Published Somedays

Fat bikes are a gateway drug…

(updated: May 4, 2017)

…to recreational enhancement cycling … or whatever. As the self-proclaimed inventor of beach fat biking (because there’s no snow in Wilmington, but a shit-ton of sand), as well as road-trail-beach mixed surface riding, it may seem hard to believe that I have abandoned Wilming-ton-o-sand for the mountains. After all, people have been riding bikes in the mountains for years, ever since Gary Fisher and friends bombed down California fire roads on cruiser bikes with boiling coaster brakes. And because lift-assisted bike parks did not exist yet, they used the last remaining Wooly Mammoth to pull them back up the mountain. Truly ingenious, considering Mammoth powered vehicles were in common use at the time. But other than suspension, carbon, and increasing numbers of unnecessarily complicated pivots, there’s nothing new here. You go up the mountain, you do down the mountain. That’s pretty much it. But flat mixed surface riding is so new and exciting, isn’t it? Road, trail, beach, all in one ride. It’s fucking amazing!

When people ride road bikes, they pretty much stick to the roads. Then after mountain biking came along, people stuck to the woods. And yeah, there’s cyclocross but you can’t ride them damn things in the sand, even though they try. It’s hilarious to watch.

And why the fuck do we have gravel-specific bikes? You can ride gravel on ANY bike. Bikes are gravel ready by default. But with the introduction of fat bikes and now plus bikes, you have a machine that can go anywhere, including on sand. Mind-blowing, I know.

So I rode the fat bike for years on multiple surfaces, but I found that if you were trying to ride it 100 miles like in the FAC ride all the way to Bald Head, it was a lot to handle. Which is where the 29-plus comes in. For years we put the largest 29” tires we could find on our bikes, which was fine, until Surly and other companies came out with 3.0’s, which was a perfect compromise. You were far better off on the road with narrower tires, got better handling in the trails, and did just fine on the beach on the larger hoops provided you stayed away from the really soft stuff, dogs, and fishing poles. And Dug. Beware of Dug.

I predict in the future everybody in Wilmington will eventually be riding 29-plus everywhere. I hear Specialized is coming out with one called the Frat Boy, or was it Flat Joy? Fat Bro? Flat Buoy? Slim Fat? Whatever, you’ll be selling your Fat Boys soon. I’m sure of it just as I’m sure my hair will grow back.

So here are some pics from my ride up at Topsail, where it went from sunny to moonlit in short order. These pics are from back in February before Daylight Savings Time went into effect and the shores were clear and free of people frying themselves to bacon. Mmmm....bacon.


The light is so sublime here:

Filed Under: Ride Reports > North Carolina > Topsail


1. Ed said...

They work great in the mountains too. I rode Wilson Creek ridge trail this weekend and had no trouble climbing and bombing the downhill.

May 25, 2017 @ 4:15 PM

2. Michael said...

Great photos! Slapping a set of Big Apples on my steel Redline changed cycling in Wilmington for me. Today, Krampus is my go-everywhere bike.

May 27, 2017 @ 3:20 AM


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