Fat bike history
by Kathi Merchant- fat biker & Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) race director Alaska
Where did fat bikes come from?
Who invented them?
Does Iditabike still exist?
Were they invented to ride in the sand or in the snow or both?
When I first moved to Alaska in 2002 from Germany, I started racing and riding in the Iditarod Trail Invitational race, training and riding in the snow. One of my favorite places has always been riding to the Knik Glacier which is a place you can’t ride to in the summertime. We get there by riding through a glacial river valley crossing frozen creeks and crossing the main river channel of the Knik River several times. Few people had fat bikes back then. There were less than 50 fat bikes in the world.
People now recognize a FAT BIKE. They are ridden on surfaces such as snow, sand and mud, in many places such as Alaska, the Midwestern and Western states, beaches in Australia, California in Namibia, South Africa, in Costa Rica in the Fat La Ruta race.
Just a few years ago I wondered if they would ever catch on in Europe and they finally have. The fat bike wave has made it across the Big Pond to Europe. Switzerland hosted a fat bike event, called the “Snow Epic” with over 100 fat bikers this year in January.
There are dozens of face book sites and groups dedicated to fat biking. Fat bikes are everywhere now. What was a fad at one time has gone main stream in the last few years.
Today fat bikes are the fastest growing segment of the bicycle industry.
Exploring, riding and racing deep into the back country, off road surfaces and even off trail surfaces is where riders were pushing the boundaries of mountain biking. Always looking for a bigger adventure and more places to ride. Fat bikers seek out amazing places and take pictures of their fat bike on sand dunes, glaciers, frozen rivers and lakes, snowy mountains, then post it on it on the internet where more people get inspired to get a fat bike to reach such cool places.
The story of fat bikes may have unfolded at the same time in the United States in Alaska, New Mexico and in the Sahara trying to ride bicycles on sand and on snow. Places and surfaces difficult to ride a standard mountain bike with standard mountain bike tires.