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.


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