‘Fat bikes’: A better winter ride

Bike shops prepare for snow and ice with gloves, coats

“The first time I rode one, I had a big smile.” said Jolin Fleshood, as her husband, Bob Cordalis, checks out her new fat bike on Tuesday at Velorution Cycle. Owner Joey Ernst, left, and  mechanic Tim Reinbold get it ready for her. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

“The first time I rode one, I had a big smile.” said Jolin Fleshood, as her husband, Bob Cordalis, checks out her new fat bike on Tuesday at Velorution Cycle. Owner Joey Ernst, left, and mechanic Tim Reinbold get it ready for her.

In a bicycle-friendly town such as Durango, Velorution Cycles shop owner Joey Ernst knows it will take more than cold and freezing winter weather to keep many of his customers off their bikes.

Just as car owners prepare their vehicles for winter, bicyclists are preparing, too, and Ernst and other bicycle-shop owners are getting ready for their winter customers by stocking up on winter tires, handle-bar covers, bicycle gloves, warm athletic clothing and other accessories.

Ernst is also getting ready with one of his big winter sales items, “fat bikes,” or snow bikes.

With rugged treads, 4-inch wide tires, a reliable steel body and an average weight of 34 pounds, fat bikes are popular among winter cyclists. The wide tires with aggressive treads make fat bikes ideal for riding through heavy snow and thick sand. Though they may take a bit more pedal power, cruising on adverse terrain is easier than with a mountain bike and its 2-inch tires.

The fat bikes cost several times what most low-performance bicycles go for, Ernst said, explaining they sell for $350 on up. Fat bikes run about $1,750 because of the materials and the bike’s function, Ernst said. High-performance mountain bikes can sell for much more than a fat bike, he said.

“We are pretty positive we do the most of these out of all the shops,” he said.

Ernst declined to give specific numbers on sales, but he did say that his sales have been going up during his four years in the business.

Ernst has also remodeled his bike shop and expanded his sales space so he can carry more merchandise.

Because of the cost, not all bicyclists are ready to switch to fat bikes for the winter, but they needn’t fear. Mountain bikes can still be found year-round.

Velorution Cycles and Mountain Bike Specialists of Durango have bikes marked down in price. One bike at Mountain Bike Specialists had a sign saying: “You save $400.”

Russell Zimmermann, owner of the Durango Cyclery, said the fat-bike phenomenon began about nine years ago. “We were the first shop in town to sell fat bikes,” he said.

But if fat bikes aren’t for you, the shop also offers studded tires, which are good for commuting on ice, and bicycle tire chains can be found in the shop.

Additionally, recycled and consignment bicycles can be purchased at Durango Cyclery on 13th Street.

Though the snow bikes are a popular selling item, Ernst said he does about 80 percent of his business sales during the summer.

“I expect to do better than last year,” he said.

Jeremey Thompson, sales and purchasing specialist at Mountain Bike Specialists, isn’t as optimistic, saying he anticipates fewer sales this winter. Last year, he said, the shop sold mountain bikes well into December.

Thompson acknowledged that Ernst’s shop carried the most fat bikes, but he is anticipating the arrival of a fat bike called Fatboy made by Specialized, one of the shop’s top distributors.

“It’s shipping soon,” Thompson said. “It’s slated for the end of October.” This particular model of snow bicycles will be lighter because it’s made out of aluminum, not steel like other bikes, he said. The basic model will be priced for about $2,000 and the expert will be priced for about $2,900, Thompson said, adding that his sales are typically higher in March as cyclists prepare for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.

Zimmermann said his winter sales used to drop significantly until his shop started selling the fat bikes. Since then, fat bike sales have boosted his wintertime business.

Mountain Bike Specialists also sells other winter merchandise in addition to bikes. A wide variety of warm cycling apparel can be found throughout the shop.

Gloves and lobster mittens can range anywhere between $20 to $60 dollars. Also, thermal fleece-lined cycling pants can be found at the shop anywhere between $80 to $200.

vguthrie@durangoherald.com

Joey Ernst, owner of Velorution Cycle, said “fat bikes” are better for winter bike riding because of the larger tires and treads. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Joey Ernst, owner of Velorution Cycle, said “fat bikes” are better for winter bike riding because of the larger tires and treads.

Jolin Fleshood enjoys “fat bikes,” saying the “the first time I rode one I had a big smile.” Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Jolin Fleshood enjoys “fat bikes,” saying the “the first time I rode one I had a big smile.”

Joey Ernst, owner of Velorution Cycle, assembles a fat bike on Tuesday at the downtown Durango store. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Joey Ernst, owner of Velorution Cycle, assembles a fat bike on Tuesday at the downtown Durango store.