We have been riding the Offtrail pretty much non-stop since we launched the bike at this year's Providence Cross Festival Builder's Ball. What we have found in that time is that the bike is pretty much our favorite trail bike. Winter has been slow to descend upon us here in New England this year. We have had a few snow storms and some bitter cold but not the 70 inches of snow we had last Winter. This has been a great opportunity to test the Offtrail in a very varied and ever changing off road test track! We put 4" Surly Nate tires on the bike initially to give it a great balance between trail handling and stability/shock absorption. The Nates are a fantastic tire for trail riding. Pretty much the perfect woods tire in my opinion. Great traction on mud and rocks but also fast and nimble in singletrack. But the biggest challenge in the winter for riding a bike isn't snow it is ice. Snow can slow you down and make the going tough. Ice can break your hip. Sounds dramatic but its true. One crash on ice and you will be a believer in studded tires.
I got a reminder a few weeks ago at just how hard a crash you can have on a patch of ice. While riding Blue Hills with some friends I came bombing down a trail. They were up ahead yelling what I thought was "RIGHT" aka turn right. They were in fact yelling "ICE" I of course wanted to impress my friends with my rad skills so didn't touch the brakes and just went faster. I crashed so fast and hard I had to lie on the ground for a moment doing an internal check to make sure I wasn't broken. Thankfully I crashed so fast I didn't even let go of the bars. Likely saving my wrist/collarbone. The multiple layers and "winter weight" probably saved my hip. I was bruised and sore for days but otherwise unscathed.
But I got my winter wake up call and put the studded tires on. To say I am impressed by the 45NRTH Dillingers is an understatement. They weigh in about the same as the Surly Nates that don't have studs. They are a "faster" rolling tire if you will as well. I have taken them out on a frozen pond (which was a bit nerve wracking) and over sheer ice under snow. They hook up so well. The tires even work well on some of the trails that aren't covered in snow.
This winter has been a blast so far. There are a bunch of Fat Bike events locally that look like a ton of fun:
• January 24-March 7th there is the Fatty Walrus Fat Bike Series in Haverhill, MA
• January 31 DAS Fat Bike Fest in Danielson, CT
• February 1 Wicked Nor'eastah, Easton, MA at Borderlands
• February 22 FATWEASELS, Goshen, MA