Usually, in the world of biking, you can choose between something that is built for the road or something that is made for the mountain. While both of these classifications are fun, what happens if you want a bike that is a bit more whimsical and easier to ride on soft terrains like sand or snow?
Well, in that case, that’s where a fat tire bicycle comes in. These fun and exciting bikes have started to become much more popular in recent years because they add a new layer to the bike riding experience. Not only that, but they get a lot of looks and admiration from the crowd, so be prepared to become much more popular after getting one of the best fat tire bike.
So, without further ado, let’s ride into the world of fat tire bikes and see what all the fuss is about. Not only will we dissect the ins and outs of these bicycles, but we’ll take a look at some of the best models on the market today.
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As the name would suggest, these bikes are known for having wheels that make normal bicycles feel inadequate. However, there is some slight variation in the size of your tires that will help you decide which one is right for you. Most fat tire bikes have wheels that are four inches wide, but some other models are five inches or more.
The greater width means that you have more surface contact with the terrain and therefore have better traction, but wider wheels also mean that the bike is heavier and can take more effort to move. In the end, if you’re not entirely sure where you’ll be taking your new ride, then four inches should suffice, but if you want to take the bike on icy or sandy conditions on a regular basis, then five inches or more might be a good idea.
For the most part, fat bikes are not known for their lightweight and flexible nature. Because they have so much extra tire weight, these bicycles usually come with a sturdy steel frame. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t remove weight by getting a lighter material instead. These will drastically affect the price, however, so keep that in mind.
In addition to steel, you can find aluminum or carbon fiber frames for fat bikes so that you can have a much lighter profile and weight class if you like. These other materials are excellent for single speed models because it can take a lot of effort to move forward, so you want to make the bike as light as possible.
With most other bicycles, you can usually find a relatively cheap model at a department store or something. However, fat bikes are still a somewhat niche market, meaning that you might drop over a thousand dollars easily for a brand new model. Thankfully, as these bicycles become even more popular these days more companies are starting to produce them which will help reduce prices overall, but you need to be aware that they can still cost a pretty penny.
Overall, make sure that you are going to get a lot of use out of your fat bike before making a final decision, and also look at it as an investment. Because there are less moving parts to these bicycles, they usually require less maintenance and upkeep, meaning that you don’t have to spend as much money in the long run as you would with a road bike or mountain bike.
As with most bicycles, fat bikes are not usually combined with a front suspension to help you get the smoothest ride possible. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of models that come with it as an option. If having a suspension is important to you because you’ll be tackling rough terrain, then look for a model that comes with it. Otherwise, you might be in for a bumpy ride.
Ride Anywhere, But Be Prepared:
One thing that you should know about fat bikes is that they are mostly built to take on terrain that would be troublesome with a standard mountain bike. Soft surfaces like snow or ice require much more contact area than a regular bike usually has, which is where fat bikes come in.
In fact, the whole trend started with innovative riders in places like Alaska and New Mexico who strapped two rims and tires together to get better traction in the snow and sand in their respective homes. To further help you get the best results out on the trail, you might have to deflate your tires slightly.
The reason for this is to get even more surface area as a less inflated wheel will make more contact with the ground and force more knobs to dig in. This is especially true if you plan on going up steep hills. Overall, it’s important that you know why having a slightly deflated wheel can help you so that you are prepared for any trail that you might take.
Durable Steel Frame:
As we’ve seen already, steel is by far the most preferred frame material as it is the most sturdy and reliable. While it does usually add weight, in this instance Diamondback has still managed to make the bike as light as possible while still maintaining the rigidity of the steel. Simply put, this bike can take a beating and keep on ticking.
Mechanical Disc Brakes:
To help you come to a complete stop every time without damaging your wheels, this model comes with high-quality disc brakes in the back that will provide excellent stopping power. While they aren’t revolutionary or anything, they do get the job done well.
Shimano Seven-Speed Shifter:
If you want to take on steep inclines in other fat bikes, you have to power through on your own without any help. Thankfully, the Oso Gordo has seven speeds from which to choose so that you can get some assistance when taking on the worst part of the trail. Best of all, it’s made from Shimano, so it’s high-quality.
26 x 5-Inch Tires:
Unlike the models we’ve previously seen, this bike comes with five-inch tires to get even better traction and momentum on the trail. If you want to take on more intense terrain, then this is a great bike to get as these wheels are much more adept for soft and slippery surfaces than most other fat bikes.
As far as fat bikes go, this one is in the middle of the pack. The features of the bicycle are mostly standard, but the fatter tires do make it easier to handle some types of terrain. Overall, this is a great way to upgrade if you’re looking for something with better traction, but it won’t be a high-end model so don’t expect anything remarkable as a result.
Unlike most of the other fat bikes we’ve seen, the Yukon has a lighter aluminum frame that comes with steel forks for better stability while riding. This way you aren’t bogged down with extra weight while also maintaining the same level of durability as you would get with any other fat bike.
26 x 4 Inch Tires:
These tires are fairly standard as far as fat bikes go, but they are still built to handle most soft terrain like snow and sand with ease. Best of all, you can ride on flat or rocky surfaces without losing traction.
While most other newer model fat bikes have a multi-speed shifter, the Yukon takes things up a notch by having a cassette that gives you more shifting options than normal. This is why this bike is much more adept than others in its class as you can modify your gears to make it easier to handle steeper inclines.
ABK Cable Disc Brakes:
Most fat bikes come with mechanical disc brakes; those are fine and work great, but these cable brakes are much better overall as they have better reliability and last longer than most other models. Overall, this bike is built to handle more.
If you’re looking for something a bit more robust and high performance in a fat bike, then the Yukon is easily the best way to go. It has some extra functions and features that make it better than the competition without sacrificing comfort and handling.
When it comes to consumer bicycles, no one makes them quite like Mongoose. Most kids are familiar with this brand because they make some incredible children’s bicycles, but the fact is that the company does a great job with all models, including fat bikes.
The Men’s Malus is an excellent introduction to the world of fat tires, and the price is relatively modest so you can get started for much less than a higher end version. Let’s see what all comes with this bike.
Seven-Speed Shimano Shifter:
When fat bikes first hit the scene, most of them were single speed, meaning that it took a lot of effort to move forward, especially if you wanted to go uphill at all. Thankfully, these days you can usually find models with gears like this one so that you have some options open to you as you ride. Instead of sweating it out you can switch gears and have less difficulty moving in a forward direction.
26 x 4 Inch Wheels:
As far as fat bike tire sizes go, this is fairly standard, as you will see throughout this list. These tires are well adept at taking on most terrain, whether it’s a rocky trail or a snowy mountain peak. Best of all, because four-inch tires are more common, replacing them is much easier than if you went a size up. However, if you are planning on becoming a hardcore snow or sand rider, you may need to upgrade to get the best traction and handling.
For most consumer bikes, braking is done with a pad that presses down on your rim to help you stop. However, those brakes can be dangerous to your bicycle as it puts too much pressure on the rim and can cause damage over time. For fat bikes, because the rim is far more important than on regular models, these usually come with disc brakes. That means that you get better stopping power and longer life.
Supersized Beach Frame:
One of the best things about using a fat bike is that it can be a lot of fun for the casual rider. In this case, the Malus is on a supersized cruiser frame so that you will be sitting upright and relaxing as you go over smooth terrain. Don’t overexert yourself if you don’t have to, so relax and enjoy the ride with this bicycle.
As far as fat bikes go, this is a wonderful introduction into the world of wider tires and smoother riding. If you aren’t looking for anything too hardcore, this is a fantastic option to get.
Next, we have another fat bike that is excellent for beginners and moderate riders alike. The VEVOR Fat Tire Bicycle has all of the standard features that you would expect with the added bonus of an easier time assembling it when it arrives.
For most people, putting together a bike from scratch is harder than anything, so this bike makes it much easier for you overall.
As we discussed, one of the best things about newer fat bikes is that they are equipped with multi-speed shifters now. This means that you can take on more hills and inclines than ever before as you don’t have to struggle with a single-speed design. In this case, the shifter is from Shimano, so you know it’s top of the line.
26 x 4 Inch Wheels:
Whether you want to tackle rocky terrain or something softer like ice or snow, these tires are built to glide over it all with a four-inch width that grips the ground like nothing else. While these aren’t as hardcore as five-inch wheels, you can still manage on a lot of different landscapes with ease.
Mechanical Disc Brakes:
As far as safety goes, having high-quality brakes is crucial to ensure that you don’t wipe out while out on the trail. To help ensure that you can keep your bicycle in good working condition for longer, the VEVOR comes with mechanical disc brakes on the front and the back. This means that even if you are descending a slippery slope, you can still come to a complete stop without damaging your rims.
For most bicycles, they arrive in pieces that you then have to put together using your current know-how and ingenuity. While these machines do come with instructions, you still have to be something of an expert to make sure that you’re doing it all correctly. With this model, however, you don’t have to worry as it comes mostly complete so all you have to do is attach and inflate the tires and you’re ready to go.
This bike goes along with the Mongoose above in that it’s another excellent introduction into the world of fat tires. This particular model is easy to ride and will make a great addition to anyone’s wish list.
While the Malus was on an oversized frame, the Dolomite comes with a standard steel model. This makes it more ideal for both casual and hardcore riding, so it’s not just for beginners anymore.
26 x 4-Inch Knobby Tires:
These tires are roughly the same as you can find on the Malus, although they are a bit more knobby and have slightly better traction. For best results, you will want to keep these somewhat deflated when you take on soft terrains like snow or sand.
When it comes to stopping power, this bike has some decent disc brakes that allow you to stay safe while on rough trails and slippery terrain. They aren’t as great as the Yukon, but they get the job done.
Beach Cruiser Design:
It wouldn’t be a Mongoose if it weren't designed to be as fun and casual as possible. This model keeps you upright and leaning back slightly so that you can take on all roads with a smile on your face and a comfortable feeling in your body.
When comparing this to the other Mongoose, this is a slight step above, so you might want to check it out if you are looking for something a bit more robust.
After looking through each of these bikes, you can see that most of them have a lot of the same features and benefits, meaning that it’s hard to pick one out that stands above the rest. Nonetheless, our top pick for the best fat bike would have to be the GMC Yukon as it has the most durable components and it is built to take on more rough terrain than the others we’ve featured. Whether you’re just starting out on a fat bike or want to take things to the next level, the Yukon has you covered.
A passionate blogger! Editor at Chooserly, and a regular author at HuffingtonPost, LifeHacker & Forbes!