Author Archives: Jess Leong

Put more smiles on children's faces by volunteering with Free Bikes 4 Kidz to clean, prep, or wrench some of the 5,000 bicycles collected this last month.

Help more kids smile by volunteering to prepare all the bikes donated

In the Twin Cities, help the Free Bikes 4 Kidz (FB4K) program in their 12th year. Volunteer to help put more smiles on children’s faces. Donate your time to help clean, prep, or wrench some of the 7,000 plus bicycles collected this year. Back in Bloomington, MN, FB4K is busy preparing all the bikes donated to prepare for their distribution drive before the holidays. For the 2019 season, the old Toys R Us building at 7839 Southtown Center, is a fitting location and easy for volunteers to get to. A convenient site so the distribution of bikes can begin in November, please consider helping.

Help Free Bikes 4 Kidz put more smile on kids faces

Free Bikes for Kids helps kid's smile with the 2016 season Bike Collection Day, on Saturday, October 8th, Donate your bikes to help more kids.

FB4K helps kids smile with their annual Bike Collection Day, a few weeks ago

Now through Wednesday, November 30, several daily shifts are available to volunteer at. If you have extra time, please use the FB4K’s registration system to sign up for a shift you are willing to help out at. They need volunteers of all skill levels to clean and fix bicycles, no experience necessary!  Volunteer on your own or line up a large group. FB4K will be open seven days a week to fit your schedule.

If you have any questions, reach out to our Volunteer Coordinator, Laurie Toll,

Have some fun, help clean and wrench some bikes

Put a smile on many kid’s faces by signing up early and often to help clean and wrench on some bicycles. Head to and register for your shift today!

freeBy volunteering today to help clean some bikes for FB4K's will help create some fond memories for you and future memories for children who receive them. bikes4kids-4

Create some fond memories for yourself and for the children who receive them.

Sign up today as a volunteer and find out more about these added benefits.

Volunteering and putting a wrench to a few bikes will create more smiles.

By volunteering and cleaning or wrenching some bikes will create a smile on your face and the kids who get them.

The Generous Sponsors of FB4K

Though the generosity of key partners like Allina Health, QBP, Penn Cycle, Park Tool, and Nice Ride MN, FB4K has gone far. However, they still need your support in building the foundation and to help every kid ride into a more memorable childhood. Why volunteer, why not?

So do your part making kids smile, volunteer today at

About Free Bikes 4 Kidz

Free Bikes 4 Kidz is a non-profit organization geared toward helping all kids ride into a happier, healthier childhood by providing free bikes to those most in need. When the public donates gently used bikes, FB4K organizes thousands of volunteers to clean and refurbish them, and then they give them away to kids in need. They started in 2008, fixing and giving away 300 bikes and in 2014 they reached the goal of 5,000 bikes. In the last seven years over 25,000 bikes have rolled through the FB4B’s giveaways and their sights in the future are set on other locations throughout the U.S. and the world. See more at

Here these cyclists are enjoying Minnesota's peak riding time on the Red Jacket Trail, near Mankato.

Fall colors are still prime in southern Minnesota this weekend

As the Fall colors continue to lose their brilliance or drop, throughout the northern half of the state, many southern sections of Minnesota are just peaking or still in their prime. To find a perfect fall colored adventure this weekend check the Minnesota Fall Color Website, brought to you by Explore Minnesota and Minnesota State Parks and Trails.

Trail options with fall colors in their Prime

From the site, it looks like southern and parts of western Minnesota are still offering a kaleidoscope of prime fall colors for your bike touring pleasure this weekend.  Here are a few areas to check out.

Cannon Valley: This 19.7-mile trail between Cannon Falls and Red Wing is a popular Rail-to-Trails attraction here in Minnesota. It’s a beautiful, shady ride above the Cannon River with a picnic area in Welch, its midpoint. It is maintained by a trail association and there is a daily fee of $3. See more at Cannon Falls Tourism at the west trailhead and Red Wing Tourism at the east trailhead, near the Mississippi River.

Douglas: This is a 12.5-mile rolling trail ride through rolling farmland between Pine Island’s city park and the northern outskirts of Rochester. For more information see Rochester Tourism.

Great River Ridge: This 13-mile paved trail connects the southeast Minnesota towns of Plainview, Elgin, and Eyota and is near Whitewater and Carley state parks. The first half follows a winding creek. Also, the five miles from Elgin to Plainview are slightly uphill and follow the highway. See more at Plainview/Elgin/Milleville Tourism.

And still more Southern Minnesota Trails

Shooting Star: This 22-mile trail follows the Shooting Star Scenic Byway from Austin to LeRoy. LeRoy is on the Upper Iowa River near the Iowa border and continues towards Austin, just south of I-90. Then, in the eastern half, the trail goes through Lake Louise State Park. After passing through Adams and Rose Creek, the trail rolls into Austin’s bike-friendly atmosphere. See more at Austin Tourism.

Winona’s Trails: The terrain around Winona is looped by spectacularly beautiful bicycle trails and routes aimed at a variety of riders. Whether you are out for a scenic ride with the family on the 5-mile paved trail around the lake or the bike-friendly street routes in town, there are great backgrounds. The Mississippi River Trail leading in and out of Winona will have colors that can add excitement to your adventures and memories, and this is even true if you decide to sample the mountain bike trails here. For more, see Winona Tourism.

South and Southwest Minnesota trails

Root River/Harmony-Preston Valley: Between Fountain and Houston, the 42-mile Root River Trail, in the lovely bluff country, is one of Minnesota’s pride and joys. Then add the 18-mile, Preston to Harmony trail section and you will find more spectacular colors on this rolling terrain. For more, see Root River Trail Towns Tourism.

Blazing Star: This paved trail currently runs from the lake with the same names as Albert Lea to Myre-Big Island State Park. The total trail distance of paved is approximately 20-miles. Along the route, you can enjoy the natural environment that includes wetlands, oak savanna, big woods, and prairie. Also, the park is a great birding spot, especially during fall migration. See more at Albert Lea Tourism.

And one Western Minnesota trail option

Luce Line State Trail is a 63-mile long rails-to-trail route that starts in the Plymouth and stretches out west 30-miles west, on a limestone surface trail, to Winsted. From Winsted to Hutchinson the trail is paved, See more at Hutchinson Tourism.

Ride safe and enjoy the colors!

Winter fat bike season is once again upon us as the leaves fall and temps become cooler. While riding a fat bike is much like riding a regular bike, there is a certain fat bike etiquette to keep in mind when you get out there on the trail this winter season for some fun.

Fat Bike Etiquette vs. Rules of the trail as the winter season progresses

by Jess Leong  

Winter fat bike season is once again upon us as the leaves fall and temps become cooler. While riding a fat bike is much like riding a regular bike, there is a certain fat bike etiquette to keep in mind when you get out there on the trail this winter season for some fun.

Everyone on the trail wants to have a good time and make memories in the bold north’s crisp clean air. Whether that’s biking, hiking snowboarding, skiing, riding a snowmobile, or snowshoeing, these are all valid activities. At the end of the day, for everyone to have a good time, you need to share the trail. These rules below not only keep everyone free from harm, but it also keeps it comfortable and fun for everyone.

Fat Bike Etiquette – Being Polite and Respecting All Users of the Trail

Yield to all other users of the trail when riding. This includes hikers and especially skiers since they do not have brakes to stop when traveling. Be constantly aware of your surroundings for who and what is around you. Everyone is trying to enjoy the outdoors. When on your Fatty:

  1. Ride on the firmest part of the track to prevent making a deep rut in the trail. These cuts more than a few inches are difficult, if not impossible, to repair.
  2. Stay as far right as possible on the trail. This is so that skiers, snowmobiles, etc. can pass on the left.
  3. Do not ride on the Nordic trails or classic trails. These trails are specifically groomed and tires that go across or over them ruin the trails and can cause problems for those people using them. Being respectful and sharing the trail is important for the enjoyment of everyone.
  4. Respect any closures or alternative days where bikers or skiers specifically have the trail. This is also important because if the trail is closed no one will be looking out for you if you fall. Plus, other trails might be closed or have maintenance going on. This can cause problems if you’re there.
  5. Wear reflective clothing and use lights or blinkers. This helps signal to others where you are from a distance. Skiers and snowmobiles travel quickly and seeing you as far away as possible can help them change their route so there is no collision or problems that will arise.
  6. Consider donating to the shared trails to help cover the cost of maintenance. It takes people to keep the trails well groomed and ready for people to ride, ski, or hike on them. A donation can go a long way to keeping that trail ready for when you want to use it again.

If you are riding in a group, do not ride side by side. This makes it hard for anyone passing by to get through or weave around. It also can block up the trail.

Rules of the Fat Bike Trail

Many general rules of the fat bike trail are the same as mountain biking or riding on regular trails. However, there is a major difference to keep in mind in addition to the general rules of the trail.

Understand ice travel and how to do it safely. Riding in the winter means riding on top of ice and snow. Throughout the winter there will be times where it’s warmer or colder out which can affect the ground beneath your tires. Know how to deal with this. Many people also ride on top of the frozen water. Riding across a frozen lake or river can be extremely dangerous if the ice were to crack. Learn how thick the ice needs to be to carry your weight, plus your bike when venturing across frozen waters.

Always bring items with you that can help in case you’re in a situation when the ice does break from under you. International Mountain Bicycling Association recommends that ice picks and a length of rope should be taken along if riding on lakes or rivers.

Practice fat bike etiquette, follow the the rules of the trail and have fun.

Practice fat bike etiquette, follow the rules of the trail and have fun.

Fat Bike Etiquette – General Rules of the Trail

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) developed the “Rules of the Trail” to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails. Keep in mind that conventions for yielding and passing may vary in different locations, or with traffic conditions. This list is also on IMBA‘s website and on our Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide.

Before You Ride

  1. Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions.
  2. Let People Know: Make sure there’s at least one other person who knows where you’re headed, when and where you left from, and when you’re hoping to get back. Any things can happen on the trail and if something ever happened, it’s important that someone knows where you might be.
  3. Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures — ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness. This mean, you guessed it, check ahead of time!

While Riding

  1. Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
  2. Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
  3. Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
  4. Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
Riding a trail system before it snows is advisable when possible.

Riding a trail system before it snows is advisable when possible.

Don’t Forget!

Also, always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.

Search here for an IMBA Club to join and don’t forget to HaveFun!


Jess Leong is a freelance writer for

Outside Bike Storage: Preserving its Condition While Battling Mother Nature

by Jess Leong,

 If you’re like the many people who ride bikes, you may have selected or been forced to use outside bike storage where your bicycle has to fend for itself in all the elements. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially since many people don’t have a place to store their bikes inside.

We mentioned in a previous article that if you’re unable to store a bike indoors, that you can usually find a nearby bike shop that can store your bike for you – especially through the winter. However, sometimes even this isn’t possible and outside bike storage is your only option. Perhaps there are no bike shops that offer that service nearby, or perhaps the cost in doing that would be out of your budget. Whatever the reason, here’s what you need to know to store your bike outside for a couple day or indefinable.

What Happens When You Use Outside Bike Storage for your Bicycle

As many can guess, bikes left outside in rain or snow can rust.

Newer bikes fare better in the outside elements because the seals on the bike’s components are tighter than on older or more worn bicycles. Being well-sealed allows it to block out moisture from making its way inside and corroding the bike from inside and out. Leaving these new bikes out for a few days or even a week might not be a problem. However, the longer it is left outdoors, the more problems the rider will see – this is especially true for older bikes. Older bikes can degrade faster since they have been weathered down over time.

What you can expect to see is rust forming on the chain and gears before affecting the rest of the bike. This can make the drivetrain brittle over time, and cause problems when shifting gears and riding.

We know rain and moisture can cause problems, but did you know humidity and heat can also be a problem? In the summer, keeping your bike in direct sunlight can cause problems in certain areas on your bike as well. The direct light can cause rubber and plastic to harden, leaving tires, seats, grips, and cable housing brittle.

Additionally, bikes that are left outside also run the risk of being vandalized or stolen. According to the National Bike Registry, over 1.5 million bikes are stolen every year with less than 3 percent being returned. Besides running the risk of corrosion, you run the risk of never seeing your bike again.

What You Can Do If Using Outside Bike Storage

Place a Bike Tent Over Your Bike

It’s not recommended to place a tarp directly on your bike because it can work like a green house, accumulating heat and moisture. Heat can affect your plastic or rubber parts and degrade them. When it’s cold or rainy, it can trap the water vapor. The moisture can then settle on your bicycle, corroding it.

A bike tent, however, allows a shelter from the elements, while also allowing air to circulate any moisture away. Bike tents aren’t expensive compared to some options and are generally easy to put together.

If your bike does get wet, wipe down the bike so the water doesn’t sit to long.

 Lube and Grease Your Bike – Especcially with Outside Bike Storage

Place waterproof grease over areas that might be breached by water, such as screw holes, bolt heads, or bearings. The grease will create a barrier against water, stopping it from getting through. Lubing up your chain and other appropriate parts of the bike is also a helpful way to create a barrier from any moisture. Using a wet lube rather than dry lube is key. Dry bike lubricant will wash away easily and doesn’t provide any protection from corrosion.

Use the Bike

This doesn’t mean you should ride the bike outside during a blizzard. Instead, lift it up and turn the pedals. Moving it around can help with reducing rust. Over time, dust, dirt, or grime can get into the shifter and fine mechanical parts, so using the bike can knock this stuff off – especially if you’re riding it.

Remember, the salt from the road can affect the bike! Salt affects aluminum or alloy parts. So, if you take it for a spin, make sure to wipe down your bike afterwards and clean it.

Replacing Components to Last

Many factors affect how quickly and badly a bike can corrode. While storing a bike indoors is the best option, sometimes it’s not possible. Following the above steps should help minimize the buildup of rust. It can also limit mechanical problems that may occur.

Trying to limit corroding factors is the best you can do. Some people who know they will store bike outside under a cover or in a bike tent will opt to spend extra money to ‘upgrade’ their bikes. The bikes they tend to buy are already considered ‘durable’. Then, they change out parts to other materials that are less likely to rust over time. Some bikers also will opt for a ‘rustproof’ labeled chain. If this isn’t possible, then frequent bike maintenance and greasing is the way to go. This ends up being the key factor that many bikers rely on if they are storing their wheels outdoors.

Be aware, if you store your bike outside, there will be more maintenance required than if you stored your bike indoors. Keeping up with this maintenance might seem a little daunting, but it is well worth the effort. Why? Because come spring, your bike will be ready to go and have minimal rust and problems.

Giving back to the trails, paths, roads and events you enjoy is a great way to stockpile some good karma and it’s fun! There are countless ways to give back.

Bike Maintenance: Best Time to Bring in Your Bike to the Shop


by John Brown,

As the mercury hovers below freezing this is the perfect time for bike maintenance to prepare your bicycle for sunnier days. There are many benefits to bringing your bike into the shop during the ‘down’ winter months rather than waiting for the spring season to come around.

Here in the photo above these bike maintenance shop mechanic’s at Penn Cycle are waiting for your bike. While waiting they are putting bicycles together for Free Bikes 4 Kidz,

1. Bike Maintenance at the Shop 

Most shops operate on a “first in / first out” repair schedule. This means during the busy months there may be weeks of bicycles ahead of yours in line to be repaired. Bring your bicycle in during the winter to be repaired. The repair time will be the same, but the waiting list will be shorter.

2. Discounts, Deals, and More!

The fall and winter weather may discourage riders from going out, but bike shops still need to do business. In order to draw customers, bike shops sometimes offer special pricing on different services, bikes, or parts. Additionally, lots of shops offer free clinics, demos, and presentations as well!

3. Employees can Offer their Expertise and Undivided Attention

It’s no secret that winter in a bike shop is slow. What better time to talk with sales people and mechanics? Need to know what bike type might work best for you? Is a fat bike right for you? Is that biking glove really better than the one you already have? If it’s a question about the service or adjustments to your bike, they are likely to spend more time with you and not be rushed.

The spring and summer packs the mechanics’ schedules, and their focus needs to be on completing repairs. During the winter they have much more time to spend with customers, educating them on how their bike functions.

Spring and summer for the sales staff is similar. They tend to be busy trying to attend to every customer in the shop. But in the fall and winter less people come in, so they can focus on one thing – you.

John Brown is a writer for

How to Prepare for a Flat Bike Tire in Winter


by Jess Leong,

You’re all bundled up against the winter chill, and everything seems to be going well. Then suddenly something feels off. You look down and find you’re riding on a flat bike tire. It’s the last thing you want to deal with in the cold, but you always need to be prepared for it.

Why Are There Flats That Happen in Winter?

Flats happen for a variety of reasons. In general, there are three different types of flats. These are:

  • Punctures – Any time an object passes through the tread of the tire, it is considered a puncture. Usually the hole left in the tire is small enough where you can just replace the tube.
  • Slashes – This is when an object cuts the sidewall of the tire. Usually, if a tire is slashed it needs to be repaired or booted (a temporary patch on the tire itself) before a new inner tube can be installed.
  • Pinch flats (also known as a snake bite) – This happens when the tire hits a square edged object (curb, pothole, etc.) and the object “pinches” the inner tube between itself and the metal rim of the bicycle. This usually leaves two small holes in the inner tube (hence, snake bite)

No matter what season it is, these flats are common. A few reasons why flats happen to a large degree in winter:

  • Air pressure – Air pressure in your tire gets lower as the temperature drops. This means that a tire inflated at room temperature will have a much lower pressure when ridden near freezing. Lower pressures increase the possibility of pinch flats.
  • Hidden sharps – Running over sharp objects such as glass, nails, or metal that is hidden in the snow. Snow can buffer some of these objects from getting to your tires, but it can also hide these materials.
  • Tire flexibility – As the temperature drops, the rubber in tires typically become stiffer. A tire is built to deform over objects and absorb the impact. But when the rubber becomes stiff, the tire cannot deform as easily. This can make the tire easier to puncture.

Consider Other Tire Options for Winter

Many tire companies produce puncture resistant tires. Typically these tires will have a thicker rubber tread or use a belt under the tread designed to stop sharp objects. They also incorporate a reinforced sidewall to resist against slashes. Puncture resistance does come at a cost both financially and in the form of ride quality. Many riders will purchase these tires specifically for winter use and switch back to something lighter and better riding in the spring.

Another option is to use studded tires. Studded tires are usually built out to be puncture resistant as well as being the only option for traction on ice.

Know How to Change a Flat in Regular Conditions

First and foremost, you need to know how to change a bike flat. If you don’t know how to change a tire in the best of conditions, you probably won’t be able to do it out in the cold. Before taking the bike for a spin, take a few minutes to refresh your memory on how to change a flat if it ever happens to you.

Also, check out our article for six items to have along for your ride. These items are great to keep with you year-round.

Carry Gear to Change Your Flat Quickly

Working on your bike in the winter is a game of time – the longer it takes, the colder you get. With this in mind, pack tools and products that help you move quickly. A dedicated tire lever (rather than one that is part of a multitool or patch kit) offers a better grip and more leverage. A CO2 inflator will get you up to pressure and back riding in seconds while a pump could take minutes. Carrying a 4″ section of old tire with the beads cut off (a bead is the thick rubber portion of the tire that makes contact with the rim) can act as a quick tire boot in case you slash the tire. Most importantly, check the tire thoroughly for objects before putting the new tube in. Run your fingers on the inside of the tire, feeling for sharp objects, while visually inspecting the outside of the tire a few inches in front of your fingers.

Gloves with Good Movement, But Still Warm

This certainly sounds like a tall order! However, if you can, try to find good winter gloves that are able to keep your fingers nice and warm but also allows some dexterity. Numb fingers don’t help when changing a tire and can even hinder your ability to adequately fix your flat.

If all else fails, wear warm gloves, and if a flat occurs you can change your riding gloves for another pair that allows for more movement of your fingers.

Inspecting your Tires

Before heading out, check your bike’s tires. Inspect them carefully to ensure they are still properly inflated. Look to see if they have any nails, glass, or other debris that could puncture the tube. Check the condition of the tire by looking for cracks in the rubber, threads coming free of the sidewall, or tread that is worn.

Carry Good Walking Shoes

In case all else fails, make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes. Whether you’re already wearing them or they’re in your pack, it’s handy. Sometimes the only option you have is your own two feet. If you’re not too far away or you have to walk back to an area, good shoes are a must so you can walk the rest of the way!

Remember Your Phone

If something happens, you want to always have your phone handy. It’s cold out, and you never know when you might need to call for backup or to let a worried friend or family member know why you’re running late.


Sadly, flats are inevitable and can happen to anyone, anywhere. Even if you take all the right precautions and get puncture resistant tires, you can still find yourself sitting on the side of the road staring at a deflated tire.

Know how to repair a flat, and practice it at least twice. You will find the first time to be daunting, but the second to go quite quickly. Keep aware of your surroundings, know your route, and always be prepared.

Be safe, and have fun!


Jess Leong is a writer for

With fall foliage colors disappearing, these cyclists are still finding plenty of November bike events.

Top Fun November Bike Events in the Upper Midwest

With many of the trees having lost their colorful leaves, it might be a bit more bare out there. However, don’t despair! There are still many great biking opportunities that are around the upper Midwest to check out this November no matter what biking activity you love. With so many different November Bike Events, you’re sure to make new memories on your #nextbikeadventure.

November Bike Events

Nov 1: Kick Off Party with Benefits

King Boreas Winter Triathlon

Insight Brewing Minneapolis, MN



Nov 5–6: Fulton Star Cross | Facebook Page

Aquila Park

St. Louis Park, MN

Cycle Cross


Nov 5: Nocturnal Mountain Bike Races | Facebook Event Page

Lake Rebecca Singletrack Trail

Rockford, MN

Mountain Bike


Nov 6: No Name Alleycat Race

Minneapolis, MN

Recreational Bike Race


Nov 8: Bike to the Voting Booth

Everywhere U.S.A.

Recreational/Commuter Plan Your Route


Nov 10:  Shift Gears Bike Donation Dropoff

Bemidji, MN

Bike Donations


Nov 12-13: Theo With Cyclocross Classic | Facebook Event Page

Theodore Wirth Park Minneapolis, MN

Cycle Cross


Nov 13: Free Bikes 4 Kidz Wrench Slinger Shootout

Mall of America Bloomington, MN

Bike Donations/Repair


Nov 19: Fat Turkey Ride

Acceleration Sports and Fitness Brainerd, MN

Fat Bike


Nov 19–20: MN State Championship CX

Crystal, MN

Cycle Cross


Nov 21: Let’s Joyride Together: November Edition

Matthews Park Minneapolis, MN

Recreation Ride


Nov 26:  The “Pie Burner” Thanksgiving Weekend FatBike Ride | Facebook Event Page 

Palmer’s Tavern Hibbing, MN

30+ miles  Fat Bike

The Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide is Available Digitally

For more information on the trails and for more fun events, check out our Fall digital version of the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then, plan your #nextbikeadventure.

Watch for – The winter edition of the Bike/Hike Guide will be out December 1st for updated events throughout the 1st quarter of 2017.

Please let us know if we missed any events you are planning or would like to attend – just submit them into the HFB Events Calendar – it’s free!

Fat bikes aren't just for winter. They are great year-round since they were originally invented to tackle snow and sand.

History of Fat Bikes and Why Fat Bikes Exist

Fat Bike Season: Fat Bikes are “In” for This Winter Season

by Jess Leong, HaveFunBiking

Been to a bike shop recently and noticed the Fat Bikes? If so you are aware that these bikes look a little different from the normal bikes you’re used to seeing. What makes these weird bikes stand out are their large tires that make them look like a bike version of a monster truck! You know, except most of the frame designs are normal looking and everyone I have interviewed say “they are a blast to ride.”

These seemingly unusual fat-tired bikes – many prefer ‘badass’ or are also known as “fat bikes.” They also are known as “wide-tired bikes,” “balloon-tired bikes,”  “winter bikes,” and my favorite “fatties.” Don’t let the term “winter bikes” deter you though. These bikes are great year-round since they were originally invented to tackle sand and snow.

Why Fat Tires?

Fat bikes are not replacing mountain bikes they are just adding adding another dimension to the sport of cycling.

Fat bikes are not replacing mountain bikes they are just adding adding another dimension to the sport of cycling.

Fat tires were developed so that bikes could become all-terrain compatible. The fat tires allow the bikes to have more stability and traction to diverse surfaces. This includes surfaces such as snow, mud, sand, pavement, and more. This works because the tires have more area that touch the ground at any given point. Having that contact, the bike tires are able to keep some sort of grip on solid ground.

Additionally, the fat tires allow bikers to enjoy mountain biking or other biking activities in the winter. They ride a bike that can keep them safer due to the tire’s gripping ability and weight dispersal. Plus, the tire pressures aren’t something to worry about. Due to the design of the fat bike tires, the rider doesn’t have to worry about air pressure within the tires as they ride (at least for the most part)!

Fat Bikes, a Brief History

The Beginning Origins

Fat bikes are becoming popular on mountain bike trails throughout the year.

Fat bikes are becoming popular on mountain bike trails throughout the year.

Fat bikes have been around since the early 1900’s. However, it wasn’t until the 1970’s to 1980’s that the modern-looking fat bikes came to life. Before this, there were bikes that had 2-3 wheels that were cleverly put together side by side to try to increase that surface area contact to the ground.

It wasn’t until bike frame builders in Alaska began looking at and experimenting with the different parts of the bike and tires to make the bike safe for the winter months. They began putting together multiple bike rims so it could hold multiple tires on a bike’s front and back. While someone would roll their eyes and say that it was ‘of course’ the Alaskans that took it to the next level, there were people in Mexico also working on a project. It was in the late 1990’s, 1999’s Interbike convention, where the two designers met to discuss what they had produced. It was around this time when a builder named Mark Gronewald, an Alaskan frame designer, coined the name “Fat Bike” in 2001 for his bikes. In 2011 he was able to build a bike that had a full range of gearing that riders could use.

Making it Commercial

In 2005, the company Surly Bikes – located in Bloomington, Minnesota – went on to release their specialized frame. They called it the Pugsley which had an offset wheel and frame build.

Fat bikes are great year-round, here is a Surly bike at a race in the Minnesota River bottoms in Bloomington, MN.

Fat bikes are great year-round, here is a Surly bike at a race in the Minnesota River bottoms in Bloomington, MN.

Their design was the one that moved into local bike shops around the world. The pugsley made fat bikes commercially available for bikers. Since then, many other bike companies have gotten in on the action and produced their own designs for fat bike riders.

Ten years ago fat bikes seemed like a novelty and were considered an oddity and weird. Today, however, it’s more accepted, common, and even affordable for the average Joe. I mean, as far as bike prices go.

Fat bikes have expanded around the world due to the versatility aspect of the wheels. With the ability to ride on snow and mud, they can be used year-round. So now biking season is all season long!

What is riding a fat bike like? Learn more in our article highlighting how fat bikes can make winter riding more fun!


Reflectors are forms of passive visibility, while lights are great for active visibility. Read on to see where each one is helpful and most efficient.

Top 5 Tips For An Immensely Rewarding Fall Bike Ride

by Jess Leong,

Bike riding in fall can come with many challenges. However, it can also be immensely rewarding. While bicycle season is winding down for some, for many other cyclists their two wheels are a favorite mode of transportation to explore the great autumn landscape. Pedaling along the colorful autumn roads or trails is so breathtaking that I will admit that fall bike riding is one of my favorite times to ride. Not too hot, not too cold, and there are less insects once the first frost hits.

If you’re planning to ride around this fall, check out these top tips before heading out.

Fall Bike Riding Tip 1: Layer It Up

For fall bike riding layering your clothing is key.

For fall bike riding layering your clothing is key.

The temperature fluctuation can be really confusing when you want to get dressed and go biking. The morning can look like 47 or 48 degrees Fahrenheit, but by the afternoon it could be in the lower to mid 70s! The best way to combat this is by wearing multiple layers that you can easily remove and put back on to find your perfect temperature. When layering a good rule of thumb is to make sure that whatever you decide to put on last, it will b the first thing that you’d want to take off!

Pro Tip: Start off while still slightly chilly. As you ride, you’ll warm up and that chilliness will go away. However, bring an extra layer incase you stop along the way! You want to stay warm when you’re not riding.

Not sure what to do for layering? Check out our article about how to layer, why it’s beneficial, and what to wear.

Fall Bike Riding Tip 2: Beware of Wet Leaf Piles

The falling leaves are gorgeous, and leaf piles can be a lot of fun. However, a wet, crunchy leaf pile an be a hazard when riding your bike through it. Not only can water splash upwards onto your bike and legs, but the bike tires can slip on the leaves. When leaves are wet, they become slick or slippery. With a normal bike tire being thinner, it has less surface area for surface tension. If a leaf gives away, or get stuck onto the tire, a bike can slip out from under you.

Luckily, if you have a fat bike, this is less of a problem. The larger tires adds more traction to the surface and, therefore, is less likely to slip. Even with the lesser likelihood of slipping, caution should still be used.

Also, wet leaf piles can conceal a number of different items. This can include nails, glass, or other objects that can puncture you tires. No one wants a flat while out riding. Sometimes you can’t avoid riding through the piles, but if you can, ride around the leaves.

Fall Bike Riding Tip 3: Stay Visible

For fall bike riding high visible clothing and saddle bag gear are easier for motorists to see.

For fall bike riding high visible clothing and saddle bag gear are easier for motorists to see.

Dusk is coming earlier and earlier as the season continues on. This means that the evening is intruding on some great riding opportunities in the daylight. While some daylight will be saved temporarily when we fall backwards an hour on November 6th this year, the time change can still negatively affect cyclists.

When times change it affects a person’s sleeping routine leading to a lack of sleep. This sleep deprivation makes people less attentive while driving. While November 6th is a Sunday this year you would think that people will most likely sleep in and therefore decrease the number of accidents. However, cyclists and other pedestrians should be aware and be extra cautious that day, and the day following. Why? Because people need time to adjust to the time change. It has been found that there is a significant increase of fatal accidents following the changes in daylight savings time when it occurs on a Sunday or Monday – according to a study done in Sleep Medicine and The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

This means that staying visible is even more important than usual. This isn’t limited to just the morning, but throughout the day whether on the road or trails.

You can do this in a couple of ways depending what you are comfortable with doing. Plus, the more you do, the more you increase your visibility.

Wear Light or Neon Colored Clothing

Wearing bright colors will make you stand out. If someone doesn’t see you to begin with, the color will catch their attention and they will find it easier to keep tabs on where you are. On the other hand, wearing dark colors isn’t recommended. Dark colors can blend into the dark and reduce your visibility. Natural colors can also blend you into the background or sidelines making you less visible.

Wear Reflective Clothing

When cycling in the early morning before there’s much daylight, or in the evening, reflective clothing is a must. This way, when the headlights on a car shine on you, you’re immediately recognized.

Add Lights to Your Bike

For fall bike riding add bike light front and back to be more noticeable.

For fall bike riding add bike light front and back to be more noticeable.

Did you know it’s a law to have lights on your bike? It’s something you have to do, but you should also do it because you’re interested in staying safe.

It’s important to note that lights aren’t required for daytime riding. However, since we never know when it might get dark out and we can’t plan for all those times when we end up riding late at night, it’s important to have a light handy. If it’s already attached to your bike, then it’s something you don’t have to worry about!

Unfortunately, there are no excuses if you get pulled over by a police officer for riding in dark conditions without one. Every state might have slightly different laws regarding bike lights (with many similarities as well). For bike laws and more about lighting in Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Transportation has a condensed document to review.

Fall Bike Riding Tip  4: Check Your Tire Pressure and Tires

As discussed earlier, leaves can hide different items that can puncture your tire. It’s not always avoidable, so it’s important that you should check your tires occasionally. This shouldn’t be limited to the fall and winter, but should be checked every time before you begin riding. Doing this allows you to catch any problems sooner rather than later.

Another thing to check is tire pressure. While fall isn’t as cold as winter, the cold can still alter the tire pressure. So, it’s best to check to make sure that the tire pressure is perfect before going out for your ride.

Fall Bike Riding Tip 5: The Usual Tools

Remember to bring the usual tools that you would usually bring for your bike adventures! In case anything happens, you want to make sure you have all the materials you need to fix it. To know what these are, check out our article about the tools you should have along for any ride.

With these tips, you’re sure to have a great and safe extended season as you continue to ride your bike through autumn.

Keep safe, have fun, and ride on!


Jess Leong is a writer for


Bike Storage: Preparation Check List and Options For Your Bicycle

Jess Leong,

Unless you are using your bike this upcoming winter, then preparing for bike storage is one thing that should be on your list of things-to-do this fall. Doing it now will save you time come early spring when you just want to grab those handlebars and get out there on the road and trail. Plus, proper storage means extending the longevity of your bike – and who wouldn’t want that? If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it is that bikes are not cheap. That’s why bike storage is so important.

1. Secure a Bike Storage Location

Some stores offer bike storage with fall winterizing/tune-up at their shop.

Some stores offer bike storage that is included with the price of a fall winterizing/tune-up at their shop.

Whether the location is a place in your basement, in your garage, or somewhere else that allows the bike to take shelter from the snow, make sure there’s enough room for your bike. Not sure where to put the bike for the winter? There are many bike shops that will store the bike for you. Though it does come at a cost it may be included in a fall winterizing/tune-up fee. Letting your bike sit outside is tempting and easy, but can cause problems come spring. These problems may need more maintenance to repair. Or, in most cases, causes the frame to rust (whether internally or externally). That longevity we mentioned? Rust and maintenance issues are some ways to really cut down that lifespan of your bike.

Tip: If possible, hang your bike to save some space on the ground.

2. Frame Care: Brushing and Wiping it Down

Note that it says ‘wiping it down’ and not ‘spraying’. Spraying your bike down with a hose can cause water to get into unprotected parts of the bike. This stray water can cause rusting of some metal components. Some wonder how this can be when we sometimes ride our bikes in the rain. In the event of spraying, the water can enter in from other angles (with more force mind you) and therefore the moisture can get into parts that it might not have during a normal rainy day. And yes, rain on the bike – without proper care – can also cause the bike to rust! However, just because you’re not ‘watering it down’ with a hose doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean it carefully before storage. How do you do this? By using good old fashioned elbow grease and by taking a soft-bristled brush to the frame and wheels.

Some experts recommend moving the brush in a circular pattern for optimal cleaning ability. Honestly this can be done in any way including a simple back and forth scrubbing motion. The purpose of the brush is to remove any and all debris that has made the bike their home. That dried mud, stuck-on grass, any dust, all of that should be brushed off as much as you can.

Then, once you’ve gone over the bike, take a damp rag and wipe down the entire bike. This wipe down will remove anything that is still stuck onto the bike.

3. Before Bike Storage Look Over the Frame for Problems

If you have room in your garage for bike storage by hanging bikes above your car, this will conserve space.

If you have room in your garage for bike storage by hanging bikes above your car, this will conserve space.

It’s important to check your bike for structural integrity and this can be done while cleaning, or after you brush and wipe down your wheels. Are there any cracks? Any parts in the frame that’s bent in a way that it shouldn’t be, or looks suspicious? Pay special attention to the spots where the metal connects (welded areas) and the bottom bracket. These areas undergo the majority of the stress when out biking and should be checked carefully. The last thing you want is for the bike to come apart when you take it for a spin.

4. Tire Care: Inflation, Cleaning, and Inspection

Remember to fully inflate your tires and do a check to ensure the tire integrity is still intact. Are there any cuts in the sidewall or tire punctures that might have escaped your notice? If that’s in the clear, check out the spokes of your tire visually. Check to see if any of them look broken or loose. Nothing? Then, take the wheel and give it a gentle spin while watching the spokes and wheel. Make sure the wheel isn’t wobbling or spinning at an angle.

Is there anything wrong with the brake pads? Are they still in good shape and working condition? They shouldn’t be rubbing up against the wheel, be at an angle away from the tires, nor should they be loose. If your brake pad is looking worn down, it’s time to get it changed. Something you don’t want to forget about over the long winter months ahead, especially when a spring ride pops up.

Once everything looks good, give the tire a good wipe down to clean any debris that might be on it before bike storage.

5. Drivetrain Care: Cleaning and Lubrication

It’s time to get down and dirty by cleaning the cassette, crank, and the chain of your bike. Admittedly, this is probably one of the least glamorous parts of cleaning your bike due to the grease, but it’s something that is really important. After all, this is what helps you propel your bike forward to that #nextbikeadventure. Properly cleaning and lubricating these three items, and making sure there’s no leftover debris or major wear, will help keep rust away and keep you safe.

Reminder: According to Brad, from One Ten Cycles, a chain should be changed when it looks worn or if you have ridden with it for two to three thousand miles. It is at that point when the chain begins to stretch, though this can vary person to person. How fast the chain ‘stretches’ and needs replacing will depends on your riding pattern (recreational biking, mountain biking, etc), how well it’s been taken care of, and how often it’s cleaned. While some people will continue to ride well past the time of when the chain should be changed, Brad noted that the wear pattern of the chain will eventually transfer to the cassette. If the cassette is worn down, it can cause issues when putting on a new chain (to the point that you may have to replace both the chain and cassette together).

Unsure if your chain is worn? The only reliable way to check is with a chain checker gauge (generally a $8 tool) to measure the stretch of the chain. It will gauge when it’s time to replace it before causing wear on the cassette.

6. Cable Care: Inspection and Lubrication

Did you know cables can rust too? Just like the rest of the bike, these need to be inspected for frays or other potential problems to keep you bike rides safe. If nothing seems frayed then you can go ahead and lubricate the cables. This is important to prevent rust from forming on them and weakening the cables. To apply the lubrication, add some lubricant to a rag – only a little is needed at first – and rub it into the exposed cable, rubbing back and forth to ensure that the lubricant gets in throughout the cable and isn’t just on the surface.

Reminder: If your cables are fraying, you can try to repair the cables – particularly if it’s at the end of the cable. If it’s really bad or you’re unable to do it yourself, you can bring in your bicycle to your favorite bike shop and they would be happy to help you out before bike storage!

7. (Optional) Handgrips and Saddle: Wipe it Down and Replace if Desired

This is more for aesthetics rather than functionality. Looking over and cleaning the handgrips and saddle seat now can make it more exciting to ride in the spring. If your saddle seat or grips have a tear and you’d like to replace them, now is the time to do so.  You don’t want to get caught up trying to do that when you just want to get out there and ride in the spring.

8. Remove Batteries Before Bike Storage

Anything that has batteries should be removed to make sure leakage doesn’t affect your bike or the area where the bike is stored. This means taking out the batteries (or lights) of flashers, front/back lights, headlights, and the like.

If the battery is not able to be removed easily or without assistance, make sure the battery is fully charged before placing it in that storage location mentioned at the beginning!

9. Clearing Out Bike Bags and Holders

Make sure you’re checking those panniers and trunk bags thoroughly to ensure they are

When preparing for bike storage you cant easily remove the battery, like this e-Bike, make sure the battery is fully charged and check every couple months.

When preparing for bike storage you cant easily remove the battery, like this e-Bike, make sure the battery is fully charged and check every couple months.

cleared out, clean and ready to go into storage. Finding a moldy sandwich or leftover snack from last year that bugs and mice are munching on might put a cramp on the start of your next ride season, after finding that. Also, remember to remove the water bottles from your bike, wash them out properly and put them away. We can guarantee that the water won’t be so inviting by the next time you ride!

This might take some time, but it is time that is well invested. You’ll pat yourself on the back once the weather warms up next spring, begging you to get out there and HaveFunBiking.

Jess Leong is a writer for