Trail Adventures: Fat Bike Demo Experience

snow bike tiresTrail AdventuresBy Erin Trail

With the rise of fat bikes lately, haven’t you been curious to try one out? I was lucky enough find a free demo ride courtesy of Salsa Cycles and Pedal Bike Shop. They had three models of fat bikes (rigid fork racer, rigid fork cross country, and full suspension) for people to test out at the Flying J Ranch Park in Evergreen.

My husband and I are beginner-intermediate level MTB riders and have never ridden a fat bike before. We had NO idea what to expect but were excited to do something different and get some riding done.

What we wore:
• Helmet
• Sunglasses (it was sunny and we got sprayed with snow/mud)
• Cycling shorts (MTB for him, tri shorts with running tights overlain for me)
• Upper body layers (long sleeve and a fleece vest for him, long sleeve and a light jacket for me)
• Full MTB gloves
• MTB shoes (510 sticky soled shoes for him, old trail running shoes for me.

snow bike demo pkg lotNote: I had a much easier time pushing my bike around on the trail in my trail shoes with better grip while my husband was sliding around in his MTB shoes)

What Salsa provided:
• Fat bike
• Pedals (we opted for flat pedals, although they had a variety of clipless as well)

Salsa gave us free reign over the bikes and our ride. It was a pretty warm day (50s) and trail conditions weren’t optimal for riding. They had pre-ridden the trail and suggested that we ride the northern portion of the Shadow Pine Loop and then come back down the fire road, as the southern half of the trail was pretty icy. The loop took about 30 minutes and was approximately 2.5 miles long with some good climbs, a few switchbacks, and some nice long rollers – plenty of terrain to get a feel for the bike.

Erin snow bike trailOur first loop was on a rigid fork bike (the racer model for my husband, the cross country model for me). A couple of things immediately came to my mind. First, I had a bit of panic because I was riding a bike on snow, which felt WRONG. Then, once that feeling subsided, a bunch of happiness hit me because I was riding outside, on a trail, in winter. I haven’t ridden on a trail since October – I was genuinely happy to be outside in a forest on a bike. The nice thing about a rigid fork fat bike is that the tires are so squishy (6 psi) that the bike absorbs most of the bumps while feeling like it has suspension. The bike was easy to control and really fun to ride.

We enjoyed the rigid forks and were eager to try out the full suspension bikes, so we did a quick bike swap for a second loop. It was getting warmer and trail conditions were definitely getting sloppier and more challenging, so we couldn’t get a true feel for the full suspension bikes. It felt like more work, but that could easily be attributed to riding in the equivalent of mashed potatoes.

We both really enjoyed our time on the fat bikes and thank Salsa Cycles and pedal of Littleton for taking the time for a demo day.

snow bike ladiesInterested in trying a fat bike? Here are some options.

Areas with bike rentals and trails-

YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch
Rentals are $60/full day, $40/half day, or $20/hr

Devils Thumb Ranch
Full day rentals are $45

Bike rentals only:
University Bikes (Boulder)

Pedal Bike Shop
$35/half day
$50/full day

Golden Bike Shop
Price varies based on bike, ranging from $60-100/day

303 Welcomes Erin Trail as our newest Ambassador! Watch for her resourceful “Trail Adventures” columns on both 303cycling and 303Triathlon throughout the season.

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