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Fat bikes at a price mere mortals can afford

Posts: 60
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
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The development of the fat bike (about 4 or 5 inch low pressure tires) has been a huge boon for human powered access to trails of snow and ice in the north. Least readers think that this is only for the youth. There are a lot of grey haired folks in my age demographic that are out there on these bikes. Ross Raven has discussed the post-apocalypse side of such biking.

In our area, the fat bikes are really mostly used for recreation with high status and ridiculous costly versions with lots of titanium and carbon. As a company, Surly has always been the people's bike and really the first mass producer of the fat bike. Surly is apparently overstocked on current complete fatbikes. The prices are pretty good for a rock solid bike with reliable components. If you're in the market for a steel frame fat bike, this might work out for you. It could also put a little pressure on the used market that has demanded really high prices in IMHO.

Buying a more affordable bike also allows budgeting for add ons that can make riding a pleasant experience. With the availability of studded tires (Dillinger N45) this has made a very reliable form of winter commuting possible and allows access to many areas with pure ice. Before these tires, there was nothing good about being on ice with a snow bike--it was a trip to the orthopedist waiting to happen! With them, the hard thing is remembering how slick it will be when you get off. My dear husband put the studded tires on my older Pugsley but seems to "borrow" this bike quite often for riding on the steep single track trails with friends.

Fat bikes are not just for winter. With the improved tire patterns (Surly's Nate are an example), riding on soft muddy trails churned by ATVs or crossing streams is a lot easier. The fat tires seem to do less harm than boots most of the time. Land managers have their own ideas about this but the pressure in the tires can be pretty low. The gearing is also set up for tough conditions. You can also just pick up the bike and carry it which is easier than with an ATV. For hunting or foraging, large paniers can be added, and the bike can be surprisingly silent. At worst, it may become a push cart if loaded down. I wouldn't want to carry out a moose but a deer or caribou is pretty feasible with a few bikes. Finding a way to comfortably and safely carry a rifle can be more challenging on the bike.

I have no commercial ties to Surly , and I would grab one of those high end bikes in a second if a good deal came along on a used one. However, this Surly offer may be a way for some readers to gain access to a bike that has been a pretty useful tool and will go places that a traditional mountain bike will not, albeit at a more stately pace but not nearly as slow as you might guess when you first see them.

Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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- for those Fellow Members who are freaked out over the prices quoted, There are 3 four year schools and a 2 year school transitioning from a 2-year school

(S.U.N.Y.) into a true 4 year school of 'higher learning '. All these schools are clustered in two towns, With local police and Campus police, every year there are

semi -yearly bike sales of totally unregistered bikes Whose initial price to the consumer is often in the range quoted! I have seen top end bikes sold in groups of

3- or 4 By Auctioneers who make a bigger % of the sale for items that sell for under 100 dollars than the % 'earned' if they push the final sale above $100.oo

While may bikes today need a frequent inspection and maintenance program, this is rarely expensive. Taking your bike into a bike shop once a year will result in

you quickly learning where you need to exercise due-dilligence and where your biking dollars are best spent !

P.S. I probably still have more miles on my single speed huffy than all the others that have passed through my hands to new owners ! For the Crafts ! Big AL
Christine Wilcox
Posts: 60
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
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Al raises some excellent points! Don’t buy more bike than you need for the intended purpose. It is also a good idea to know about what size of frame you need when looking for deals and to pay attention to the components and consider how hard it will be to service. For me, a single or three speed was a great way to get to and from work over relatively flat urban streets of Denver for many years, but those same simple bikes would be dangerous on steep trails or on mountainous roads, where more gearing option and excellent braking become a key safety issue for comfortable travel.

My post is specific to the very specialized “fatbike”, which is probably not in wide use outside of snow country. If you “google” fatbike it will show you many examples of this unlikely mutation of the bicycle. Only a small number of the permies crowd would even consider such a ride useful. Where there are roads or hardened trails, there is no need for such a bike unless there is frequent snow!

The Surly sale prices are still a lot of money but these prices are less expensive than many used older models of the same brand, and the new bikes have some real design improvements. Again, this is a lot of money but many individuals are replacing their need for forms of motorized transportation it can be an option. It is pretty startling where these bikes can go and how little impact they leave on the environment. For the mechanically inclined, it is possible to use a separate set of wheels for summer. Even the Surly level of bikes is painful in terms of maintenance cost compared to the simple reliable bikes described by Al. You can plan on replacing an expensive chain yearly and a cluster every other year, more often if you a large, strong rider. The tires are shockingly expensive. My husband’s line is that “at least they are cheaper than a visit to an orthopedic surgeon”. The issue of parts replacement and tire issues need to be factored in when conssidering the total cost of owning new or used bikes.

As Al notes, where you can, go simple and cheap but if you were already have reasons for considering a fatbike, the Surly deal may deserve a look, since it is a pretty good price and much better than any I have seen locally on Craigslist for used fatbikes.
Posts: 787
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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There is also a company called "framed" which makes fatbikes in the 600 dollar range. Not as nice as surly, but not bad either. Since i am not in a very snowy place my bike is using the surly troll frame. Not a fat bike, but i can fit a 3 inch tire, which is rare for many bike frames.

One thing about the cost of components....
If you buy a new higher end bike, it will probably be a 10 speed system, which in my opinion isnot the best fit for a working bike. Chains and cogs are thinner and more expensive, requiring frequent replacement. I have built up my bike with a 9 speed system for the durability, but if long lasting durability were the primary concern of a build, someone could go with 7 or 8 speed, where cogs and chains will be significantly beefier and waaay less expensive. Break a deraileur and its going to run 20 dollars rather than 50-60. Wear out a chain and its 11 dollars rather than 35.
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