If you have skied and snowboarded your way across the Alps and want to try something new then check out winter biking on snow, or fat biking as it’s known. This activity is now sweeping the Alps since fat bikes were made commercially available.
Fat bikes were invented 30 years ago. They are essentially bikes with very wide tyres that can cope with snow, sand and other terrain. They are similar to mountain bikes but better adapted to snow and ice. It has now become so popular that it is one of the fastest growing winter sports in America.
‘Fatties’ have wider frames than mountain bikes and as you would expect very wide tyres-3.8-4.5inch tyres. Most bikes have good gear systems which help with the hills. Experienced bikers can also learn to do their tricks and jumps.
Mid Fat Bikes
The mid fat bike is also now produced which is also known as the mountain bike + (plus). This bike has a tyre 2.8-3.0 inches wide. It sits between a traditional mountain bike and fat bike. It can therefore be used across the year, not just in the snow. Mountain bikes with tyres up to 2.5 inches wide can normally cope well with snow. The snow bike market continues to develop though with advancements like Pure Silica, tyres with spikes and colour variations all in the pipeline.
Gstaad is one resort that has really embraced the ‘fatties’. Here you can not only hire them but also there are trails for you to use. Gstaad has also been the host of the Snow Bike Festival.
Snow Bike Festival
The festival had been held in Engelberg, with competitors from 20 countries. It involves a three day stage race, a two hour fun ride, a night race and lots of partying. The Snow Bike Festival has now received Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) accreditation.
Grand Targhee in Wyoming has also jumped on the fat biking popularity and opened its Nordic trails to fat bikers. They are certainly seeing the benefits with fat bike sales up 44% and certainly bringing in a lot of revenue. With the growing popularity of the sport many other resorts probably need to get on board as well.