Starting fat biking can raise a lot of questions. As in mountain biking, you risk asking several people for advice and you will surely receive very different opinions. If you are new to this sport and you don't know where to start, here is a little guide to help you find your way around more easily.
- The fat bike: you will see that as in the mountain bike there are several ranges, but is it worth investing in the big full carbon bike with all the high-end parts? In my opinion no, simply because compared to mountain biking your fat bike will be shaken much less since you won't have a place with rocks garden or roots. However, that doesn't mean going with the lowest end either. In fact, if it is mounted in Shimano look to have at least Deore and if it is with Sram NX and up (GX, X01, etc.). Then, often you will have the choice between a 10, 11 or 12 speed. Basically, the difference will mainly be in your pedaling effort. With 12 speeds, you risk using less force than with a 10 speed cassette. If like me you are not looking to race against the clock, 10 speeds are often less expensive and can be a good option to start with.
- Pedals: Depending on who you ride with, you risk being told that you're better getting clip-on pedals. Honestly, if in summer you ride with flat pedals and you much prefer to feel free to put your foot down at any time, keep going with flat pedals. If, on the contrary, you are used to riding with clipped pedals , stay clipped.
- Boots: In the best of all worlds, you will want boots dedicated to fat biking since they have a flat sole with a stickier rubber like mountain bike shoes or because they will have a system for clip pedals. If to begin , you don't want to invest too much, you can always take hiking-style winter boots which are still quite warm and which rise above your ankle.
- Gloves : Depending on the temperature, you will need more than one pair of gloves to keep you warm throughout the winter. However, if you don't want to bother too much you can always buy pogies which will be attached to your handlebars. With this system you will be able to ride the majority of your winter with simple liners as gloves and on colder days put on your winter gloves.
- Clothing: If you already ski touring or cross-country skiing, you can reuse the same base. First, prioritize a merino wool base layer . Then, ideally you will have fairly fitted windproof pants , especially at the calf level so that the bottom of your pants does not get caught in your chain. For your coat, prioritize a windproof and breathable coat. On colder days you can always add a softshell.
- Light : In winter the days are short and sometimes we get caught in the darkness. So having a light in my opinion is quite essential! If you plan to do it often in the evening, a light of 1000 lumens or more will be necessary. If you don't plan to really do it in the evening, at least carry a headlamp or else a light between 150 and 400 lumens can help you out.
- Hydration: In winter, your water will often tend to freeze, but to reduce your chances of ending up with a block of ice in your bottle, you can buy an insulated bottle holder or even an insulated bottle
Of course, there are plenty of specialized products to improve your fat bike experience, but to get started if you start with the points above. You should enjoy your first winter on a fat bike!