Is fat bikes craze done ? Was it a just short-lived fad or is fat biking still trending and well on its path to find a permanent spot in mountain biking world ? Even though sales are not the same as in 2013 and many shops complain about the excess of fat bike inventory, for some people fatties managed to transition to a full-time mountain bike experience. For some, because it’s not a secret that the hardcore mountain biking community will probably never give fatty any “street cred”. Some don’t even consider it as a type of mountain bike. But are they that bad ? I think that our obese friends deserve a little bit more attention than just ten seconds in the spotlight.


What Is a Fat Bike ?

Fat Bikes are designed for low ground pressure to make riding easier on soft and unstable terrains, such as sand, snow, or mud. They originated more and less in Alaska (depending on the source) were long, cold, snowy winters make normal mountain biking a very short season.

Fat Bikes combine oversized tires, typically 3.8 in (97 mm) or larger, rims 2.6 in (66 mm) or wider, and specially designed frame to accommodate this obesity. Wheel sizes are typically 26-inch diameter. But the increased tyre height means that you’ll be rolling at a similar radius to a 29-er. You can even get studded tyres for riding on frozen trails and ice.

Frame rigid design is the norm which in combination with tyre size does an excellent job in rough, off-road conditions. But if it’s not enough for you, some models combine front or front and back suspension for the really rough stuff.


Pros and Cons

Of course, headlines like “Ten Reasons Why a Fat Bike Should be Your Only Bike” are not going to do anything to convince people like me to switch their trail or enduro machine to a fat bike. But saying this, these bikes do a really good job for their originally intended use and manage to float on surfaces where normal mountain bike tires would sink.

What the fat bike is really good for is the grip. The huge contact area of the wide, grippy rubber, running at low (10 to 15psi) tyre pressure means extra traction that makes it possible to float over snow, sand, rocks, or super deep mud. The steeper inclines and descents in these extreme conditions are also much easier to tackle.

On the normal trails (god forbid roads), increased weight and rolling resistance will mean you will be very slow and won’t enjoy any precision. Also, when you don’t need to tackle 2 feet deep mud sections, floating on top of mud in normal conditions will mean less bite and less grip. Higher tire, tube and wheel cost is also something to consider.


Fat Bikes Events

In January and February 2016 in the USA, fat bike races made up 42% of the MTB events. In January 2018, Crested Butte, Colorado will host 3rd Annual Borealis Fat Bike World Championships. But it’s not just the Yanks putting fatties into races. Events are taking place all over the world. In the UK, Mountain Mayhem, a 24-hour endurance event that has been run since 1998, currently attracts over 3,000 riders annually and recently launched the “Halo Fat Bike 24hr Challenge”. In South Wales, you can take a part in the unofficial UK Fat Bike Championships. Even classics like the Brighton Big Dog has a Fat Bike category.





Fat Bike Vs Regular Mountain Bike

One thing is guaranteed, fatty can take you to places where a trail bike won’t make it. For off-road expeditions rides, it might be your perfect a go anywhere riding partner. Fat bikes can be also a great seasonal bike for specific applications like snow, sand or some deep mud. I rode it on snowy trails and I have to say It really is a lot of fun. It can also be a good alternative to keep you in shape during the winter. Otherwise, there’s no point in having a clunkier and heavier bike.

Comparing it to an all mountain or enduro bike on regular trails is like the difference between a tank and a proper off-road Jeep.

The regular mountain bike is like the Jeep. It requires some skills but can handle the rough, rocky and burly terrain with speed and agility.

The Fat bike would be a tank. Slower and less manoeuvrable. But you can run over just about anything on it without having to have as many skills. For some riders, it will mean more fun, for others not so much.




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Showing 3 comments
  • Brian Trebus

    You are not a good judge. My borealis echo fatbike with 29 plus 40mm wheels is a blast for summer all mountain terrain. Winters in Colorado I put my 100mm carbon rims wth 4.8” fat tires on same bike and become unstoppable in the snow!

    • admin

      Maybe I haven’t ridden the right one yet :) Which part do you think I’m wrong about?

  • Bow Vernon

    Fat bike is for fat people. Nuff said

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