Fat-Skeptic to Fat-Evangilist in just one bike

In May last year (2012) I had a go on the fatbike that Andy had brought to try on the sand. I was very fat-skeptic.

“Of course a bike wont work on the deserts soft sand”, I thought.

Oh how wrong I was. From that brief play on a small dune just outside Arabian Ranches I almost ran home and started googling everything  could about fatbikes. There wasnt much about using them on sand, most of it was about snow biking and the growing interest around the world in riding the 82mm rim / 4 inch tyre combinations on trails.

I came to the conclusion that for use on the sand I needed as big a tyre as I could get and by luck I came across information about the relatively new Surly Moonlander with its 100mm Clown Shoe rims and 4.7″ Big Fat Larry tyres. I quickly decided this was my best option and set about buying one even convincing Damian in the process to get one at the same time (took 10 minutes on the phone, it wasnt hard and he’s a soft touch for a new cycling idea!)

Since picking the resulting purchase up from Abu Dhabi airport I’ve had a cycling epiphany. I’ve learnt a lot about the desert I’m surrounded by, I’ve started cycling to work occasionally because I can now, I can cycle from my door into a desert dotted with camel farms, inhabited by a significant population of gazelle and onyx and I’ve even been lucky enough to be part of the group of cyclists that crossed the Liwa desert by bike for the first time, 2 days that are right up there in my list of top cycling days ever.

I’m going to put together as much as I can about what I’ve learnt over the past 10 months to give those new to fat bikes in the desert an ‘information’ leg up. I’ve got a few posts to write including places I’ve been riding (I’ll include some GPX (GPS compatible) files), technical information like my tubeless experience (very +ve btw) and of course all the details for anyone wanting to repeat the Liwa crossing.

Hopefully by the time you read this there will be a UAE Sandbiking option in the blogs page menu at the top below the main picture. Click on it and it will take you to my collection of information I’ve been putting together



4 thoughts on “Fat-Skeptic to Fat-Evangilist in just one bike

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  1. Thanks for this info. Had been considering a fat bike as well but wasn’t sure about the ride on unconsolidated sand. Looking forward to hearing more…

  2. Hi Ian,

    Phil Durrell from World Challenge gave me your details. I live and work in Bahrain, I was in Qatar for 3 years prior to this.
    I am a very keen kayaker, especially Sea Kayaking!
    I see you a rep for kayak brands in UAE, do you have a website? What do you sell? I’d like to buy one and really get away from the usual sit on top ones.
    Also, I would like to further my training on kayaking an wondered if you would offer the UK Level 1 and Star coaching awards??



  3. Hello Ian,

    How does your moonlander handle on rocky single track? Also I am curious if you,think the smaller 3.8″ nate tires will work in soft sand? Looks like I will be working in AD in the coming months and want to find a fat bike to bring with me. Your advice on what works in the desert and what doesnt would be great!

    Glenn Brooks

    1. The 4 inch tyre format rocks on trails. The 5 inch tyre format rocks on the sand

      Get a Moonlander. The 5 inch tyre works so much better on the sand and as your gonna be in AD that’s going to be most of your riding

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