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Now’s Ultimate Guide to Winter Fat Biking

Part 1

The days are rapidly shortening, daylight savings has ended, and the only trees still holding onto their leaves are either late or deliriously optimistic. Winter is descending upon us. Many of us are desperately trying to squeeze our last rides of the season in, but there are others who are preparing to brave the elements.

Fat bikes have been a staple of Minnesota riding for years now, but a lot of folks still have questions, so we’re here to answer them. From the bikes that we offer, to the essential gear needed to successfully survive, and even thrive in the cold, let this all inclusive guide lead the way. Have further questions? You’re always a phone call or a quick visit away from your favorite shop. Without further ado, here is Now’s Ultimate Guide to Winter Fat Biking.


Let’s start out with the single most important piece of the puzzle: the bike. Where did this all begin? If you want the really in-depth answer, I highly recommend reading this article from It’s seriously fascinating, so check it out. The first wide tire bikes were custom made in the 1980’s for races like the Iditabike challenge. These grueling races traversed treacherous terrain that bikes weren’t designed to handle yet, so participants had to get creative. They built bikes with multiple rims side by side to increase the width of their tire contact patch. Manufacturers started to catch on, and in 2005 Surly released the Pugsley. A purpose built fat bike with a 3.7” tire. The Pugsley started a movement which eventually led to the wide array of fat bikes available today.


Let’s start with the hometown favorite we all know, Salsa. Salsa is also owned by Quality Bicycle Products, the same industry supplier that owns Surly Bikes, among many others. They know a thing or two about fat bikes. After all, they designed and mass produced the first one. Those first Surly bikes were made of steel because it was cheap and allowed them to take a risk on something new. Once it worked out, Salsa quickly began working on aluminum and carbon offerings which resulted in the two models we see today. The Beargrease and the Mukluk.


Our most popular model has to be the Salsa Beargrease. It is versatile, fast, and offered in a wide variety of builds to fit any rider’s budget. The defining feature of the Beargrease is the 27.5”x4” tire size. Most fat bikes use 26” wheels, but the Beargrease opts for the larger 27.5” wheel diameter for increased rollover capabilities, and more momentum for maintaining high speeds. It is designed for groomed racing, but can handle a wide variety of terrain. The Kingpin fork comes with Dual Three-Pack mounts on each leg to let you attach water bottles or Anything Cages, and mid-blade mounts to fit low rider racks for panniers. The Beargrease is offered in three build options, all with a carbon frame: Deore 11spd for $2699, SLX 12spd for $3449, and X01 with carbon wheels for $6799.

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For the more adventurous souls, the Mukluk is the rig for you. Designed around a wider 5” tire, the bike is made to float over the roughest terrain and the deepest snow. If you like to be the first one out on the trails after a fresh snow, you may want to give the Mukluk a closer look. And because the Mukluk is offered in both aluminum and carbon frame options, it offers a more affordable option for those looking to dip their toes into fat biking. The Mukluk is offered in two build options: Aluminum Advent X for $1999 and Carbon XT for $3999.

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The other hometown hero is the smaller but no less impressive Otso. The small boutique fat bike brand began as Wolf Tooth Components. Wolf Tooth manufactures all sorts of aluminum CNC’d parts such as chainrings, headsets, and multi-tools. The owners and engineers at WTC all happened to be fat bike racers, but they weren’t satisfied with the fat bikes the cycling industry had to offer. WTC provided them the overhead to develop their dream fat bike. Enter the Voytek.


The Voytek is arguably one of if not the most premium fat bike on the market, and there are multiple reasons why. To start things off, the Voytek is multiple bikes in one. Thanks to Otso’s patented Tuning Chip system, you can adjust the chainstay length to accommodate multiple wheel sizes. So one premium frame can be your mountain bike AND your fatbike. 

The Voytek has more right to this claim than others since it is also the only fat bike designed to handle like a mountain bike as well. How so? One little number dubbed the “Q-factor”. The Q-factor is the width of your pedals, and the Voytek has the narrowest of any fat bike by 20%. By reducing the width of the pedals, your pedalling force can be more vertical causing the bike to swing from side to side less with each pedal stroke. Can you tell that Otso is owned and run by a bunch of engineers? They’ve thought of everything. If you’re looking for more info on the Voytek, check out our comparison article between the Beargrease and the Voytek.

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The Voytek is available in an infinite number of variations that can be customized using Otso’s Custom Bike Configurator, but most of our models start at $3769.



New to our show floors this year is the Giant Yukon. If you’re looking for the most affordable entry into fat biking look no further. The Yukon is a budget fat bike, but make no mistake, it is still plenty capable. This bike comes with all the features you want on a modern fat bike including Shimano’s Deore 12 speed shifting, hydraulic disc brakes, a carbon fork, and tubeless ready wheels. The Yukon comes in two models, the Yukon 2 for $1829 and the Yukon 1 for $2349.

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Big Foot

The only people we can trust as much as a fat bike designed in Minnesota is a fat bike designed in Canada. Norco made its name as a mountain bike brand in British Columbia, and has since expanded its offerings to ebikes, gravel bikes, and now fat bikes. Their mountain biking heritage still shines through in the design of all their bikes. The Bigfoot takes a lot of its cues from modern mountain bike design, including a long reach and short stem for confident handling, and a steeper seat angle paired to a slack headtube angle for a powerful pedaling position and confident descending chops. Norco also offers the Bigfoot with a dropper seatpost and a suspension fork on some models, hinting even further at the bike’s mountain-conquering intentions. The Bigfoot is the only fat bike that is offered in an ebike version as well. So if you’re looking to maximize the miles on trail this winter be sure to check out the Bigfoot VLT. The Bigfoot is offered in four models: Bigfoot 3 for $1599, Bigfoot 2 for $1999, Bigfoot 1 for $2599, and the Bigfoot 1 Sus for $3199. The Bigfoot VLT is offered in two options: Bigfoot VLT 2 for $4999 and the Bigfoot VLT 1 for $5799.

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