HAVE IT LARGE
With their chunky tyres and robust frames, ‘fat bikes’ unlock exciting new terrain for adventurous riders
Whether you’re a road cyclist or a mountain biker, riding a fat bike for the first time will inject some fun into your two-wheeled adventures. These eyecatching off-road machines are fitted with giant tyres around 4.5 inches wide. The low ground pressure caused by the extra surface area gives you tank-like levels of traction and the balance of an Olympic gymnast. Armed with these new cycling superpowers, you can bound over chunky rocks and roots, shifting gravel, deep sand, snow and ice, gloopy bogs and marshes, or slippery riverbeds to prise open a whole new world of outdoor adventures.
REASONS TO TRY FAT BIKING
Combine fitness with exploration on your big-wheeled adventures…
Take in wild terrain
Although there are specific races and events for fat bike riders – including the UK Fat Bike Championships held last summer in Devon – for most riders, fat biking represents a playful new way to explore the UK’s wildest terrain, from sandy beaches and muddy marshes to rocky trails. The Lake District and Peak District are popular locations, as are the sprawling beaches of Northumberland and Cornwall.
Try before you buy
You don’t have to invest in a fat bike until you’re sure you enjoy it. Most bike shops close to mountain or coastal locations offer the chance to rent a fat bike so you can join in the fun. You can use normal pedals or cleats, and standard mountain bike clothing works just fine.
Travel the world
You could start with a fun coastal ride on the beaches of Porthcawl in South Wales – bumping your way over wet sand, pebbles, puddles and rocks. Or you could try the volcanic terrain of somewhere more exotic, like Iceland. Wherever you ride, and whatever the conditions, fat bikes offer amazing grip
and balance, so you feel like you have an instant upgrade to your skillset.
Enjoy the ride
The sensation of fat biking is very different to riding a road or mountain bike. Fat bikes don’t have suspension forks, but the meaty tyres make up for that: providing a soft, playful bounce as you ride. You soon find yourself bounding over rocks, powering through streams, and fearlessly grinding through gravel. And you enjoy a new sense of confidence as you discover that sections of sand, mud or rocks are no longer obstacles you need to avoid.
Test your fitness
Fat biking is far more diverse than just getting on a normal road bike or going out for a run, where every step can be similar. Due to the diversity and variety of terrain, your fitness will be tested in a variety of ways, reducing the risk of your progress stalling. You will need a strong core to keep you balanced on uneven terrain, as well as a fair amount of leg and upper-body strength.
On a fat bike, you can burn around 1,500 calories per hour in soft conditions, where you have to pedal hard to overcome the testing terrain. Unlike some other forms of cardio, fat biking is low impact, so you’ll recover faster than if you went out and ran for an hour.