Fat tire bikes are becoming increasingly popular as biking trends such as bikepacking take over the biking world.
These bikes can handle all terrain and are a great alternative to mountain bikes because they can tackle mountain bike territory as well as even harsher terrain like sand and snow.
Not to mention they look super funky and unique and are sure to turn heads on your local trail!
Why the strange name, you ask? Well, fat tire bikes have much wider tires than other bikes, hence the name ‘fat tire’.
They’re pretty similar to mountain bikes in that they can handle rough terrain, but fat tire bikes are able to take you than one step further.
Many people will find fat tire bikes easier to ride than other bikes like mountain bikes because of their wider tires.
A fat tire bikes will have tires that are at least 3.8 inches wide but can be a large as 5 inches!
Not only are the tires wider, they’re also softer, making them way more comfortable to ride, another reason to choose a fat tire bike over all else.
The reason they are so comfortable is due to the lower pressure in the tires. So, when you ride over a rocky surface, landing will be much more forgiving on your body.
This makes them much easier to ride for longer distances because you won’t have to stop to deal with back pain as often.
Moreover, these bikes are generally slower making them easier to ride for everyone but especially for beginners and less confident riders.
What are the pros and cons of a fat bike?
- Can withstand all conditions - you can ride a fat bike over pretty much any surface including sand, harsh trails, snow and mud
- Comfortable - fat bikes have extra wide tires with less air pressure making them softer too. This makes them super comfortable to ride
- Low-maintenance - these bikes are great because they don’t demand much of your time or money, especially during the summer months
- Great grip - due to the wider tires, fat bikes are able to take up a bigger contact area with the ground compared to other bikes like mountain bikes. This creates more friction between the tires and the floor surface which in turn creates more traction/ grip. Plus, due to the lower air pressure, more tread is in contact with the ground to provide even more grip. This is what makes it so good at riding over slippery surfaces like ice and snow. Not to mention, the extra grip allows you to ride them over mountain bike territory because the added traction makes turning corners and break hard without slipping
- Multi-purpose - a lot of fat bikes are now designed with narrow enough to mount smaller tires like mountain bike tires. So, you could invest in a second set of tires to turn your bike into a regular mountain bike when it suits you. This means you can use your fat bike for all riding conditions without having to deal with any of the cons that come with fat bikes like slower acceleration, adding mountain bike tires will fix this.
- Expensive - fat tire bikes can range from around $500 to $5,000 depending on the brand and additional features. This can be pretty expensive to most buyers which is why some may just stick to cheaper options like a budget mountain bike. The reason they cost a bit more is due to manufacturing and customization costs such as gears, frame and tires.
- Hard to find replacement parts - this ties in to the previous point. Fat bikes require non-standardized parts including the tires, rims, hubs and more. So, if something breaks and needs replacing, it can be hard to find the right part if you are out riding and not all stores will have them in stock. This can be devastating if you’re touring or bikepacking far away from home.
- Weight - in order to have wider tires and rims, fat bikes require more material which in turn makes them heavier. The extra weight will of course slow you down and make it harder to accelerate up-hill. Not to mention if one of these bikes fell on you, it may be quite difficult to get back up without help. Fat tires can weigh between 33 and 40 pounds compared to mountain bikes which normally weight about 20 to 25 pounds.
Are fat bikes good for beginners?
Fat bikes are a great starter bike for beginners of all ages! They enable you to ride at a comfortable, slower pace and their wider tires will give you better balance if you’re just learning how to ride, or you’re nervous about staying upright in rougher conditions.
Additionally, the thicker, wider tires are also more forgiving on your body and the terrain. Instead of having to break sharply or steer around objects in your path, you will be able to ride over them while maintaining your balance.
Fat tire bikes also have amazing grip so when it comes to riding over slippery surfaces like snow and sand, beginners will be able to ride over them with a much lower risk or sliding and falling off.
Starting off with a fat bike is actually a great way to gain confidence in new riders because the extra stability will give them the confidence they need to try less forgiving bikes if they wish.
Are fat bikes good for seniors?
Fat bikes can be a good bike for seniors due to the fact that they are pretty slow. With a relatively low top speed and a slow turning speed they will be able to ride along comfortably.
Seniors will benefit from this because they will have plenty of time to break or turn to avoid any bumps or obstacles in the road.
Plus, if you were to fall, you will have been travelling at a slow speed, so you are unlikely to severely hurt yourself.