Fat Bike Trail Etiquette

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Riding your bike doesn’t have to end when the snow starts to fall. Thanks to the gracious work of our Chapters and hours of volunteer help, many networks are accessible to fatbiking. With an increase in trail-use this past riding season, we expect the same for the winter. Below are a few tips & tricks on how to get outside safely, have fun, and be respectful this winter.

Where can I ride?

That’s a great question! Not all networks are available for fatbiking / winter trail use. Please check with your local Chapter to ensure that they allow access (and that the trails are ready!). You can also Plan Your Ride and select “Winter Fatbiking” or “Groomed Winter Fatbiking” under the search tool.

How can I check trail conditions?

Similar to summertime, always check with your local Chapter through their website, social media, or their trail conditions platform to determine whether trails are open or closed. Vermont Fatbike, a Facebook social group, can be an extremely helpful resource when it comes to conditions, gear, maintenance, etc. Riders also need to make judgement calls when out on the trails based on temperatures and rutting (see below). 

How wide should my tires be? What about PSI?

Minimum 3.8″ width tire please. Depending on the snow surface, you’ll need to check your tire pressure (PSI). It is recommended to fill your tires to 2-8 PSI. If you are biking and leave a rut, lower your tire pressure (check out the question below about leaving ruts!). 

How do I know if I’m damaging the trail?

Just like during mud season, trails need to be ready to ride or they can be easily damaged. If you leave a rut that is deeper than 1 inch, please do not ride. Check out this graphic from FOTW. If you are unable to stay on the trail, please do not ride. Please do not drift, skid, or ride skinny tires on groomed fatbike trails, this damages the trail for other fatbike riders. 

Where do I find a bike?

Many local bike shops will rent fat bikes. Check with your local bike shop or check out our Retailers Alliance for a list of shops throughout Vermont, please note that not all bike shops in VT are listed. Local bike shops support our Chapters and riding communities in many different ways so we ask that you keep them in mind when looking for your biking needs. 

Other Important Etiquette Tips:

  • Riders yield to other trail users & please be respectful
  • Respect closed trails
  • Stay out of the set cross-country ski tracks (if there are any). Riding in ski tracks can damage them for skiers
  • Studded tires and riding lights are extremely helpful in Vermont
  • Abide by COVID-19 Guidelines

 

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