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December 2023 Newsletter

Winter is (sort of) here

No question, Summer is our busy season. Working with the City, meetings and Trail Nights keep us hopping.  As EMBA expands our scope and reach, we’re implementing a pilot project for trail grooming to give you the best experience possible.  Almost all of the executive bikes in the winter and we think Edmonton has some of the best fat biking anywhere.

While the City has concerns about trail usage and environmental impacts, they’re also very interested in tourism and developing winter attractions specifically. Fatbiking has the potential to put our incredible trail network in the spotlight while minimizing its impact on the local ecosystem.

This edition kicks off two new features: Tech Talk and Bike Check. We thought it would be a good idea to talk about gear specific to Edmonton riding. Tech Talk features gear from our partner shops that offer you a discount on selected merchandise.  They help out the community and we hope you help them out too.  Bike Check features a bike from one of our board members.  You might get a kick out of seeing what we ride and it’s a fun way to get acquainted with your board members.

With that in mind, this edition is devoted to fatbiking and even if you don’t ride the trails in the winter, we hope you enjoy it.

The EMBA Executive


Fat Bike Grooming: Our new pilot project

Our pilot project this winter is fat bike grooming.  Out in Fort Saskatchewan, FTSA has a snow dog to groom trails. We have a really strong relationship with FTSA and sometimes we’re a bit envious of them.  We’re not able to run powered equipment in the river valley, so this winter our power will come from you, your snowshoes and your winning attitude.

If you’re like us and you ride in the winter, chances are the following drives you nuts:

·         Skinny tires rutting out the trail

·         Walkers and hikers creating a bumpy mess that rattles your fillings out

·         Calling cards from our furry friends – gifts that keep on giving

Those days are over! This winter we are turning our singletrack into a beautifully groomed paradise that would make any bobsled run envious.  Great fat bike trails start with a healthy dose of snowshoe traffic and end with a homemade wooden groomer like this one:

How does this work?

Think of Trail Night, but with much less notice and a pair of snowshoes.  Here’s what happens:

Click on the button below to sign up for trail grooming alerts

·         You will get an email after a snowfall

·         We’ll have a few locations in Edmonton that we groom

·         Bring your snowshoes and your headlamp

·         Join us for a stroll in a winter wonderland

·         Hang around after for some snacks, beverages and camaraderie

It’s really that easy!  When we have 10 people snowshoe a trail, it sets a nice track for the 5” tires to do their thing.  Depending on the trail, some of them might even get some sweet snow berms. 

This is a pilot project and we’ll have some kinks to work out.  We don’t have snowshoes for volunteers, so you will need to provide those.  And it will generally be at night, so you’ll want a good headlamp. We review some lighting systems in Tech Talk in case you need one.


Bike Check: Josh Nowochin's Devinci Minus

Josh has a great story about how he got into fatbiking:

I first rented a Rocky Mountain Blizzard from Revolution for Global Fat Bike Day in 2015.  A week after the ride I picked up a 2015 Devinci Minus and rode it 2-3 times a week. Over 2 months I blew up every freehub Devinci Canada could find, so they fully covered a DT Swiss 350 swap which has been flawless since then. At the end of last season I caught a crack in the chainstay. Paul at Mud, Sweat and Gears came through with a full warranty replacement that included a 2023 frame, carbon fork, thru axles and derailleur hanger.

Edmonton receives just the right amount of snow and has just the right amount of traffic for fatbiking. The trails can sometimes take awhile to pack down – and can sometimes be icy – but overall there’s nothing else I’d rather do all winter than play bikes.

Some highlights on Josh’s rig:

·         2023 Devinci Minus Size Large with carbon fork

·         DT Swiss Big Ride wheelset (blinged out with red reflective tape)

·         Tires: 45NRTH Wrathchild (F) and Wrathlorde (R) – tubeless of course

·         RaceFace SixC carbon bars

·         Shimano XT threaded bottom bracket

·         SRAM Level T brakes with 180mm rotors

·         Light system: Outbound Trail Evo and Hangover lights

How long have you been on the board?

7 years

What are your main responsibilities?

Leading trail days and the Bike Park Committee

What’s your favorite trail in Edmonton?

Depends on the day! Gold digger is up there

What’s your area of focus for 2024?

Construction planning, approvals and fundraising for the bike park

When did you start riding in the river valley?

2015 – and I fell in love so hard

Thanks Josh!


Tech Talk: Fat bike gear

If Tech Talk is half as good as SNL’s Coffee Talk, we might get a bit verklempt

In this issue, Marilene from Cranky’s Riverbend Square and Jay from Mud, Sweat and Gears Edmonton West sat down with EMBA to showcase some of their best fatbiking gear.

Cranky’s Riverbend Square

540 Riverbend Square NW

Ph: 780-988-2088

EMBA: For our readers that reserve their fat bikes for winter riding, which of your brands come with studdable tires?

Marilene: Both Trek and Rocky Mountain offer bikes with tires that are studdable. You don’t need to buy a 2nd set of tires

EMBA: Tell us about your lights. It gets dark and there are coyotes in the woods

Marilene: We really like the Bontrager Ion Pro RT with helmet mount.  It also comes with a handlebar mount for versatility.  For adequate vision and safety, we recommend a light with at least 1000 lumens

EMBA: Chains get gross with regular oil.  What’s good for the winter?

Marilene: We like the Muc-Off -50C lube for winter use.  And to keep your bike clean, we’ve had good results from the Muc-Off X-3 Dirty Chain Machine.  Salt is a big deal in the winter and keeping your drivetrain clean will get you better performance and save you money. You want to be militant about keeping your drivetrain clean.  The X-3 is great because it doesn’t recycle dirty fluid back to your chain

EMBA: What are some solutions to cold hands?

Marilene: Pogies are great for riders that get cold hands. We like the 45NRTH pogies. In order to use them, you need a bar grip that’s open on the end.  We also carry drop-bar pogies

EMBA: Studded tires have saved our bacon more than once. What do you carry for studded tires?

Marilene: We have the 45 NRTH Dillinger 5 in stock and the Wrathchild in a few different sizes

Editor’s note: I switched from the Dillinger 4 in the front to the Wrathchild and at the risk of being cliché, it was a game-changer for me. Can’t recommend that tire enough

Thanks Marilene!

Mud, Sweat and Gears Edmonton West

15007 Stony Plain Rd NW

Ph: 780-483-2188

We told Jay that we were doing a piece for the newsletter and he really went all out for us. Check this out!

EMBA: Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up. What do you guys have for our tender tootsies?

Jay: 45NRTH out of Minnesota is my personal favourite for winter gear and fatbiking. They just released their updated Ragnarok with some big improvements over the previous version. The new version is much better suited to Edmonton shoulder-season riding and is rated for -3C. You can also get “superfeet” footbeds to get some extra warmth.  Shops like The Running Room will carry those. The ones shown here are reflective and great for commuting

EMBA: What would you recommend for the flat pedal riders?

Jay: In the winter, metal sucks out heat. Composite pedals like the CrankBrothers Stamp are perfect for fatbiking.  If you need something with longer pins for your winter boots, the Chromag Dagger has longer pins

EMBA: Cranky’s likes the Muc-Off -50C lube.  What do you recommend?

Jay: Yes!  We also like the Muc-Off -50C lube.  We’ve had very good results with the Rock ‘n Roll Gold and we just got Canadian distribution

EMBA: You mentioned that we should also think about sealant

Jay: Regular Stan’s sealant can freeze in really cold temps.  We have sealant that has a type of antifreeze which keeps working in the winter

EMBA: Tires are a big deal for fatbiking.  What can you tell our readers to look out for? Some of us like the XL studs

Jay: XL studs are best on the trail, but for commuting the regular studs are much better.  Black ice can be really hard and XL studs don’t bite in as well. You should also note that all studs work in all tires. You don’t need Terrene studs for Terrene tires, for example.

EMBA: Which brands offer studdable tires?

Jay: Rocky Mountain, Pivot and Norco have bikes with studdable tires so you don’t have to buy a 2nd set

EMBA: What can you recommend for lights?

Jay: For commuting, the NiteRider Swift has a REALLY bright rear light

For trail riding, the Ray 1600 can either go on your handlebar or on a helmet. It has the battery attached, which can be a bit heavy for a helmet.

The Cadillac of light systems is the MOH55 Pro, which can be bar or helmet-mounted. It can also be used as a headlamp for trail nights.  It has an external battery – which can be kept in a jacket pocket for warmth. That will always extend the life of the battery’s charge. At 4000 lumens, you won’t have any problems with visibility.

A good in-between the Ray 1600 and the MOH55 Pro is the MJ-900S with 1500 lumens. All of these lights use GoPro and Garmin mounts and hardware, which are widely available at most shops.

EMBA: What should our members know about clothing?

Jay: Layering is really important.  For most riding, a softshell setup works best. That’s going to be breathable so you don’t overheat.  Excess sweating is the biggest problem with fatbiking. 45NRTH has merino shirts to keep you dry and warm and wool-lined gloves as well.

When it gets really cold, a hardshell setup keeps the cold wind out, but it’s not breathable. The 45NRTH bib knicker has brushed fleece with wind panels to keep the cold air out. They also have bib pockets

Editor’s note: Bib pockets are a great way to keep your snacks from freezing and the perfect place to keep your light battery warm

EMBA: What else can you recommend for our fatbike setup?

Jay: In the winter, always remember that metal gets cold.  Aluminum seatposts suck heat and so do AL handlebars.  A carbon handlebar is a great way to help your hands stay warm

EMBA: You had us at ‘carbon handlebar’

Thanks Jay!


Global Fat Bike Day

by Gavin Radzick

Saturday, December 2 was Global Fat Bike Day. We didn’t have any snow, but Mud, Sweat and Gears invited me along on their regular Saturday fat bike ride, which they call ‘Fatterday’.  We met at the west end store off 149 Street in the afternoon.

Meeting at Mud, Sweat and Gears on 149 St and Stony Plain Rd

We set out and rode through Root Canal and Back Breaker.  The shop had a demo to loan out, and Trevor took the 2023 Rocky Mountain Blizzard Powerplay A50 for a rip. With a 700W motor he was going so fast I couldn’t catch him in the frame

Although I personally think all Blizzard’s should be black & white, this one is a rich red/copper that is super classy.

We stopped for a group photo at the bottom of Equestrian Traverse

There’s something to be said about the social aspect of group rides.  If you’re looking to expand your network and meet new people, I definitely recommend it. MSG’s Fatterday rides set out every Saturday at 2PM and meet at a few locations in the west end and Southwest. They have a moderate pace group and a fast-pace group for advanced riders. They are “no drop” rides, so you don’t have to worry about getting left behind.

The Fatterday winter season is $40 and includes insurance and a t-shirt. The season runs from November 18 to mid-April, depending on conditions.  You can sign up for Fatterday’s by contacting the Mud, Sweat and Gears shop at 15007 Stony Plain Rd.  Their phone number is 780-483-2188.

Thanks to Gary for taking us out!


December 2023 Updates from EMBA

Don't have a membership yet? Get one today:


EMBA Membership Perks

Members get 10% (or more) off regular priced items at these amazing stores! Head on over to these incredible bike shops, show them some love, and take advantage of this incredible deal!

*Certain exclusions and limitations apply. Contact any of these stores for full details. Certain stores may offer other discounts.

Don't have a membership yet? Get one today:

Check out the EMBA Merch Shop! can enjoy wearing the swag and support EMBA as we continuing efforts to advocate as well as maintain single track trails. Plus the merch is pretty cool. Thank you for your support!

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