You Should Be Riding a Fat Bike This Winter. Here's Why

Written by Alison Littlefield, on November 16, 2022

Winter is about breaking out the skis and hanging up the bike right? Well not in our opinion. Of course, it is great to head to the backcountry, ride those lifts and skate on that track. But have you thought about riding a fat bike? If not, you should.

Most likely if you are reading this, you are already a cyclist. But few actually consider a fat bike. Even the most dedicated cyclists sometimes reply with ¨well, why would I need one?”

Why Fat Biking 2022 Contender Bicycles - Trail Ride 1

Ask almost any cyclist if they've ever ridden a bike on snow, and even if they're in a snowy place, the answer is almost always, "no." They're missing out. It might surprise you just how fun and unique of an experience you'll have on a bike. It certainly beats the alternative of slogging it out on the trainer or freezing trying to ride on the road.

What Are The Benefits of Riding a Fat Bike?

Early season is a good opportunity to get out on the snow and it does not need to be on a dedicated fat bike. Try riding the snow-packed trails on your mountain bike when not much snow has accumulated but the temperatures are low enough to keep the ground frozen. You will have an all-new experience out on the trails.

No, riding a bike on snow is not just like riding the trails. On snow, your handling and techniques have to be refined for the conditions simply because of how little grip there is. As such, riding a fat bike is all about finesse. Grabbing too much brake or pedaling squares will lead to trouble instantly.  Balance is key to keeping the tires planted on the ground and the bike moving forward. It’s a fun challenge to ride on snow providing a very unique experience.

Once more snow falls, riding a dedicated fat bike becomes the ideal setup on the trail due to how the bike floats over snow. Riding such wide tires means you have a large contact surface with the trail. And we mean large: most fat bike tires are in the 4-inch to 5-inch range. That width, paired with very, very low tire pressure - we are talking 2 to 7 psi compared to 18 to 25 psi on a mountain bike - results in floatation over snow. This floatation allows you to roll over the snow when otherwise it would be impassable on a normal mountain bike.

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For some folks like myself, riding a fat bike has become a great addition to my other winter activities. I still love to get out on the touring skis or suffer on the skate track. For others like my husband Ryan, it has become their sport of choice over the winter. For years, I have tried to get him to break out his skate skis that started gathering dust as soon as he started riding a fat bike. Whenever I mention going skate skiing, I get the same responses time and again ¨Why would I ski when I can ride my fat bike?¨

Want to get started on riding out in the snow, fat bike or otherwise? Here are our go-to products to get started to having fun out on the snow.

What Do I Need To Ride a Fat Bike?

otso fat bikes at contender bicycles

Otso Voytek

The right tool for the job will always make what you're doing more enjoyable. The Otso Voytek is one of our favorite fat bikes, because not only does it thrive on the snow, but its trail geometry means it feels good riding it with 29er wheels in the summer. 

Few fat bikes boast that level of versatility but the Voytek does so while being one of the lightest fat bikes around. Shop Otso Fat Bikes

Otso Arctodus

The Otso Arctodus is the fat bike of our dreams. Tons of mounts for bags, racks, and accessories with a ride feel that optimizes for long distances and loads of exploration. There's all kinds of adjustability with the Arcotdus as well. 

Otso's Tuning Chip allows riders to change bottom bracket height and wheelbase simultaneously, but its angle-adjusting headset offers five angles and all manner of ways to make the Arctodus best for an all-day ride. Shop Otso Fat Bikes

favorite gear for fat biking contender bicycles

Giro Blaze Shoes

Numb toes might make you feel a bit cold toward your new fat bike purchase, but Giro Blaze Shoes solve that conundrum. These shoes are our go-to for winter rides as they keep moisture and wind chill out better than a standard shoe cover. And the best part? The Blaze shoes are lightweight, making each pedal stroke just a bit easier. Shop Giro Blaze Shoes

Bar Mitts

Worried about keeping your hands warm on the coldest days? Bar Mitts put an end to that. These burly, winter-ready pogies essentially create an insulated den around your shifters and brakes. Bar Mitts keep your shifting and braking precise with slimmer gloves while blocking out the wind chill that might freeze your fingers. They're so warm that some of us use these glove-free. They certainly look a bit ungainly, but these handlebar pogies are our go-to fat biking accessory when temperatures drop below freezing. Shop Bar Mitts

Words by Alison LIttlefield. Images by Carter Hall.


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