I rode my first fat bike a couple of weeks ago. It was a religious experience, sort of like seeing Dylan for the first time….or Springsteen. I immediately understood what all the fuss is about. Riding bicycles should be fun, first and foremost, and a guy or gal could look a long time before finding something that’s as much fun as riding a fat bike.
The reason for the test ride dovetails into our move to Ogden where we will use bicycles instead of cars. Tucked up against the Wasatch Range, our new neighborhood is going to get a little more snow than our old neighborhood. Seventy six inches is the average for a season. We’ll get more inches per dump, too, and so we need something to get us through it. Studded tires aren’t enough. This is light Utah powder we’re talking about. Fat tires inflated to low pressure seem like just the ticket.
And so we’re going to get a fattie. We rode the Surly Pugsley. It’s a nice bike…old school Chrome Moly tubing with 26″ wheels and enough braze-ons to hook up a pop up camper and hit the open road. I liked it. More importantly, Jan liked it. She liked it a lot. I want to ride its older brother, the Ice Cream Truck, before we make up our collective mind. I suspect that the ICT’s bigger wheels will translate to a much better ride and that’s no small thing when you have a 3-4″ contact patch both front and back.
Jan’s already told me that the fattie will be her daily rider and I agreed because (1) she will never ride it in the snow which means I can and (2) it gives me the opportunity to get a new daily rider as well without feeling guilty about it. Perhaps it’s a bit over the top, but two new bikes versus one new car is a no brainer in my mind.
The second bike will not be a fattie because I like to ride a little faster than Jan, but it will be something similar…an urban assault vehicle…a monster-truck-go-over-everything-in-my-path kind of bicycle because I’m getting old and if not now, when?
I’m eyeing Surly’s Krampus because it’s steel and has disk brakes and really nice geometry and more than enough braze-ons. It also has loads of flexibility. I can run semi-fat rubber on it or plain old mountain bike tires. I can easily change it from multispeed to single speed, derailleur to internal hub. I can run one chainring up front and nine in the back just like God intended. I’m never off the big ring anyway. Ohhhh, yeah. I can add fenders and racks and carry three water bottles. I can take all that stuff off. I can put a suspension fork on the front…a really wide suspension fork. I can ride it in the mountains or around town. I can ride it over curbs and Volkswagens and down alleys and across parks or golf courses if I want. I can beat it up and people will leave it alone because it’s not carbon or titanium and kinda, sorta ordinary looking. Looks are deceiving.
For me, at least, the rules have changed. My bike is not a toy. This is not my hobby. It’s how I now get to work and el mercado and the movies and out to dinner on Saturday night. I’m willing to bet that I can get there as fast as you can in your car, at least in Ogden. I’ll have a bigger smile on my face when I arrive.
This is my life now. I need a new bike…one that understands what I’m asking of it. Most importantly, one that can deliver, regardless of what Mother Nature throws at us.