Winter is finally here and and that opens up a lot of new opportunities to ride fatbikes. Some of these opportunities are made even better with the right gear. This will be my fifth year of winter cycling and I have a few favorite items that help make fatbiking out on the snow and ice much more enjoyable.
Crank Brothers Double Shot pedals
Riding in slippery or technical conditions while clipped in can be a bit unnerving for some whether you're a commuter or a fatbike enthusiast. For those that want to clip in some or most of the time while having the option of a flat, there's the Crank Brothers Double Shot pedals. This hybrid pedal is flat on one side with moulded pins and ribs for grip and clipless on the other side that can be set up with the included cleats for a 15 or 20 degree release angle. This is my go-to pedal for winter because it gives me the confidence of a flat when I need it for technical or icy sections. Clipping back in after using the flat side is as easy as rotating the crank arm one half revolution and stepping on until clipped. Crank Brother Double Shot Pedals are available from Crank Brothers, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $89.
Bontrager Barbegazi Tires
Orange Seal Subzero
Going tubeless for winter riding allows you to run lower pressures for the conditions without the risk of pinch flats which can happen when using tubes. If you're like me, riding in the extreme cold is common and I want a tubeless sealant that will still perform in sub-zero conditions. With Orange Seal Subzero Tubeless Sealant in my TLR tires I don't worry about it freezing up and not working. Orange Seal Subzero is available in 8 and 16 oz. bottles for $14.49 and $21.99 from Orange Seal, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.
Swapping out tires can be a pain, especially if you have them set up tubeless. For this reason I have built two extra wheelsets instead of buying another bike so I have the freedom of choosing the wheel/tire combo for the trail conditions. For fast hardpack I have a pair of Bontrager Hodags (27.5x3.8) mounted on Mulefut 50 SL wheels, for deep snow and bushwhacking I'm ready with Bontrager Barbegazis (26x4.7) on Mulefut 80 SL wheels and for the icy stuff I will be mounting a pair of the new Bontrager Gnarwhal (27.5x4.5) studded tires on my Jackalope wheels as soon as they are available. Switching out wheelsets is easy and only takes about 5 minutes giving me the option of the right tire for the conditions. Wheelsets can be expensive but you'll love the freedom of choice they give you not only in the winter, but year round. Visit your local bike shop to discuss a wheel build that works within your budget.