Q&A: 10 Things You Need to Know About Fat Bikes

The Lake George Area has long been a destination for people who love to do things, whether it’s skiing (on water or snow) hiking, trail running, parasailing, zip lining, swimming, or even relaxing. We wanted to dig into the Fat bike craze. We decided to talk to a local cyclist who has long enjoyed the incredible views in this region via a road bike and a mountain bike and who has now begun to experiment with fat bikes.

We’ve been hearing a lot about fat bikes. We have to ask, what is a fat bike?

Fat bikes are basically a modified mountain bike. The term mostly refers to the obviously wider, oversized tires. The tires are about twice the width of normal mountain tires, and they excel in sand and snow because they act almost like balloons floating over terrain. The frames are modified to fit these specialized tires, but essentially, the frames look exactly like their mountain bike cousins.

What has made them become so popular?

They have opened up a whole new season of biking. Now, riding in the winter is so much easier and a lot more fun. Serious bikers can train longer. Fat bikes are actually cheaper because of simpler (more traditional style) construction and most leave out suspension. Fat bikes are a lot lighter than you’d think, but mostly they’re just a blast to ride.

Do you need different gear to enjoy a fat bike?

You don’t need anything different, unless you’re riding in the winter, then it’s a case of layering and dressing smart for the cold weather. Some added frame options for cold-weather riding include fenders for ice and mud and handlebar mitts to handle super cold air.

Where can you ride a fat bike?

Anywhere, particularly where there’s sand or snow–places where flotation is key.

Do I need to be a great cyclist to go fat biking?

Not at all. In fact, it might be a perfect introduction to off-road biking.

Do you say “I’m going fat biking” or do you just go biking and it happens to be on a fat bike?

It’s usually referred to as going fat biking–it just sounds fun, doesn’t it? It distinguishes where you’re going to ride: off-road, sandy or snowy trails.

What is the biggest difference in how it feels to ride a fat bike vs a mountain bike vs a road bike?

Fat bikes are a bit heavier than a typical mountain bike; a rider would feel the biggest difference when riding on the road because so much more rubber is in contact with the ground. Steering can be a bit harder because of tire width and gearing is simplified because speeds are generally on the slower side.

If you were to give advice to three types of people to get the most out of what the Lake George Area has in the way of fat biking, what would you say to:

For those who have never fat biked:

Rent a bike from Grey Ghost in downtown Glens Falls. Then ride on the XC trails in Crandall Park (beginner to intermediate) or Gurney Lane MTB Park (beginner to expert). Look for hard-pack, crusty or light powder conditions. Don’t try to tackle a ride just after a big snowstorm.

For those who are once-every-couple-of-years bikers:

If you plan on expanding your biking horizons, a fat bike is the perfect way, anytime of year.

And lastly, what would you say to the fat bike die hard:

Prepare to buy another bike.

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