Fatbikes (or fat bikes), have been around as custom one-off bicycles since the early 1900’s. The wider tire allows for riding on sand, snow, mud, bog, scree, and other unstable or soft surfaces. The first modern version using early Michelin fat tire prototypes, was ridden by Jean Naud in the Sahara in 1986. The next year, Alaskan enthusiasts were using 2 and three rims together to create maximum contact area with snow and ice, with a group riding part of the Iditarod Trail in 1989. Eventually, the designs shifted more toward the simplified single rim solution used in deserts and The SnowCat rim – available in widths of 4” and up – became popular, allowing increased manufacturing and wider use in winter.
With wider tires and lower psi, these fat tires are able to spread contact with the terrain and that allows the bike to travel over the soft and unstable surfaces on winter terrain. It also makes for a more comfortable ride than standard bikes or even classic mountain bikes. As soon as fatbikes became more widely available, the Tahoe area fell in love…one more way to enjoy our abundant, gorgeous snowfall!
Already a fan? Come visit Tahoe’s Fat Tire Festival. The second weekend in September is when visitors will find all kinds of activities and vendors centered on all seasons of fat tire fun…mountain bike races, single track rides, clinics, and more. The Fat Tire Festival raises money for the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA). Want to learn more about the festival? Visit Tahoetopia.com to find out all the details.
Interested in trying out a fatbike, before you invest in the equipment? Fatbike MTB Tours, in Lake Tahoe, offers a great way to try out the bikes with friends, and see the difference the wide tires and lower psi can make. A 60-90-minute ride over 6-10 miles is selected for your ability level, and they even provide snacks. What better way to discover if fatbikes are your next winter rush?
If you love cycling in the warmer months, if you’ve always wished you could mountain-bike in the snow, then fatbikes are what your winter dreams are made of…come and try out the world-class fatbike trails in Tahoe soon!