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Snowbiking sans snow bike

I’ve always wanted a snow bike… if you don’t know what that is, here is a picture:


Super fat tires. Super phat fun! The fat tires give you a lot more stability in the powder…think powder skis.

While I’ve never tried a “snow bike,” I have hit the trails on my mountain bike.


I’m always in New Mexico over the holidays and find myself mixing trail riding and snow. There is a great network of trails ranging from 5700-6800′ of elevation. Normally I groan when it snows, but if it snows enough, the trails are blanketed in soft white powder and the trail is protected. It’s even better to make fresh tire tracks the next morning!  The best time to go is the day after it snows…before it melts and refreezes making dangerous ice patches on the trail.



There is something special about mountain biking in the snow.  Everything is quiet, the etheral light almost makes things dream-like .  I feel like I have the entire foothills to myself.



I use 2.4 tires…the fatter the better.  Bigger knobs are beneficial as well.

How do you know when it’s safe or okay to ride in the snow?  How do you ride in the snow?

  • If you don’t have a snowbike, you should be ok if there is about 4 inches of snow.  A good rule of thumb is to look and see if your derailleur would be dragging through it.
  • Really wet snow can be tough to ride in because if it is splashing and spraying slush and snow onto your drivetrain, your drivetrain can freeze and your bike will no longer shift.  If your drivetrain freezes, you can fix it by stopping at the gas station and and rinsing off the drivetrain with a water bottle full of warm water.
  • Be aware of your rear wheel.  It will slip out from under you in the corners or when you’re on the brakes a little faster than expected.  Take the corners a little slower.
  • Keep the weight on the back tire
  • The bonus is it normally doesn’t hurt when you fall!
  • Stay loose.  It’s helpful when you start to get out of control or if you hit some unseen rocks in the trail
  • Riding in snow is like riding in sand – it’s tiring!
  • You CAN buy studded snow tires.  I know Continental and Schwable make them.
  • Run lower tire pressure
  • Don’t make any sudden movements and control your speed on the downhills
  • Wear proper clothing including A HELMET!

AND watch out for your bottle freezing and getting dehyrdated.
Cold, flat riding.
I have a couple Polar Bottles that prevent it from happening now!


It’s not quite as fun on snowy, slushy roads….

You may not get a snowbike, but check out a few of these dream rides in our Bike Buyer’s Guide!

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