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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The impact of fat bikes [Adventure Cycling]

Last week, via Twitter we received the following question from@IslandPathways of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, regarding our #fatbikefeb campaign: “Do you have any info on the environmental impact of fat bikes in the backcountry?"

Now, I’ve been mountain biking for about as long as the activity has existed under that name. I organized Adventure Cycling’s (then Bikecentennial's) first group mountain bike trip in the 1980s, in the North Fork of the Flathead in Montana; I mapped the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in the ’90s. Yet I’ve been on a fat bike a grand total of one time — at the Fat Bike Summit last month in Island Park, Idaho, and that ride was over a groomed snowmobile trail. So, I don’t exactly consider myself a fat bike expert, nor all that qualified to comment on the impacts they might make on snowless terrain.

But from what I’ve gleaned by reading and talking to avid fat bikers, along with the application of a little common sense, it appears that their fat, low-pressure tires would cause less impact on many trails, whether wet or dry, than skinnier tired mountain bikes sometimes do. However, they are also easier to pedal cross-country, so their impact could be greater in some cases — their ability to go over terrain lacking trails could be tempting to many riders.

[Keep reading at Adventure Cycling]


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