Five Essentials for Your Next Fat Bike Ride
We are entering the grasp of winter in Salt Lake City and Park City, but biting cold temperatures, minimal daylight, and snowed-out trails don't mean riding is over. There are plenty of places to enjoy a good fat bike ride - Round Valley and East Canyon to name a few - which means that having the appropriate gear is essential.
A good ride on the fat bike is defined by how prepared you are for varied temperatures and terrain. We have come up with a list of five essentials you need for your next fat bike ride. We cannot promise that this is everything one might want for their next ride, but these five essentials will make your next ride all the more fun.
Riding in cold temperatures usually means riding with a high quality winter glove. Thick gloves, such as the Giro Cascade Winter Glove, do wonders to keep your digits warm but you lose a lot of finger feel and dexterity. Installing the mitts on your fat bike allows a thinner glove to be useful without being over-matched by the cold for better brake and shift lever feel. They're durable and keep your hands warm and dexterous. What else could you want?
Enter the 45NRTH Draugenklaw Drop Bar Pogies. 45NRTH has been making pogies for the biting cold of Minnesota winters. They keep your hands surprisingly warm, with no loss of finger dexterity. A Quality Skull Cap
Those who ride fat bikes and have a skiing background may prefer a ski helmet, but finding a balaclava or skull cap the top of your head warm when your heart rates are high. Even the thinnest skull caps work remarkably well in how they keep out wind chill.
Photographed below is the Pearl Izumi Barrier Skull Cap. We dig it for its minimalist profile, good heat management, and resistance to wind and rain. A spot in the back to fit a ponytail is what we'd call attention to detail. Snow-Ready Shoes
Extremities are the first things to get cold when riding in the snow (or in cold weather in general). Good shoe covers work well under plenty of circumstances; waterproofed and insulated hiking shoes also work in a pinch. But the longer you're out riding, and the more off-bike hiking you do as a result, the more a pair of dedicated shoes is a must-have.
Well-insulated cycling shoes provide the warmth, water resistance, and durability of a shoe designed for the snow, but having the option for clipless pedals allows for better bike control and improved pedaling efficiency. Additionally, a good snow-ready shoe has a tight cuff up top; anything less than tight makes the shoe almost worthless whenever you're stepping in deep snow.
Pictured are Lake's MX2303 shoes, though we are partial to the Giro Blaze Winter Shoe. This shoe features a waterproof GORE-TEX liner, a fleece lining for additional insulation, Michelin rubber sole for plenty of grip, a neoprene gaiter. A Low-Pressure Tire Gauge
Proper tire pressure is critical for a bike to not only roll quickly but find the right balance between traction and control. Unfortunately for fat bike riders, a quick 'squeeze of the tire' test doesn't tell the full truth to get the most out of your fat bike tires. This is the same for a typical floor pump gauge, which measures air pressure inside of the pump rather than the tire, and tend to be inaccurate at fat bike tire pressures. A separate low-pressure gauge delivers the accuracy to dial in tire pressure in the 2-8 PSI range, where accuracy is more important than just about any tire width. We dig the Blackburn Honest Digital Pressure Gauge. It's small and light enough to bring with you on your next ride, has a backlit display that is easily readable in the dark, and promises tire pressure readings within 1% accuracy. An Insulated Jacket
A good jacket is a no brainer; how else are you going to stay warm? For around our parts, a good insulated cycling jacket with a range of thermal layers is plenty for most rides. You might also consider a packable rain jacket or windbreaker for cutting through cold air as well. None of these need to be cycling-specific, particularly at the low speeds that one rides a fat bike, but cycling-specific jackets and layers are cut to make riding the bike as easy as possible.
The Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier Jacket and the Contender/Giordana Women's Fusion Long Sleeve are excellent winter options. While slightly different in function, both of the aforementioned apparel items will keep you warm so you can focus on riding. With men's and women's versions, these items enable you to ride farther and deeper into cold temperatures. Bonus Pick: An Insulated Water Bottle
Winter cyclists are subject to many challenges, but being surrounded by snow and cold weather means your water bottles tend to acclimate to the temperatures they're in. Riding for a few hours in the cold is not an issue, but keeping your liquids at a reasonable temperature might be. Using an insulated water bottle keeps liquid temperatures steady. And while there are myriad ways of keeping liquid temperatures in check, an insulated water bottle can be used on all of your bikes.
The Camelbak Podium Chill insulated water bottle is an easy choice. Insulation is a requirement here, but we like Camelbak's leak-proof valve that keeps water in when you want it and spits it out as quickly as you drink. It also uses a valve that's easier to clean than ever so there are no excuses for a gross water bottle. What are your essentials? Leave a comment below with your thoughts on how we did and what we missed. Contact us any time during business hours or send us an email any time to email@example.com.
Photos courtesy of Chris Taylor.