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Fat Bikes make cycling a year-round sport

Zion-02/10/13 Sun./ZiCyclery (rt. lt.) Chris Daisy Winthrop Harbor GavO' Neill Chicago out snow with fbikes Sunday Zion. | Joe Shuman~For

Zion-02/10/13, Sun./Zion Cyclery (rt. to lt.) Chris Daisy, of Winthrop Harbor, and Gavin O' Neill, of Chicago out in the snow with fat bikes Sunday in Zion. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 12, 2013 6:13AM

A few inches of snow on the ground posed no problem for bike enthusiasts out for a Sunday ride.

A handful of bikers gathered at Zion Cyclery to ride out to Illinois State Beach Park on their Fat Bikes, one of the latest trends in biking.

“They’re turning cycling into a year-round event,” said Chris Daisy, owner of Zion Cyclery.

Fat Bikes have a much larger tire than mountain bikes. They also have lower tire pressure. Common mountain bikes have 30 to 60 pounds per square inch while Fat Bikes have 5 to 30 PSI. The tire thickness is also different — about 2.25 inches wide for a mountain bike tire and about five inches wide for a Fat Bike.

The difference gives Fat Bikes better traction on snow, sand and gravel, Daisy said.

“That tire makes it feel so stable, it feels almost like riding a monster truck,” Daisy said.

The idea Sunday was to gather bikers for the store’s inaugural winter bike ride.

“We wanted to show people how great the lake front is here in Zion. It’s perfect for riding bicycles, especially Fat Bikes. We’re going to turn this into an annual event,” Daisy said.

He thought the rain scared off many of the people who had signed up for the event but some, like Gavin O’Neill of Chicago, still attended. He’s the Trek bike company representative for Lake County.

“Trek doesn’t make Fat Bikes, but I’m participating today to help my shop out. Besides, I couldn’t think of a better day for a bike ride,” O’Neill said.

Fat Bikes are a trend in the industry, he said.

“We’re selling quite a few. It’s definitely our fastest-growing [bike],” Daisy said.

There about a dozen different brands of Fat Bikes. They start around $1,700 and go up to $4,000.

Charlie Douglas of Winthrop Harbor has had his Fat Bike since September. Health reasons prevented Douglas from participating in Sunday’s ride, but he said there were “no better riding conditions than 17 degrees out with 4 inches of snow down.”

“This is a great workout,” Douglas said. “You’ve got to have a Fat Bike if you want to be out in the winter and snow.”

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