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Should I buy a fat bike?

Old 08-28-18, 10:56 AM
  #1  
salcedo
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Should I buy a fat bike?

Hi guys. I've been living in the northeast for almost a decade now, and I've been "car free" for about 5 years. We do have a var but it's my wife's car and I rarely use it.

Last year I moved to a new city in Ontario and I discovered that they only plow the main avenues here. On residential areas you have to wait for the melt to snow. Bike lanes and bike paths are even worse because they get covered with the snow plowed from the road. This means I have to commute sharing arterial roads with cars when the road is snowy and slippery and that seems a bit irresponsible.

I thought maybe I could buy a fat bike and ride on the sidewalks. But I don't know anything about fat bikes. So, I was hoping you can help me with some questions.

Would I be able to ride if there is, say about 1 feet of snow on the road?

The city is pretty flat. Do I need a bike with gears, or do you think one of those cheap fixie mountain bikes that you can only find in Walmart will do?

What should I look for on a fat bike?

Thanks!
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Old 08-28-18, 11:29 AM
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good luck with your quest!

https://www.bikeforums.net/fatbikes/
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Old 08-28-18, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by salcedo View Post
Would I be able to ride if there is, say about 1 feet of snow on the road?
Even fat bikes limit out at between 6"-12" of freshly fallen snow depending on weather (some snow is hard to get through than other snow). Here in Minnesota fat bike seem to handle about 98% of bad weather conditions, but not the other 2%.

Originally Posted by salcedo View Post
The city is pretty flat. Do I need a bike with gears, or do you think one of those cheap fixie mountain bikes that you can only find in Walmart will do?
You would definitely want a bike with gears. The situation you're describing is pretty much why gears exist. Trying battle both the fluffy snow and also a lack of gearing would make an already difficult situation much harder.
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Old 08-29-18, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
Even fat bikes limit out at between 6"-12" of freshly fallen snow depending on weather (some snow is hard to get through than other snow). Here in Minnesota fat bike seem to handle about 98% of bad weather conditions, but not the other 2%.



You would definitely want a bike with gears. The situation you're describing is pretty much why gears exist. Trying battle both the fluffy snow and also a lack of gearing would make an already difficult situation much harder.
thanks!

I wish I had bought them at the end of last year season when they had huge discounts

the reason son why I wanted a fixed gear is because I hate cleaning my bike during winter
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Old 08-31-18, 08:25 AM
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We have a pair of fatties here, and we love them. My wife bought her 4" fat tire years ago. I just picked up a more modern 5" beast last year. Since we ride mostly for recreation and excercise I don't mind the extra work (really not much harder to ride than my slightly older mountain bike) and prefer to ride the fatty. Nothing puts a smile on my face faster than the sound of those tires flying.

However, I could not imagine riding this regularly in deep snow. It is a killer workout. Groomed trails are a blast and you are way more stable for sure.
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Old 09-01-18, 11:27 AM
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I would look into some studded tires. I ran a set of Gravdals last winter. 38 mm wide, some knobs to help with hardpack snow, and some studs for the ice. I was pretty happy w/them.
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Old 09-01-18, 12:09 PM
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I think a fat bike is great for recreational riding along off road trails but it's an overkill for commuting on city streets...Personally I prefer using a fixed gear bike with narrow studded tires.
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Old 09-02-18, 05:56 PM
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Everyone has their own preferences, of course. To my mind, a fat bike with studded tires is the ultimate winter bike for extreme conditions. As someone pointed out, snow conditions beyond a certain depth are not rideable even with a fat bike.

My ideal winter setup is a fat bike with studded tires for snow and ice, and a hybrid or hardtail mt bike with either studded tires or just agressive winter tires for relatively clear pavement conditions.
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Old 09-02-18, 06:27 PM
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2018 Snowstorm
I don't know how you did last year, but we had snowmageddon last season around the 1st of January and that pretty much killed my bike riding. I had been commuting till December 20th and took two weeks off for Christmas. I was riding with just a old Schwinn Mesa (MTB) and I would slip when I hit ice but otherwise it was ok. This year I bought some Schwalbe Marathon Winter Tyre - RaceGuard so I will have to see how those work this year. I too wonder if a fat bike would be better, but it is way more affordable to put studs on a 26 inch tire MTB.

Last edited by baldilocks; 09-02-18 at 06:36 PM.
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Old 09-05-18, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
I would look into some studded tires. I ran a set of Gravdals last winter. 38 mm wide, some knobs to help with hardpack snow, and some studs for the ice. I was pretty happy w/them.
I don't think my bike fits 38s. The bigger I can go is probably 35mm. Last season I had 28mm tires, and they were fine most of winter, but on really snowy parts of town I had to dismount and walk.
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Old 09-05-18, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I think a fat bike is great for recreational riding along off road trails but it's an overkill for commuting on city streets...Personally I prefer using a fixed gear bike with narrow studded tires.
I've never tried studded tires, but I've heard they work great with ice but not so great with snow.

I did buy a pair of 35mm studded tires last year, but they were delivered three months after I ordered them and it was almost spring by then. Maybe I'll try them out this year,

My problem is that when there are 4 inches (10cm) of snow or more on the road riding feels very unstable. I've fallen a few times riding not eh snow, nothing serious.
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Old 09-05-18, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by salcedo View Post
I've never tried studded tires, but I've heard they work great with ice but not so great with snow.
I can vouch for that. Studs are for ice. For snow, you want widely-spaced tread blocks. The wide spacing helps prevent snow from packing into the tread. Also important but not often thought about is the rubber compound. Good winter tires will be made of a rubber compound that remains soft and pliable in cold conditions in order to conform to the road surface and provide traction.
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Old 09-16-18, 09:07 PM
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I was in your shoes a few years ago. I commute daily about 7-10 miles and began to get worried that my road bike wouldn't make it once the snow came down because they don't plow the paths here.

This is what I learned about fat biking:
  • It's a lot of fun
  • It's exhausting in snow, and more exhausting in general compared to my road bike
  • It's very slow compared to a road bike
Those last points are the key. I tried the fat bike a few times after moderate snowfalls and it was just too much for my commute.

Instead, I got a set of 700x35 Schwalbe Marathon Winters for my road bike and never looked back. The studs allow me to grip ice as if it's not even there, and the thin tires cut through the snow down to more solid ground. There's definitely some super sketchy fishtailing sometimes, but it is manageable.

On days where we get a lot of snow I just take the bus or work from home if it's really bad.
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Old 09-22-18, 08:00 AM
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Wife and I bought a pair of Motobecane Boris fatties a couple years ago. Too much work for a pleasurable ride in snow. That said, I'd like to explore something like a Pugsly with 29er wheels and a set of studded tires next.
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Old 09-22-18, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
I'd like to explore something like a Pugsly with 29er wheels and a set of studded tires next.
saw some studded 29er tires at REI recently. $130 ea. but that does sound like fun
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Old 09-23-18, 04:03 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
saw some studded 29er tires at REI recently. $130 ea. but that does sound like fun
Also, a fender setup that allows a lot of clearance would be nice. Here in New England we have those days where its slushy an yet freezing. I tried to ride my rain bike last year and the wet sticky snow started collecting so much under the fenders that it was an almost-solid icecake when I got back home. I'll have to figure this one out.
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Old 09-23-18, 06:50 AM
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I was thinking about a fatbike as well, and so far Iím holding off. I really donít want another bike. Below is what Iíve kind of decided...

My gravel/bikepacking rig has 27.5x2.1 tires. I may buy tires with more aggressive, wider spaced knobs just for winter though. I donít commute; it would be for riding those same gravel roads after itís snowed, and the snow has been compacted somewhat. Studs would be nice for the odd ice patch, but as I wonít be doing this often I think I just need tires as mentioned above.
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Old 09-23-18, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
the wet sticky snow started collecting so much under the fenders that it was an almost-solid icecake when I got back home. I'll have to figure this one out.
I know exactly what you're talking about. for those conditions I've considering carrying a Cobra Plastic Drain Stick because it is flexible & long & I think I could stick it between the fenders & tires to dislodge some of the accumulation periodically. just a theory, never tried
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Old 09-23-18, 07:27 PM
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this guy has a unique solution
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Old 09-26-18, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
this guy has a unique solution
Thats pretty cool.
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Old 09-26-18, 07:50 AM
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OP, what does everyone else ride to work? Check out a LBS and see what sells the best. MA guy here. I find a 35-40 mm studded tires for a road/hybrid type bike works well and say a 2" studded tire for a mt bike works good too.
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Old 10-07-18, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by danthemanohhyea View Post
I was in your shoes a few years ago. I commute daily about 7-10 miles and began to get worried that my road bike wouldn't make it once the snow came down because they don't plow the paths here.

This is what I learned about fat biking:
  • It's a lot of fun
  • It's exhausting in snow, and more exhausting in general compared to my road bike
  • It's very slow compared to a road bike
Those last points are the key. I tried the fat bike a few times after moderate snowfalls and it was just too much for my commute.

Instead, I got a set of 700x35 Schwalbe Marathon Winters for my road bike and never looked back. The studs allow me to grip ice as if it's not even there, and the thin tires cut through the snow down to more solid ground. There's definitely some super sketchy fishtailing sometimes, but it is manageable.

On days where we get a lot of snow I just take the bus or work from home if it's really bad.

Thanks, this is useful. I will try the 35mm studded tires first.
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Old 11-10-18, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by salcedo View Post
Would I be able to ride if there is, say about 1 feet of snow on the road?
If there's 1 feet of snow why not cross country ski? Wouldn't that be better, and give your body a different kind of workout vs what you're used to?
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Old 11-10-18, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by RowdyTI View Post
If there's 1 feet of snow why not cross country ski? Wouldn't that be better, and give your body a different kind of workout vs what you're used to?
I've never tried it. I guess I could learn. But I need the fat bike to get to work, and to buy groceries, and to run errands, I'm not sure I woudl be able to do all those things on skis.
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Old 11-10-18, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by salcedo View Post
But I need the fat bike to get to work, and to buy groceries, and to run errands,
You can do all those things on a regular mountain bike or a hybrid with studded tires. Fat bike is too much work to be used as daily transportation.
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