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So I went and got a fat bike...

and of course I'm in love with it! But now that I actually have one for myself and not just a demo/rental, I've got some questions:

  • Imagine my shock when to my hand the tire felt about as firm as my 30psi skinnies then I threw on the pump and found it was only 10psi!! I know running 5psi or even lower can be common in winter and you adjust it a lot depending on snow conditions, but what is a typical pressure for summer hardpack dirt/pavement?
  • My tires are custom studdable, which I'll do at some point, but is there any downside to running studs when it's just snow and no ice? What about dirt? I can figure at least on pavement it probably causes excess wear to studs and pavement both, but not sure about the other surfaces.
  • Any tips on tubeless? Is there any recommended sealant that does well/better in low temps? Here in MN I'd say single digits on both sides of 0 °F is common, with the absolute coldest of days in the negative teens.
  • Anything else to recommend?

Looking forward to hitting that snow when it comes in a few months!

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Re: So I went and got a fat bike...

@TomV 

Yes!!!! I love it! Congrats on your new bike! What kind of fat tire bike did you get? I've been riding my new Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1 that I got last week and it's awesome!

To your questions:

  • Right around 10 psi is pretty solid for rolling on hardpack. I tend to keep it around there in the summer as it gives a little cushion on bumps but mostly keeps the tires firm on pavement. I've run mine up to 15+ psi if I know I'm not going to be dealing with too many bumps. The name of the game with a fat tire bike is not to be afraid to adjust your air pressure, it's so critical to dialing in your ride and has an incredible impact on the feel of the bike on different terrain. It's a bit more work (there is a lot of room for air in there!) but totally worth it. You'll get very familiar with your pump with your new bike...
  • I ran studs in the winter and non-studded in the summer. Once we had ice and snow on the ground I had the studs on. The downside to adding that traction to your tires is that it adds some rolling resistance to your tire in conditions that can already be challenging. I'm a recreational, cross-country, bike-packing style rider so the loss of efficiency was acceptable to me for the gain in traction. If I were racing or concerned with speed I would definitely remove them. Having them on also adds to wear and tear on the studs and tires. I also recognize that I was riding in Fairbanks, AK so once the roads iced up and the snow fell I knew I wouldn't see the pavement for 7 months. If conditions are more variable and you'll be on pavement some of the time you might want to think about swapping them out. 
  • The prevailing wisdom with the folks I rode with was Stan's No Tubes. It can be a challenging and long process to get right, but you would be amazed at how low of a pressure you can ride when you go tubeless! I never made the transition myself, mainly because of a lack of time and skill, however I would like to do it in the future. The weight savings is pretty negligible, but being able to run at a super low pressure and get max flotation is great. Also if you ride areas where there is a chance for a lot of punctures (i.e. the Baha Divide and such) then it's a must.
  • I would also consider some pogies for the winter. My hands tend to run pretty warm, but your legs get all the action on a bike so anything else to help keep them warm is a huge advantage. I also really like that I can wear a thin liner glove (REI Co-op Power Wool Gloves were my go to) inside the pogies. It protects my hands when I have to remove them from the pogies, but also allows the dexterity I like when shifting and braking. I used the Revelate Designs Expedition Pogies, but I'll probably go with something lighter weight moving forward. They're super warm!
  • I would also recommend using a ski or snowboard helmet for winter riding. I messed around with a lot of different combinations of hats, balaclavas, and neck gaiters in order to really dial in what I was wearing on my head. The ski helmet finally worked best as it comes with some insulation, sometimes have vents you can change out, and typically covers your ears. Also, they're really easy to use with goggles for when the snow is falling!

Hopefully this helps, let us know if you have more questions!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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Re: So I went and got a fat bike...

It’s this beauty of a Salsa Beargrease!A0DDD2C9-3AE5-4394-A941-427F316F62D3.jpeg

I’ve got plans to accessorize it with oil slick parts (pedals and bottle cage otw already) so that the white+rainbow is reminiscent of fresh snow in the sun. Because we all know that a stylish bike is a faster bike... 😉

While this is my first fat, I have ridden my other bikes in winter for a short 3 mile commute and reached much the same solutions. Agree that ski helmet with optional Buff/gaiter is the way to go, and pogies are also in my plans already, definitely felt that dexterity loss with thick gloves.

Now there’s just the “danger” that my wife will want her own winter ride! (Which would actually be great but 💸💸💸)

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Re: So I went and got a fat bike...

@TomV 

She is a beauty! Do you name your bikes? My first fat tire bike was an olive green Cannondale Fat Caad 2 named 'Frank the Tank'. My new Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1 is an awesome orange color so I named him 'Tigger'. 

#fatbikeproblems: when you get a cool new fat tire bike and everyone in your family wants one too! If your wife does want her own, I encourage you to check out the DRT 4.1 as it is a great value for a fat tire bike.

Thanks for sharing and let's bring on the snow!!!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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Re: So I went and got a fat bike...

Closest we've come to naming them is by color: "Red" or "Blue" but not e.g. "the red bike", still use them as proper nouns. Maybe I'll have to think about it because "White" doesn't have the same feel to it...

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Re: So I went and got a fat bike...

Reviving this thread for a little update, I just finished going tubeless, not to mention lots of other upgrades/customizations like a dropper.

I ended up going with Orange Seal Subzero for the tubeless sealant, we'll see how it holds up, but so far the tires are holding well. The Mulefüt rims have a really tight bead seat, kind of a pain in the butt to get the tire on and off, but it's a good thing once it is on there. Air and sealant start to leak out around 15 psi, but I doubt I'll ever be riding that pumped up anyways; 10 psi and under they're seeming all good. I also put some reflective conspicuity tape on the inside of the rim strip, both for the white accent in daytime, but a little extra visibility for night as well (compare some of the first pictures to the last couple). It's all the little things that add up to really make it feel like my bike.

Also some praise for Salsa here: the frame actually has sleeves molded in as part of the frame design, so internally routing the dropper cable and swapping the shift housing was an absolute breeze, just push it through no special tools/magnets/fishing wires.

Slick pedals and bottle cageSlick pedals and bottle cageNew Ergon oil slick grips, PNW dropper, and color pop on the cablesNew Ergon oil slick grips, PNW dropper, and color pop on the cablesOut on the trailsOut on the trailsWheels after tubeless, holding well even before sealant addedWheels after tubeless, holding well even before sealant addedNukeproof slick valves and conspicuity tapingNukeproof slick valves and conspicuity tapingNukeproof Sam Hill saddle on the wayNukeproof Sam Hill saddle on the way

It has been a blast riding it around so far, just needs the snow now...

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