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45NRTH Bergraven Technical Fatbiking Gaiters

45NRTH Bergraven Technical Gaiter For Fat Bikes

45NRTH Bergraven Technical Gaiter For Fat Bikes

Warning: This article deals with adult subject matter and is not suitable for southerners or cyclists who spend their winters in the basement riding a trainer. Reader discretion is advised.

After several mild winters in a row, those of us in the Upper Midwest have finally been blessed with a ton of fresh snow and bone-chilling temperatures. Several weeks ago I was at the local bike shop and saw the new 45NRTH Bergraven Technical Fatbiking Gaiters. I hesitated getting them because the past few winters have been rather disappointing for Fat Bike owners, but I decided to take a chance and buy them anyway—and I am certainly glad I did!

45NRTH Bergraven Technical Gaiter For Fat Bikes

45NRTH Bergraven Technical Gaiter For Fat Bikes

Gaiters are put on over your boots and winter cycling tights and extend from your boots to just below your knees. If you are not familiar with the purpose of winter gaiters, let me explain. First, they keep you lower leg and calf muscle warm (the wind has a way of making calf muscles very stiff). Second, they keep the snow out of your boots when you have to get off the bike and push.

The Bergraven gaiters are specifically designed for Fat Bike riders. The soft outer shell is made with Primaloft ECO insulation and there is a Kevlar panel to protect the gaiters if they come in contact with either the crank arms or chain-rings. These gaiters close on the sides with a hook-and-loop closure and there are buckle adjusters at the top so you can make them as snug (or loose) as you like. There is also a strap that goes under your boots to keep the gaiters in place. In addition, there is a bit of reflective piping on the back of the gaiters.

If you are fortunate enough to own a pair of 45NRTH Wölvhammer winter cycling boots there is a toe hook on these gaiters that will snap into the boots for a better fit. Unfortunately, my feet are too wide to fit into a pair of Wölvhammer boots (even though they have a wide toe box). However, you do not have to wear these gaiters with Wölvhammer boots. When the temperature drops below 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) I wear the Columbia Bugaboot Plus Cold Weather Boot—this boot is designed for hunters, but it works for cyclists as well. By the way, the toe hook on the Bergraven gaiter will lock into this boot (but you will need to trim the hook with a Dremel rotary tool first).

Sometimes you just have to dismount and push your Fat Bike

Sometimes you just have to dismount and push your Fat Bike

We’ve had a lot of snow this winter and I’ve had to walk my bike through deep snow drifts on many occasions. Sometimes you can see a drift in front of you and just dismount and walk through it. However, a few times I’ve run into deep snow without any warning and these gaiters have kept the snow out of my boots every time!

45NRTH Bergraven Technical Fatbiking Gaiters are available in two sizes: Medium (38–43) and Large (44–50). These gaiters retail for $85 a pair—not cheap, but it’s hard to put a price on staying warm! You might live in an area of the country where you would never need a product like this, but I am certainly glad I bought them (especially this year).

 

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45NRTH Cobrafist Pogies For Fat Bikes

The All Seasons Cyclist With His New 45NRTH Cobrafist Pogies

The All Seasons Cyclist With His New 45NRTH Cobrafist Pogies

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about How To Keep Your Hands Warm While Cycling In The Winter. In that article I reviewed the three major products that winter cyclists use to protect their hands: Moose Mitts, Bike Poagies and Bar Mitts. Unfortunately, that article was published before 45NRTH introduced their new Cobrafist Technical Fatbike Pogie. I am an experienced winter cyclist and own at least two pairs each of Moose Mitts, Bike Poagies and Bar Mitts—and I have to say that 45NRTH’s new Cobrafist pogies smash the competition—these are warmest, best designed and most well thought-out pogies on the market today!

45NRTH Cobrafist Pogies For Fat Bikes

45NRTH Cobrafist Pogies For Fat Bikes

45NRTH Cobrafist pogies are constructed with a wind resistant, puncture resistant 600 denier outer shell and warm layer of 400g Primaloft insulation. These pogies will easily add 25 degrees of warmth to your hands, i.e., if your gloves are normally good down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, with Cobrafist pogies you can wear those same gloves down to at about 5 degrees—and if you drop a small chemical hand warmer into each pogie you gain another 10 degrees of warmth.

Zippered Air Vents To Regulate The Temperature

Zippered Air Vents To Regulate The Temperature

Chemical hand warmers are intended to be used in an oxygen restricted environment—not in an airtight container. Since all the other pogies cut off outside air from reaching into the pogies they also suffocate chemical hand warmers (make them stop working) within an hour or so. Fortunately, the Cobrafist pogies have zippered vents on the top and bottom so you can regulate the amount of air you let in—or you can choose to seal the poagie up almost air tight if you want. These zippers also allow moisture to escape from inside the pogies which will help keep your hands dry—and these zippers have pulls on both the inside and outside of the pogies so you can adjust the ventilation without taking your hands out of the poagie (I dearly love this feature)! In addition, the Cobrafist has two small inner pockets that allow you to store extra food or chemical hand warmers without them sliding around inside the pogie.

A Bar-End Plug Secures A Grommet To Keep Your Pogie In Place

A Bar-End Plug Secures A Grommet To Keep Your Pogie In Place

While the Cobrafist pogies are technically advanced, they are still easy to install—they slide over your handlebar and a bar-end plug secures a grommet tight against the handlebar (the only tool required is a 3mm Allen wrench). The only downside to this system is that you can’t use a tall bar-end grip like the Ergon GC3 Handlebar Grips I normally use on my Pugsley. However, the shorter Ergon GC3 Race Grip will work. The other end of the pogie (the end closest to the headset) has an oval-shaped foam donut that seals the handlebar and cable closure and keeps unwanted cold air out. The Cobrafist also has a drawstring around the opening for your hands—keep it loose if you start to overheat, or cinch it up if the weather turns nasty.

45NRTH Cobrafist Fat Bike Pogies

45NRTH Cobrafist Fat Bike Pogies

Every time I write about pogies I get letters from readers asking about how difficult it is to get your hands in and out of the pogie while riding. Well, I wondered about this same thing before I first used them. Let me put your mind at ease by telling you that these pogies are incredibly easy to use—you can get your hands in and out in total darkness without even having to think about it.

45NRTH Cobrafist Fat Bike Pogies

Cobrafist Pogies Could Use Some Reflective Piping For Riding At Night

While I believe the 45NRTH Cobrafist pogies are the best pogies on the market, I do have two suggestions that I think would make them even better. First, I would like to see some reflective piping on the front and side of these pogies. Sunshine is a rare commodity during the winter, and I often find myself riding after dark and reflective piping would make it a lot easier for cars and snowmobiles to see me. Second, I would like the pogies to extend about 2″ more past the brake levers than they do now—while the pogies are roomy, it is too easy to stick your fingers in the pockets when they ought to be on the brake levers.

45NRTH Cobrafist Fat Bike pogies retail for $125 a pair and they only come in one color: black. They are not cheap, but as far as bike pogies go they are actually reasonably priced. While it might be fun to brag to your friends about the time you got frostbite while riding your Fat Bike, having your fingers amputated because of it might not be as fun as it sounds!

 

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45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

I live near North Point Marina on Lake Michigan and have often heard yacht owners say that a boat is a “hole in the water into which you pour money.” Sometimes I feel that way about my Fat Bike, a Surly Necromancer Pugs. In the first two years I’ve owned that bike I’ve spent more money on tires than most people pay for a new road bike. I’ve gone through four sets of very expensive tires—the old tires didn’t wear out, I just kept looking for a better sets. Fortunately, 45NRTH came out with what I believe to be the finest tire ever made for a Fat Bike—the Hüsker Dü. This is the tire that ought to come standard on every Fat Bike!

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

By Fat Bike standards, the Hüsker Dü is a lightweight tire (under 1,250 grams each). While this tire would be the equivalent of a lead weight on a standard mountain bike, it is much lighter than the other choices you will find in a 26×4″ Fat Bike tire. In addition, this tire rolls like a dream! I have used it on mud, sand, dirt and pavement and it has a superb ride. I did not use this tire in the dead of winter since I have a set of 45NRTH Dillinger studded tires for snow and ice.

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

Hüsker Dü tires have a thread count of 120 tpi (threads per inch). Higher tpi tires are usually lighter, more supple and more expensive. Thanks to the Kevlar bead the Hüsker Dü is the easiest tire to change that I’ve ever had—which is pretty good since the first time I took the tires out I got a puncture just six miles into the ride! I am not going to blame the tire for this one—I was riding in an area that no sane person would take their bike in the first place.

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

My Surly Necromancer Pugs came stock with 3.8″ Surly Larry tires on the front and 3.7″ Surly Endomorph tires on the back (often called the Larry/Endo combo). These tires are great for folks who are lucky enough to ride on groomed snowmobile trails and hard packed (consolidated) snow. The Larry/Endo combo is also good on packed sand (the sand near the waterline around a lake). However, on mud or loose snow I always had trouble getting decent traction with these tires. The Hüsker Dü tires will give you a great grip in adverse conditions while still providing less rolling resistance on pavement or packed trails.

One interesting observation: A few weeks ago I wrote an article about my new Felt F65X cyclocross bike. I use the Felt F65X on routes where I have to travel over both pavement and off-road trails. The Felt F65X is faster than my Pugs on off-road trails when I am riding in a straight line, but I always have to slow my cyclocross bike down in the turns because if I overbake a corner I will wind up in the Des Plaines River. On the other hand, the Hüsker Dü tires on my Pugs have such an amazing grip that I don’t even have to hit the brakes in the turns! If you own a Fat Bike don’t limit yourself to just riding in the winter! Fat Bikes make great off-road trail bikes and beach cruisers as well.

45NRTH Hüsker Dü tires retail for $150 each. I know—that is more than most people pay for the tires on their car (and the tires on their car will last at least ten times longer). However, you need to remember that the Fat Bike market is still relatively small and the laws of “supply and demand” are in full effect.

In case you are wondering how this tire got its name, Hüsker Dü was the name of hardcore punk rock band from St. Paul, Minnesota (the group existed from 1979 to 1987). 45NRTH is headquartered down the road in Bloomington, Minnesota.

 

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45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

Our long national nightmare is over—the Chicago area finally got some snow! A couple of months ago the local bike shop was able to score me pair of Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires for my Surly Necromancer Pugsley and this past week was the first time I was able to use them on snow (but they have seen a lot of miles on off-road trails).

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

The Dillinger tires are 4″ wide and weight only 1375 grams (a major improvement over my heavy Surly Nates). This lightweight snow tire has 240 aluminum-carbide studs that grips the ice and a tread pattern that gives the most amazing traction in snow you will ever find in a bike tire. This 26 x 4.0″ tire is available with a Kevlar bead with 120 tpi (threads per inch), and a wire bead version with 27 tpi.

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

The intended tire pressure range for this tire goes from 5 to 30 psi, but if you are riding on snow you probably don’t want to inflate them to over 10 psi, and on the ice I would drop them down to 5 or 6 psi. When riding on dirt and gravel off-road trails I keep my fat bike tires inflated to between 12 and 15 psi.

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

After our first snowfall I took my Pugsley out to Illinois Beach State Park (the “crown jewel” of the Illinois park system) so I could try them out on the snow, ride across a frozen pond and play along the shores of Lake Michigan. I rode my bike on surface streets from my house to the beach and on the pavement these wide tires are a bit of work (they grip the road too well). However, the moment I left the pavement and got on a snowy off-road trail it felt like I was riding downhill with a strong tailwind—these tires ride so smooth and grip so well on the snow that I don’t even have the words to describe it! On the way to the beach I followed a very sandy trail that has a couple of small bumps I hate—they are only a few feet tall but most of the time my mountain bike sinks in the sand and I almost come to a standstill. However, with the Dillinger tires I just increased my speed and rolled right over the bumps. I rode for several miles along the shores of Lake Michigan and in some places there was very little snow and in other places it was three or four inches deep (I’ve been in a lot worse before). For the record, riding on the beach with a couple of inches of snow cover was a lot easier than in the places that didn’t have much snow. In some places the sand underneath the snow was on a fairly steep angle, but even when riding off-camber the tires never slipped.

A Rare Photo Of The All Seasons Cyclist In His Native Habitat

A Rare Photo Of The Elusive All Seasons Cyclist In His Native Habitat

At the north end of Illinois Beach State Park there is a small pond that was frozen over and it had several guys out ice fishing near the middle of the pond (always a good sign). I rode across this frozen pond and was blown away by two things: how much traction I had and how little rolling resistance I experienced!

When I entered the park I noticed that there were tracks in the snow from two other cyclists on a trail in front of me—both tracks were from mountain bike tires and it appeared that one of them was studded. I caught up with a guy riding the non-studded tires first—he was a nice guy but was having trouble hold a straight line so I passed him. A little later I caught up with the guy on a mountain bike with steel studded tires—he was riding faster than the other guy so I pulled up next to him and chatted for a while. When I conversation was over I hit the gas and quickly dropped him. Both of these guys were younger than me and in decent shape so I am certain that on road bikes in the summer they would have dropped me, but a standard mountain bike snow tire is no match for a studded fat bike tire in the snow!

The Dillinger tires sells for around $250 with the folding bead (Kevlar), but the wire bead version is a bit cheaper. Unfortunately, since this tire is sold by 45NRTH (my least favorite cycling company in America) it means you probably won’t be able to get a pair of Dillinger winter tires till next summer. 45NRTH received a very small shipment of these tires from their suppliers in China and they sold out immediately—I only got mine thanks to the persistence of the folks at the local bike shop (they spent many hours on the phone tracking down a pair of these tires for me). 45NRTH wants to be a company the specializes in winter cycling gear, but so far their track record shows that they specialize in advertising products on their Website that they don’t have. A few years ago one of the political campaigns promised “hope and change” but the slogan at 45NRTH ought to be “hype and out of stock.”

 

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45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

If you own a Fat Bike one of the decisions you have to make before riding in the winter is whether or not to use clipless pedals, like Crank Brothers Egg Beater Pedals. While Eggbeater pedals shed snow very well, they are not so great when it comes to shedding ice. If you have to get off your bike and walk in slush for very long there is a good chance the cleats on your shoes are going to clog up with solid ice, and I’ve found that very difficult to get rid of. Last year I put a pair of Odyssey JC PC Pedals on my Surly Necromancer Pugsley and was fairly satisfied. The only drawback with the JC PC Pedals was the weight—since it is rotational weight you can really feel it as you ride! A few weeks ago I bought a pair of the new 45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals and they made a world of difference.

45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals are made by 45NRTH, a fairly new company that specializes in gear for cold weather cycling. This year they have brought a lot of exciting new cycling products to the market, including winter tires, chains, boots, pedals and balaclavas.

45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

The Heiruspecs is a wide flat pedal that has 16 replaceable alloy pins per pedal for an amazing grip. The CNC-extruded body is made of aluminum and weights only 358 grams per pair. The pedal itself is black and comes with orange pins, but replacement pin kits are available so you have your pins match your bike. Replacement pins are available in several colors, including red, blue, green, orange, silver, black, and pewter.

While I’ve not had a chance (yet) to ride with these pedals in the snow, I have used them in the mud. They offer an incredible grip, even when standing out of the saddle on a climb. In fact, the grip was so good I forgot that I was even using a regular pedal.

45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

As when installing any brand of pedal, you need to apply a thin layer of an anti-seize compound to the threads before installation. I use the Park Tool Anti-Seize Compound—it forms a protective barrier around small parts to protect them from rust and corrosion (this product is safe for use on steel, aluminum, and Titanium).

The 45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals retail for $99 a pair and if your local bike shop does not have them in stock they can easily order them for you. These pedals are also available from several online retailers, but the discount they offer is usually not enough to offset the cost of shipping.

45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

Side View Of The 45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

45NRTH also has another pair of winter pedals, known as the Helva, and they weigh 308 grams per pair. These pedals are considerably more expensive than the Heiruspecs, but I have not had the opportunity to try them out yet (but am thinking about getting them for one of my other winter bikes).

 
 

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