The Bike Shoppe

The Bike Shoppe
Your Ogden Utah bike expert since 1976!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fast Fat Bikes

With snow in the forecast on Monday, we decided to ride to the Ben Lomond saddle from North Ogden Divide. We were planning for maybe some rain in the valley and a blizzard on the pass up to Ben Lomond. There wasn't even a skiff in the valley and hardly a trace in the parking lot at the Divide summit. We encountered mud on the lower section, then packed snow, fluffy dry snow, and finally wind and frozen dirt with snow coming down.

We were all on fat bikes, one of us on Salsa's Bucksaw (affectionately known as the Hucksaw), two of us on Trek Farley's, and Matt on his Fat & Furious Carbon Fatty. All of us had suspension, dropper posts, hydraulic disc brakes, and 3.8 inch tires. Half of us had 26" wheels, the others on 27.5". (Aside from tire width, sounds like a traditional ride from a couple years ago)

Previously in these conditions, I wouldn't go out. It was either ride on snow on a fat bike or ride on dirt on a regular mountain bike. When I first started riding fat bikes on a Surly Pugsley, it wouldn't have been an option to ride up or down most of that trail. However, in the few years that fat bikes have become mainstream, they have also started to ride like regular bikes. It was amazing how a bike could just float over the rough, rocky sections, as well as those riddled with roots, grip on snow in turns, and hold a line in loose shale at full speed. It felt as smooth and fast as any bike I've ridden on that trail, and I've ridden everything from a Trek Superfly to a Fuel EX to a Slash to a Yeti SB-6c. There are a few drops on the trail that remind me that I'm on a hardtail, but with super high volume tires, it was never a harsh reminder.

Fat bikes have come a long way. They've always been fun, but now they are fast also. They extend the season...infinitely. I've ridden a lot of fun bikes, but I have never had one bike that I felt could actually do it all. The Trek Slash 9 and Yeti SB-6 have been close. I used them both for all of my trail riding. But the Farley 9.8 I rode on Monday makes it so that I can ride wherever and whenever I want. The massive footprint floats on top of mud so I don't tear up the trails in the wet and doesn't loose grip in the snow. It doesn't bounce around on super rocky technical sections or loose grip on off-camber rooty sections. You can also ride any angle on slickrock or float over sand in areas like Virgin, UT or Moab.

I have said numerous times that a fat bike couldn't be my only bike. I didn't say it as much after my first ride on a Trek Farley 8 with a Bluto. Now that I've ridden a Farley with 27.5" wheels on the super grippy rolling hills outside of Waterloo, WI and on one of my favorite local trails, I can say that it could be my only bike and I would be very, very happy. It is that awesome.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Metaphoric Fountain of Youth

Matt making good use of an e-bike.

I do not own an electric bike. I don't have plans to buy one. (But if I did buy one, it would be a Yuba Spicy Curry.) I really have no reason to be an e-bike advocate aside from working at a shop that sells them. I would rather sell the bikes that I plan to ride; the more people on 6-inch travel trail bikes, the more options and the lower the price. However, I also understand that the more people on bikes, the better. Giving people options that tear down the barriers to getting them on bikes will get more people on bikes. 

It will also bring more people that are willing to contribute to somewhere to ride their e-bike. That means more bicycle infrastructure, singletrack, paths, and group rides. I doubt that you're going to want to tuck in on the rear wheel of someone that just picked up their new e-bike, but the camaraderie is going to be the same. Also, imagine going for a 25-40 mile ride with your elderly parents and actually having everyone enjoy the ride. For those cyclists that weren't lucky enough to marry a spouse that shares their love of two-wheels, just picture climbing Mont Ventoux and both of you loving the experience. You could also go out for a LOTOJA training ride and take your spouse, yet still get more than just some extra base miles out of the ride.

There are also many former cyclists that haven't been able to ride like they used to because of injury or chronic illness. At The Bike Shoppe we've sold several e-bikes to customers that were previously regular customers that couldn't ride more than casually any more. One customer hopped on a Haibike RX 29 and pedaled a route he would take as a child. He climbed the hill to his former home and then to his old school. He purchased an electric mountain bike, but had no intentions of going mountain biking. He just like the extra durability. He also liked that while he was on that bike he didn't feel like an old man.

One of the first electric bikes we sold, the Stromer ST1, went to a regular customer's wife. He would ride with his sons often, but never with his wife. She took our demo bike out and he said he had to push it to keep up with her. We've heard from a few different customers that have seen them out riding together, him on a Trek Madone in a cycling kit and her on the Stromer in jeans.

So you may ask, why this all needed to be mentioned. Because I don't understand why so many people are in such opposition to e-bikes. I regularly read comments from organizations that have posted something about e-bikes. It's the same arguments, mostly regarding e-bikes on trails. People have this misconception that people on e-bikes are going to be running everyone else off the side of the mountain. The argument continues that those people will have access to places that is beyond their capabilities and battery range. But I want to ride with people that might not be able to keep up otherwise. I truly don't care if e-bikes are ever granted to access to non-motorized off-road trails as long as I can ride my non-motorized bike on e-bike trails, and I don't think they should have access to wilderness areas. I won't be able to keep up with an e-bike on the uphill and I would like to think that someone on an e-bike won't be able to keep up with me on the downhill. So I won't be riding with someone off-road anyway. I do want to be able to go on non-motorized multi-use paths. Otherwise, might as well buy a motor scooter. And that would suck.