Fat Bikes—-The Next BIG Thing ?????

I just bought a Salsa Mukluk 3 “fatbike” and will give a bit of a report on it.
First, a “fatbike” or “snow bike” is a bike with very thick tires (26” by 3.8”) which is designed to travel through soft stuff such as sand, mud or snow. The tires, whose inflation you can set anywhere from 3 psi to 30 psi depending on conditions, cause the bike literally to float over these surfaces and to feel very balanced and stable. Right now, my tires are at about 25 psi.
With apologies to local bike shops, I purchased my bike in Grand Forks, N.D. and the day after buying it there was 15-20 cm of fresh snow in Grand Forks. Very convenient. I took it out for a 2 hour ride and was absolutely thrilled with its performance. I rode it around G.F. on unplowed streets averaging 16 km/h and felt no fear of slipping . When I ride my mountain bike in ice and snow, I’m always fearful of slipping and have had a couple of wipeouts, despite studded tires. The tires on the fatbike are not studded but have good tread. I took the bike out for another 2 hour ride one day later, also in snowy and icy conditions, and found it performed even better—I averaged 17.2 km/h, despite strong winds.
Comparing the fat bike to my mountain bike by weight—-my mountain bike weighs 34 pounds (might be lighter without the mud) and the new bike weighs 40.6 pounds with a light rear rack I installed. On gravel rds. In winter, I average between 19 to 22 km/h on 2-3 hour rides on my mountain bike, so thus far the average on the fatbike may be 2-3 km/h slower. The fatbike feels very comfortable and stable to ride and seems to roll along quite easily. In terms of geometry, the fatbike has a larger wheelbase (i.e. it is longer than the mtn. bike) and its frame is lower to the ground, causing a lower centre of gravity, hence the stability. The bottom bracket is about 3 inches lower than the one on my mountain bike.
Talk about timing, on the way home from Grand Forks, driving along Hwy #205, just east of St. Pierre, I came across Pete and Robert , who were out on a training ride with their mountain bikes. I stopped and we had a little chat—-hopefully, they didn’t get too chilled.
If you want to see the exact bike I bought, go to http://www.salsacycles.com/bikes/mukluk_3/

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About jim

Semi retired, semi literate, a bit reclusive, but enjoy the company of the MIT cyclists-----> a great cross section of personalities, professions, ages, interests. We all share this strange obsession with the elegant, efficient, wonderful little machine called the bicycle.

10 thoughts on “Fat Bikes—-The Next BIG Thing ?????

  1. I thought I would only need two more bikes, Jim. Now it looks like I’ll have to add a snow bike to the cyclocross bike and full suspension mountain bike. Bad news for someone who has already blown most of the bike budget.

  2. Same here Merle, I’m back to obsessive internet browsing of all things “fat bike”. I thought I had dismissed the idea of an MTB in favour of a cross bike because of all the great cross events that are now happening around here. But now along comes the fat bike and the possibility of using it year round, which is really intriguing. I’m particularly interested in the 9:ZERO:7, which is designed by a group from Chain Reaction Cycles in Anchorage, Alaska. I think that with our soil conditions in the Sandilands and of course our long winters, the fat bike may be a very good design for this region. I also love the idea that roadies should ride bikes in the “off season” that seem like the total antithesis of the road bike – good on you Jim! I shall now start to incessantly work the “…but Rita let Jim get one” line on Noreen.

  3. What am I going to do? I need a new full suspension mtn. bike, a new road bike, and now a fat bike?!! RJ, does that line really work? Never has for me. Woe is me! I’ll have to unretire! OMG!

  4. Like Shorty, the first time I heard the term Fat Bike i thought it fit me, “fat guy on bike”! Butt, no it is a bike. I did have a brief romance with the fat bike earlier this year when I was reviewing how best to ride to work in Blumenort year round. This last fall in Fargo before the Headwaters ride I briefly fondled a Surly Puglsey. Now having reviewed comments from Jim and RJ regarding the fat bikes I will review my own marketing campaign on the home front. So is this a passing fad or next big thing in biking?

  5. Nice work Pete! Interesting frame design. I thought for sure you’d have the only fat bent in existence, but then I found this http://lightfootcycles.com/products-overview/bike-models-overview/ranger/bigfoot-recumbent-off-road-bicycle/ . There is no end to cycling innovation – which is as it should be! I think maybe Clearspring Colony needs to tap into their resident bike builder and think about going production… I could just visualize the “Buffalo” fat bike designed and built Manitoba Hutterites!

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