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My flight to Zurich is delayed, thanks to congestion over the skies of Manchester. Our Swiss pilot’s voice expresses in tone, if not content, distinct displeasure that the British have unduly affected his innate sense of timekeeping.

I’m penned in at my window seat while a gentleman tells me in detail about his latest ski trip to Japan. It’s not his fault; I’m sitting on a flight where most of the seats are taken up by those looking to hit the snow-covered mountains of Switzerland on planks of wood. With my down jacket I could easily be mistaken for one of them, even though I’ve never set foot on ski or snowboard before. My new friend regales me with a tale of visiting a resort that had geothermal pools at the bottom of the pistes, allowing you to finish off a run with a hot bath. “Imagine that, eh?” When I get the chance to get a word in, I tell him I’m not actually a skier and that I’m going to ride a bike with very fat tyres around the ski resort of Gstaad. “Well, that’s unusual,” he says, forehead creased. He turns away and ignores me for the rest of the flight.

The best next best thing?

The email from Singletrack HQ started, ‘Sim, I know you hate fat bikes…’. Now, that’s not entirely true. It’s not that I hate them – I don’t think I can hate any kind of bike. My problem with fat bikes is that, rather than being used for what they are good at or designed for, they’ve started appearing in places where, frankly, they don’t belong. Like trails that aren’t under a foot of snow or mostly sand. If you live in the north of Scotland or near a beach then, yeah, a fat bike makes a perfect addition to the garage, like a set of skis or a surfboard, a tool for having fun in the right place at the right time. As an everyday go-to bike, no.

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About Singletrack

International Adventure: Switzerland – Winter in Switzerland doesn’t haven’t to mean skis and snowboards. Sim checks out the growing fat biking scene there. Editors’ Choice – Chipps and the gang pick out their very favourite products, events and locations from the year. Interview: Tom Ritchey – Chipps talks to this man of steel (tubing) about framebuilding, fast racers and innovative product design. Trail Hunter – Nan Bield – Tom Fenton adds one of the Lake District’s hardest challenges to your must-ride bucket list. Dressing for winter – How can we best recommend winter gear for you? By starting with a shivering Australian, of course… Bike Test: Battle of the Titans – Three bikes from the biggest names in the industry: Giant, Specialized and Trek. Grouptest: 27.5in Trail Forks – Seven, 130-140mm forks for every price point tested. Classic Ride: Aviemore – Pete Scullion takes us on a tour of this area of Scotland better known for its skiing than its shredding. Grinder Bike: Stif Morf – Is this hardtail as playful as it looks? Through the Grinder: The team bring you their verdicts on products that have survived the first frosts of winter.