11/19/2018

Alternative Winter Fatbike Riding Opportunities


Winter presents some new riding opportunities that only appear for a few months out of the year.  Some of these areas may only be available for a short while until the snow gets too deep to ride while others are an option all winter long.  A few of these include frozen bodies of water, so remember, "There is no such thing as "safe ice," and ice seldom freezes uniformly. The terrain can greatly change with icy conditions, and the ice may not be uniform. Please use extreme caution."

Image Credit: Fat-Bike.com

For more detailed information on ice thickness guidelines, traveling on ice and what to do if you fall in visit the Minnesota DNR Ice Safety page.

Backwaters


Backwaters are areas adjacent to a river or creek that have little or no current.  These places are usually formed due to flooding, obstructions such as beaver dams or may be a channel off the main branch of a river or creek.  Once temperatures have remained below freezing for a long enough period to form a good rideable base of ice, backwaters are great places to explore but you will need studded tires until a layer of packable snow comes along.


Some backwaters may be in the woods creating a flat obstacle-scattered experience that can be anything from easy to more technical.  Water levels in some of these areas may have dropped after the ice has formed creating ice shelves that are broken, uneven and off-camber riding surfaces where studded tires will come in handy.   Backwater areas are only accessible by bike during the frozen winter months and give riders a unique view of this outdoor environment and the wildlife that inhabit them.

Beaches


Beaches alongside creeks, rivers and lakes are fun places to ride during the cold months.  They can be made up of sand, silt, rocks and contain natural obstacles such as logs and boulders to maneuver over or around.  During below freezing temperatures the surface of sandy beaches firms up like concrete but use caution  as freeze-thaw cycles can create an icy surface.  The slippery surface is easily tackled with lower tire pressure and/or the use of studded tires.

Image Credit: Josh Peterson

During winters when lake and river water levels are lower they present extra riding opportunities as more of the beach will be exposed.  Keep in mind that your beach riding adventure may come to an end when reaching private property unless you can avoid it by riding out onto the ice.  With thousands of miles of shoreline here in Minnesota you're bound to find numerous areas to ride.

Creeks


Small shallow creeks with slow moving water freeze up quickly in the early part of the winter making them a good choice for riding.  In the event that you do go through the ice, wet feet is the most likely outcome.  Studded tires will be needed until there is enough snowpack to go without them.


When riding creeks be aware of changing conditions which can include broken or collapsed ice shelves, glare ice and open water.  Get some riding in before the snow gets too deep making them impassable unless they get regular fatbike traffic packing down a trail.

Deer Trails


Deer are creatures of habit and use the same routes year after year creating natural trails in the woods and adjacent fields.  Most of the time these trails will follow the easiest route in the terrain and are often rideable on a fatbike.  You never know where they'll to take you, it could be a water source, feeding area or an impassible thicket that they use for cover.


Be ready to hike-a-bike, dodge low hanging branches and hop over logs when following deer trails.  The deer will pack them down after every snowfall so they are pretty easy to find in the winter.  Keep a keen eye on your surroundings and chances are you'll see that big buck or a couple of does doing their daily routines.

Lakes


It's easy for us cyclist to tell when the ice is thick enough to support the weight of a person and their bike, just look for when and where the ice fishermen are out on the lake.  Studs are necessary early on in the season until there is enough snowpack.  When the snow gets deeper out on the lakes ice roads from fishermen and snowmobile tracks pack down the snow making it easier and faster to ride along.


Being out in the open on a lake can be windy and when it's really cold outside this can shorten your ride in a hurry if not wearing the right gear.  An outer windproof shell worn with a baselayer is a great combination for making sure those freezing windchills don't cut right through you.  Goggles or sunglasses protect your eyes from the wind and make it easier to see on sunny days.  Balaclavas, thermal cycling caps and neck gaiters are another great way to stay warm in this potentially windy environment.


Safety is key when fatbiking on lakes so let someone know where you will be riding and when you plan to return.  Carry a pair of ice picks to pull yourself out of the freezing water in the event the ice gives way.  An easy way to find current reports of lake ice thickness during the early winter is to use the Ice Report App.  With this app you'll find information about lake ice thicknesses during the ice fishing season from fishermen from all over the Northern US.  Ice Report is free and available for both Android and IOS.

Swamps


Water levels are higher in some of these areas with all the rain we've had this fall.  Because of this, some swampy areas will have exposed ice in among the vegetation making for some great riding, but you will need studded tires until there is some snowpack.  Stay away from moving water sections that fill these areas as the ice tends to thin and you may break through.


Swamps can be many acres in size providing a whole new playground for fatbikes that is only available for a short time each year.  The ride may be flat but will show you a side of nature you don't see up close that often.  Not only is the scenery pretty unique, I've also seen plenty of wildlife including coyotes, rabbits and eagles while riding these areas.

Woods


After all the forest floor vegetation dies off from a hard frost and below freezing temperatures, some wooded areas are great for bushwhacking on a fatbike.  Look for patches of forest that have little or no underbrush and not too many fallen trees.  These areas are great for skill building exercises like riding rough terrain, hopping logs, keeping balance and finding your line to continue moving.  Hike-a-bike, ducking branches and weaving around brush are common so don't plan on covering a lot of ground too quickly.

Keep an eye out for wildlife as you quietly roll along.  I've noticed more deer before they've noticed me riding in areas where people don't tend to travel.  During hunting season, be aware of  where hunting is allowed and your safest bet is to avoid these areas all together.  Respect private property and do not trespass.


Once you get to know an area of woods try riding it at night for a whole different experience.

IMBA's Best Practices for Riding 
on Natural Terrain 
and in the Backcountry

In the right conditions, a fat bike can be the ultimate winter backcountry travel tool. Frozen conditions and minimal snow coverage (1-5 inches) means access to areas that are impassible during the warmer months. But just because you can ride somewhere doesn't mean you should. Be aware and be prepared. 

  •  Do not trespass! Know whether or not you are on private property. Obey ALL land manager rules. Some land parcels are closed to bikes whether you are riding on a trail or not. 
  • Do not ride through sensitive wildlife habitats. This may be especially important on beaches or in places where animals hibernate. Learn about the area you want to ride in before you ride there. 
  •  Do not disturb wildlife. Many species survive on minimal diets during winter. Stressors or the need to move quickly can deplete their energy stores. 
  • Learn safe ice travel. Riding on frozen water can be extremely dangerous. Is the ice thick enough to support you? Take ice fishing picks and a length of rope when riding on lakes and rivers. 
  • Understand changing conditions. New snowfall or warming temperatures can make the return trip much more difficult. Tire tracks can be covered, hard snow can turn to slush, rivers can start to melt. Always know the forecast and be aware of how changing conditions might alter the safe passage of your route. 
  •  Be prepared. Carry provisions in case you have to stay out longer than planned. 
  • Let people know. Make sure someone else knows where you are going, when you left and when you expect to return. 
  •  Learn to share. Be aware that your tracks might attract other riders. Understand that "your" route might not remain a secret for long.

11/13/2018

Studded/Studdable Fatbike Tire Choices For More Traction this Winter


Winter fatbike riding conditions are constantly changing with the weather here in Minnesota and a good set of studded tires can have you rolling when others may skip out because it's too icy.  There are several manufacturers that have studded and studdable tire options available in 26" and 27.5" wheel sizes.  Below is a list of them for you to research and choose from.

45NRTH

Dillinger 4

"Riding your fat bike on ice just got even better with the redesigned Dillinger tread pattern and tubeless compatibility."

Options:  120tpi Studded, 60tpi Studded, 120tpi Non-studded
Size:  26 x 4.0", 27.5 x 4.0"
Casing:  120tpi Ultralight or 60tpi
Studs:  Concave Aluminum Carbide (120tpi), Steel-Carbide (60tpi)
Bead:  Tubeless Ready Folding 120tpi or 60tpi
Rim Compatibility:  64–94mm wide rims
Pricing:  120tpi Studded/$225, 60tpi Studded/$150, 120tpi Non-studded/$115

Available from 45NRTH dealer bike shops.  More information on Dillinger 4 26 x 4.0" & 27.5 x 4.0" at the 45NRTH website.

Dillinger 5
Image Credit: 45NRTH

"The extra width of the Dillinger 5 provides flotation over loose snow additional grip while turning, accelerating or braking on ice and packed snow. Available in both studded and non-studded configurations. The studded version comes with 258 concave, aluminum carbide tip studs to provide extra bite and increased durability."

Options:  120tpi Studded, 60tpi Studded, 120tpi Non-studded
Size:  26 x 4.6"
Casing:   120tpi Ultralight
Studs:  Concave Aluminum Carbide (120tpi), Steel Carbide (60tpi)
Bead:  Tubeless Ready Folding 120 and 60 tpi
Rim Compatibility:  70-100mm wide rims
Pricing:   120tpi Studded/$225, 60tpi Studded/$170, 120tpi Non-studded/$140

Available from 45NRTH dealer bike shops.  More information at the 45NRTH website.

Wrathchild

"From loose snow to icy freeze-thaw and everything in between, Wrathchild craves the best and worst winter conditions. Deep center lugs aggressively claw into unconsolidated snow for extreme acceleration and braking traction. Super tall side lugs dig into loose snow to provide predictable and confident cornering. Encounter sheer ice on your ride and Wrathchild’s XL concave studs tear into the surface."

Options:  120tpi Studded, 120tpi Non-studded
Size:  26 x 4.6"
Casing:  120tpi
Studs:  XL Concave Aluminum Carbide
Bead:  Tubeless Ready Folding
Rim Compatibility:  65 - 102mm wide rims
Pricing:  120tpi Studded/$235, 120tpi Non-studded/$145

Available from 45NRTH dealer bike shops.  More information at the 45NRTH website.

Bontrager

Gnarwhal

"When bite and traction are required above all else, this tire keeps you moving. Roll through the roughest terrain and deepest snow with the stud-ready, aggressively treaded Gnarwhal. Available to fit both 26 and 27.5 wheels, this versatile tire can be ridden with or without studs to add traction to even the slipperiest winter riding conditions."

Options:  120tpi Studded, 120tpi Non-studded
Size:  26 x 3.8", 27.5 x 4.5"
Casing:  120tpi
Studs:  Aluminum Carbide, 27.5" tires can accept 216 studs, 26" tires can accept 160 studs
Bead:  Tubeless Ready Folding
Pricing:  26 x 3.8" Studded/$225, 26 x 3.8" Non-studded/$120, 27.5 x 4.5" Non-studded/$120

Available direct from Trek and Trek Authorized Dealers.

Terrene

Cake Eater
Image Credit: Terrene Tires

"Gliding over a frozen lake or twisting through a groomed trail—winter riding is best enjoyed with a quick and capable tire that won’t drag you down and still rail through turns. Inspired by studless winter vehicle snow tires, Cake Eater was designed to have lower center tread height with deep siping for lower rolling resistance while the side lugs remained tall and edgy for biting into soft corners. Studs pockets were added in the transition areas for optional added cornering confidence in icy conditions."

Cake Eater 26x4.0 Light  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Non-studded, $120

Cake Eater 26x4.6 Light  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Non-studded, $120

Cake Eater 27.5x4.0 Light  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Non-studded, $120

Cake Eater 27.5x4.5 Light  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Non-studded, $120

Cake Eater 26x4.0 Light Stud  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Triple Traction 180 stud, $200

Cake Eater 26x4.6 Light Stud  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Triple Traction 180 stud, $200

Cake Eater 27.5x4.0 Light Stud  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Triple Traction 180 stud, $200

Cake Eater 27.5x4.5 Light Stud  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Triple Traction 180 stud, $200

Cake Eater 26x4.0 33TPI Stud  33tpi Standard casing, Tubeless-ready, Flat Tipped 180 stud, $150 Sold Out

Cake Eater 26x4.6 33TPI Stud  33tpi Standard casing, Tubeless-ready, Flat Tipped 180 stud, $150

Available direct from Terrene and Terrene dealer bike shops.

Wazia
Image Credit: Terrene Tires

"For some, boundaries are simply starting points. When convention becomes routine, there is a tire that will allow you to go beyond. Wazia is our all-season, all-surface, go anywhere tire. From winter ice and snow to sandy beaches, and all of the trails in between."

Wazia 26x4.0 Light  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Non-studded, $120

Wazia 26x4.6 Light  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Non-studded, $120

Wazia 26x4.0 Light Studded  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Triple Traction 156 stud, $200

Wazia 26x4.6 Light Studded  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Triple Traction 156 stud, $200 Sold Out

Available direct from Terrene and Terrene dealer bike shops.

Johnny 5
Image Credit: Terrene Tires

"Plowing through a layer of fresh morning snow, or grinding on into the unknown in the dead of winter—adverse riding conditions require flotation and traction to keep you on the surface and moving forward. Johnny 5 is our extreme soft conditions tire designed with a wide platform, tall paddle lugs, and 320 studs for maximum traction so that you can continue moving forward when stopping is not an option."

Johnny 5 26x5.0 Light  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Non-studded, $140

Johnny 5 26x5.0 Light Stud  120tpi Ultralight casing, Tubeless-ready, Triple Traction 320 stud, $260

Available direct from Terrene and Terrene dealer bike shops.

Vee

Snow Avalanche
Image Credit: Vee Tire Co.

"The Snow Avalanche features an aggressive tread design for enhancing steering performance and off-camber grip. With a low rolling resistance and excellent float, this directional tire is great for blocked trails or loose snow."

Snow Avalanche 26 x 4.0  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Silica Compound, Non-studded, $130

Snow Avalanche 26 x 4.0  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Pure Silica Compound, Beige color, Non-studded, $145

Snow Avalanche 26 x 4.0  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Pure Silica Compound, Beige color, Studded (240), $190

Snow Avalanche 26 x 4.0  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Silica Compound, Studded (240), $200

Snow Avalanche 26 x 4.8  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Silica Compound, Non-studded, $130

Snow Avalanche 26 x 4.8  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Silica Compound, Studded (240), $200

Snow Avalanche 26 x 4.8  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Pure Silica Compound, Beige color, Non-studded, $145

Snow Avalanche 26 x 4.8  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Pure Silica Compound, Beige color, Studded (240), $200

Available direct from Vee Tire and local bike shops.

SnowShoe XL
Image Credit: Vee Tire Co.

"The SnowShoe XL is the tire to turn to for grip when winter hits. Excellent in the snow, dirt, or even soft sand, its large and strategically-spaced block tread take an unsophisticated approach to finding traction. Smothered in nearly five inches of sticky rubber, let the sharp edged blocks punch into the trail surface, and drive you forward."

SnowShoe XL 26 x 4.8  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Silica Compound, Black Tread, Non-studded, $115

SnowShoe XL 26 x 4.8  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Pure Silica Compound, White Tread, Non-studded, $135

SnowShoe XL 26 x 4.8  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Silica Compound, Black Tread, Studded (240), $175

SnowShoe XL 26 x 4.8  Folding Bead, 120tpi, Pure Silica Compound, White Tread, Studded (240), $190

Available direct from Vee Tire and local bike shops.

Studs & Stud Tools

For an investment of a little of your time you can save a bunch of money by buying non-studded tires, some studs and install them yourself.  It's pretty simple and with all the studs on the market you can choose the kind that will be best for what you'll be riding.  Below is a list of studs that are available in numerous pack sizes online and at your local bike shop. 

45NRTH

Concave Studs
Image Credit: 45NRTH

Construction:  Aluminum base, concave carbide tip
Pack Size/Price:  25/$10, 100/$30
Available from 45NRTH dealer bike shops.

XL Concave Studs
Image Credit: 45NRTH

Construction:  Aluminum base, concave carbide tip
Pack Size/Price:  25/$15, 100/$45
Available from 45NRTH dealer bike shops.

Stud Tool
Image Credit: 45NRTH

Compatible with studs that have a 3.5mm or smaller shaft.
Available from 45NRTH dealer bike shops for $9.

BIKESTUD

Concave Studs
Image Credit: BIKESTUD

Construction:  Aluminum body, Tungsten carbide tip, 0.3 g/stud
Pack Size/Price:  25/$7, 50/$13, 100/$25, 250/$60, 500/$115
Available direct from BIKESTUD.

Flat Tip Studs
Image Credit: BIKESTUD

Construction:  Aluminum body, Tungsten carbide tip, 0.25 g/stud
Pack Size/Price:  25/$5, 50/$10, 100/$18, 250/$42, 500/$80
Available direct from BIKESTUD.

Tire Stud Insertion Tool
Image Credit: BIKESTUD

Magnetized tip helps hold stud in place.
Available direct from BIKESTUD for $11.

Bontrager

Tire Stud Kit
Image Credit: Trek

Construction:  Aluminum base, carbide tip
Pack Size/Price:  25/$15.99, 225/$49.99
Available from Trek and Authorized Trek Dealers.

Gnarwhal Stud Tool
Image Credit: Trek

Magnetized tip securely holds tire stud for easy installation.
Available from Trek and Authorized Trek Dealers for $9.99.

Terrene

Triple Traction Crown Stud
Tungsten Carbide Stud Kit
Image Credit: Terrene Tires

Construction:  Aluminum base, carbide tip, 3-pointed crown shape
Pack Size/Price:  100/$40
Available direct from Terrene and Terrene dealer bike shops.

Triple Traction Low Rolling Resistance
Tungsten Carbide Stud Kit
Image Credit: Terrene Tires

Construction:  Aluminum base, carbide tip, 3-pointed crown shape, 1.5mm lower height
Pack Size/Price:  100/$40
Available direct from Terrene and Terrene dealer bike shops.

Triple Traction Ultra Traction
Tungsten Carbide Stud Kit
Image Credit: Terrene Tires

Construction:  Aluminum base, carbide tip, 3-pointed crown shape
Pack Size/Price:  100/$80
Available direct from Terrene and Terrene dealer bike shops.

Terrene Stud Insertion Tool
Image Credit: Terrene Tires

 Cooperatively developed with Bikestud.com.
Available direct from Terrene and Terrene dealer bike shops for $10.

Studs for tires without stud pockets

Gripstuds

#1000 Tire Stud
Image Credit: Grip Studs

Construction:  Wide–auger/screw-in base, tungsten carbide core 
Pack Size/Price:
100 studs with manual install tool/$111.85
150 studs with manual install tool/$159.85
Bulk pack of 100 studs/$99.95
Bulk pack of 150 studs/$147.95
#4000 Power Install Tool/$9.95
#5000 Manual Driver Handle Only (requires #4000 Power Install Tool)/$1.95
Available direct from Grip Studs.
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