Hi Folks - I'm primarily a road rider and my wife & I both have a Cannondale Synapse. I recently upgraded to a carbon model. These are 'endurance/plush' road bikes. They have clearance for a 25-28 tire. I don't trust taking my first Carbon bike out into the Michigan winter this year, but I'm already starting to dread the snow coming.. in August.
I've been contemplating getting a bike for winter once I have the road bikes put up (I know I have a few months still), but am a bit unsure of which route I should take. I would prefer to keep the cost of the winter bike low so that I don't have to feel bad banging it up, as well as leaving more budget to get accessories, more appropriate clothes, etc. as needed.
Liking the road most at heart, I'd imagine I won't be doing much 'off roading' with this bike, but the roads here do get slushy, icy, or otherwise cruddy during the worst of the season. That being said, I'm in Grand Rapids and it's quite bike-friendly. If I turn out to love the bike, though, I wouldn't mind using it for camping trips or unpaved trail riding even during my 'road season'. Cost is still a priority.
Should I get an inexpensive Fat Bike (relative; I know they're practically inverse of eachother), or an inexpensive 29er and put on the widest tires she'll take? It seems I could do the 29er cheaper, but I don't want it to be less than ideal or high-maintenance either.
Opinions are highly appreciated, even if it's just telling me to HTFU and get a 2,000 Surly or Put some studs in and ride my carbon road through 2 feet of snow. If more details are needed let me know!