Biking Canada

Fat What? Fat Bike!

Biking in the winter?

With snow?

Sounds a bit torturous to me, like biking through a sand dune. At least if you fall off, the landing will be soft!

These were just a few of the thoughts running through my head when my boyfriend K first told me his intentions to purchase a fat bike in order to pursue his love affair with mountain biking, all year long.

Fat biking is new and fast growing sport in the Ottawa area. Fat bikes are basically regular mountain bikes with a modified frame and large forks to accommodate the larger than usual tires. The bike tires tend to be 3″ or bigger and run on low tire pressure. Usually there is no suspension built into the frame, like most mountain bikes have, and this low tire pressure gives you some suspension to make the ride smoother. Fat bikes are designed to be ridden on terrain that a normal mountain bike would have difficulty with, such as snow and sand, though they can be ridden on regular trails as well. The wider tires allow for more traction which  is what makes them more versatile than your average bike.

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Recently I rented a fat bike for a day so I could join K on the trails and see what all the fuss is about. As the occasional mountain biker I was curious to see how the two bikes compare.

We had the perfect weather for our day on the trails. Although fat bikes are designed to be ridden on snow, they do much better on a trail that’s already packed down. The second you go off the trail, the nose of the bike dives into the deep snow and you stall out, much like you would if you tried biking on a sand dune.

I was concerned about slipping and sliding all over the place  but with a wider tire, my bike gripped very well to the snowy trails, something I didn’t expect.

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More flowy than a summer mountain bike trail, I found the fat bikes to be more playful and smooth on the snow. Though having to stay on the narrow, packed down trail was more of a challenge than staying on a wider, mountain biking trail.

Overall, I had a blast riding my fat bike through the winter forest! It was yet another great way to stay active in the outdoors during the cold winter months and allowed me to practice my mountain biking skills during the off season. If you have the chance, give it a try!

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