I KNOW that it’s childish, but ever since I heard the term ‘Fat bikes’ I can’t stop singing the Imagination song: “Fat Bikes. To the days when the nights were young. Fat Bikes when we could do no wrong…”
There you go. Leee (sic) John’s in your head now and if you’re too young to have heard of Imagination look them up on YouTube. One of our readers, John Moore (aka @johnclimber), who rode Killer Hill for us in Issue 4, got talking to us one day about all things mountain bike and beyond, when he suggested we might want to take a look at his secret passion – Fat Bikes.
The craze started in Alaska, when riders started to tinker with bikes so they could be pedalled across snow and, as people further south picked up the idea to use on dunes and beaches, a new form of off-road riding was born.
Bikes are referred to on some American sites as ‘rigs’ and there does seem to be a big ole beardy check-shirted Fat Bike scene in the US. With mud guards and touring racks, they look surreal – like something Desperate Dan would own.
John, who explains the appeal of having a bike with big tyres, said: “They will ride up hill technical rocky climbs better than any bike I’ve ever ridden. They float on sand and snow like nothing else.”
In the UK, they are now becoming more mainstream with companies like Specialized, Kona and Trek – to name just a few – jumping on the Fat bandwagon. Athough the scene may have started on these shores with Bruce Mathieson (Puglesy on Patrol online) in Scotland, the fifth UK Fat Bike gathering took place this summer in North Wales and the chunky club is growing every week
It’s the first time that I’ve ever ridden a bike ‘no hands’ on a beach, but riding such big bouncy tyres on the rough stuff does take practice as you get more kick back than you would from a mountain bike.
John, who learnt the lesson early on, said: “It can be very dangerous if you get airborne on them. Three days and nights in Wrexham hospital are my proof of that.
“It bounced up and hit me so hard in the nuts that I was knocked out with the pain before I hit the ground. Oh and the stem broke three of my ribs. My collar bone will never be the same again, but I still rode the same bike the very next ride, six weeks later.”
So if you’re bunny hopping logs on a ‘Fattie’, keep plenty of flex in the arms and legs – whether you have nuts or not.