BDN reporter Aislinn Sarnacki rides a fat bike on a snowmobile trail in Bangor on March 21, 2015. Credit: Photo courtesy of Sarah Hannah

Fat biking is becoming increasingly popular in Maine, but the cost of the equipment needed for the sport can be prohibitive for beginners. In response to this problem, several bike shops, outfitters and recreation centers throughout the state have started offering rental fat bikes, allowing people to test out the activity without making a big initial investment.

For those who don’t know, a fat bike is simply a mountain bike with big — or “fat” — tires. The width and grip of these special tires make them especially suitable for riding on snow, sand and other soft, slippery surfaces. The tires have also proved to be a great option for Maine’s especially rocky, root-filled terrain, making this type of bike a year-round option.

[Fat biking tips for beginners in Maine]

For those interested in trying the sport, here are a few places in Maine that offer rental fat bikes, plus suggestions of nearby trails to explore. Call ahead of time to check trail conditions and availability of bikes.

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Pineland Farms in New Gloucester

At Pineland Farms, a 5,000-acre farm and recreational property, a small fleet of six rental fat bikes are available at the Outdoor Center. The rental cost is $30 for two hours, and $10 for each additional hour. It includes a trail pass, helmet and bike. During the winter, more than 10 miles of trails, shared by snowshoers, are open to fat biking on the property. In addition, about 17 miles of cross-country ski trails open up to cyclists during the summer. The address is 15 Farm View Drive in New Gloucester. For more information, call 207-688-4539 or visit pinelandfarms.org.

Ski Rack Sports in Bangor

The store, located at 24 Longview Drive in Bangor, rents fat bikes for $35 a day or $175 a week. For more information, call 207-945-6474 or visit skiracksports.com. Nearby trails include single-track trails at Essex Woods and the Bangor City Forest, both in Bangor, and trails at Great Pond Mountain Wildlands in Orland.

Rose Bike in Orono

The store, located at 9 Pine Street in Orono, rents a full range of Farley 5 fat bikes. The cost is $35 for half the day, $55 for a full day, $100 for a weekend and $275 for the whole week. For more information, visit rosebike.com or call 207-866-3525. Nearby trails are located behind Orono High School and at the University of Maine. The Rick Swan Trail System at Perch Pond is another great option.

AJ’s Fat Bike in Rangeley

The shop, located at 2745 Main Street in Rangeley, offers fat bike rentals for $35 for half the day, $55 for a full day and $250 for a week. The address is 2745 Main Street in Rangeley. For more information, visit ajsfatbikes.com or call 207-864-2850. The shop suggests that cyclists explore the town of Rangeley. There are plenty of trails in the region, including single-track trails designated for fat bikes at Rangeley Lakes Trail Center.

[My first ride on a fat bike]

Rangeley Lakes Trail Center in Dallas Plantation

You can rent fat bikes (from AJ’s Fat Bike shop) right at the welcome yurt at Rangeley Lakes Trail Center, at 524 Saddleback Mountain Road in Dallas Plantation. Located just outside of the town of Rangeley, the trail center features miles of single-track trails designated for fat biking and snowshoeing (as well as cross-country ski trails). Rental fat bikes are $35 for half the day and $55 for a full day. You’ll also need to pay for a day pass, which ranges in price from $11 to $20 depending on your age. Guided tours and lessons are also available if you call ahead to set up a time. For more information, visit rangeleylakestrailscenter.org or call 207-864-4309.

Maine Sport Outfitters in Rockport

The store rents plus-size tire bikes, which have tires that are slightly smaller than fat bike tires but work well in the snow, especially in the midcoast area where the snow usually isn’t too deep. Rental costs are $48 a day, $76 for two days and so on. The address is 115 Commercial Street in Rockport. On the property, the store maintains four miles of single-track trails for snowshoeing and fat biking. For more information, visit mainesport.com or call 207-236-7120. Nearby trails open to fat bikes are located at the Camden Snow Bowl and Camden Hills State Park. The multi-use trails at the north end of the park, off Youngtown Road in Lincolnville, are a good option.

Sidecountry Sports in Rockland

At the store, located at 481 Main Street in Rockland, rental fat bikes are $50 a day. For more information, call 207-701-5100 or visit sidecountrysports.com. For nearby trails to explore, the shop suggests Thomaston Town Forest, which features several miles of new, groomed fat biking trails.

Sugarloaf Outdoor Center in Carrabassett Valley

Home to a large trail network, the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center rents 10 fat bikes of various sizes (four small, four medium and two large). The cost of the rental is $40 for two hours and $90 for a full day, trial pass included. If you have your own bike, the trail pass is $10. At the center, fat bikes are permitted on a 5.5-mile loop trail and a trail that leads up to Sugarloaf Mountain that’s a little under 4 miles long. In addition, fat bikes are often found using the nearby 6-mile Narrow Gauge Trail. For more information, visit sugarloaf.com/the-outdoor-center or call 207-237-6830.

Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki

Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop in Bar Harbor

If interested in exploring Acadia National Park, this shop rents out fat bikes for $40 a day or $200 for a week. The address is 141 Cottage Street in Bar Harbor. For more information, visit barharborbike.com or vall 207-288-3886. Nearby, fat bikes are permitted on the carriage roads of Acadia National Park but are asked to stay off classic cross-country ski tracks. The snow on many of these carriage roads are packed down by snowmobilers, which creates great conditions for fat biking.

New England Outdoor Center in Millinocket

The New England Outdoor Center rents fat bikes from River Drivers Restaurant and Pub and the Twin Pines lodge and cabins, located at the end of Twin Pines Road in Millinocket. The bikes are $15 for an hour, $40 for a half day and $60 for a full day. For more information, visit neoc.com or call 207-723-5438. Nearby are plenty of trails to explore, including a new network of single-track trails built by Katahdin Area Trails that start right at the restaurant. The temperature must be below freezing to prevent fat bikers from damaging these new trails. Also, in nearby Baxter State Park, bicycles are permitted on Abol Stream Trail from Dec. 1 to April 1, and on the Tote and Roaring Brook roads year round.

Busytown Bikes in Lewiston

The shop, located at 996 Sabattus Street in Lewiston, rents fat bikes for $35 a day. For more information, visit busytownbikes.com or call 207-241-3233. There are several nearby trails that are open to the activity, including groomed trails at Lake Auburn Community Center, Lost Valley ski area and Range Pond State Park.

Gorham Bike and Ski in Portland, Saco, Brunswick and Kennebunk

The business rents out fat bikes for $50 a day from four shops in Maine. The shop at 693 Congress Street in Portland, can be reached at 207-773-1700. The shop at 247 Main Street in Saco, can be reached at 207-283-2453. The shop at 88 Union Street in Brunswick, can be reached at 207-725-1100. And the shop at 65 Portland Road in Kennebunk, can be reached at 207-604-1136. For more information, visit gorhambike.com.

Cyclemania in Portland

The store, located at 65 Cove Street in Portland, rents out fat bikes for $40 a day. For more information, visit cyclemania1.com or call 207-774-2933. Nearby, the trails at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal are great for fat biking. For more trail locations, check out the list provided by the Greater Portland chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association at nemba.org/chapters/gpnemba.

Bethel Village Trails in Bethel

About 8 miles of intersecting trails are open to fat bikes at Bethel Village Trail, where fat bikes (with helmets) are available for rent for $30 for two hours and $10 for each additional hour. Provided by the nearby shop Barker Mountain Bikes, these rental fat bikes are available right at The Bethel Inn Resort, which acts as a home base for the trail network. Visitors will also need to pay an additional $11 to use the trails. This trail system hosts an annual fat bike race, Snowmaggedon, which this year is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 2. The Bethel Inn Resort is located at 21 Broad Street in Bethel. For more information, visit mahoosucpathways.org or call 207-824-6276.

Northwoods Outfitters in Greenville 

The store, located in the heart of Greenville at the intersection of Route 15 and Pritham Avenue, rents fat bikes for $45 for half the day and $60 for a full day. The address of the store is 5 Lily Bay Road in Greenville. For more information, call 207-695-3288 or visit maineoutfitter.com. Nearby, the Appalachian Mountain Club trail system that connects the AMC wilderness lodges and cabins is groomed and open to fat bikes. In addition, fat bikers often explore the hard-packed snowmobile trails, many of which follow unplowed logging roads. Biking is also done on the trails crossing the frozen surface of Moosehead Lake.

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Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.