TCBC Bike University Program: Fat Bikes – Ryan Saathoff, NOW Bikes Service Manager – Thursday, February 16, 2023, at 07:00pm

Ryan Saathoff

Ryan Saathoff is the Service Manager of Now Bikes in Arden Hills, Minnesota. He has been in the bicycle industry for over 20 years. Over those 20-plus years, Ryan has attended the Barnett Bicycle Institute taught by John Barnett and has completed the Bill Woodul Race Mechanic Clinic by USA Cycling. He has completed a multitude of online and in-person training courses by Shimano, SRAM, Park Tool, QBP Brands, RockShox and FOX, and is BOSCH and S-Tec certified. Ryan is a dedicated bicycle mechanic and enjoys leading Fat Bike rides for Now Bikes all year.

Come to this session of TCBC Bike U to learn all about Fat Bikes. Topics will include: A Brief History of Fat Bikes, Fat Biking in Minnesota, Beginners Fat Biking, Local Fat Biking Events, Fat Bike Gear Selection, and Tire Pressure to name a few.

After Program Information:

Ryan presented a great overview and details about everything Fat Bike related. This included the following:

A History of Fat Bikes, including that the first one was a home-made out of Side by Side Two-Inch Tires and Rims to the one Four Inches wide Tire and Rim. That the Surly Pugsley was the first true commercial Fat Bike, and today the choices we see are either 26-inch or 27.5-inch rims.

That Fat Bikes frames are made of steel, titanium, and carbon and come in many different weights and price ranges, including an e-bike option. He said that while Fat Bikes are mainly used in the winter, many, including himself, ride one year around.

Ryan talked about the proper gear and especially how to dress properly for winter riding and what to expect in different conditions. He said that there are now specific winter bicycle helmets that look more like Downhill Skiing helmets but have ventilation. Using Pogies and winter boots is also important to keep your hands and feet warm in colder conditions.

Tire Pressure was also discussed. With snow the optimal PSI is between 3 and 10 PSI, on dirt from 7 to 12 PSI, and on pavement from 12 to 20 PSI. Many times, just by sitting on the bike to see how much the tires deform properly to grip the conditions is a good starting point. It is better to start with a higher pressure as it’s easier to let air out, rather than put more air in when riding. He also noted that tires do lose pressure in lower temps once you go outside and that if you are bouncing around when pedaling, it probably means too low of a PSI and if sliding around and / or digging in, it means too high of a PSI.

It was interesting to learn that Fat Bikes have gone to one-by (only one crank up front) group sets to allow for even wider tire sizes.

Many good questions were asked during the Q&A session including where to get information on trails to ride on, is it legal to ride on snow mobile trails, use of tubeless tires, taking a tube with you even if you are using tubeless tires, caring for E-Bike batteries in the winter, the best pumps to take with you on a ride, types of pedals from flat, to clip-in, to dual sided,

NOW Bikes also has weekly year-round Fat Bike Demo rides, and they are posted on their website. Call the shop ahead of time to reserve your spot and a fat bike in your size. The Demo Rides are Free, and NOW does rent Fat Bikes at other times.

Several websites were mentioned, the links are here:

MN Bike Trail Navigator –

Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists –

Explore Minnesota Winter Fat Biking in Minnesota –

Lezyne Pumps –

NOW Bikes –

Please follow the link below to the Zoom recording of the session on the TCBC YouTube Channel: