Prehistoric Fat Bike
I’m a Minnesotan and have competed in winter bike races. I also have a couple of friends that used to do the Alaskan Iditarod bike event back in the early 1990’s. I thought that I had seen, and maybe even ridden, two of the very first bikes designed for riding on snow (that are now referred to as “Fat Bikes”.
My friend Mike Madden raced the Iditabike a number of times, and he had a Fat Chance mountain bike fitted with double rims (two regular mountain bike rims, welded together so that a 26 x 2” tire would spread out and provide a bigger footprint in the snow). It felt slow to me, but on top of hard-packed snow it just cruised.
Erik Noren, the gifted artisan behind Peacock Groove custom bicycles once worked at QBP (the bicycle wholesaler behind Surly bikes) in Minneapolis. I had the chance to ride the first snow bike that Erik ever made. That Peacock Groove bike was a hoot to ride around through the Minneapolis autumn leaves, and I understood what a game changer a bike like that would be for a cyclist who had to endure a midwest winter. Surly and some QBP employees must have come to the same conclusion too, as Surly was pretty blatant in copying many of Erik’s design elements for the first Surly Pugsley.
Now I have to admit that neither of these bikes were even close to being the first fat bikes.
Check out this photo that Jeff unearthed from the 1940’s.
Looks like the rider is headed for the beach, not snow…