Deep (fatbike) Thoughts

The above vid is the entire Facebook post. Its the only way I could figure out how to embed it. Im sure planned that way by the Facebook crew…

Anyhoo… its  neg 13 here this morn. Just have to hunker down and wait it out. While Im still a guy who likes winter it seem as I get older I have lower tolerance to the really cold stuff. Going to be a pretty slow day in the store. But I do have a few people coming in to get their ski’s waxed for the Birkie this weekend.

I have a few sets in the store also. For the Birkie I wait until the Thursday before to set the wax temp. The people who bring their ski here to wax are not the full on race people, they do their own, but the “normal” people who love to do the race. And while they might not be as focused for the win as others, I still want to give them a good wax so their experience is good. I’ll be going with a green wax, number 4 for the colder side of things. I think. Im hearing 13 degrees at race time but the people I wax for tend to start in the later waves. So Im on the fence of bumping that up… will see.

Ive never been to the Birkie ski race but I would love to be there for that someday. I will. however, be there for the fatbike Birkie in two weeks. I cant wait to hit the famous ski trail on my bike. And then all the new stuff CAMBA is grooming in the woods too.

Lets talk a bit about the groomed fatbike trail. Which ties in to the vid above.

While these bikes are kinda evolving toward a all year bike they really do exist for snow. And while riding a well rode in trail at your local MTB trail system is fun, nothing compares to a machine groomed, rock hard, smooth as glass snow trail. Its like skate skiing but you’re on a bike, in the woods, in deep snow in winter.

All the same reasons I like skiing comes with this riding. You’re in the middle of the woods in winter, on a 3 foot wide trail that is super fast, with deep snow on both sides of you measured in feet, not inches. At times you just have to look around as it just does not seem you should be here.

Look at the Birkie trail we will be on in two weeks. Its super wide to accommodate the thousands of skiers this weekend. Like 30 yards wide. Concrete hard. This is some of the same trail used in summers Fat Tire 40 (a MTB race) only its faster than summer. Smoother. No rocks and such. As fast as you can peddle. 30+ mph downhills thru the woods on a bike in winter is surreal.

And then there’s the narrower bike specific trails. Still groomed by a roller (made in Wisconsin!) like in the vid above. Super fun and tighter than a skate ski trail.

I was just thinking about how far this fat bike thing has grown since I picked it up in 2008. Heck, in the last two years the amount of groomed trail has tripled each year. Imagine where it will be in 5 years! Here in Wisconsin we have some real pioneers in the groomed bike trail. Maybe kinda spoiled in that respect. But soon they will be everywhere and instead of a summer trip to Moab I would save that money to hit up some snow trail out west.

I had the biggest tires and rims once…

I think overall this stuff will be what people will buy fatbikes for. While there will always be that 100mil rim, 5in tire expedition bike, I think keeping things on a 80mil rim(or less) and 3.8in rubber will be the majority.

If riding these type of groomed trail will be your focus, as it will be mine, you just don’t need a huge tire with a ton of float and super deep knobby tire. And speaking about a trail in good condition.

Did you see what Ned Overend did at the Fat Bike Nats last week? Almost completely shaved off  the center off his Specialized tire.

When asked about tires pressure he said run as much as you can and still hold the corners. What??  Thats not fatbike philosophy. Ned doesn’t even have a beard. How can he race a fatbike without a beard??  Look at second place Travis Brown. Now thats a fatbiker. I bet he had less than 4 pounds in his tire like a true fatbiker should, right?


Take a quick look at this pic of me at last years Birkie (foto cred to Gary) not on 4.8 Dillingers but 3.8 Knards. Not on 100mil rims, or 80’s or 65’s for that matter but 47 mil Northpaws. Not at 4 psi or 8, but 15.

Now before all you Moonlander or Ice Cream Truck owners or any other 100 mil rim riders fire back that Im a complete idiot let me say this. Last year when I was riding that skinny wheel\tire I did have issues with lack of float. At times. Maybe twice out of 30 rides a wider footprint would have helped or saved my ride. There were also times where the fattest tire in the world would not help me and I dont count those days….

But more times than not I held my own on the skinnys, and had a blast ripping it up on the groomed trails. And the thinner, racer tire combo just works better on the way I like to ride a fatbike the most. And the way I like to ride a fatbike the most will sky rocket in mileage in the next few years. With complete trail systems pondering fat bikes side by side with skiers has me pumped to ride every one of them. And maybe ski the same trail the same day!

What a awesome winter day that would be!

Bottom line is ride whatever bike makes you happy. Thats what I do and if thats what you do then it’s the right bike for you. Regardless of wheel width or tire. We all have our personal preference and I just told you mine. There is no wrong answer. We all win.


Wa da ya think?

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