- Fat bikes are off-road bikes with wide tires that can help riders biking in the snow.
- Winter bikes should have a simple shifting system with durable and reliable disc brakes.
- The best winter bikes come from companies like Canyon, Surly, Borealis, and Framed.
Riding a bike in the snow during the winter presents unique challenges some bikes can handle better than others.
The best bikes for snow and winter include the Canyon Dude CF 9, Trek Farley 9.8, Giant Yukon 1, Otso Voytek, Framed Minnesota Fat 26", Surly Ice Cream Truck, Salsa Mukluk C XT, and Borealis Crestone Eagle. These bikes have strong and light frames with wide tires that can hold up well in the snow.
Some of the best bikes for snow and winter riding are off-road bikes called fat bikes. These bikes have much wider tires with larger tread blocks than regular bike tires. Fat bikes often have wider tires than typical mountain bikes that might be used for dry dirt trails and hilly mountain paths. We’ll go over some of the best bikes you can buy to ride in the snow and other harsh road elements like mud and sand.
The 8 Best Bikes For Snow Winter Riding
Canyon Dude CF 9
- Lightweight frame
- Wide-ranging gears
- Not so smooth as the front end
- Tires may be on the narrow side
The Canyon Dude CF 9 is the latest in an impressive line of fat bikes for the snow, sand, dirt, and other rugged terrain.
One of the central components that makes this bike a great value is its agile carbon frame.
You’ll get an extremely strong core packed into a lightweight frame to keep all your bike components working smoothly together.
You may not have as many gear options as you’d like with this bike, but the available gears should be ample enough to get you through snowy trails without worrying about snow clogging up your cassette and crank.
For the type of bicycling you're likely to do on this bike, you're going to need a reliable set of disc brakes that can give you solid stopping power.
The Shimano disc brakes included on the Dude CF 9 should give you plenty of braking power over varied terrain and weather conditions.
To help you maintain your grip on the handlebars, this bike includes high-quality lock-on grips that will keep your hands comfortable and in control of the bike.
For bike maintenance and repairs, Canyon includes a convenient repair kit with a wrench and pump for the Dude CF 9.
Trek Farley 9.8
- Easy to handle
- Excellent speed capabilities
- Lightweight build
- May not perform well in deeper snow
- Relatively pricey
The Trek Farley 9.8 is a wonderful-looking adventure bike that can perform as well as it looks.
The tires on this bike offer great cushion and durability that can take riders through rough patches of snow with adequate support.
To get sufficient grip on slippery surfaces, it’s important for your tires to have tread and other traction elements to push away water and grab onto the road as much as possible.
You may not get a ton of speed out of the Farley 9.8, but you'll have excellent stability, control, and braking capabilities that can keep you comfortable and safe on your ride.
If you want to bring along supplies, you can attach a waterproof box or other container to the frame with ease.
The tires on the Trek Farley 9.8 can be outfitted with studs to allow for extra traction when there is heavy snow around.
Though I like to have snow tires that are wide and capable enough to provide grip without studs, it's nice to have the option to add studs when conditions get really brutal.
Giant Yukon 1
- Fantastic overall design
- Good tire clearance
- No carbon frame
Giant makes a wide range of quality bikes for endurance road rides and off-road adventures.
Their Yukon 1 is loaded with snow-friendly features that should make it fantastic to ride in the winter.
This bike includes several Giant-produced components such as the handlebar, stem, seatpost, and saddle.
Unlike other bikes that source more parts from external manufacturers, this bike was put together in a more harmonious way since Giant has more of their fingerprint on it.
The contact points combine to create a comfortable ride that feels smooth across various terrain.
The aluminum frame and alloy fork create a solid foundation for all the bike components.
The Giant Yukon 1 rides well in all kinds of loose, gooey, and rough substances like mud, snow, and gravel.
When you need to ride through scary-looking unpaved trails, riding the Yukon 1 should give you the confidence to push through safely.
For added convenience and assurance, Giant includes free professional assembly and a 14-day return policy with this winter bike.
- Lightweight carbon fork and frame
- Plenty of custom options
- Great handling
- May be tough to ride for beginners
- May not perform well on substantial climbs
The Otso Voytek is a wonderful fat bike that is great for more than just winter riding in the snow.
This bike is extremely versatile for off-road riding when it’s hot, cold, or somewhere in between.
There are a slew of bright and bold color selections for the Voytek that can help to add even more excitement to your ride.
Many premium fat bikes, mountain bikes, and road bikes have very few color options, which can be a bit of a bummer when I want something that stands out more.
The range of the color choices available for the Otso Voytek should be wide enough to suit the tastes of more riders compared to other bikes.
As far as operating the bike, it is generally very user-friendly to switch gears, apply the brakes, and maneuver through different types of roads.
There are 12 speeds available through a single chainring, which helps to simplify the mechanics and many reduce the likelihood of a breakdown.
When you’re out on a mountain or a snowy road with little to no one else around, having bike problems are among the last things you want to have.
All of the mechanical components on this winter bike were very smoothly put together, which I feel makes the bike more intuitive to ride.
The brakes functioned well when I was going at higher speeds or when through odd twists and turns.
Framed Minnesota Fat 26"
- Good pricing and value
- Well-rounded features and capabilities
- A little on the heavy side
- Gear and shifting components not the best
The Minnesota has been a popular bike model from Framed for many years so it wasn’t surprising to me their Fat 26” version of the Minnesota would be a success.
This bike comes in a variety of superb color options and has a geometry that makes it very easy to ride and stay energized.
There are quick-release axles at the front and rear that make this bike easier to repair and maintain.
The Framed Minnesota Fat 26" doesn’t have a carbon frame or fork like several other fat bikes have, but the light alloy frame and fork on this winter bike surely deliver great balance and agility.
This is a fun bike with a truly adventurous spirit that has been optimized after years of refinement through previous models.
The Avid brake system and Shimano shifters can give the rider reliable control of gear shifting and stops when it’s cold, snowy, and otherwise messy outside.
When I am riding my bike through the snow, I like to minimize the amount of contact my feet and legs make with the road so I don't get any snow or debris around or inside my shoes.
Having a stable fat bike that is optimized to perform well over tricky terrain with rocks, snow, and other road elements is important for safety and comfortable riding.
The suspension in various areas of this winter bike like the fork and seatpost aid to deliver a smoother and more comfortable ride over varied terrain.
Surly Ice Cream Truck
- Easy to maneuver for a steel-based off-road bike
- Solid all-around specifications
- Overall weighty bike
- Central geometry a bit compact
Surly has a wide selection of bikes for different types of riding styles, roads, and specialized riding needs.
They even make electric bikes that come in handy for those that want to minimize their physical exertion.
When it comes to fat bikes and other mountain bikes used in the snow, Surly has a variety of models that can deliver an abundance of performance capabilities.
In my opinion, the Surly Ice Cream Truck is one of the best winter bike models this company has ever made.
The bike has awesome tires that are solidly-constructed to stand up to rough snow and wet weather conditions.
As much as tires are important for bike winter riding, I often value other components such as the frame, shifters, and brakes since tires are more easily replaced on the road.
This Surly bike has plenty of quality components that make cycling easier and safer in off-road conditions.
When riding through cold weather with snow and harsh elements, it's often important for me to securely attach storage containers so they won't fall off easily.
The mounts on the Ice Cream Truck bike from Surly are easy to use when connecting and disconnecting various accessories.
Salsa Mukluk C XT
- High-quality wheels, brakes, shifters, and other parts
- Streamlined build
- Expensive compared to other premium off-road bikes
Salsa Cycles produces an awesome line of winter-capable bikes, but the Mukluk C XT reigns supreme among all of them.
The Salsa Mukluk C XT is one of the more expensive snow and winter bikes available, but it has superior components, materials, and construction that make it a great value.
When riding in the snow or other gunky weather and road elements, you’ll want a winter bike that will maintain solid traction and smooth overall functionality to help you overcome whatever you’re facing.
The lightweight and strong carbon frame and fork allow the rider to reach the speeds they want with the handling and precise steering they need.
If the snow gets exceptionally heavy, you should be well-served with the stud-ready tires that let you enhance your traction with minimal fuss and expertise required.
The Salsa Mukluk C XT includes mounts for racks, bottle cages, and other containers you might want to attach.
Borealis Crestone Eagle
- Agile for an off-road bike with wide tires
- Very lightweight carbon build
- Awkward geometry in some areas
Cycling enthusiasts and casual riders will probably know that having carbon components is often the best way to go.
Carbon frames, forks, and other parts can give a dedicated winter bike excellent strength while minimizing its weight.
Manufacturers can use carbon to create bikes that are often less bulky and more elegant than bikes made with steel or aluminum.
The Borealis Crestone Eagle bike is a 12-speed off-road monster that packs loads of carbon.
This bike has a carbon frame and fork available in several dark and bright color palettes.
The wheels on the Crestone Eagle are also carbon, which should give off-road riders amazing agility when traversing just about any type of terrain.
Though fat tires are often designed to take on snow, dirt, mud, and other rugged surfaces, it can be difficult to stay on course if the bike is too heavy.
The carbon structure on this bike combines with a wealth of SRAM components to create a finely-engineered machine that can take on snow, ice, and other cold-weather winter elements.
What Are The Characteristics Of A Winter Bike?
Riding rim brake bikes or gravel bikes during the winter can be challenging, especially when it is snowing out on the roads.
Even without snow, it can be tough being exposed to cold weather while pedaling for miles to wherever you need to go.
Instead of buying a race bike or standard gravel bike, you should look for a winter road bike to be your dedicated bike for winter.
Tires On Winter Bikes
One of the key differences about winter bikes compared to other bikes are the generally larger and more resilient tires with bigger tread blocks.
Since off-road winter riders may be confronted with slushy and slippery elements like snow and ice, they need tires that can provide good traction on uneven and loose roads.
Tires on a winter bike are often very similar to those on a mountain bike designed to be ridden on rough terrain.
These bikes have tires that can usually run well when they are not fully inflated.
Running on slightly deflated tires may allow for more tire contact to be made with roads, particularly uneven roads.
Components That Can Withstand Winter Weather
Cyclists looking for a good winter bike should choose a bike with materials that can stand up well to extremely wet and cold conditions.
Materials such as aluminum may be more resistant to rusting and other corrosion that might occur when the bike is exposed to significant moisture.
Materials such as steel can be more prone to rusting and be more difficult to control on certain terrain due to its heavier weight and rigidness.
Simple Gear System
Snow can also impact moving parts such as gears and levers, so you should choose a winter mountain bike with minimal gears and an overall design that allows for simple operation.
If a gear was to get packed with snow, the ability for the cyclist to shift in or out of that gear might be impeded.
A good dedicated winter bike should have solid disc brakes that will reliably help the rider slow down or stop when needed.
Disc brakes play a big part in maintaining control when a mountain bike is met with snow and other harsh elements on uneven surfaces.
Fenders With Adequate Spacing
Fenders over the front and rear wheel can help to deflect bits of snow, sand, and mud from flying towards the rider.
Since snow can get bunched up between a wheel and a fender, you should look for fenders that can be installed with an adequate amount of space above the wheels to prevent snow from getting stuck.
Accessories that can make winter road riding more comfortable in cold weather include winter grips and padded seats that can keep the cyclist warmer than standard grips and seats.
Since controlling gears and brakes might be more difficult when wearing gloves, you can buy hand covers that can cover your hands and the grip area of the handlebar to help you stay warm and free up your fingers to operate your bike.
How To Maintain Good Winter Bike Ride Quality
Though many winter bikes are designed to withstand wet and cold conditions, there are other things a bike rider can do to ensure their bike lasts long and continues to perform well.
Snow can easily get packed onto key moving parts of even the best bike and deteriorate its performance while you’re riding or in the long run.
You should try to remove snow from gears, brakes, pedals, and other parts that may be prone to getting stuck.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson