Winter is here and to quote Guitar Ted, "White is the new dirt". Cold weather brings on a whole different experience and there are a lot of fatbike accessories to make riding a little more comfortable and easier to carry the gear needed for those longer rides. Below are some of my favorite items that I use regularly throughout the Winter.
Pogies and Heated Grips
Hands are usually the first to get cold and there are a couple of ways in addition to gloves to keep them warm. Warm fingers are more dexterous for shifting and braking and using pogies (handlebar mitts) and/or heated handlebar grips do the trick nicely. I have a pair of Stellar Bags pogies made by a local Twin Cities cyclist who no longer makes and sells them but there are plenty of others out there on the market. Some of these include 45NRTH, Revelate Designs, Dogwood Designs, Bar Mitts and Gup Gum Gear. Pogies do a great job of protecting your hands from the elements, especially the wind which can cool down hands fast and they let you ride wearing lighter gloves.
A'ME Ergo Tri Heated Mountain Bike Grips do a great job at keeping hands warm and toasty on very cold rides. These grips feature bluPulse™ ‘Adaptive Thermal Regulation’ technology with six different temperature settings that can be selected by pushing a button. They are powered by a rechargeable 11.1 volt Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery Pack that can be mounted to a frame tube or handlebar stem and have watertight connectors. Battery life varies depending on the setting chosen, but I usually get about three hours using the lowest setting that keeps my hands comfortable. For more information, read my full product review. These grips in combination with gloves and a good set of pogies will keep hands warm for hours in bitter cold temperatures letting you ride longer and more comfortably.
A frame bag allows me to carry gear, snacks and my tool kit for those times I want to travel light. Access to bag contents can even be done while riding without having to stop. I will sometimes stash my water bottle in the main compartment of the bag giving it a little protection from the cold so it doesn't freeze up as quickly. A good bag should be made with fabrics that have a durable water-repellent finish to keep contents dry on rides in slushy or wet conditions. Frame bags can be purchased for specific bike models, custom made for a perfect fit and some are universal fit. I had mine custom made by a local cyclist (Gup Gum Gear) for my mountain bike but the triangle on my 9:Zero:7 was so similar that it fit perfectly.
Pinned flats or clipless for Winter riding? I will use both depending on the trail conditions. Most of the time I like to clip in for the increased pedaling efficiency and power transfer but when conditions turn icy I switch to flats in case I need to put a foot down in a hurry. The flats I use are actually a downhill mountain bike pedal by Xpedo, the Face Off 18. I chose this pedal for its large platform with an open cage that doesn't build up with snow and ice. They also have 20 replaceable pins on each pedal that helps me maintain a firm grip even when they become icy. I'm currently using a set of Crank Brothers Candy 3's which I like for the easy in and out clipping over SPD pedals. I am thinking of switching to Crank Brothers Eggbeaters to eliminate the platform that the Candy pedals have to prevent ice and snow build up.
I have two pairs of boots for Winter riding, Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat and my newest addition, the 45NRTH Wölvhammer. I rode with flat pinned pedals all last Winter and the Bugaboots gripped the flats really good and the Omni-Grip outsole grabbed nicely on a variety of ice and snow covered surfaces. They are very lightweight and flexible making them a good choice for cycling. The Bugaboots kept my feet warm on rides which usually lasted two to four hours. During extreme cold where temperatures were sub-zero, my feet would start to get cold and toe numbness would set in. To help extend ride time I would pair the Bugaboot with Grabber Toe Warmers and Foot Warmers. For More information on the Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat, read my full product review.
The Wölvhammers, though a bit spendy are very well insulated, waterproof and breathable, three things I want in a Winter cycling boot. When riding clipless, which is most of the time now, these are my go to boots. I bought the next size up from what I normally wear to accommodate thicker wool socks for when it really gets cold. These boots are new for me but I already love the comfort, feel and warmth they provide and would recommend them for cold weather fatbiking.
I will continue with more of my Faviorite Fatbike Accessories in two more upcoming posts.