winter riding!
Fat bikes are not only for winter riding, however. They can be ridden year-round in all sorts of terrain. This is one of the reasons they are slowly becoming the bike of choice for people who enjoy riding throughout all four seasons. Here in the north country where we typically see snow covered ground for 5 months out of the year it is an ideal bike that can keep you riding year-round. With the snow-covered ground comes ice, and for that reason, tire manufacturers are now offering studded tires to keep you from sliding around. You can buy tires pre-studded or buy kits and stud the tires yourself to keep cost down. While the process of studding a fat tire is a bit time consuming it can save you some money. Unfortunately, the average cost up front of a typical fat bike is considerably higher than the standard road or mountain bike and has slowed the growth of the sport of fat biking. However, the prices are slowly coming down as the sport gains in popularity and more and more manufacturers are entering the fat biking arena.
To reduce the cost of getting into fat biking, many businesses are now renting fat bikes year-round to allow people to get outside and experience the benefits of a fat bike and get that winter riding experience if they so choose. There are many businesses that offer free courses in learning to ride a fat bike as well. Riding in the wintertime brings a whole new experience to biking. But fat bikes are not just limited to wintertime. Fat bikes can be ridden year-round and can be a great way to introduce someone to biking as they offer a bit more stability due to the wider tire. The larger tire also offers a smoother ride with the lower air pressure and allows the use to ride over smaller obstacles typically encountered off trail with a bit more stability and ease.
If you happen to find yourself here in Roseau, Minnesota’s Winter City, and you’re looking to explore all the bike trails the area has to offer, stop by Riverview Outdoors & Recreation, and rent yourself a fat bike for the day and get outside and explore the unique landscape! ROAR (Riverview Outdoors & Recreation) is hosting Roseau’s first annual Frosty Flannel Fat Bike race on February 25th, 2023. This event is a great way to see what fat biking is all about and get any questions answered that you may have about fat biking. Event details can be found online at https://runsignup.com/Race/MN/Roseau/FrostyFlannelInternationalFatBikeRace or on the events page at www.riverviewoutdoors.com.
Wherever you’re located I would highly recommend reaching out to your local dealer and giving a fat bike a try. But be warned, you may just find that you want to trade that old bike in and get yourself a fat bike if you do!