Fat­bike Winter Rid­ing Do’s and Don’ts

Rid­ing in the winter sea­son used to be re­served for hard­core com­muters and a select few moun­tain-bike rid­ers who just re­fused to make the jump to ski sports in the off-sea­son. Now, with the in­tro­duc­tion and surge in pop­u­lar­ity of fat­bikes, more bums are s

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - by Mike Sar­necki

Don't dress in one big bulky jacket.

Do dress in lay­ers. Rid­ing in cold weather is a challenging propo­si­tion, as your ef­fort turn­ing the ped­als will pro­duce heat and sweat, so it is im­por­tant to layer prop­erly in or­der to re­main com­fort­able and warm out on the bike. A wick­ing base-layer is an im­por­tant, with a long-sleeved jer­sey and in­su­lat­ing jacket over top. Don't be afraid to use non-cycling-spe­cific cloth­ing ei­ther, as warmth is much more im­por­tant than fit when fat­bik­ing.

Don't dress in cot­ton.

Do dress in wool. Wool is a great choice for winter fat­bike rid­ing, as it con­tin­ues to keep you warm even af­ter it is wet. A hooded base or mid-layer is a great op­tion, as the hood cov­ers both your head and neck, pre­vent­ing that un­wanted cold-air draft.

Don't for­get about your feet.

Do think to keep your feet warm. New footwear on the mar­ket makes it eas­ier to keep your feet warm in the deep cold of the Cana­dian winter. If you plan to ride out­side a lot, in­vest in a good pair of winter-spe­cific cycling boots that put warm feet at the fore­front of their de­sign. Hot packs can be stuck to the top and or bot­tom of your toes to ex­tend the time to cold feet. With cycling, your feet are static – stuck to the ped­als. So when the tem­per­a­tures dip ridicu­lously low, be sure to get off your bike and walk or run from a few sec­onds to a cou­ple of min­utes be­fore your feet get too cold to eas­ily stim­u­late the flow of warm blood to your bot­tom ex­trem­i­ties.

Don't let your hands get cold.

Do spend money to keep your dig­its warm. Metal han­dle­bars con­duct heat bet­ter than plas­tic (car­bon) han­dle­bars, so if it is in your bud­get, up­grade to

car­bon – sorry, it's just sim­ple ther­mo­dy­nam­ics at play. This will lessen the heat loss from your hands, keep­ing them warmer. Bat­tery-pow­ered heated gloves are also avail­able and pro­vide hours of warm dig­its. Heated grips are also an op­tion; also the ad­di­tion of over-mitts (a.k.a. Bar Mitts/Pog­gies) are sur­pris­ing ef­fec­tive in cut­ting down the wind and in­creas­ing the warmth of your hands – of­ten re­sult­ing in the need for a lighter-weight gloves inside that boost dex­ter­ity and im­prove bike han­dling in the ab­sence of a bulky glove.

Don't let the dark get you down.

Do in­vest in a good light. North of the 49th par­al­lel, we reap the re­ward of long hours dur­ing the sum­mer, but suf­fer in the dark dur­ing winter. A good set of lights cou­pled with the white of the snow­pack make fat­bik­ing at night en­joy­able.

Don't pump your tires too hard.

Do use a spe­cial tire-pres­sure gauge. Fat­bike tires per­form best at ex­tremely low pres­sures, so in­vest in a sim­ple tire gauge specif­i­cally for low PSI mea­sure­ments so as to en­sure you are di­al­ing in the op­ti­mal pres­sure. Look for an ana­log or dig­i­tal gauge with a scale to 15 or up to 30 psi.

Don't al­ways go solo.

Do par­tic­i­pate in group rides. The Cana­dian winter can be long and dark, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun. Par­tic­i­pat­ing in a fat­bike group ride dur­ing the winter sea­son can make you feel like a kid again, blast­ing through the snow with like-minded in­di­vid­u­als. Beat those winter blahs with some fat-tires and fun friends.

Fat­bik­ing rage con­tin­ues to gain pop­u­lar­ity across the coun­try each winter.

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