Twenty Nine Inches just yesterday. It contains serious doses of my opinion, so be forewarned!
What Is "Fat"?- With Winter in the Mid-West comes a renewed focus on my bikes with the cartoonish tires. Fat bikes are not necessarily just for Winter
anymore, true- However; when the snows fly, the Mercury dips below the
point on the thermometer where water freezes, and the local trails are
inundated in a white, crusty substance, the fat bikes really shine. I
would otherwise be left to whatever roads are clear, and that is not
very interesting, now is it?
Since early 2011, I have been riding fat bikes and I have had nothing
but fun, questions, and stares from onlookers. Curiosity for these
bikes is still at a high level, but with so many options coming on the
scene now, I figure we’re at the heights of the “newness” in terms of
the fat bike timeline. Now we’re moving on to figuring out the details.
What are these bikes? Are they purely a fad, are they a “real mountain
bike alternative”, and when do we get a suspension fork already?!! As if
that were not enough, now we have an “interloper” wheel size- 29+. Just
how and where does that fit into the scheme of things? (And this
doesn’t even account for Surly’s other “pot stirring wheel size”, the 26
X 3″ tire Surly says is 27.5″ in diameter. Those clever Surly guys!
Always keeping us on our toes!)
Does any of this really matter? A fair question. However; it appears that it isn’t just as simple as “just go ride a bike- any bike”. Nope.
Rules in races, and rules for trail usage are demanding definitions.
Trails users are fearful of “damage” to groomed surfaces if 29 X 3″
tires, (or really wide 26″ tire, but less than 3.8″), are allowed on
these snowy tracks. Race rules are being sorted at this very moment.
Terribly described in tiny paragraphs, so they will not conflict with
USA Cycling, which itself is being modified to accommodate the FUTURE!
Interesting times for fans of fat, to be sure. Just where the chips will
fall is anybody’s guess right now, but it is not going to be very long
at all before “what is a fat bike” is defined without question. Now, I
don’t think for a moment that 4.8″ tires, 190mm rear spaced frames, or
29+ will be legislated out of existence. Not at all, but what I am
saying is that in terms of land access, new components, and new
innovations, the “what is fat” question needs answering, and soon,
before much forward progress is going to be made.
Have a great weekend folks!
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