The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

Fat tire bike on gravel loop?

I recently bought a fat tire bike to ride here in Wisconsin in the winter. It’s great on packed snow, but we don’t have gravel roads in this part of Wisconsin so not much chance to experiment on gravel. Any advice for riding the gravel loop with a fat tire bike? What tire pressure do I want for gravel? I’ve been riding 6-8 psi. And if I’m riding all day, I assume I’ll want a compromise for part of the day gravel and most of the day on pavement. Thanks for any comments.

7 Replies

Brian Wallenburg, April 14, 2019 at 5:52 pm

Fat tire is all I ride on gravel. I usually run 18 or 20 PSI on everything other than snow. There will be plenty of fat tires on the gravel loop, matter of fact, you’ll see fat tires on the rest of the route too. They are a blast to ride!

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KenH, April 14, 2019 at 11:14 pm

The fatter your tires, the better on gravel and the better for dealing with the defects in paved roads too. My new bike maxes out at 2.5 inches depending on the tread and I expect to be running 2.15s at RAGBRAI. I don’t know pressures for true fat tires and I don’t have them nailed down for the new bike yet either especially since I have just converted to tubeless. But I can tell you that my procedure has been to pump up to road pressure in the morning, drop to gravel pressure for the loop, and pump back up to road pressure at the next mobile bike shop on the route after the loop.

#1302636

mootsman, April 15, 2019 at 8:14 am

I’ve ridden the gravel loop on my road bike with 25mm tires without an issue. A Fat Bike seems like overkill in the extreme.

A Fat Bike even just for the one day of the gravel loop would be a real waste of your energy on the paved roads. The gravel routes work fine on road bikes as most people ride the gravel on a road bike. Maybe on 25mm tires instead of a 23mm tires but people do ride 23s also.

The gravel loop is just a very small potion of that day and a much smaller portion of the route for the week.

#1302639

Geoff Butland, April 15, 2019 at 8:57 am

No answers for you but the fat tire guys were flying on the gravel loop the year I rode it. Road bikes were making good time….I bet you wouldn’t even need to change the air pressure unless the gravel turned out to be exceptionally loose this year.

#1302641

KenH, April 15, 2019 at 8:52 pm

The first year RAGBRAI had the gravel loop I stopped at the beginning to let some air out of my 38 mm Vittorias. A couple on a fat tire tandem pulled up beside us and chatted for a little bit. They pushed off and we followed them. They were moving along at a good clip and I fell in behind them 20 yards or so back. After a minute or two I looked in my mirror and could only barely see my riding buddy. He wasn’t willing to push his 28s that hard! So I let him set the pace for the rest of the loop and we were passed by many people on 23s. But that’s how RAGBRAI is, there are always people on 23s passing you. I’ve ridden the loop several times alone now and I am always passed by people on 23s, even last year when I could barely push my 38s through that soft surface! Ah, to be young again! But think how fast they would be on 38s or fatter tires!!

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francoisvanzyl, April 16, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Watch this guy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im9FRwTh8TY

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KenH, April 17, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!

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