Sunday, 12 October 2014

Fat bike: Fad or Future?

Living in a cold and snowy climate, I can see the appeal of a bicycle that can plow through snow and keep us bike lovers active.  It is a source of depression for many of us when the snow comes and we have to hang up our bikes for 6 months.

I used to make my own studded tired before you could readily get your hands on them.  I would put them on my Fisher AL-1 (before it was Gary Fisher), and I would proceed to ride in the snow that wasn't too deep, but mainly on icy roads and sidewalks that had been cleared.  To be perfectly honest, it wasn't very much fun, the studded tires we made were crap, and sometimes it is just too cold to ride a bike here in Canada.

I will admit that the days when it isn't too cold and the sun is shining, I do feel a bit sad that there is no two wheel option for exercise.  I enjoy spinning on a trainer or going to a spin class, but one of the main reasons we like to ride is to be outside and enjoy nature.

Here in North America, outside of California, we have pretty good air quality (relatively speaking). All the more reason to stay out of our cars and ride our bikes, even in the winter when it is snowy and cold.  I met a guy who tried to ride year round last winter; he was definitely determined.  Now keep in mind, it can be as low as -40 deg C here and the snow can easily get to a foot deep over night.  He told me that one day it took him 3 hours to get to work because of deep snow ... his wife picked him up after work.  I bet everyone wishes they had a boss who understood that you are 3 hours late for work because you rode your bike in the fallout of a blizzard.

SO, if you want to ride mainly for fitness and fun and commuting when the weather permits, then I would definitely see the value in buying a fat bike for winter riding.  In fact, as many bike nuts are aware, the N+1 rule for how many bikes we should have is certainly applicable here.  My goal is to slowly build a garage full of bikes (without my wife noticing) that fills each of the different categories that are needed.  Perhaps, the fat bike will be next.

Now which fat bike?  I am not a rich man, not at least in the monetary sense.  So I may not call up Ericksen and order this beauty:

Ericksen Fatbike - Can you see me drooling?

I think a more price conscience model may be in my future.  Perhaps, I will go to one of the Surly models like the Moonlander. Capable and less than half the price of the highest end fat bikes.

Surly Moonlander - craters would be easy to ride over. 

Another bike I would consider is the Ritchey Commando for no reason other than my greater respect for Tom Ritchey after watching a documentary about Team Rwanda Cycling - Rising from Ashes. What does a multimillionaire need to go to Africa for and start a cycling team?  Now that is a person who has used his money to do something for other people.  And I don't really know that much about him other than his obvious passion for cycling.  I also like a lot of his components for reliability, design, and reasonable cost.

Ritchey Commando - a fitting name for a fat bike.

Not sure which bike to collect next, but I realize if I'm not skiing XC or downhill, I sure would like to be on a bike enjoying the outdoors.  I like - they seem like they are serious about fat bikes in a not too serious way.  Check them out for lots of information on this category of two wheel fun.

On a side note: I'm glad the Tour of Beijing has been cancelled.  I'm surprised the riders don't have on gas masks or respirators for breathing in that air.  Scary isn't it?  One of the world's largest and most dense populations living in terrible air quality.  Hopefully, they make air quality a major focus for improving the lives of their population and the future generations.

All riders will be given a standard issue gas mask, maybe in team colors?
Lens options include clear, yellow, brown, or grey polarized.

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