My Favorite Winter Fatbike Gear-Part 1

Winter is my favorite time of the year to ride my fatbike, it opens a whole different world of exploration possibilities.  But, cold weather does present its own challenges that that can be overcome with the right gear.  I have tried a lot of products over the last four Winters and have come up with a new list of some of my favorite items that I use regularly.  This is part one of a three part series where I highlight my favorite Winter fatbike gear.

Gore Bike Wear Windstopper Balaclava

Keeping your face and head warm while protecting them from sub-zero windchills is where the Gore Bike Wear Windstopper Balaclava excels.  It fits comfortably, is breathable, can be worn with goggles and stops wind's bite preventing frostbite on the coldest days.  It has a thermal stretch fabric that is very thin and fits like a glove.  When the temps dip into the teens or the wind kicks up, this balaclava is my choice for face protection.  It folds up small enough to fit in my jacket pocket so I have it with in case the weather takes a turn.  Available at Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $39.99.

G.H. Meiser Low Pressure Gauge

Keeping your tires properly inflated is key to speed, control and traction.  Colder temperatures can cause tire pressure to decrease as much as 2% for every 10° F drop, so checking your tires to ensure proper inflation should be done before each ride.  A change of as little as a pound or two of psi can make a huge difference to how a fatbike tire reacts to the conditions you are riding.

I use the G.H. Meiser Low Pressure Presta Valve Dial Gauge to give me accurate readings at very low pressures that regular gauges might not be able read.  This model reads tire pressure from 0 to 30 psi and is not affected by cold temperatures unlike some digital tire gauges.  It's an excellent choice for fatbikers looking to dial in that that precise inflation for the conditions, whether they be soft/hard pack snow, "mash potatoes" or fresh powder.  With a little experimentation you will learn to set pressures exactly to your liking and know what they feel like when squeezing your tires.  Available at Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $20.99.  Also available in a 15 psi version for $14.99.

Smith Vantage with MIPS Helmet

My wife got me the Smith Vantage with MIPS helmet for Christmas and it is by far the best I've used for Winter riding.  It's a little on the spendy side at $260 but the features and design make it well worth it.  With its 21 vents, vent closures and Aerocore construction it is easy to keep your head cool or warm depending on the outside temperature.  The snapfit ear pads keep ears warm and can accommodate helmet audio systems for listening to music or podcasts out on the trail.  The adjustable Boa FS 360 Fit System assures a comfortable custom fit.

It works great with goggles and even has a removable goggle lock on the back of the helmet.  The MIPS system will limit the rotational forces to the brain in the event of an oblique impact during a crash or fall.  Available at REI and fine bike shops.

SKS Fatboard Fender Set

When the weather gets warmer you are going to want a good set of fenders to keep you dry when pedaling through slush, water and mud.  SKS Fatboard Fenders come in a set and just became available at your local bike shop.  I got a set from SKS before they available and tried them out on some of my wet commutes to work.  They really did the job of keeping me dry and the quick-release rear fender with an adjustable two-hinge arm to accommodate my bike's geometry made it a perfect fit.  The front fender straps quickly and easily to the downtube and prevents the continual spray of my front wheel and puddle jumping  from soaking me.  Made of rigid plastic, they have plenty of coverage to keep you dry on those messy Winter/Spring rides. MSRP is $54.99 for the set.  Available at Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

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