Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fat Bike: Long Term Impression

   I've had more time to spend on the new Salsa Mukluk I got over the Christmas, and it's time for a second report. To recap, here's my first report.

Heil ranch overlook

   We had a couple snow storms in the last few months and a good chance to ride the fat bike around. My initial observations were:
  • Noisy over crunchy snow
  • Didn't float over crusty snow
  • Fun to take packed corners fast
  • Front tire tracks weird
   All of these are still true, but I'm getting better at riding the big tires. Leaning back, letting the front tire wander a bit and keeping a high cadence all help. At the suggestion of someone who has more experience than I do, I really lowered the tire pressure over the soft stuff. I noticed that I got a lot more traction, and a little more float. It is still a lot of work to keep the bike moving through the heavy stuff.

About 9" of wet snow

   One thing I noticed is that wider tires means you're pushing more snow out of the way. Following some other riders with 2" tires, I could see that they swerved a lot less than I did. I think the more narrow tire cuts down to the ground more easily and you aren't pushing 4" of snow with every tire revolution. This makes for some exhausting riding!

My tracks vs some narrow ones

   Where I have noticed the advantage is packed trails with snow on them. I had a chance to ride a couple days after a storm on Hall, and that was much different.

Loading up at Hall

   At hall, the snow had been walked and ridden on by other trail users, so it was different conditions. On a normal bike, I think this would have been miserable. The narrow tires would have cut through the crust and killed momentum. On the fat bike, with moderate tire pressure, I floated over the top pretty easily.
   I guess I haven't really had that "AH HA!" moment with the bike, though. I expected to make it a great commuter, making quick work of snowy trails. It handles them fine, but no better and certainly not faster than a cross bike. The wide tires provide a lot of traction, and that is a fun and new way to ride, and I think that is the highest value of the bike.
   Now, since we just got nearly a foot in Boulder, I think tomorrow, when the trails are packed and crusty and impassable on a 2" tire, I'll be found on Betasso, meeting proper expectations for this bike!

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