Fatbiking in the arctic circle

We went to Levi, Finnish Lapland to test fatbiking in a deep snow and freezing temperatures. Sounds like a lovely bike trip right?

Well… it was! Especially with the Felt Lebowske e-bike. The other bike we tested was a Charge Cooker without electric assistance. The hardest part was in the deep snow trails in the middle of forest. When you pedal there you have to have some firm show under you or you are in trouble. Wide tires will not sink to deep snow so easily. But eventually you do not have much traction when pedaling uphill in slow speeds.

One of the hardest part in the forest trails was trying to stay in the trail because the deep snow around it. Even a small slip off the trail will sink the bike half a meter to the soft snow. That was also a good thing because it is almost impossible to get hurt in that much snow around you. There was four of us and everybody fell at least once (just in testing purposes of course).

fatbiking in the arctic circle

Fatbiking In The Arctic Circle – The Bikes

So there was two different bikes: one with the electric assist and one without. Three hour rent was 50 euros for the e-bike and 25 for regular one. Not too much for the amount of fun we had in that time. 3 hours was also enough in that kind of environment for sure!

Even the temperature was freezing cold it did not have a lot of effect to the battery in Felt. It had enough power for the whole session and we even tried to consume it all before returning the bikes. But with no luck there. That might be possible if cycling with the full power all the time. That did not feel like a good idea to drain the battery in the middle of nowhere though. So we took it safe and started the non economical riding after we got out of the forest. The bike was quite fast with the electric assistance in a normal flat road. It was hard to see forward in 25km/h speed when it was snowing at the same time and not wearing goggles. The snow does not feel so good in the face in those speeds neither.

The Cooker

We had the Cooker in use in the forest trails and it was really heavy work to pedal in the curvy trails, especially uphill. No problem there if you can gain some speed before the hill but the curves slowed us down. That means the pedaling got harder as the speed was dropping. The worst part was that everyone else who has been in that same trail had the same problem and the snow got mushy in those parts. Trying to pedal in those mushy trails felt like pedaling with the exercise bike: you are not moving even if the rear wheel is.

cooker fatbiking in the arctic circle

The best solution to this problem was to try keeping your weight on the rear wheel. That might sound like a good idea but on some parts of the trail it was impossible to pedal sitting down. At the point that you stand up to pedal it is usually too late because there is not enough traction when your weight is in the center of the bike.

The Lebowske

Electric assist is a great addition in the forest. Like mentioned before, you have to keep the weight on the back. That was a lot easier with the electric assistance because you can sit down or even lean back when pedaling uphill.

The control panel for the electric assist was very easy to use even for the novices like us. Only couple of buttons and a clear display showing the amount of power in use.

So it was a great addition in the forest trails but how about in the flat road? I actually did not think that it could be possible to gain almost 30km/h speed with a fatbike. Best of all it did not even feel terrifying to ride in a snowy road in those speeds. The traction in the wide tires is really good and braking was fast. The worst part was the falling snow in the face and especially in the eyes. They felt like small rocks in those speeds.

Final thoughts

I'm a fan of little narrower tires but this trip was really worth of every penny (or euro cent). It was something completely different from what the cycling for me is usually. You should try fatbiking in snow if you are planning a trip to a snowy place or if you are living in one. If there is an option to choose between normal fatbike and electric one I would recommend to try the electric one! It was so much more fun with some electric help every now and then.

Next time up north it is sure that I will pick the electric one from the beginning. Even that it costs twice as much as the original one it is worth it.

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