Fat Bike Friday: A Rebuttal

Finding a Fat Bike Flow

Finding a Fat Bike Flow

Fat Bike Fans are F’ing nuts…they got more good crazy than cargo bikers do, who in the years before fat was popular, were THE craziest. After the Wired Feature, where I pondered the point of them, Fat Bike fans came out of the woodwork, lighting up the switchboards and emailing me. And here’s my bike industry marketing tip for 2013: create a product suited to them, Kickstart the shit out of it, whatever. Strike while the fat iron is hot, cause they’ve got more fever for the flavor than a 29r zealot or that guy still arguing the best frame material in builder’s forums. I know their crazy cause I bore the brunt of it for a week.

Of all the conversations I had in back channels about the Fat Bike story, I’m sharing Guitar Ted’s chat with me here.

Well, you raise some points that found me nodding my head in agreement, but you also seem to have some feelings that I find contrary to the experience of riding in conditions that are otherwise unrideable with “ordinary mountain bikes.”

You seem annoyed by the slow, mind numbing pace of the riding, the high focus on handling, and some technicalities with components. I ask you- would you rather be riding rollers/trainers? For many, that is the only other option at times.

I also find that the high focus on handling actually pays dividends when I do get back on my “typical mtb” in the regular season. In this sense, I get a benefit, albeit not an immediate one. The bikes are heavier- this makes me stronger when I ride my other bikes. The bikes have technical challenges now- but as you point out, with refinement, you will see those overcome. Grip Shift is the bomb on a fat bike with thicker gloves.

The slower paced riding is actually peaceful, and not unlike what one might experience while hiking- only you are riding a bicycle. I am not holden to the belief that speed “has to be” a part of an enjoyable cycling experience, but many are. I get that, but I don’t think everyone is this way.

Furthermore, I have witnessed first hand how many first time off roaders are tickled to death to find such a stable beast, which a fat bike is, which slows down the need to react to inputs, and is giving them traction for days in corners and on climbs. In this sense, it opens the off road doors to folks who are otherwise terrified of many of the mountain bikes you specifically call out in your piece. The “ATV” of mtb vs the “Honda 250 motocrosser”, if you will.

That said- yes- they could be better, and I think companies like On One, who developed their fat bike with trail riding in mind, are on the right track. It also is interesting to note that J&B Importers, who have the house brand, “Origin 8” are coming out with a fat bike exactly as you have envisioned, (albeit heavy), by the way of the introduction of the Nuvinci 360 hubbed “Crawler”, available in April.

I feel a front suspended, 3”-3.8” tired, fat bike with trail geometry would be the best representation of a bike that would bring a different flavor to mountain biking. I feel there is potential there. (Check out the Belgian brand, Sandman, for where I think this is going) Anyway, I think there is much potential for a larger audience for these bikes, that isn’t the “typical” 5 inch travel mtb freak of today.

Agreed Ted and it was great fun to ride those. As I wrote, “the experience made me ponder the point of these bikes, and the questions those building them must answer if snow biking is to catch on.” It’s great to see the discussion and that much enthusiasm for a bike category. Also a bike in the shop that mechanics are into, sells with a healthy margin, and catches people’s eyes. The only bike I’ve ridden that people react to with such wonderment of “what is that!” are folders, like Tern or Brompton.

Now I want a fat bike with folding bikes attached to it that deploy like shuttles off a mothership!

Postholing it

When you dab in snow biking, your foot keeps going and going. At least the landing is soft – @thequeenofpain

For those riding them daily and commuting, the women in the first photo above, after we were done riding, rode her Fatback to a backcountry rescue. She’s an EMT that rides year ‘round. I also rode with Reba.

Single Track

Single Track in the Snow

Not sure yet what the follow up Fat Bike story is, but it’s being talked about now and maybe a return to Sun Valley for more single track in the Summer. I want to see those wolves again. Also for a F you and the fat bike you rode in on story, see the response from the Alaska Dispatch.



2 Comments

A good follow-up story would be folks riding them on sandy roads and beaches impassible on 2-inch tires. Half the guys riding MTBs in Florida are talking about fat bikes.

@alan Yes! And we’ve got beaches/coastline here, as well as a bike we can borrow that’ll fit Mark V.

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