Fat tire bikes are the next big thing to hit the world of cycling and their popularity is rocketing.
But what are fat tire bikes and who is using them?
What are fat bikes?
These bikes are known as fat-tire bikes, fat bikes, fat tires, or snow bikes. They are one of the latest trends among off-road cyclists. They enable better riding in soft and unstable conditions, like snow, sand, and mud. They are also a practical solution for people who live in towns and cities that are hit hard by snow. The larger sized tires give the cyclist more grip and traction to be able to tackle difficult surfaces. You can still ride fat bikes on normal terrain or pavements or roads. They won’t perform as well as road bikes on these surfaces as they are heavier and won’t go as fast, but they would work perfectly well for someone who wanted to commute or pop to the shops on one. If you live in a country that experiences lots of snow, then by owning one of these bikes you know you can get around no matter what the weather brings.
What size are the tires?
The tires are usually 3.8 inches or even bigger and the rims can be 2.16 inches or wider.
How much do these bikes cost?
It is the same as any type of bike. You can spend as much or as little as you want on them. They start from around $500 and go up to multi-thousands of dollars as the models get more and more sophisticated. You can even get electric fat tire bikes, which can cost upwards of $1,000.
The cost of fat bike tires is high and the prices of the tires for the high-end models of these bikes can cost as much as the tires on a car.
Are fat tire bikes slower than a mountain bike?
The thinner the tire the faster the bike is a general theory. Fat tire bikes have bigger and heavier frames to work alongside the fat tires, so that slows them down too, But like any type of bike manufacturer, the models are constantly evolving to make them better and better in every aspect of their look and appearance. By reducing the weight of them and making them more aerodynamic, fat tire bike manufacturers have certainly been reducing the disadvantages.
Initially, people weren’t buying fat tire bikes for their speed, so it was not a priority for manufacturers. A fat tire bike is never going to win a road race, but people wouldn’t buy them for that purpose. The fat tire bike offers comfort and due to the size of the bike, it is much easier to control than road or technical mountain bikes and they feel stable. This means people using them on mountain bike trails can go faster with the confidence the comfort, stability, and control gives them. This is an area that manufacturers have been focusing on as the demand for fat tire bikes goes through the roof.
Why would I buy a fat tire bike?
Fat tire bikes are perfect for people who want to extend their cycling season. If you are a road or mountain bike rider and living in an area with extreme winters, then you will lose several months of cycling to the weather. The fat tire bike means that cyclists can get out and train or just enjoy cycling in the snow.
Fat tire bikes are also fantastic for trekking by bike. They are comfortable and have the ability to move over almost every terrain, so they would be perfect for cross country cycling holidays.
The wide tires make them perfect for people who may be nervous about cycling on other styles of bikes. So not only can fat tire bikes help seasoned cyclists keep cycling in bad weather, they are wonderful for building the confidence of beginners or less confident cyclists due to the stability and comfort the bike gives to people.
Then there is the practical part. When it is difficult to get the car out or walk in the snow, the fat tire bike can get you to an appointment, work or to the shops safely and easily.
What should I be looking for if I am buying a fat tire bike?
Make sure you shop around and do your homework. Firstly, if you are just buying the bike for the day to day chores, then a hard tail suspension with a rigid fork would be fine and a cheaper option. The hard tail and rigid fork are also recommended for those who are using a fat tire bike in extremely cold temperatures.
If the surface you are riding is particularly rocky or uneven, or you are planning long rides, then you need to consider a bike with full suspension. This will help you to maneuver the bike more easily and it will mean a much more comfortable ride over a long period of time.
Wheels are the next thing to consider. Some fat tire bikes are sort of hybrid. They will allow you to change the wheels from standard mountain bike tires and fat tires, so if you want to be able to interchange throughout the year, then that is something to consider.
Most fat tire bikes use a 26-inch wheel, though 27.5 inches is also used. The larger wheels are actually faster and can help to negotiate obstacles on the trails much easier.
Then you have to decide on the tires. Basically, the fatter the tire, the comfier the ride is going to be. But just remember that fatter tires are slower and heavier on harder ground.
When choosing your tires, you might want to consider tubeless tires so you are less likely to get flat tires. Though you must make sure you get tires that use a sealant that will withstand low temperatures in you are going to use it in snow and ice. And you might want to think about getting a tire with a special studded surface to give you better grip in the snow and the ice.