The Best Thing I Bought for My Bike

Ok, sorry that the posting was sparse last week. It is crazy time here right now. This week is finals, so I am grading like mad (or not grading like mad and stalling while writing this thing here). Last Friday I took the NYS DEC Basic Wilderness Search Course and next week I’m taking a Wilderness First Responders course. We will get to why over the next couple of weeks. Anyway just stay with me for a couple of weeks while life gets onto the summer track.

As promised, the Best Thing I Ever Bought for My Bike……

I live as many of you know way Upstate New York. Just about as far north in NY that you can go and still be in NY. I Know I’m from Upstate. (The very last person who is in that video, yeah I’m from that town. What he says is true.)

The point here is that I live pretty far north and that corresponds to pretty darn cold most winters. Though this winter we didn’t really have winter. We had more winter in April than in February. That of course made my purchase last summer of Sunday to be something of a disappointment.


Sunday is a Framed Minnesota 3.0 XWT (extra wide tires, 4.7″ wide) fully rigid fat bike. I call her Sunday because she is the nice little thing you get after dinner to make your day complete. In theory you could live with out it, but really why would you WANT to? I mean let’s be serious.

Now Sunday is NOT the best thing I ever purchased for my bike, well because she IS a bike. But Sunday is supposed to enable biking in the winter, when its cold. And THAT my friends is the problem. The cold.

From the moment I started biking seriously here in Potsdam there has been a problem with biking in the cold. Its cold. And the crux for me biking in the cold has always been my hands and what kind of gloves are right. If I go with thick gloves then they eventually get a little “soggy” which lets the cold air in and my fingers freeze. If I pick a glove that has enough wicking then my fingers freeze. There wasn’t any good answer. Then I found Bar Mitts. Bar Mitts are neoprene things that stick over your handlebars. You put your hands in them and ride.

Here have a look:

They are simply put the BEST THING I have put on my bike (since I bought a GPS). I went riding this winter when it was cold. So cold that my eyes froze shut when I blinked. So cold that… well it was this cold. I was biking at work and went back to my office as the support staff were going home for the day. 🙂

doug winter

Sunday equipped with Bar Mitts  enabled that ride.


The Bar Mitts work because you are basically encasing your hands in a neoprene igloo. The neoprene shell protects your fingers from wind and wetness. There is enough air circulation that your fingers do not sweat but enough insulation that all you need are your summer fingerless gloves inside the shells.

If you ride in the winter and have trouble with cold fingers. You really should give them a shot.

And BTW. I paid for mine (full price) and I would pay for them again if I needed too.

Author’s Note: The fat bike is a hoot. I would not replace my normal mtb with my fat bike. Meaning if I HAD to pick ONE bike it would not be the Fat Bike. But it was a lot of fun to ride in the snow and it was also a lot of fun to ride in the real serious mud. 

Author’s Second Note: The rumor that a fat bike tire acts like the suspension on a normal mtb is FALSE. Riding a fully rigid fat bike is like riding a fully rigid mtb only bouncy.


3 thoughts on “The Best Thing I Bought for My Bike

  1. If I could only have one bike, it WOULD be a fat bike. Granted, Doug, I don’t have the MTB chops that you do. And I don’t plan to do much XC racing. So my choice of fat is informed differently than yours.

    1. On a straight-up speed comparison by GCN on a short course with technical and non-technical climbing and descents, the fat bike was only moderately slower than the MTB.

    2. With a suspension fork and a second set of wheels for tires in the 2.5″-3″ range, the comparison likely gets even closer.

    3. You can ride the fat bike year-round in almost any conditions including deepish snow.

    4. Spend some extra money on your primary wheelset and go tubeless–you’ll cut out a LOT of rotating mass.

    5. And Bar Mitts. I haven’t ridden with them, but hear only great things from those who have.

    • I’d give up CX before I’d give up my fat bike. CX is 4 months, fat is 12.

      I’d cry, but I’d do it.

      Funny side story–there’s a CX race called Ice Weasels that takes place in Dec. Used to be in MA, now moved to RI. This past Dec, I raced both CX and fat. In CX, I earned one of my best finishes ever, 47 of 86 or so. And that included a chain drop just after the start that cost me a bunch of positions, albeit many that I quickly claimed back via trickery/treachery (read full account below).

      In the fat bike race, I DNFed after 2 laps (the leaders did 3 or maybe even 4), as I was feeling the effects of the earlier CX race and the 2 16oz IPA handups I took during the fat bike race. Due to the quality of the field, however, I earned my second best ever Cross Points score despite (a) a woeful effort/result and (b) not even being on a CX bike.

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