Last Sat my new part time staff member Genki , a customer & I drove to Snowpeak HQ which is located in the mountains of Tsubame Sanjo for their annual fatbike demo weekend. This event is put on by the Japanese importer of Surly & Salsa bicycles Motocross International and each year they bring about 20 or so fatbikes of various new models for people to test ride in the snow. We arrived at 11.30am and to my surprise the entire day was warm and sunny which is very unusual at this time of the year even the roads leading to Snowpeak HQ were dry !. I test rode at least 15 different fatbikes from Surly & Salsa, and because the day was so nice the lightly packed snow soon turned to thick slush, if they had groomed the course it would have been ok , but that was not the case. Bikes like the Surly Pugsley , Salsa Mukluk are great bikes but limited in very soft slushy condition's where as the Surly Moonlander and the new model called Ice cream truck with 4.8 inch tyres can get through deep slushy snow in low gear. One new offering from Salsa is their Bucksaw which features the new Rockshox Bluto up front and a split pivot suspension system in the back , the full suspension really gives you fantastic traction when pedaling through deep snow and the extra weight surely helps with that as well. At 3.30pm there was to be a fatbike race but in reality it was just a team running / pushing relay as the snow by that time was just too soft for any riding at all. My team came 3rd and Genki's team won the race due to many long legged riders in his team that were fast runners . Before swap over point you had to throw snowballs at the Surly dealer from Motocross who was ducking around so it was difficult to hit him so I ran into the snowdrift and gave him a rugby tackle and a snowball to the face much to the delight of the waiting racers .
Overall it was a good event but what Japan really needs is a decent long course fatbike winter race , such as the type of races that are already popular in the USA over the winter. Until then most fatbike riders in Japan will have to be satisfied with their own adventures off road and short course events. I did hear from one rider that there is a winter fatbike race held in Fukushima but can not find any info on that event. For many fatbike riders in Japan owning a fatbike is a fashion statement to customize and ride around the city on rather than a bike to explore the back county all year long.
Below are a few photos and a link to my flickr page as well