"Fat" bikes gaining popularity in Eau Claire

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) Wisconsinites are known for embracing the winter weather, with activities like ice fishing and snowmobiling.

But what if you're a cyclist?

Riding on snow or ice can prove difficult on two wheels. But now there may be a solution.

"What makes them different from a typical mountain bike is the wheel system and the tires are about four inches wide some are as wide as five inches. Your traditional mountain bike tire is about 2 inches," says Terry Hints, owner of Eau Claire Bike and Sport.

The massive tires are called fat bikes.

"The industry is trying to get us to call them fat bikes not snow bikes and they're useable year round," says Hints.

Hints say the fat bikes were first introduced about ten years ago and have really gained a lot of popularity in the last couple of years, mainly due to their versatility. Riders can now extend their riding season well into the winter months. And taking fat bikes to places where traditional bikes haven't gone before.

"You run extremely low pressure so you've got a much greater footprint so traction is really good. They work super well in sand they work great on a snow shoe trail. The only place they really have a problem, just like a traditional bike, would be ice and they make studded tires for that," explains Hints.

Some may look at these fat bikes and wonder if the larger tires make them hard to ride. Hints says that's typically not the case.

"When we have someone test ride one they come back with a big smile on their face, awe that's cool! The typical reaction when you first see it if you haven't seen it before is that it's going to be heavy, so then you grab the thing and you lift it up and say, holly smokes, I can't believe how light this thing is! The other maybe stereotype is, because the wheels, is that it's going to be slow and clunky. Not at all, it's real responsive," adds Hints.

Although they seem strange, Hints encourages people to embrace the fat bikes and just get out there and ride one.

After all, with the winter we've had it doesn't look like the snow will be going anywhere for a while!

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