Attack of the Fat Bikes!

3:36 PM

The Surly Moonlander

They have come like a plague (…of locusts or unicorns, depending on which side you fall to) and taken over winter mountain biking – the Fat Bikes are here to stay whether you like it or not.

The Salsa Mukluk

I’m not against fat bikes, per say.  I am for anything that gets people off their couches and on to the trail, particularly in the bitter cold of a Minnesota winter.  And these bikes, with their balloon tires, massive frames, and funky names like Moonlander, Mukluk, and Pugsley, have gotten a whole bunch of people out in the snow.  As a skinny bike rider (so strange – according to local parlance, my 2.1s count as “skinny”) I appreciate how the fat bikes tamp down freshly fallen snow on the trails and make them rideable for those of us without the extra cash for a 9 Zero 7.
The Surly Pugsley

I’ve ridden a fat bike, and it was fun.  It is a little like riding a big wheel – remember rolling down the sidewalk when you were a kid and that huge wheel was out front leading the way?  Yeah, it’s like that.  It was really bouncy, and incredibly forgiving if you went off your line into the snow.  That is why, even if I did have an extra $1,500 to $2,000 burning a hole in my pocket, I wouldn’t invest in one of these.  My goal for my winter mountain bike training is to work on my strength and handling skills – the margin for error on the fat bike is so wide that it wouldn’t push me enough.  My “skinny” 2.1s are going to do a much better job of keeping me honest and increasing my power.
The 9 Zero 7 Nome

I am happy for the new fat bikers out there, and am glad that they have an increasing number of winter races to choose from (they even had a fat bike CX race one weekend last fall).  My only fear is that we are quickly turning into a fat bike only world around here.  The local trail association posts updates for trail conditions that increasingly have the words “fat bikes only” in them.  Now, I’m sure most of the riders are posting with good intentions – just trying to warn those of us on “skinnies” when soft conditions would only lead to a slog of a ride – but I also don’t want people to get the idea that the only way to experience winter mountain biking is on a fat bike…remember, there was winter mountain biking before the Surlys came along.

…and then, shhhh, I have to admit to the other reason why I don't want to buy a fat bike.  They’re…ugly…  Sorry, they just violate my aesthetics of what a beautiful bike should be – sleek, built for speed, lithe and nimble – the exact opposite of the crude and clumsy fat bike…

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