pic source: fat-bike.com
As much as I am happy and excited about Mutant Winter III, there is another winter cycling solution I am interested in. Fat Bikes. These are bikes that are designed for use on snow or sand or generally ugly terrain, characterized by crazy wide rims and very wide and usually rather soft tires. Good examples of the most popular are the Salsa Mukluk and the Surly Pugsley.
The reason I'm interested is that I could ride the unplowed and icy MUPs in London Ontario on one of these wonderful mutant-by-design bicycles. Studded skinny or even MTB tires aren't good enough to handle them; I have tried. The thing is, crazy wide rims and tires require crazy wide forks and crazy everything else. Crazy is expensive, especially when 1 in 1000 cyclists* will really want and actually pay for one. To give you an idea, searching ebay.ca for "surly pugsley" or "salsa mukluk" doesn't even yield any results featuring full bikes... $300 rims, etc, but no bikes.
I don't have the money to buy one of these things. A Pugsley sells for about $1700 on REI. A Mukluk runs about the same. I started looking into building one, but quickly realized that even the parts and tires put these things out of reach for me right now.
One nice thing I discovered while looking into building one of these monsters was gripstuds.com. There have always been DIY methods of studding bike tires, but I've never really believed that hardware store screws would hold up very well. Grip Studs fill the gap nicely. They are expensive, but with these you could stud any tire you wanted with high quality studs rather than trying to find a finished product like I have so far.
I think I'm gonna go talk to the people at First Cycleworks... they seem to enjoy building mutant cycles more than most other shops in town and I'm hoping they might have some useful and doable fat bike advice for me. Wish me luck!
R A N T W I C K
* That statistic is based on nothing tangible. The 1000 could as easily be 500 or 10000. The author of this blog is thinking you'll get the idea whether number is accurate or not.