The thought of an afternoon of cycling when the mercury has dropped and the slush starts to splash might not be everyone’s idea of a good time but for Andrea Haughn and Lloyd McLean of Lyons Brook, they are just as happy to hit the trials when the snow starts to fly as when the trees start to bud in the spring. The secret to their cycling happiness…
a fat tire bike.

Like a lot of things that move on the road these days, bicycles are having their turn at the hybrid mash up. The Fat Tire bike marries up the big wheels that you would see on a dirt bike with a nimble frame of a road bike and voilà you have a bike that can manage just about anything at any time of the year.

The fat tire bike has been a slow trend to catch on but they are becoming increasingly popular. I decided to take Andrea and Lloyd up on their offer to go for a test drive and see what everyone is getting so pumped up about!

On the quintessential fall day, with a cool breeze and a shower of warm coloured leaves making their way to the ground around me we head for a ride along the Pictou Waterfront. It’s late fall but no sign of snow to really see what this baby can do but I did get a good idea of how a big tire bike feels in comparison to my own traditional wheels.

Detail of a rubber wheel mountain bike.

Before we hopped on the bikes McLean explained to me a bit about the bikes and some important things to keep in mind while on the ride, or for those who might be looking at the bikes.

A proper car mount was a big part of what McLean told me about because its great to be able to take your bike to different places. So if you are looking for a car mount make sure it is designed to hold the big tires. It’s not all one size fits all for bike racks.

Although there is only two of them living under their roof, Andrea and Lloyd own three fat tire bikes. Lloyd has an aluminum one outfitted with studs for the commute to work in the wintertime, one with a carbon fiber frame that is much lighter for long rides, and another aluminum framed bike with regular fat tires.

The bikes have different seats on them, one more suited for Andrea and two that Lloyd finds more comfortable.

They shared that if you are looking for a proper bike seat to have put your tush to the test at a bike shop. Lloyd also says to make sure you have a good seat and that everyone has a different back side and what one person thinks is a comfortable seat may be a pain in the butt for someone else.

As we took off on our short trip down the Jitney Trail I could feel the difference of a well adjusted bike and of course the welcomed cushion on the bigger tires as we proceeded on to the gravel.

As with any bike ride you are not going to be completely bump free. I felt dips in the road as we rolled along, but compared to my 12 speed I drove as a teenager this bike was a dream. There is no feeling every single piece of gravel you hit on the trail and no wincing or dreading it when you hit a big rock.

Unlike some other bikes, a fat tire bike can be used universally. From downhill mountain biking and trails to road cycling and even on the sandy beach!

The wider tires allow the bike to make it over traditionally “no bike terrain” such as sand or snow. By lowering the pounds per square inch (PSI) in the tires by letting out a bit of air there is more surface area on the tires to allow them to glide over surfaces that would make a normal bike sink.

Lloyd, an avid cyclist that is no stranger to long trips and has even cycled across Canada says that his fat tire bike has all of the versatility he needs. For people who are on the road with their bikes year round as much as they are Andrea says she most enjoys the stability
of the bike and adds that for anyone who is nervous cycling on the road, the fat tire style is a good choice. “The bigger surface area of the tires helps with common problems like cracks, potholes and even road kill,” says Andrea. She adds that she has noticed that some cars pay more attention to them on the road because of the tire size. “You just stand out a little more.”

If you are game to try some winter cycling be sure to layer up. With a few winters of traversing the Pictou Causeway on his way to and from his work in Stellarton, up hill both ways and for months in the darkness of winter, Lloyd says that marino wool has become his secret weapon. “It’s warm yet light and breathable and you can add on as many layers as you need.”

At the end of our bike ride I was energized and despite not being a fan of biking for some time I could absolutely see myself taking a trip on a fat tire bike again as a way to get more exercise in the winter and enjoy the great outdoors in a new way.

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