Tranquil scene with two cyclists on fatbikes riding through a snow-covered forest.
By Katie Smith

Fat tire biking has become increasingly popular, especially in the Northeast as it’s a sport that can be enjoyed year round. Whether you love biking in the snow, on mountain bike trails, through mud or even on pavement, a fat tire bike can give you a smooth ride over almost any terrain.

The first, modern version of a fat tire bike was built in the late 1980s and was designed to be used in snow and sand. What makes these bikes easier to ride in bumpy or rough terrain is their  low ground pressure as their frames are wider than your typical road or mountain bike.

The tires and rims are also bigger. A fat tire bike can also be ridden with lower tire inflation pressure to make a steadier ride over slippery or bumpy conditions, and you can purchase studs for your tires, making them safer in icy or really slippery conditions.

The fact you can enjoy them anytime of the year makes fat tire bikes especially attractive in a state like Maine when we crave to be active and get outside during the colder months. If you want to get out and go for a bike ride, you no longer have to wait for the roads to clear or the snow to melt. There are many year-round trails in our beautiful state to explore, and many bike shops which will rent you a fat tire bike if you don’t have one. 

Charles Lopez has been enjoying the sport for the past three years and especially loves riding in the wintertime. “Many of the local mountain bike organizations have taken to grooming trails for winter riding,” he says. “Fat tire bikes can also use snowmobile trails, and often have arrangements with snowmobile clubs to help support the grooming of these trails.”

Just remember, if you’d like to try out your bike on a snowmobile trail, always ask for permission first as not all snowmobile trails are open to bikers. 

If you are looking to try out fat tire biking, Lopez recommends you visit your local bike store and talk with them about what interests you most about the sport and get some expert advice on the kind of bike that would be right for you.

Try it without the commitment!

There are lots of places to rent a fat tire bike and experience a ride before you purchase. Here are just a few:

  • AJ’s Cycles in Rangeley. You can rent a bike from AJ’s for as little as a half day or as long as a week. They will even bring them to your desired riding location for you.
  • Green Machine Bike Shop in Norway.
  • Gorham Bike And Ski in Portland, Saco, Brunswick and Kennebunk. The stores rent out fat tire bikes for $50 a day at all four locations.
  • Bath Cycle & Ski in Woolwich.
  • New England Outdoor Center in Millinocket. Rent a bike for $15 per hour, $40 for a half day or $60 for a full day. 
  • Pine Land Farms in New Gloucester. Rates for rentals start at $30 for two hours; you can buy additional time at $10 an hour. This rental also includes a helmet. 
  • Ski Rack Sports in Bangor. Fat tire bike rentals start at $35 a day. You can also rent one for the week if you’d like to try out a bike longer. 
  • Maine Sports Outfitters in Rockport. You can rent a fat tire bike for just under $50 a day.

Where to go

There are many trails to choose from and chances are there are some in your neck of the woods. Call your local bike shop or Google fat tire biking in your area. Some of the popular trails in Maine are:

  • Bradbury State Park in Pownal
  • Lily Pond Bath Trails in Bath
  • Carrabassett Valley Trail System
  • Gorham Trails
  • Topsham Ponds
  • Rangeley Lakes Trail Center
  • Shepard’s Farm Preserve in Norway
  • Range Pond State Park in Poland 

See this Section as it appeared in print here