Go Play: Fatbike fun in the Grand Valley
Special to the Free Press
WANT TO TRY A FATBIKE?
To try out a fatbike and learn about the options available, contact Rapid Creek Cycles in Palisade. Visit http://www.rapidcreekcycles.com or call 970-464-9266.
Maybe you’ve heard of fatbikes — the behemoth-tired machines that have sprung onto the biking scene in large numbers over the past couple of years. They’ve been around the biking scene for much longer than that, occupying the fringes of mainstream biking, but also making an impression on many riders who’ve taken the opportunity to try one out.
These bikes were conceived for soft-surface riding, such as in deep sand and snow, and they excel in that regard. They’re also used in extreme events such as the Iditabike in Alaska, as well as in regular riding areas by those with wintertime riding aspirations.
What you’ll find if you give one a try is that it’s a lot of fun, and fatbikes create another outdoor option for those days with snow on the ground, or for those warm-weather rides that include a lot of soft-terrain stretches. And some riders have found that fatbikes are just plain fun for riding normal trails, putting a different twist on familiar singletrack.
Fatbikes are also fun for backcountry exploring — hut trips and use of snowmobile trails create some neat options. Be aware of access on trails however, as use of groomed cross-country ski trails is not allowed currently.
Fun fact: Some manufacturers are beginning to target the hunting crowd with fatbikes configured for bow or firearm toting, opening up new possibilities for quiet backcountry access on roads and trails.
Fatbike wheels have very wide rims and are typically mounted with 4- or 5-inch tires, which are wide compared to traditional mountain bike tires. And these tires can be run at very low pressure such as 3-5 psi, which allows for broad tire contact on soft surfaces, spreading your weight over a larger area and improving flotation and traction.
Most fatbikes are built without suspension, but that is beginning to change as well, with a handful of front suspension fork options coming to market now. Frame types range from aluminum for the majority of models, to titanium and carbon fiber for higher zoot models. And component choices run the range from entry-level to top-tier hardware as you would find on any pro-level mountain bike. Since the frames must be constructed to accommodate the wider wheel and tire sizes, there are a few unique component differences that come into play as well.
Interestingly, there is quite a bit of fatbike manufacturing activity that is Colorado based. With all of our mountainous terrain and winter access, these bikes are a natural for our state. So a number of manufacturers have sprung up in this field locally.
In the Grand Junction area, Mountain Racing Products (MRP), a long standing leader in the bicycle component field, was an early adopter with their rigid Carbon Fiber Fatfork. This high-end fork is a supple performer and provides weight savings over common lower cost forks.
In addition, there are multiple fatbike frame and complete bike manufacturers in both the Front Range and Western Slope areas. In particular, Montrose-based Hauck Bikes fabricates a beautifully hand-built frame locally.
Let the FAT times roll.
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