If you’ve been around Colorado in the winter, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a fat tire mountain bike. They have tires so massive they can’t be ignored. Of course, the tires have a purpose, but they’re also easy to chuckle at and definitely look a little out of place on a city street.
As an avid mountain biker, I’ve seen plenty of fat tire bikes hitting the trails around Colorado Springs. I never really understood why they were needed, they seemed more like an excuse to purchase another new bike over anything else. I’d heard a few riders mention how awesome they were for gravel and snow, but my own bike did just fine. I couldn’t really see the appeal. That is, until I got to hop on the saddle of one on a sunny day in Crested Butte.
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Working with the mountain to film some fat tire biking content, The OutThere Colorado crew got two bike rentals to test out while we worked with Crested Butte Mountain Resort to film fat tire biking content. We had a lean crew for this trip—it was just myself and my boss, who often doubles as our videographer.
After getting a little direction on what trails would be the most ideal, we headed to the Snodgrass Trailhead, an uphill route that provided constant views of Crested Butte Mountain Resort…the perfect backdrop for our shots.
In order to get there, we had to crush up roughly a mile of paved sidewalk first. Keep in the mind that this was only a week after Crested Butte got more than eight feet of snow. There was a ton of ice on the path and giant walls of piled snow from the plows towering high above us on each side.
My initial reaction was amazement. I immediately understood why fat tire bikes were gaining so much popularity across the state. Whether it was snow or ice beneath the tread, the machine could roll over it with ease and without even the slightest slip. I was already plotting a way to justify purchasing one of my own. Able to tackle terrain I’d normally avoid was an instant source of fun.
Then came the more difficult part. We got to the trailhead and after finding a sign that was literally covered in feet of snow, we started to make our way up a snowy ascent. The tires still handled the terrain quite well, though when either of us accidentally slipped into deeper powder that hadn’t been packed down, the back tire seem to pull itself under, sinking in the snow. This could probably have been solved by going faster, but it was uphill and we had film gear.We were going as fast as we could.
We continued, slowly churning over more snow as we gained altitude in search of even better views. For the most part, the bikes were doing fine on the snow, but the trek was quickly becoming exhausting.
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After a lot of back and forth during multiple takes over the course of five hours, we wrapped up our shoot and prepped for our descent. Downhill wasn’t something we’d really encountered yet that day, and we were now several miles up the side of a mountain.
This is where the fat tire biking quickly had me sold. After packing up our gear, I set my sights on the bottom of the trail and kicked off, three different cameras mounted to me in a variety of ways.
Immediately, the bike gained speed, crushing through the deeper powder that was once a hinderance. To be honest, it felt like I was floating, not needing to really consider what line to take like one might on a normal mountain bike, instead just straight lining over every bump and divot all the way to the trailhead in a fraction of the time.
Would I fat tire bike again? Yes, 100%. It seems like a great way to stay on two wheels year-round, regardless of the weather. That being said, the steep and snowy uphills were absolutely exhausting. I’d probably try to find a way to cut a bit of that out or at least find a trail with a bit more flow. The bigger tires do let you conquer more difficult terrain when momentum is on your side, but their clunkiness and size seemed to make it harder to gain momentum.
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If you love mountain biking as much as I do and get a chance to test out a fat tire bike, do it! It’s a great way to have fun in the snow without needing a lift ticket. Just be prepared to be breathing heavily by the time you’re finished.
Special thanks to Crested Butte Mountain Resort for making this experience possible. If you’re interested in checking out a fat tire bike for yourself, click here!
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