Chequamegon Area
Mountain Bike Association



Fat Biking FAQs

Fat Biking Frequently Asked Questions

What tire pressure should I run in my fat bike tires?

Generally, you should run about 4 PSI to 8 PSI on groomed trails, depending on your weight, tire volume and trail conditions.  The softer the trail, the lower the pressure , and vice versa.  If you are dropping through the surface of the trail, or don’t have enough traction, let some air out of your tire(s).  If your steering feels sluggish,  add some air to the front tire.  If your bike is bouncing too much from your pedaling action, add some air.  Although it takes many pump strokes to get a fat bike tire up to pressure, it takes only a few pump strokes to move from 5 to 6 PSI, so don’t be afraid to experiment  on the trail.  It’s amazing how much difference five or 10 pump strokes can make, or just a second or two of air discharge.  Pressures up to 10 or 12 PSI, or even higher, can be used on forest roads.  Note that 5-inch tires are harder than 4-inch tires at any given air pressure, so you should generally run a lower pressure with a bigger tire.  You should also be aware that the tire pressure will drop 1 to 3 PSI if you inflate it in a warm place and then go outside to ride in the cold.  Most bike pump gauges are not  accurate at pressures below 20 or 30 PSI.  We recommend using a low-pressure tire gauge for measuring pressures below 15 PSI.  Finally, be aware that some manufacturers recommend 5 PSI as a minimum tire pressure.  Many people choose to go below that minimum pressure when conditions merit it, but be aware that riding a tire at extremely low pressure is hard on the sidewalls and could lead to premature tire failure.

Is there a minimum tire width for groomed bike trails?

CAMBA recommends riding at least 3.5-inch tires on groomed trails.  Although the trails are sometimes firm enough for narrower tires, such conditions are rare during a normal winter.  Larger riders should run minimum 4.5-inch tires.

Should I ride on a freshly groomed trail?

No, freshly groomed trails are almost always too soft for riding.  They need time to harden, or “set up.”  The time required for a trail to set up depends on several variables, such as temperature and humidity, but it always requires a period of falling temperatures.  If you ride on a trail before it sets up, you will leave deep ruts in the trail, and when the trail finally does set up your rut will be there until the next grooming, so that every rider after you will have to contend with your rut.  Not cool.  Please check the Trail Conditions matrix on the CAMBA Winter Biking web page for current trail conditions.

How do you groom your trails?

All CAMBA trails are currently groomed by volunteers.  Some use their own equipment.  Others use CAMBA-owned equipment.  Most trails are groomed with a snowmobile pulling one of several implements designed to get the air out of the snow and compact it evenly.  Tight, twisty single track requires something narrower and more maneuverable to pull the grooming implements, such as the two-wheel drive Rokon brand motorcycle.  Our groomers use several grooming implements, depending on conditions.  The implement used most often is a Wild Cat Groomer, manufactured in Spooner, Wisconsin.  We also use implements from West Yellowstone Track Systems and Tidd Tech.

Can I walk on groomed CAMBA trails?

Yes, you can walk on groomed trails, but we encourage you to wear snowshoes when you do.  Walking on groomed winter bike trails without snowshoes damages the groomed trail surface (just like walking on a groomed ski trail would) and diminishes the user experience for cyclists.  If you find yourself walking up a hill while riding your bike, please be courteous and keep your footprints to the side of the trail.

Can I ride on any area ski trails?

No, at this time no area ski trails are open to fat bikes, although the Town of Hayward Recreational Forest is allowing fat bikes on the groomed ski trails one night each week on a trial basis.  Fat bikes require a firmer trail than skiers require, so ski trails are not always groomed firmly enough to accommodate a bike.  It is not uncommon to have to lower a fat bike’s tire pressure to 3 or 4 PSI to be able to ride a ski trail without breaking through.

Can I ride on area snowmobile trails?(This information is duplicated in two bullets under “Where to ride.” Does it need to be in both places?)

No.  Bayfield County prohibits the use of bikes on groomed snowmobile trails.  Sawyer County allows bicycles on groomed snowmobile trails, but CAMBA does not condone it due to safety issues.  If you do choose to ride on a snowmobile trail, please use bright flashing lights front and rear and yield to any snowmobilers you encounter.

I don’t think I have the skills to ride groomed single track.  What other riding options do you have?

Riding any trail is more difficult when it is covered by snow.  CAMBA currently grooms four wider trails:  the Big Easy at the Highway OO Trailhead; the Westside and Backside Trails at the Birkie Start; the Tortoise Trail on Randysek Road, and the Cable Community Farm Trail behind the Cable Community Center.  Plowed forest roads also provide some good riding.

How should I dress for winter riding?

Generally, you should dress similarly to how you would dress for cross country skiing, although you might want warmer neckwear, gloves and boots.  Wear wicking fabrics next to your skin and several breathable layers above that.  Windproof and waterproof fabrics can trap moisture that will cause you to become cold after an hour or so of riding.