Readers Write: DIY Walmart snow bike

By Scott Berelson

My family and I have been living in Lake Tahoe, known for its great skiing for more than twenty years now. My wife and I met in San Francisco where I was a bike messenger for many years and she was an avid bicycle commuter. Lake Tahoe is about a three-hour drive from San Francisco where we have many friends. We often have friends visiting us to ski or on their way to Burning Man and such. This was how I ended up with two cheap Walmart bikes in my garage as some friends bought the bikes for Burning Man and then conveniently left them at my house instead of bringing them backed to cramped city quarters.

I have been riding snow bikes for a while now and had just upgraded my Surly with 80mm Fat Sheba rims and new 3.7" Endomorphs. I have been building all different kinds of alternative fun bikes for about five years now, ever since New Belgium’s Tour de Fat started coming to our town. All of their crazy bikes and trikes inspired me to break out the welder again and start building.

Snowbiking is great fun, but I was starting to feel like a hermit as me and my dog would go out on these epic adventures and we never had anyone to ride with, as none of my friends have invested in a fat bike yet. So came the inspiration to break out the sawsall, pipe bender, the ol’ joint jigger, and welder.

When building a snow bike from a regular bike it helps to have the wheel and tire set up before fabrication and welding. There are some parts that will need to be purchased. These bikes use 100mm bottom brackets to clear fat tires. You can purchase 100mm bottom bracket shells but I just cut a 73mm shell in half, installed a bb in the cut shell, slipped inside American bb cavity and welded her in place by tacking, removed bb, finished welding and reinserted. I used a Truvative downhill bb and cheaper isis crankset. I also changed a Pusley fork to have a one-inch steerer, but if the frame you are using has 1 1/8” headset you could just buy a Pugsley fork.

While I still recommend buying a snowbike if you can afford it, I just wanted to show a cheaper alternative for all us poor folks.

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