It's fat biking season

fat bike in sun

By Jen Masa

I think I may have gotten a few strange looks in my apartment complex a few weeks ago while strapping my bike onto my car rack. In the middle of winter. After a few inches of snow had fallen.

But to me, this is the perfect time to ride my fat bike!

With huge, knobby tires that are typically four inches wide, fat bikes have been gaining popularity for their versatility. You can ride them like mountain bikes, conquering many obstacles -- even if it's snowy.

Whether you are a mountain biker looking to ride through the winter or an outdoor enthusiast wanting to try something new, consider fat biking! You won't be able to wipe the smile off your face.

Trying a fat bike

If you want to rent or demo a fat bike, events like the Saratoga Fat Bike Rally on February 10 in Saratoga Spa State Park -- organized by a small group of fat bikers Grey Ghost Bike Shop -- are a great opportunity to do so. Rentals will be available for demo from Grey Ghost Bicycles, but make sure to call ahead to reserve a bike.

Bearpen Mountain Sports near Windham also rents fat bikes for about $15 per day. And with access to groomed trails, this would be a fun snow day activity if you are looking to try fat biking.

I was first introduced to fat biking at the Winter Bike festival at Kingdom Trails in the Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, the mountain biking mecca of the Northeast. It has beautiful trails with a scenic backdrop and it's a magical place to try fat biking. Kingdom Trails is about a four-hour drive from the Capital Region, but it's my absolute favorite place to ride for a weekend.

fat bike closeup

Buying a fat bike

If you're looking to purchase your own fat bike, whether it's an addition to your bike collection or your first bike, local shops like CK Cycles on Central Ave have some to offer. They sell Salsa, one of the most popular fat bike brands.

You can also purchase kits online from websites like Framed. I got a Minnesota 2.0 last year, which we ordered online and then built ourselves, saving some money.

If you're looking to purchase a mountain bike but don't know where to start, a fat bike can be an excellent choice since it is so versatile.

Capital Region places to fat bike

There are many places in the Capital Region to fat bike -- any place you can mountain bike!

+ The trails at Gurney Lane Mountain Bike Park in Queensbury, Luther Forest in Malta, and the North Bethlehem Park are specific to mountain biking, so they are great for fat biking. These trails feature a lot of obstacles, most of which have a ride-around if you aren't feeling that adventurous. They are fast, flowy, and a lot of fun to ride while also being good for beginners.

+ Thacher State Park's trails are multi-use, so it's likely the trails will have been packed down from snowshoers and cross-country skiers, which helps make them good fat biking trails. There are a lot of trails to ride there, from fun single track to easier double track, the latter being great for beginners.

It's good to check ahead for trail conditions. Apps such as Trail Hub include updates, and can help you know when to stay off trails that are muddy, wet, or slushy. (Riding during these conditions can leave huge ruts that can cause trail damage.)

Local social media groups like 518 Fat Bikes are another way to find trail conditions.

fat bike outerwear Jen Masa

Staying warm

If you're heading out to ride in the winter, dressing appropriately is a must! Layers are key -- if you get too warm, you can shed a layer. Check out my blog post about what to wear fat biking in winter for some helpful tips. A few specifics here:

+ A balaclava or face mask (like you'd wear skiing) is great because it keeps your face warm. I like the fleece-lined Buff because it can be pulled up and worn around your ears and head under your helmet.

+ Hands and feet have a tendency to get extremely cold when riding, so hand warmers are a great idea, too. Just stick them inside your gloves and boots to keep your hands and feet toasty warm during the ride.

Also, for longer rides, it's important to bring a pack with water (in an insulated bottle to prevent freezing), a granola bar or two, along with a spare inner tube, hand pump, and a multi-tool.

Jen is a dietitian who blogs about her outdoor adventures at Cairns & Carrots.

Comments

gee thanks. talk about something that really trashes the skiing. us skiers have enough problems getting a season nowadays ...then we have the snow condition trashed by these bikes

Great to see fat biking getting some more recognition in the 518.

Article clarification: The Saratoga Fat Bike Rally is organized by local riders Jim Adams, Shawne Camp, Aaron Girard and Tony Ferradino, and not GGB.

The Saratoga Fat Bike Rally is organized, founded and paid for by Jim Adams, Shawne Camp, Aaron Girard, and Anthony Ferradino. It is not put on by Grey Ghost Cycles in Glens Falls. They are a participating sponsor who provides rental bikes for our rally, in addition to being great friends of ours.
Great article though. Nice to see fat bikes getting the love, more and more, every year.
Hope tomsee you there!
Tone

You might want to mention a bit about types of bikes and cost. Fatties can range from $400 to $3-4,000. Shoes, clothing, helmets, other protective wear, gear and bike parts can be expensive (new studded tires run about $250 each!).

Def a FUN sport, but try a bunch before you commit.

@Anthony, Jesse: Thank you for mentioning that. It's been corrected above.

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