Fat bikes are touted as go anywhere bikes. They roll well anywhere a regular mountain bike rolls, plus a whole bunch more places like beaches and on snow. But "snow" requires a qualifier. Fat bikes don't roll well over any ol' snow. When a major storm dumps a foot, not even most cars can roll through that. The snow must get packed enough to support the weight of a fat bike with rider before riding is enjoyable or even possible. Fat bikers contribute to grooming their favorite trails with snowshoes and homemade drags. Other recreational trail users help too, unknowingly.
Once new snow is packed, it needs time to set up. Riding too early on trails will chew them up. Non-snowshoed walkers will post hole a freshly groomed trail, making it a filling rattling experience once firmed up. A good thaw-freeze cycle will expedite the setting up process. But until that happens, trails are perceived as being "fragile" by the fat bikers. Anything that disturbs a freshly groomed trail curing to perfection will send the fat bikers into a tizzy.
It used to be that mountain bikers were the scourge of the earth when mountain biking first caught on in the 80's. To this day, mountain bikes are banned in many places in the Bay Area. Cross country skies have long lamented how bikes destroy their tracks. It now appears that regular mountain bikes with 2" wide tires are the scourge of winter trail riding. There's a perception that narrower tires destroy trail conditions and the riding experience of fat bikers.
I'm having trouble getting my head around this. IT'S FUCKING SNOW! It can be here today, gone tomorrow. Literally. Frequent snow dumps keep renewing what's on the trail, and snowless spells will see bare Earth return or icy conditions necessitating studs.
The trails at virtually every place I ride are multi-user. That includes skiers, walkers, snowshoers, bicycles of any kind, even horses. Do fat bikers propose banning all activities but fat biking on snowy trails? Based on some of the vitriol on forums lately, you'd think this was the fat biker's mission. I'm not singling anybody out here. When I was in Michigan over the holidays, the same ranting was going on there about how douches with sub-4" wide tires were destroying the trails. Perhaps if trails must be in such a perfect state, fat bikes aren't all that they were cracked up to be. Sounds like to me too many folks are intoxicated on fat bike Kool-Aid. This elitist attitude will not serve the greater mountain biking community well. It will only leave some riders feeling alienated.
Anyway, I had to get this rant off my chest. Some comments made in the past week rubbed me the wrong way. Could have sworn I helped build a couple of the trails that I'm now told I'm not welcome on because my tires are too narrow. Remember when riding bikes in the snow used to be fun? Jeez, now we have all these rules to follow.