Fat bikes are becoming enormously popular due to their exceptional versatility. They’re not the fastest bikes to ride, granted, but they can be used to tackle terrain no other bike can. In Ottawa this is typically snow. In the Ottawa/Gatineau region fat bikes are steadily gaining popularity as a great winter activity.
The Ottawa Mountain Bike Association has done a lot of work in the past few years to increase the number of trails including a partnership with the NCC to allow fat bikes in Gatineau Park.
What is a Fat Bike?
A fat bike is type of mountain bike and is characteristically known for its incredibly wide and deep tyres. More akin to a dirt bike tyre than a typical MTB tyre, the lower pressure and greater width allow the bike to roll more easily on snow. Fat bikes have been around for years, with simultaneous origins in both the south and north. In the south MTBers were modifying balloon-cruisers to be more rugged for sandy and rocky mountainous terrain. Just like on snow the width and low pressure allowed for better traction and control on loose and rocky terrain.
At the same time in Alaska, MTBs were being modified by locals to accommodate larger tyres in order to ride easier on packed sled dog trails. This eventually led to the first ever Iditabike event, traversing many of the same routes and trails of the infamous Iditarod sled dog race.
As technology improved in the cycling world in general, trending toward lighter components that offered the same level of strength as steel parts but much lighter, fat bikes started to see growth across Canada and the USA.
Where to Fat Bike in Ottawa
Fat bikes can be used on virtually any packed snow trail but the two primary areas where fat bike use is expressly permitted is the South March Highlands and certain areas of Gatineau Park.
In summer the South March Highlands are rugged technical flat trails used primarily by intermediate and advanced MTBers. In the winter, however, with most of the technical features covered in a layer of snow, this trail network becomes an awesome place for both experienced and newbie fat bikers alike.
The trails in Gatineau Park similarly are a great place for anyone on a fat bike but be mindful of the hills! Gatineau Park is not known for being flat!
Check out OMBA’s page on which trails in Gatineau Park are fat bike friendly and tips for riding the trails.
Fat Bikes for Winter Training
It’s no secret. We’re predominately a road and triathlon bike shop. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love shredding gnar on the MTB trails or pounding through dense packed snow on a fat bike.
Fat biking fitness doesn’t directly transfer to the road bike but it will help you develop strengths that you can add to your arsenal of road skills. Fat bikes use much smaller gears because of the weight of the bike and the nature of the terrain you ride on. This means you’ll find yourself spinning a small gear and putting in lots of hard, bursting, muscular efforts. It can keep you in shape and help develop some of that muscular power needed to punch over those short climbs leading up to the Black Lake climb in Gatineau Park. And for triathletes the added technical skill required to navigate trails will aid greatly in handling ability on the road. Take corners tighter and faster!
Local pro-triathlete Jordan Monnink recently picked up a Felt DD fat bike for some fun in the snow. Sometimes spending all that time sitting on the trainer needs to be balanced with some fun outdoor activity. And Fat bikes are perfect for that! It’s probably the most he’ll ride outside all year!
Check Out Fat Bikes at Cyclelogik
Both Felt and Scott bikes include fat bikes in their product line and both have been ridden to podium victories in major fat bike race events.
Felt’s DD line of fat bikes are a solid entry into the category and make for great all round snow bikes and summer trail cruisers. The DD10 even has a front shock for added comfort.
The Scott Big Jon is beast of a bike! It has a little more rugged design than the Felt that adds a touch of weight but gives you the stability to glide across a wide array of harrowing terrain.
If you already own a fat bike, you can trick out your ride with a set of Woven Precision Handbuilts Fat bikes wheels! Get a slick set of performance wheels and matching decals!
Stop by the shop and check one out!