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When fat biking on groomed trails shared with other snow sports (skiing, snowmobiling, etc.) be sure to respect the trail and fellow users of the trail.  The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) has a full list of fat bike etiquette guidelines to help all users of shared trails stay safe.

Our list of do’s and don’ts summarizes the main points to take away from the IMBA’s Guidelines.

First, here’s what you should do.


1. Do check in advance to make sure the trail is open to fat bike use.

Many groomed trails currently prohibit fat bikes, but many are starting to open up opportunities for fat bikers to use their trails.  Check with the specific trail if you’re not sure, to make sure you know where and when it is OK to fat bike. Read more regulations for fat biking on groomed trails and check out our ever growing list of Minnesota fat biking trails.

2. Do pack the proper gear and supplies.

As with any winter sport, you must be prepared for inclement weather and changing trail conditions.  Make sure you dress in layers, pack plenty of water and food, and bring along repair and first aid kits just in case.


3. Do stay as far right as possible.

While this is a general rule of thumb for any traffic safety, it’s doubly important on shared winter trails.  Keeping to the right allows skiers or snowmobiles to safely pass on the left.

4. Do yield to all other users.

It is easier for a fat bike to stop than most other snow vehicles, so yield to snowmobiles and skiers alike.

5. Do wear reflective clothing and use blinkers.

Visibility is key.  Making sure that snowmobiles and skiers can see you from a distance is crucial to staying safe.  The IMBA recommends installing a front white blinker and a rear red blinker and using both of them at all times when riding on shared trails.


6. Do consider donating to the maintenance of shared trails.

Many snowmobile trails are maintained in part thanks to user fees paid by snowmobilers.  Doing your part to contribute to the trail’s upkeep can go a long way in gaining good will with other users and keeping the trails in excellent condition for everyone to enjoy.


And here’s some things you just shouldn’t do:

1. DON’T ride through wildlife habitats.
2. DON’T trespass on private land, or on trails where fat bikes are prohibited.
3. DON’T ride side-by-side when fat biking with a group.

Since fat bikers are the newest users of these trails, it is important to be courteous.  Exercising proper fat bike etiquette may help fat bikers gain access to more groomed trails in the future.

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Photo Credit: Citizen 4474 via Compfight cc

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Hi I'm Santi, and I'm a content marketing manager in the tech industry by day and grad student and writing instructor by night. I’ve always loved biking, ever since I got my first bike on my fourth birthday. As a kid, my siblings and I would go on biking “adventures” around the neighborhood, pedaling our way to nearby schools and lakes. Naturally, those adventures have only increased over the years! In addition to biking, I also love telling stories and traveling around the US. I write about our biking adventures and about fat bikes for women and kids.
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