Gear

Winter Fatbike Riding in Ontario

winter 2020 update

When winter comes around in Ontario most of us fair weather riders put our bikes away.

But Fatbikes (or is it Fat Bikes?) are a new design of mountain bike that enables riders keen on riding year round to get out of the spin classes and do real riding.

This new trend evolves our bike sport to new possibilities and one day I see it in the winter Olympics.

These new bicycles are a hybrid of the MTB concept.

The obvious difference you can see is the fat tires that help you “float” over loose, soft terrain, be it snow, sand or soggy soil. A base on regular MTB tires to have an easier and more enjoyable ride.

What also has changed is one crank gear up front, fewer speeds to change and a lower gear ratio. These bikes are not made for speed as there is plenty of friction at work as the fat tires plow through the snow.

Fat bikes come with wide handlebars, disc brakes on a wide fork frame, but few have shocks. You just don’t need them on the soft stuff. Tires may have studs for ice and tire pressure is a low 10 psi or less.

With the fat soft tires and wide handlebar stance, riders have firm control and keep moving beyond what a typical MTB could handle.

There is a limit naturally, traveling through half a metre of powder is going to be tough. Ice is more manageable but still treat with caution as any rubber bike tire can slip from under you in a blink.

Metal studded tires come to the rescue giving a rider a firm tread on maneuvering precarious icy patches.

In a way riding on snow would give you a soft landing when a fall comes. Still wear a helmet over a thin toque cause those trees are not moving.

Keeping warm is an issue and requires a change in tactics. How to keep your feet, fingers and drinking water from freezing is a concern. You may opt for flat pedals and winter boots, or covers for riding shoes and your bar handles. Lots of accessories are coming out to fill this niche.

If you cross country ski you know all about the balance between staying warm but not sweating too much, as this moisture will chill you out eventually.

One has to dress in layers and peel before overheating. Remember that the days are short and be certain not to get lost. That’s definitely more of a problem than in the summer.

So with that short intro where can you ride your Fat Bike in Ontario? The simple answer is everywhere you could with your summer bike. Well almost… there are exceptions to this new sport.

Many summer ride locations on this site’s map pages are Nordic ski locations in the winter. Be sure you are welcome and give lots of space to skiers as you have better braking and turning then they do. And never ride over the ski tracks set in the snow, that’s just bad etiquette.

Most MTB, forest parks and rail trails on this site have easy routes to try. Also up north snowmobile trails are a possibility with hundreds of kilometres to ride if you find a quiet side loop. Use caution as these snow machines need as much respect as cars.

Below is a list of links to get you on your way. Rent first then buy into it later.



Where to Ride a Fatbike in the Winter:

First try my Fatbike Tag on this site for ideas…

 

My close to Toronto favourites – free, few hills, no crowds:

Whitchchurch – flat, easy, just north of Toronto

Long Sault – hilly, small fee north of Bowmanville

Eldred King – gentle grades, sandy too

Palgrave – north of Albion Hills and similar

Durham Forest – free, groomed loops!

Glen Major – beside Durham for more action

 

Farther away from Toronto

Northumberland – free, hills, large area north of Cobourg

Dufferin Forest – south of Collingwood

Hydrocut – Waterloo

Guelph Lake – Guelph

The Pines – Woodstock

Turkey Point – on Lake Erie, snow depth could be low

Ottawa – river park trail

Larose Forest – south of Ottawa

Kivi Park – Sudbury

Torrance Barrens – Bala

Algonquin Park – Minnesing,  Rail Trail

BRMC – Bracebridge

Shuniah Mines – Thunderbay

+ Groomed with Trail Fees $

Why would you pay when you can ride for free? Well, few times the snow base is ideal for Fatbike riding. There may be too much snow and you are getting nowhere fast burning up energy. Or it could be icy and lumpy, no fun either.

A groomed path sets up the snow base to roll easier with better traction. Climbing and zipping down winding tracks become manageable and fun too. Plus even your regular MTB  with not so fat tires can take on these trails.

 

Albion Hills –  Black Trail only

Horseshoe – 9 km on snowshoe trail and beyond into Copland forest

Hardwood – Barrie lots to ride

Highlands Nordic – Collingwood – New

Georgian – Parry Sound

Walden – Sudbury

Hiawatha – Sault Ste. Marie

Gatineau – Ottawa area

LivOutside – Bracebridge, bike park

 

Rail Trails – And then there are many Rail Trails in Ontario that one could Fatbike on. Granted they flat and straight, but if you want to put in some mileage they go on forever.

Most Rail Trails allow snowmobiles on parts of or the full length of the route. Some are popular snowmobile highways and likely not a good experience (or safe). Lesser traveled routes may be found and other Rail Trails, where sleds are banned, you will have no one but only the odd Nordic skier or hiker in sight.

Where to Rent a Fat Bike:

Approximate full day bike rental rates below, some shops do half day and hourly rentals. Also, the price gets better if you rent for additional days. Call ahead to be sure they have them as some locations have very few.

Horseshoe – $38 for 2 hours

Hardwood  – $ 50

Albion Hills – $56 (8 bikes, different sizes) no reservations

Algonquin Outfitters – Huntsville $45

Parry Sound Bikes – $50

Try Sports – Parry Sound  $48

Liv Outside – in Bracebridge ~$42

Oxygen Bike Co. – Toronto $ 75

Kamikaze Bikes – Collingwood $50

Friday Harbour  – Lake Simcoe  $25 for 2 hours

Adventure 360 – Sudbury $65

velorution – Sault Ste. Maire  $50

 

Here are a few websites for more info:

Wikipedia – Fatbike

Bike Cottage Country

Explorer’s Edge

Northern Ontario Travel

Fat Bikes.ca

Fat Bike.com

Now get out there and have some fun you crazy kids!

Check the Weather and Snow Depth, before you go…



February 5, 2020 / 6 Comments / by / in , , ,
10 Reasons to Buy an Expensive Bike

I was flipping thru a Canadian Tire flyer today and came across an ad for a $99 bicycle. Sounds like a great deal doesn’t it? Full 18-speed, knobby tires and a nice colour. It has two wheels, a handlebar, seat and pedals, what else could I want?

But a bike is not a bike by a parts list alone. A person new to bike riding would think the savings would put them way ahead of any benefits an expensive $1000+ bike could. Here is why that is foolish reasoning and why you should save your coin for a better set of wheels.

1 – Good Experience – Top of the list is a better all around riding experience. It will encourage you to ride again. If you don’t like getting on your bike for reasons below, it will sit in the garage and you will sit on the couch.

2 – Dependable – Nothing worse than a sudden mechanical failure in the middle of nowhere. All bikes can break, but typically more of this ($$$) equals less grief.

3 – Weight – Cheap bikes have a lot of iron. Just a few good hills will convince you that lighter is always a better buy.

4 – Longevity – Expensive bikes last longer, with the cost over the lifetime being cheaper.

5 – Safety – You can depend on a good bike to stay together and not endanger your life.

6 – Quality – Expensive bikes operate better, have smoother shifting and better braking. Good bike ergonomic design helps your posture and reduces sore backs, and limbs.

7 – Repairs – A good bike is worth fixing. Mechanics will know your brand and parts will be available.



8 – Maintenance – Bicycles are mechanical and wear out.  Cheap bikes have soft, thin metal, poor part tolerances and design. Again, a quality bike lasts longer with few problems.

9 – Ride Better – A well designed bike with quality components enables you to push yourself, knowing the bike will take you there. Gears, brakes and shocks perform better giving you confidence and enjoyment.

10 – Cool Factor – Hey, it has to be mentioned that if you think you’re on a killer bike then maybe your friends will give you some respect. (The rest you earn on the ride.)

So what should you spend for a good ride? I’ll save that question for another post …but briefly you need to ask yourself how often you plan to ride and where. These days a bicycle comes in many flavours.

Do you want to just putt around city parks on a hybrid or bomb down ski hills? Here is a very general list of minimum price points. And watch out, bikes can also be overpriced. Way over priced…got 10 grand $$.

Minimum price for a quality bike:

Kids bike $400
Hybrid bike $ 500

Mountain bike, front shock $ 700
Mountain bike, full suspension $ 1100
Downhill MTB $ 1500

happy hunting – Dan

 

May 1, 2017 / 4 Comments / by / in ,
Fall Bike Riding Tips

So you had a good summer of riding and you’re not ready to put the bike away. And why should you? Fall bike riding can be some of the best touring ever. Sure it’s a bit cooler and wet but with proper planning who cares.

Fall riding is different on a few fronts. You have to dress differently, days get shorter and the terrain can get slippery. The best part is beautiful fall colours, no crowds and no bugs!

Sunny days will tend to have cooler clear skies.Just like with spring here in Ontario we can get more rain but those cloudy days may be more mild and it most often does not rain.

After checking your weather forecast pack a rain jacket if you think it may open up on the ride. Or tough it out and have a change of clothing in the car. I have yet to find a riding jacket that both blocks the rain and breaths. Find one with vents if you can.

As always wear layers but don’t wear too many. Start your ride a little chilled as the workout should warm you up. The trick has always been, if you need to peel a layer off, how do you carry it?

Tying a jacket around your waist is awkward and could be dangerous if it slips into your spokes. A pannier or backpack would be a better place. Consider full fingered gloves, wool socks and some kinda head/ear warmer when is a chilly morning start.

As for food, you will likely need a little less water but more power bars on the ride to help fuel you on cold days. Keep the heavy food like fruit in your car upon your return.

Terrain changes in the fall and generally gets slippery.



As long as you compensate for the wet rock, clay or leaves all should be fine. Slow down, watch your turns, test the range of your bicycle’s and tires’ ability to manage the path. It’s a time for tires with knobby tread if you wish to switch.

I also have found a lot of leaves on the ground can hide the trail, soften it and suck up a lot of your energy. Leaves can also hide things, so watch out for wheel ruts and loose rocks when bombing down a hill.

The weather is always more sunny than you think north of Toronto. In all my years of riding, I can’t tell you how often I’ve looked out my window in the morning here in Toronto, thinking maybe I should stay home.

Only to find later on my ride north of the city that the weather was awesome. (except for that hail one time – lol)

Don’t hesitate, just do it. You will likely be glad you did.

 

September 7, 2016 / by / in , ,
Find winter sport trails for X-Ski and Snowshoeing on our sister site - Ontario Ski Trails.com

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Hey, this may be interesting for you: Winter Fatbike Riding in Ontario!

This is the link: https://ontariobiketrails.com/ride-fat-bikes-ontario/

Lets get together and do a ride soon.