It seems people can't get enough of fat bikes these days. If you're going to try one out, make sure you've got the right gear.
Specialized Fatboy Fat Bike
Specialized's Fatboy bike ($2,000) marks the end of the fad phase for fat bikes. At 4.8 inches wide, the house-built Ground Control tires are as big as anything on the market, while the 70.5-degree headtube angle and relatively short chainstays deliver the responsive steering of a much trimmer ride. That quick handling, combined with hydraulic brakes, svelte truss-style rims, and a lightweight carbon fork, makes this a respectably lightweight (29 pounds) fatty that's as good for year-round riding as it is in the snow.
Arctic Innovations HydroHeater Hydration Pack
Arctic Innovations' HydroHeater hydration pack ($200) has a secret weapon: a battery-powered heating element. Press a button and it will safely defrost the hose and bite valve in temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees.
Pearl Izumi Select Barrier WXB pants
Half-zip legs and a simple drawstring elastic waist make Pearl Izumi's Select Barrier WXB pants ($130) easy to get on and off, even while wearing clunky boots. Sloppy wet snow is of no concern, thanks to fully taped seams and waterproof-breathable fabric.
45Nrth Wölvhammer Boot
Like a mountaineering boot, 45Nrth's Wölvhammer ($325) wraps a fleece-lined inner boot in a synthetic shell for the ultimate in protection from the elements. A pull tab on the heel makes it easy to get on, and we loved the simple cinch-closure lacing system. It's SPD-compatible, but we preferred riding it with flat pedals.
45Nrth Helva Pedals
The wide platform and replaceable alloy pins on 45Nrth's Helva pedals ($165) gave us plenty of grip on all manner of boots, and the low-profile waffle design sheds snow and muck and adds clearance.
Dogwood Designs Pogies Plus
Dogwood Designs' Pogies Plus ($162) are high-loft, synthetically insulated covers you slip over your bars for additional hand protection on the coldest days. They're so well insulated that we rode gloveless in temperatures down to 20 degrees.
Castelli Espresso Due Jacket
The four-way-stretch Windstopper fabric and flip-up collar on Castelli's Espresso Due jacket ($300) kept us warm even when the thermometer dipped below freezing. Zippered chest and wrist vents and the smart floating-shoulder design made it easy to let out the heat, too.
Next Up: 2013 Women's Mountain-Biking Essentials