At first I was a little dubious. A fat bike? 4inch wide wheels? Why do I need one of those?
‘Well’ Hans Jørgen said, ‘It’ll be fun to ride, and you can train on the bike in the winter in the snow’.
So we ordered one bike, but due to the popularity in G-Sport Brandbu, we gave up our bike to sell in the store, and ordered two (a 15inch for me and a 19inch for HJ) to come a week later.
First impressions were ‘Whoa, it’s big!’, but we quickly rode off up the hill. Despite the 14kg weight and large tyres, the rolling resistance isn’t so high as one would expect. In fact, once going, the bike almost feels lighter than my race bikes. Of course, when we hit the steeper hill, the pace slowed considerably due to the effect of gravity on our bikes!
The 15inch frame gives me a riding position like Tanja Zakelj (XCO), very upright, but this actually allows me to have better handling of such a chunky bike. In the winter when I’m all kitted up in 6 layers of clothes, I think this position will give me a more comfortable ride.
We wanted to give the bikes a good test, so we rode a route around Daelenmoen, which had a bike of everything: roots, rocks, uphill, streams, bridges, corners and tight forest. The only thing lacking was snow. Riding through the stream, the bike felt as if it was about to float, but I don’t plan on testing that in a lake!
There’s not a huge amount of grip on the tyres, so you need a bit of thought and planning when riding up something a little slippery, but the tyre width adds a lot of extra traction. You don’t need much skill to ride these bikes, but point it and ride. They’ll roll over anything and the low tyre pressure (6psi) will just absorb everything without hitting the rim (unless you’re riding at a considerably speed).
The bike is moderately heavy to handle. Especially in the corners, so planning ahead is necessary. There is a bit of lag between when your body starts to take the corner, and when the bike does. Once you appreciate this, you can adapt your riding style accordingly and still get some good lean in the corners using the dirt edges for grip.
Riding back down some of our local (mildly technical) trails (which send my race bike jumping all over the place), I felt like I was riding a tank! Just ride the fat bike over everything. There’s no suspension since the chunky wheels/tyres do all the work absorbing the small bumps, so it’s actually a smooth ride.
We even did some off-trail testing to see how the bike handled. I think in MTBO terrains that allow shortcutting, a fat bike might just be the way forward! It eats up all the lumps and bumps on-road and off-trail, so the overall feel of the bike is smooth. We finished the ride with big smiles and couldn’t stop talking about the bikes all evening. I can’t wait for it to snow now, so I can really use this bike for what it was designed for!