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Winter Is Here: Bring Out The Fat-Bikes!

  • By Eszter Horanyi
  • Published Dec. 6, 2011
  • Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 4:52 PM EDT
Speedway Cycles’ Fatback. Photo: Eszter Horanyi

Optimizing normal bikes for snow

If snow biking sounds like a good time, but the thought of another bike in the garage is prohibitory, most mountain bikes can be made snow worthy.

Rigid forks on hard tails are generally advised as suspension tends to fail at very low temperatures and snow is a smooth enough ride to render suspension useless.

Most modern day frames can accommodate 3-inch tires that will float on firm snow conditions.

The key to being able to ride effectively on snow is to be able to ride low tire pressure. Since there are no sharp rocks to hit on a snow covered road or Nordic trail, pinch flatting is rare, and while tubeless is a viable option for many snow-bike rides, sealant tends to fail at extremely low temperatures, rendering many tubeless systems ineffectual for some locations in the winter.

Like 29′ers a decade ago, fat-bikes are gaining popularity at a rate where mainstream bike manufacturers will eventually have to take notice.

Winter recreational centers will also be forced to consider bikes, so watch for Nordic centers to start catering to fat-bikes in order to increase their user-base. If they build it, riders will come.

Check out more suggestions for how to prepare for winter riding. 


Eszter Horanyi lives and mountain bikes in Crested Butte, CO.  She has dabbled in road racing, cyclocross racing, and cross country mountain bike racing, but has gravitated towards ultra endurance and multi day self supported racing in the more recent past.  She firmly believes that nothing tops a good ride with good friends on good trails, thus she spends her life in search of all of the above. All articles by Eszter.

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