Ever since I watched videos of the early riders of Fat Tire bikes in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I’ve wanted to ride one. I’m not certain exactly when or where the first “fat tire bike” originated, but I do know they were designed with extra wide tires that give them the ability to handle a variety of terrain. The bikes glide over hard-pack snow, loose dirt, sand, and pretty much anything except deep, unpacked snow (of course I had to test the later). Some of the first bikes were custom built and ridden in Alaska’s Iditarod Race Invitational , in which racers can chose to cover the distance either running, using skis, or on a bike. It wasn’t until 2005, that Surly bikes out of Minnesota started commercially manufacturing the “Pugsley” , that you started seeing fat tire bikes in bike shops.
Fat tire bikes have names like Fatback, Surly Pugsley, Salsa Mukluk and Sandman Hoggar, that are slowly becoming part of the cycling industry across the nation. Our own Grand Rapids bike frame manufacturer 616 Bicycle Fabrication started producing steel fat tire bike frames and hubs, with plans to come out with their own line of fat bikes!
If you’re like me and you don’t have $1600 to drop on a fat tire bike, you might consider renting one for a day or weekend. Many bike shops have a selection of fat tire bikes that you can rent at a reasonable price. I was surprised to find out that many mountain bikers are renting them out for racing in the fat bike race series, that are popping up everywhere.
For me, I’ve always wanted to ride along the frozen Lake Michigan Beach. The snow on the beach was 4 to 5 inches deep, which wasn’t as easy as riding on packed snow but doable.
My friend Nate and I rode an 8 mile stretch along the beach at a respectable pace. We did have to work some, but once we geared down closer to the granny, we found our rhythm.
It was an awesome ride on the beach, the day was windy but thankfully the wind was blocked by the large Ice mounds along the shore.
We opted to exit off the beach and ride the roads back to our car. All in all it was an awesome fat tire ride. I might not be purchasing a fat tire bike in the near future, but I’ll definitely rent again. If I don’t make it back out this winter for a fat tire adventure, I have plans to ride the sandy two-tracks of Manistee National Park this summer for a weekend adventure!
So don’t wait, get out and find YOUR fat tire adventure!!!