I purchased a Salsa Mukluk this summer after a ton of deliberation on what fat tire bike I wanted and what I wanted to accomplish on it. Denver has received a ton of snow this winter, providing an awesome opportunity to finally get the bike in the snow. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a fat bike in the snow and have picked up a few tips that might be useful to a few of you out there who are new to the game.
Some things to ponder as a new guy to riding in the snow:
1. It’s hard, but incredibly fun: I made the unrealistic assumption that because my bike tires were now 3.7 inches wide, that I would just float over all the snow, no matter how deep or fluffy it was. This assumption is INCORRECT. While the tires do perform better than normal mountain bikes tires, it’s still very difficult to ride in deep ungroomed snow. The speed at which you travel tends to be slower, making balancing more difficult and the inevitable fall all the more frustrating.
2. Warm, waterproof boots are essential: I’m currently using flat pedals on my fatbike during the winter vs clipless pedals. I do this for multiple reasons, two of them being the ability to keep my feet warmer in real boots instead of bike shoes with booties over them and the speed I can get off the bike when the slow fall happens because of deep snow. The extra time it would take to unclip while riding in the snow is not worth the risk of ending up face down in the snow.
3. Fenders on the bike will drastically reduce the amount of cold water, mud and snow that get sprayed up your backside: I’m normally not a fender kind of guy on my bikes, but with a fatbike and winter riding this is a mandatory upgrade! A fender on the back, and preferably on the downtube or front tire will mitigate SOME of the mud, grime and water that ends up in your teeth because you are smiling so much. There is no reason to stop smiling, just add fenders.
4. Bar Mitts are wonderful: I purchased a pair of Bar Mitts and can’t imagine living without them! The warmth they provide is very welcome on days that are super cold. I wear a light pair of gloves in them and can stay warm on the coldest of rides. The Bar Mitts keep the wind and cold out and the heat in, perfect for a nice ride in the snow.
I’m REALLY enjoying my fatbike this winter. It’s provided me a new avenue to cycle in the cold and a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the beautiful mountains. Fatbikes are no longer just for the summer!