Biking is no longer only possible during the warm seasons. Winter has been taken over by the new trend fatbiking! It offers great training opportunities for active people as well as leisurely rides for pleasure seekers. The over-sized tires make riding on snow a safe and fun adventure.

The origin of fatbikes

Fatbikes, or snowbikes, were developed in North America around 10 years ago. They were constructed to glide over the snow without sinking in. Fatbikes have massive tires and are ridden with very little pressure. They are ideal for difficult terrain such as snow, sand, sludge, and mud. After having become very popular in the snow and sand deserts of the USA, especially in Alaska and New Mexico, these bikes are at the moment conquering Switzerland as well.

Facts you should know when going fatbiking

Weather: Most people do not ride when it is cold because, well, it’s cold. Fatbikes offer a unique experience and allow you to explore familiar trails in a new light, but you have to think a little harder (read: smarter) before and during your ride if you want to stay comfortable. A little wind can drop the enjoyment factor exponentially if it is already cold outside, so a 12mph cruise on a flat, open field can be more brutal than a sheltered climb in similar weather. Humidity can make the cold feel colder too, so dress appropriately. High-alpine riding should be reserved for more experienced riders.

Clothing: Obviously, this depends on where you ride, but dressing in layers, and carrying a pack to store those layers, is the most important part of riding in the winter. It is just as easy to overheat, sweat, and suffer hypothermia when riding in the cold as it is to under-dress and be miserable. A good rule of thumb: dress like you are going skiing.

Hydration: Putting fluids in your tank is often more important in the winter than the summer, especially if you ride at high altitude, due to insensible respiratory losses. While your breathing rate increases, you may not feel the urge to consume water. Protecting your water from freezing, however, is the most important challenge when fat biking during freezing temperatures. For shorter rides, carry an insulated water bottle and start with really warm water.

Footwear: In general, no special shoes are required as long as you have a well-insulated (preferably waterproof) shoe and wear thick insulated socks, but there are several excellent shoes and boots designed for snow riding.

(source: singletracks)

Fatbiking in the Bernese Oberland in Gstaad

My blogger colleague Andy recently went on a trip to Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland and tried this new trend. Generally, there is a wide range of winter biking activities on offer in the holiday region of Gstaad. Winter biking is permitted on most of the region’s winter walking trails. On the ideal winter biking terrain at Sparenmoos above Zweisimmen there is a choice of various attractive circular tours and downhill runs.

Andy totally digged it and loved this new sports challenge. “It’s, a new way to explore the great outdoors and a great exercice.” After his first fatbike tour he was ready for a little wellness treatment at the Ultima Gstaad. ;-)

If you also wanna try it, check out these different bike routes and have fun exploring the magical winter wonderland in Switzerland.


photo credits: V’s World, Jeff Moser (flickrCC BY-ND 2.0