Winter riding 101

I know we all bought our fatbikes solely due to peer pressure and because they were momentarily ‘on trend’ but…..

…..what if, chosen deity forbid, one should find oneself riding in the inhospitable and potentially deadly wintry conditions that are currently doing the rounds on one’s trusty fatbike?

Below is a quick beginner’s guide on how to not look like a proper numpty when you finally find yourself on your fatbike’s originally intended riding surface*.

*obviously fatbikes are perfect for so much more than just snow or sand but for the purposes of this article I’m going to get all puritanical on yo ass!

I’ll split winter riding into three sections and go through my thoughts and advice on each one.

They are…..

  1. Snow
  2. Ice
  3. Cold


Some of us are lucky enough to live in places where winter=snow, some of us occasionally travel to enjoy these conditions and the rest of us have to make do with those rare occasions when mother nature blesses us with a day or two of inclement weather and a few spare minutes during which to enjoy it.

Here are my top tips for riding your fatty in the snow.

– Tyre pressure:

Don’t wait to explore the world of difference that adjusting your tyre pressure can make. On any medium-long ride you’ll save time in the long run by stopping to change your tyre pressure to suit the snow. Even on short rides where you might lose time doing so your enjoyment and time spent riding rather than walking your bike will increase!

– Weight distribution and traction

Riding in snow is a little like riding in deep mud (and also nothing like it!). There’s a reason that many fatbikes designed for snowy conditions are longer wheelbase and that’s to maximise stability and traction. Keep yourself centred on your bike, keep your momentum as much as possible and stay loose in the saddle to avoid fighting the conditions.

– Falling off

This one is one of the greatest things about riding in snow! Anything above 10cm of snow and you really can get away with a lot more than you could on dirt/rocks/tarmac. Try not to worry too much about the occasional spill as snow is a lot more forgiving than you realise – get sidewards and give it some!!!


No matter where you live there’ll likely be days of frost and ice that are sent to test your skills on a bike, below are a few pearls of wisdom I’ve picked up over the years…..

– Steering


– Braking

See the above!

– Really?

Yes, as with driving in icy conditions you should try to avoid steering and braking as much as possible. Stay upright and keep your balance loose and central for the duration of the icy patch.

With a little luck you’ll arrive at the end of the section of black death with all your teeth in place and you should thank something and maybe call your mum to tell her you love her!

– “I’m going down”

Ok, so you’re on the ice and things are getting squirrelly. Fast!

Firstly take the uphill (or your preferred) foot off and create a (more stable) tripod with the two wheels and one leg to give you more stability.

If this isn’t working then you’re already in the perfect position to gently lay your bike down sideways in a controlled manner to slide out the ice in order to avoid going down like a sack of spuds!


– Layers

I know, I know, you’ve heard it a thousand times from your mum but it’s true!

Many thinner layers give you more options for adapting to changing conditions, greater sweat wicking capabilities and increased wind resistance.

– Backup

Take spare clothes, take extra clothes and even take emergency options as in proper cold conditions it can make the difference between fun and a near death experience.

– Respect (without fear)

As someone who’s ridden (and camped out) in temps down to -20°c I’ve got nothing but good things to say about riding in the cold.

But… need to have a bit of respect!

Prepare well, think ahead and have a bit of common sense and you’ll have a great time.

Fail to do the above and you could end up as a cautionary tale on an episode of 999.


Winter riding is amazing! Quiet trails, often frozen so they’re not sloppy and you’ll get plenty of ‘double hard bastard’ points from your nesh roadie mates down the pub – what are you waiting for??!


Author: Gairy

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  1. Great article!
    Although I’m still waiting on snow! I keep on hoping…

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  2. I have to say fella, very impressive…… I’ll be using some of these bad boys next time I’m out in the bliss…….

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