The Bike Shoppe

The Bike Shoppe
Your Ogden Utah bike expert since 1976!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What Every Fatbiker NEEDS

Here we are at week two of reviewing what every fatbiker needs.  Since last post, I've been able to get out on the bike four more times.  It's been really cold these past few mornings.  This morning, as I was descending down Eastfork (after a long, sweaty climb), I ran into two moose hogging the trail.  They refused to move, and I wasn't about to climb all the way back up, so I ended up following them about a mile down to Old Snowbasin Road.  Once I stopped moving, I started getting cold pretty quick.
Cycling gear works like that.  If you're sitting in the cold doing nothing, you'll freeze; but when you're exercising, the minimalist clothing will keep you warm and regulate temperatures so you don't get too hot and sweaty.  Needless to say, as I was sitting around waiting for the moose, I got pretty chilled...except for my feet. 
I chose to invest in some winter cycling boots a few years back, and I'm pretty happy I did.  Before that, I tried regular snow boots, hiking boots, and cycling shoes with thermal shoe covers.  Snow boots keep you warm, but are far too bulky and heavy to be practical.  I ditched those pretty quick.
Hiking boots are a bit chilly, but much lighter and pedal-friendly than snow boots.  My biggest issue with them was snow getting inside.  If you ever put your foot down in snow deeper than your ankle (and you will), you get snow in the shoe.  Be ready to welcome wet, cold feet. 
I found the most success running regular cycling shoes with a heavy duty shoe cover.  My feet stayed fairly warm, and I could clip in and pedal without restrictions.  The problems came anytime I had to hike the bike.  The nose of my shoe cover would peel back and pull up and over the toe of my shoe filling with snow and exposing my shoe.  This not only stretched out my shoe covers, it proved to be pretty miserable once my toes started freezing.  So, after trying everything else, I finally decided to give the cycling boots a try. 
There are a lot of awesome brands out there.  At the Shoppe, we've sold Lake, 45Nrth, Louis Garneau, and Bontrager.  After some studying, I decided to give the Bontrager Old Man Winter boots a shot.  I know they're expensive.  $300 is a lot to pay for a pair of cycling boots you'll only be using four months out of the season.  However, compared to many other brands on the market, $300 is not a bad buy, especially considering the quality of the boots and the features.  So let's talk features.  Bontrager have done an awesome job keeping these boots simple and easy.  They have really practical features with lust-worthy benefits, but aren't loaded down with gadgets like some of the 'Swiss Army'-type boots out there. 

First, look at the insert bootie:  Bontrager made the insulated portion of the boot a removable insert.  It uses a comfortable fleece lining with a healthy 200g 3M Thinsulate insulation.  The bootie fully opens up then snugs tight with an easy draw-string and cinch.  There's a convenient loop at the back for quickly pulling it over your heel and onto your foot.  After the insert is snugly fitted, you can effortlessly slide your foot into the boot. 
The heel-portion of the insert is wrapped in non-slip material that prevents the heel from slipping when walking or riding...and it works! 
Water problems?  If you ever manage to get the shoes wet with water or sweat, the insoles are removeable from the bootie, so air drying is a breeze. 

Now the boot:  I like simple.  It's nice when things do what they're designed to do without being complicated by useless gadgets and add-ons.  Bontrager nailed it on the head with this design.  The front fully opens up with a zipper.  Once open, it slides easily over the bootie and is tightened with two sturdy velcro straps.  One thing that bugs me about winter riding is the time wasted putting on all that cold-weather gear.  But with Old Man Winters, anyone could gear themselves up in a snap even while wearing full winter gear and gloves.
The boot extends about 9" from the sole, so it's plenty tall for the hike-a-bike situations without being cumbersome or restricting.  If you find yourself post-holing out in the deep stuff, the top of the boot tightens with an elastic draw string that can be pulled taught and locked with one hand. 
They've used a fully waterproof, 4-way stretch upper protected by a durable 'GnarGard' shield wrapping the toe box and lower sides prone to brush and rock strikes. 
The Vibram sole is meaty for traction, but avoids the extra bulk many other boots carry.  I've had no issues with the boots rubbing my cranks or striking my chain or seat stays, but I've had no shortage of traction marching up steep, slick slopes.  They hook up nicely on a good pair of platform pedals, but work well with a clip-in system too.  I've chosen to run clipless (Crank Brothers) because they give me a little more room when the trails are narrow and deep, and I've never had issues clipping in or out...even in snow.   The clipless also makes them much more practical when commuting on my cross bike.  Speaking of commuting, the back-side of the boots have a velcro strap designed to hold a flashing tail light for increased visibility on moving parts.  The Bontrager Ember fits nicely here.

All-in-all, these are excellent boots, and in my opinion, well worth the investment.   You should take a minute to stop by and check them out.  I promise, they'll make your winter fatbike adventures much more comfortable. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Do you have a lonely, neglected bike gathering dust sitting in your garage?  Why not put it to good use by giving it to someone who could really use it?  The Bike Shoppe is teaming up with the Ogden Bicycle Collective to gather, refurbish, and donate used bikes to people in need. All donated bikes will be thoroughly inspected and tuned before being carefully placed with a qualified individual in need.  
If you don't have a bike but would still like to help, we're also collecting non-perishable food items to donate to The Lantern House in Ogden. 
Please help us out.  It's the little things that make the biggest difference. 
Donations can be dropped off at The Bike Shoppe during business hours now thru Monday, January 16.  Monday we will extend our hours to 7:00pm. 
Thank you so much for your generosity!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

What Every Fatbiker Needs

Saturday morning I decided to get up early and take the fatbike up on the BST.  I started at Rainbow Gardens and headed south toward Malans.  As I was pedaling up the trail, I started thinking about all the awesome gear I had that made fatbiking not only possible, but actually enjoyable. 
I think snow conditions are best when it's really cold...anything under 10 degrees seems just right.  When you're out exploring in sub-zero temps, it's pretty important to be prepared.  I didn't start out with everything...I used what I had, and I had fun.  But I've gradually begun adding to my cold-weather collection, and with each addition, I've really been able to appreciate the differences between regular snow gear and cycling-specific gear. 
Each week I'm going to highlight a different piece of equipment that I think is a must-have for fatbikers.  This week:  pogies
It took me two seasons of miserable glove swapping to finally bite the bullet and buy some pogies.  I decided to go with Bar Mitts brand Extreme Mountain, and so far, I'm super happy I did.  I used to always pack two pairs of gloves on every ride:  one for the way up, and one for the way down.  Going up my hands get sweaty, the gloves get wet, then they'll freeze solid on descent.  My hands get cold easily, so putting on a cold pair of gloves mid-ride right before a big descent always left my hands cold and numb on the way down. 
The Bar Mitts are honestly the perfect solution.  I can wear a lighter winter glove that still allows a comfortable amount of dexterity without my hands ever getting sweaty or cold. They're a simple, install-in-minutes design made out of tough neoprene.  The Extreme Mountain version installs with handlebar plugs that tighten with a 4mm allen key.  I'm a big fan of the plugs as they keep the mitts more securely anchored to the bar. The mitts have vents on the side and a removable top skirt that hugs your wrists to control the temperature.  If you start getting sweaty, open them up and allow some air flow.  When you're cold, close them off and they warm up quick. 
Another unexpected benefit is the improved braking and shifting performance when I'm using pogies.  If you're like me and like to get out when it's really frigid, you'll know that brakes and shifters stop functioning properly once they get too cold.  Pogies completely cover your hands, shifters, and brake levers keeping everything at a higher temperature.  It may seem like a stretch, but I've not had a single issue since I made the switch. 
If you're out there suffering along without pogies, please stop by and grab pair.  I promise, you'll be happy you did. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

My New Unexpected Passion

To state the obvious, I love biking.  I've never branched out too much to other types of sports.  I'll go hiking occasionally, and usually I'll get out on a few back-packing trips each year, but I'm always looking for spare time to get out on my bike.
Winter used to put a huge damper on my lifestyle because it was so hard to get out on the bike.  I used to swap to studded snow tires and get out every once in a while, but I really couldn't get up into the mountains much unless the trails were packed down to almost icy.  Then came the amazing fatbike.  This opened up so many amazing opportunities to get out and ride.  Last season (lots of snow and really cold), I rode up at Snowbasin 2-3 times each week.  It was the first winter I had really put some regular hours on a fatbike...and I loved it!
But even with the super-versatile fatbike, I find that the quality of my ride is hopelessly tied to snow conditions.  For example, yesterday snowed 8"+.  Tomorrow we're expecting another dumping.  You can't ride in that much new snow, and it's not enough time to get trails packed down, so biking-wise, I'm out of luck.  Enter new passion: SNOWSHOING!  In the past, I never put much thought into snowshoing.  it seemed to slow and laborious to ever really call it fun.  But boy, was I wrong.  Not only is it an amazing workout, but it's dang fun!  I've yet to get out on the mountain with a pair of snowshoes and not have a  great adventure.  I can climb up above the inversion, see amazing views that make the same trail I've explored hundreds of times beautifully different, jump off cornices, and blaze my own path wherever I want to go.  So when I can't ride, I strap on a pair of trusty snowshoes, and I get to making trails to eventually ride on.  Give it a try!  It's guaranteed to make Winter fly by and get rid of the blues.  If you don't have a pair, we rent out awesome snowshoes and poles.  So reserve a pair and start planning your next adventure now!