by Roger Lohr, originally published in xcskiresorts.com, March 16, 2018
Fat bikes, dubbed the “Hummers of the two-wheelers’ world” are proliferating with more than 150 cross country (XC) ski areas in North America that welcome fat bikes on their snow covered trails. These specially-made bicycles that accommodate ultra-wide tires that can be run at very low pressure 4-8 pounds of pressure allow fat bikes to roll over soft, slippery surfaces like snow. XC ski areas and regional pockets across the nation from Vermont to Michigan and Arizona to California and Washington now have fat bike trails with single track groomed and signed trails and rental bikes, and special events.
A small group of North American Snowsports Journalist Association members were recently introduced to fat biking by the welcoming folks at Kingdom Trails in Lyndonville, VT. The group found the bikes easy to balance and maneuver. Similar to XC skiing, the fat bikes provide exercise when going on flat terrain with more effort required up hills earning thrills on the downhills.
An industry source (at QBP, manufacturers of fat bike brands Surleybikes and Salsacycles, boots, gloves, accessories and apparel) recently reported that 150,000-200,000 fat bikes that have been sold since 2010. These bikes provide a great way for avid cyclists to stay in shape during the winter season and they provide different recreational fun for people who are active or love the outdoors.
Fat biking at Kingdom Trails in northeastern Vermont is no small matter. It is the foremost mountain bike destination in the east with more than 40,000 day passes sold in 2017 (20% increase from the previous year) and they’ve quickly parlayed this notoriety into becoming a mecca for fat bikers in the winter. Kingdom Trails has 100 miles of bike trails (30 of which are used in winter for XC skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking) and works with 80 different land owners. They also host Winterbike, which is the biggest fat bike festival in the east. The organization conducted a survey of bikers showing that they are generally aged 45-60 and reportedly attract $8-10 million of business to the region!
At Darling Hill Road in Lyndonville, the Village Sport Shop has a trailside facility adjacent to the Kingdom Trails Nordic Adventure Center renting fat bikes for $55 a day and sells the bikes ranging from $1,800 to $2,800. Fat bike products include softgoods, accessories and bikes available from companies such as Liv Bikes, Giant, and Pivot among others.
Another option for those who would like an introduction to fat biking is to have a guide at Kingdom Experiences take care of all the details. They’ve got certified instructors and want to help cyclists have an experience catered specifically to rider skill and ability levels offering kids camps, women’s clinics and getaways and more.
Kingdom Trails employs three paid groomers, who pack and maintain about 30 miles of trails. Day membership prices (day pass for trail access) are $15 a day for those aged 16-69 and $7 for youth aged 8-15. There are also year-round memberships available with an annual family membership priced at $150. Memberships and rules of fat bike etiquette can be found at the Kingdom Trails Welcome Center in East Burke or the Kingdom Trails Nordic Adventure Center on Darling Hill Road in Lyndonville.