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  • The 4 Season Fat Bike

    Preston 143 No one likes to have an expensive single purpose bike that collects dust for most of the year in the corner of their garage or basement. But by simply changing out your tires or wheel set, this is a very simple and cost effective way to continue to use that fat bike in a more energy efficient way. Fat Bikes are truly four season, all conditions, any terrain, get you there with a big grin on your face mountain bikes. Transforming your fat bike for the warm weather months is a great way to get more use out of the fat bike you love, all year round. Many of us have studded winter tires or very aggressive 5 inch large knobby tires on our fat bikes for the cold and snowy winter months, however just like you would change tires on your car or truck at the end of the seasons, besides performance switching tires is also great for preserving your precious and expensive winter tires for the season they were designed for.Preston 175 Back in 2009 to fund my first titanium Fat bike I was forced to take a leap of faith and sell all my high end 26 inch full suspension bikes and put all my eggs in one (fat bike) basket. I eased into the transition of owning just one single bike by building up two wheel sets, one fat wheelset 26 x 70mm Speedway rims with Endomorph and Larry tires and installing a Carbon Fatback fork for winter. For my warm season setup I build a set of 29 x 21mm Stans rims with 2.4 inch Schwalbe Racing Ralph’s and installed a Fox F29 suspension fork with 100mm travel. I used this summer setup to compete in many races including endurance marathons, 8 and 24 hr races and a 100 miler. For two years I raced with this setup sometimes experimenting with installing the rigid carbon fork and fat wheel on the front on the bike. The “half fat” setup worked very well for a few reasons as it was slightly lighter than the suspension fork setup and it also provided loads of cornering traction that fat bikes are so famous for, providing the perfect race bike that I could setup just the way I wanted and really “become one” with the bike, by riding it exclusively all year round, swapping rear tires on occasion if I felt conditions warranted it. Fast forward to 2016, we really have many great options available to us now to transform your fat bike into a proficient year round pedaling machine. Many riders out there really enjoy leaving their super aggressive tires on all year round and that is totally fine to do if this tire configuration fits their needs. I know many riders that love their Vanhelga or Nate/Nate or even Bud and Lou tire combo year round for bushwhacking, rock crawling and just as a general aggressive single track tire. Fat bikes are great for that niche of utility vehicle/go over and through anything/ unstoppable machines. This aggressive tire choice is perfect for those people who if it were not for fat bikes would be out ripping it up on their ATV or dirtbike, fat bikes are SO much better for their health and eliminating sound and air pollution and destructive trail impact, if only everyone owned a fat bike…I digress. i phone 1 492 Alright lets look at some great options available to us to make the summer transformation. One option is to swap out your tires for something with less rolling resistance and less aggressive knobs, this also means less actual rubber material so less rotational weight from the tires and subsequently an overall lighter bike. Some examples of great summer fat tires offerings are a set of  Schwalbe Jumbo Jim 26 x 4 inch, these tires are mirrored from the best XC racing tires on the market the Schwalbe Racing Ralph but on steriods, very light weighing in at an impressive 1090 grams each for the snakeskin sidewall version which I recommend or the lighter but much more fragile Liteskin version at 990 grams. The Jumbo Jims are a great tubeless tire with extremely low rolling resistance, a very fast tire choice that also has great cornering abilities. This premium tire offering from Schwalbe has definitely impressed me as you can tell. Schwalbe also makes a 4.8 inch version of the Jumbo Jim for those looking for a higher volume tire. Another decent summer tire choice is the 26 x 4 inch Panaracer Fat B Nimble weighing in at only 1180 grams for the folding bead version built with 120 tpi rubber. This tire is extremely fast rolling and the small knobs provide solid traction for climbing and predictable cornering. The 26 inch version Fat B Nimble is best used at a slightly higher air pressure to avoid a slight auto steer tendency if used on some wider rims, but is still a very solid choice for a more budget friendly easy rolling fat tire. 45NRTH is known for their great winter tires and summer Fat bike performance can be found here with their 26 x 4 inch Husker Du tire, there is a standard 120 TPI folding version available now and by mid June of 2016 they will be releasing their new ultralight Husker Du  model with a weight of just 1240 grams per tire but still providing great traction for most 3 season riding and racing, this ultralight tire features the same tread pattern as it predecessor but the center knobs are much lower making it roll faster while the outside cornering knobs are higher than the original to provide better traction in loose corners. Surly has a few 26″ tire offerings that offer less rolling resistance for those looking for a warm season tire, there is the Black Floyd which is a full on 26x 3.8″ slick fat bike tire great for road riding with your fat bike, then there is their Knard 26 x 3.8″ tire, Knard 26 x 3″ or Knard  26 x 4.8″ tire as well as the same tread pattern offered in 27.5 inch and 29er tire models.Another popular tire choice from the guys over at Surly is their 26 x 3.8″Larry and 26 x 4.7″ Big Fat Larry tires which offer the rider a great fast rolling, low knob tire choice that is considered one of the “Go To” tire choices for beach and sand riding. The 4.7″ version is perfect to provide maximum flotation in soft sand due to its large volume tire casing but offers very low knob height making it ideal for fitting into a wider variety of frames including most 170 mm rear hub spaced frames. There are two more tire brands that I will mention briefly before moving on to alternative wheel size options for your all season fat bike. Vee Rubber has a few tires that could be used like the Bulldozer but thus far none of their tire offerings seem to fit my needs. Kenda Tire makes a decent fast rolling tire called the Juggernaut Pro, and with a claimed weight of only 900 grams this is the lightest fat tire available to date, but the low weight has to come from somewhere and with the Juggernaut Pro it is with its very low knobs and minimal sidewall protection. The Juggernaut Pro is still a decent tire choice for hard packed conditions and general riding not requiring traction just be conscious of its limits in any loose trail conditions and vulnerable sidewalls while plowing through rock gardens. Just when you thought that owning a fat bike couldn’t get any better, it has yet another advantage over a skinny tire bike with it’s ability to use a 27.5+ and/or a 29er+ wheel set on your existing fat bike frame making this wonder bike even more versatile. Adding a second wheel set into your mix of options is a great way to lighten up and increase the speed of your fat bike for the warmer months and adds a real viable option for someone that is looking for that quiver killing “One bike does everything, super bike”. Many riders out there are always joking about N + one (N=current number of bikes one owns +one) however that equation does not always work for quite a few riders due to either bike storage constraints, or financial reasons and some just choose one “super bike” for minimalist lifestyle reasons. Whichever wheel size or tire size fits your individual needs at any particular time throughout the calendar year, I hope you always choose Fat. And one last thing to remember is, as the famous saying goes “Once you go Fat, you never go back”. Cheers to a Fat season. Pivot 1 005
  • Winter Riding Clothing-Part 3 Layering Below the Waist

    This post will be a short one, it will cover what I like to use on my lower body for cold weather riding and racing. First off lets start with covering the important stuff, Literally. I use smartwool wool boxers that have a windblocker panel sewn across the front. Windproof Boxers like this are an essential item for helping to not freeze your Important parts off (The Ladies could benefit from windblocker wool undies also I’m guessing). While sitting on the bike, this position leaves the area between your legs very vulnerable to the winds cold blast. Next layer added is a thin wool 260 weight Icebreaker or similar wool long john/base layer tights. If the temps are in the extreme low range or my pace is going to be more of a chill cruising I tend to add a thicker wool tight like the 370 weight Ibex energy free winter tights on top of the 260 weight or some combination of those pieces depending on temperature.
    I cover all my base layers with a soft shell water resistant highly breathable soft shell pant/tight like my favorite pants which is the Ibex Climawool tight.
    That is all I use on my lower body for layering.
    I do bring along a pair of Arc’teryx Beta SL Gortex shell pants on longer adventures and races just in case I need a great fitting lower body wind and waterproof shelter.
    Here’s a picture of my son Ryan at 9 yrs old ripping up some of our local trails.
    Arrowhead 135 075
    My next post will be on the most talked about, asked about, all important topic of winter footwear!
  • Adam’s Winter Fat Bike Ultra Clothing Gear Check

    Our man Adam Frederiksen shares his choices for apparel when racing an Ultra like the Arrowhead 135. Spending 20+ hours on a bike in the cold is a true test to any apparel system. These tips will help you choose the right items to layer for just about any ride and aerobic activity outdoors in winter. We are fortunate to have so many great choices for performance fabrics and insulation these days to keep you warm and dry during activity but we also love our natural fibers like Merino Wool as one of the best for next to skin dryness and warmth when wet. The key is applying the right layers for the temperature and the effort of your activity and there are likely few activities more challenging than the Arrowhead Ultra.   To recap what Adam has covered in this video, here is a list of the items he used during the Arrowhead 135, Tuscobia and the upcoming Actif Epica. Hydration – Relevate Wompack with Hydraheater – One of the best solutions to keeping water consumable in the cold Helmet – POC Trabec Race – You only have one head, protect it well Goggles – Double lens vented – We like Smith IO and other helmet compatible models with an interchangable lense. Head – Icebreaker Merino Buff/balaclava, Merino headband (worn over ears and across your nose) Bottoms – Gore Windproof Boxers, Icebreaker wool bottoms, Ibex Climawool Pants with softshell outers Top – Icebreaker 150 weight merino tank or T, Icebreaker 260 weight Merino wool mid layer, Ibex Climawool jacket Feet – Polypro liner Socks, Smartwool Merino PHD midweight socks, 45nrth Wolfgar boots (these are expedition boots for long ultras and Adam who gets cold toes after 10 hours in the saddle, we recommend the Wolvhammer as the ideal boot for warmth in most use) Hands – 45nrth Merino wool liner glove, Relevate Pogies (this is a great combination as you get the dexterity of a light glove and the supreme warmth of a Pogie. Keep food warm in your pogies and be able to easily grab those snacks or other items out of your bags)    
  • Fat Tires-Airing up and Proper Pressure

    LOW PRESSURE GAUGES

    Fat Biking is still considered in its infancy as a sport. There are many things that people are still learning and experimenting with. Fat tire air pressure is one of those things that makes a huge difference in the handling, control and traction of your bike. (more…)
  • Winter Riding Clothing-Part 2 Core And Hand Layering

    CORE For all my winter riding I will start with a very thin base layer next to skin like a 250 weight wool tank top. What goes on top of that depends on the temperature. But keep in mind that you may start to overheat very quickly while fat biking, riding in fresh powder breaking trail requires more effort than just going for a hike in the woods, think about how hot and sweaty you get will shoveling heavy snow, chopping firewood or cross-county skiing . Just because it is -10*C or colder doesn’t mean that you won’t sweat. Sweating is VERY bad as you will get cold and possible hypothermia minutes after you stop moving at that high aerobic pace. Eventually you will have to slow down or stop. If you are cold when you leave your warm house or car to head out for a ride then you may be dressed correctly, remember to bring along a warmer layer/s to have readily available for when you stop to take pictures, have a lunch/snack break or any mechanical emergencies that could happen while out on the trail, it can only take seconds to get really cold. OK back to the next layer, on top of that I wear a softshell wool jacket, it sheds water and snow but is highly breathable.(Any similar soft shell jacket such as one made of polartec will work, I just really happen to like wool). Gortex does not work for an  upper body layer while doing any highly aerobic activity’s like winter cycling. What happens is the Gortex “pores” can not keep up with the high humidity/moisture produced by your bodies core and it will clog up and then start to get wet and clammy inside the jacket, next the moisture will turn to ice crystals (sounds cold, doesn’t it?) . If the weather is getting in the -20* to -40* range or if I am going for more of a casual pace type ride I wear a long sleeve wool shirt between my tanktop and softshell jacket. While doing longer races I bring along a spare base layer and mid layer to change into if my current one starts to get too sweaty. When I head out for a winter ride I like to bring a very lightweight/small synthetic “puffy” coat in my frame bag. But when heading out on a extended race or trip I pack along my expedition/belay down parka to wear once I stop moving and generating that high level of heat. For really windy cold riding I  have been experimenting with a vapour barrier vest, it is great piece for blocking the bitter cold wind from hitting the front of your chest and stomach. That’s about it for upper body, now lets chat about keeping your hands warm. i phone 1 422 HANDS
    I am a big fan of pogies, I can race in like -5*C in just a tanktop for my upper body if my hands are tucked in some toasty warm pogies. For riding in 3 or 4*C to about -8* I just wear my summer riding gloves with my regular insulated pogies. For riding in slightly colder temps I switch to a pair of wool liner gloves, that is all I wear on my hands all the way down to the really cold -40*C and below temps, I just add the fleece liner to my expedition pogies at around -15*C and below. On occasion I will bring chemical hand warmers with me, I like to use them by just throwing them loose in the pogies, they are also useful for pre warming your cold pogies so you don’t stick your hands in cold pogies. For longer cold races I pack along a pair of expedition gloves for when I stop and my hands are going to be out of the warm pogies for any length of time. As you can tell I really don’t like big bulky “winter riding” gloves as they just seem to get in the way, make it extremely hard to eat food while riding and don’t give you the cockpit control and feeling that thin gloves do. My next post will be on below the waist layering followed by a separate article on footwear. Arrowhead 135 091
  • Winter Riding Clothing- Part 1 Layering For your Head

    I’ll start with above the shoulders body layering and move down to other body parts in future posts. Again these items listed are layering systems that work for me. You are unique, try it out, have some fun experimenting on your bike this winter. Lets start with the most extreme conditions and warm up from there. I have found that a balaclava like the “Outdoor Research ninja-clava” with wind blocker works really well for covering all exposed skin when the temperatures plummet and the wind is trying to find that skin patch to damage.  This style balaclava has a mesh breathing panel at the mouth and a flap covering your nose but still allows you to breathe.  For longer races that will require feeding while on the bike I prefer to use a full coverage, fleece balaclava with wind blocker panels.  I cut in a few custom holes, two at the nostrils and one slit at the mouth large enough to eat and drink quickly without having to remove any layers. A different system I use is a regular balaclava and a wool head band that I cut out of an old hat, that I use to cover my nose and cheeks, which allows full access to my mouth for eating and drinking while on the bike. An important thing to keep in mind no matter what system you choose to go with is that any exposed skin should be covered with some type of skin barrier cream.  A few products that can be used as a skin barrier cream are Vaseline or Dermatone.  I personally prefer a more natural product from a company based out of Barrie, Ontario called Frost Bite that is great for the lips, nose and cheeks. In the winter I use the same helmet I use year round, a POC trabec race with MIPS, however any helmet will work for you, and is always better than no helmet for safety.  Helmets have come a long way since I started biking back in the 90’s.  They are now so lightweight and comfortable, there is really no excuse not to wear one.  There are some people that like the extra warmth of a snowboard/ski helmet and there is also a winter specific biking helmet that came out recently, I haven’t tried either one yet as I really like my current setup. Eye wear is a must for extreme cold and wind, your eyes will start to water and the tears can freeze your eye lashes together and it’s important not to have any exposed skin susceptible to old man winters bite.  I have tried a few different brands/styles of goggles, but finally settled on a pair of double lens fog proof snowboard goggles with two sets of lenses for varying light conditions.  Remember to take your helmet of choice to the store when shopping to check the fit/compatibility of the helmet and goggles. It is a bit of a learning curve to get the goggles from fogging up, a couple tips that I have found is to remember to remove them the instant you stop moving as they constantly require a small amount of air flow to stay fog free.  Going in and out of warmed checkpoints during a race or other warmed building will also affect your goggles ability to stay fog free.  If not kept clear the fog and sweat will eventually turn to frost and freeze on the inside of your goggles lens surface.
    Regular riding glasses only work if you don’t have anything covering your warm exhaled breath as face coverings will direct that warmed air up your face and the instant that it hits the cold lens of the glasses they will completely fog over, making the glasses completely useless to see out of. The next item I really like is a wool buff, it works well as a neck scarf to make sure that the transition from head to upper body clothing is seamless with no exposed skin and it is warm and soft against the skin.  A buff is a very versatile item for varying temperatures to have available. For milder conditions I use an Icebreaker open face style wool balaclava.  They are lightweight/thin and not as hot as the full coverage fleece balaclavas.  It is a great option to use with regular riding glasses/sunglasses since the mouth and nose are not covered so you don’t have to worry about fogging up the lenses.
  • Warming Tips for Winter Riding

    Hey folks here is the first installment of info on winter riding gear and riding in extreme cold. People always ask me about what I wear when heading out on one of my winter bike adventures so I am going to pass along the info on things that work for me.  Of course everyone is uniquely different when it comes to body temperature.  On top of personal body temps there are many things that you can do that will help you head out into the cold weather already warm and things that you can do keep from freezing once you have been out for a few hours. I have spent many winter seasons testing different clothing layers and winter camping gear so hopefully you can use some of my knowledge as a starting point for what to try for yourself.  I was that crazy guy that would check the weather forecast looking for those -30 and colder nights and get all my gear ready and lights on and head out for a few hour night ride after the kids headed off to bed.Sometimes riding till 2 or 3 in the morning.  I also like to head out in the backyard or local forest when there is a big snow storm or extreme cold to test out a new bivy sack or sleeping system. First off I find that getting your internal body core firing at a hotter temp before heading out is more useful than standing in front of a heater or fireplace, standing around the heat feels nice and all but it only warms your skins surface.  I like to do a workout or at the very least some pull ups, burpies, push ups, skip rope or jumping jacks before I head outside.  Keeping in mind that you while you are trying to warm up the body you don’t want to head outside all sweaty because you will certainly become extremely cold very quickly.  You need to stay dry to be warm.  By doing this type of warm up I can head out into -25 temps for hours with only a wool tank top and light jacket on. I also like to drink warm liquids and eat warming foods again this creates a little bundle of warmth right in the core of your body spreading the warming love out to the rest of your body.  Having a thermos of warm tea to drink mid ride is also a nice ritual I enjoy. Keeping the blood moving is very important to prevent getting cold and eventually getting frostnip and then frostbite.  Sometimes this means getting off your bike and pushing the bike for a bit to get the feet warmed up.  When on the bike little tricks I found for keeping the hands and feet warm are constantly wiggling your toes and hyper flexing the foot back and forth.  Same thing for the hands the key is to keep the blood flowing.  I have found that while on the bike doing arm windmills and doing a pendulum type movement with one leg at a time has helped bring warm blood to my fingers and toes. My body type is an extremely warm core year round(I normally ride in tank tops or no shirt all summer) and I have been called a polar bear on a number of occasions because I love swimming, and will go in really cold lake water and stay in for long periods of time.  However my hands and toes get cold very easily which may have been due to getting frostnip too many times before finding out some layering that really works for me.  Those extremities are definitely my weakness, but I have figured out some things that work for me to be able to ride comfortably at extremely bitter cold temperatures(-40 and below) for many hours. Race Gear This Photo is of my layers of clothes that I had set out in my hotel room the night before a race I completed in February 2015.  The race was called Actif Epica, which is a 130 km ultra marathon held in Winnipeg on the windy plains of Manitoba, temperatures for racing were -40 and with wind chill it hit close to -50C.  I was out racing my fat bike for almost 9 hrs. And my clothing choice was spot on. I just got back from completing another winter Ultra called the Tuscobia 150, this race took me over 20 hrs to complete the 260 km race course.  Temperatures on the race day/night in Wisconsin ranged from -12C down to a bitter cold and windy-25C. . Stay tuned for more details about layering for different parts of the body.
  • Winter Hydration Ideas

    Like most people, the last thing I want to do on a cold winter ride is take a big long sip of ICE cold bone chilling water. I prefer having body temperature or warmer liquids while on a winter ride. (more…)
  • Bike Maintenance in Winter Conditions

    We are regularly asked about keeping your bike maintained during the winter months and minimizing the impact of the elements. Certainly if you want the frame and parts on your new fat bike to function for years there is a bit more attention and maintenance that should be considered than in Spring and Summer. (more…)

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