BEST FAT TIRE BIKE: Do You Really Need It? This Will Help You Decide!
If you are in the market for the best fat tire bikes, then please keep reading. I’ve created an informative list of my personal favorite fat bikes in these reviews. While living in Oregon, I grew to love the versatility of the fat tire bike. The bike’s design lets you enjoy year-round biking even if the weather is snowy or wet.
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Quick Answer: The 6 Best Fat Bikes For 2020
The Versatility of the Best Fat Bike
The best fat tire bikes for the money are always versatile and functional. My home state of Oregon is filled with ever-changing weather and diverse landscapes. I wanted to pick the best fat bike, so I could enjoy every adventure without changing my ride.
I could use my fat tire for bike-packing into the remote wilderness areas of the Cascade mountain range to view tranquil lakes and waterfalls. Best of all, the large tires could also float across the sandy beaches of the rugged Pacific coastline without being bogged down.
In fact, if I took the tires down to low pressure it is like riding across glass instead of sugar sand; talk about a smooth ride without suspension!
Advantages of the Fat Bike
When fat bikes first hit the market, a lot of my mountain biking friends proclaimed them a fad that would soon die out as people lost interest. However, the fat tire bike craze has grown in popularity, and now any avid biker owns one.
Here are a few advantages of the fat tire bike:
- Ride Anywhere, Anytime: With a fat bike, you can enjoy the sport of riding year-round. Hit the muddy trails or ride through snow or sand. You can even explore the mountains or the coastline.
- Increased Comfort: Increased Comfort: Are you tired of being saddle-sore? With a flat tire, you will float across even bumpy trails without the same jarring effects of a mountain or traditional bike.
- Little Maintenance: The design of the fat tire bike is not complicated. It requires very little maintenance to stay going strong.
- Exercise: Even though the ride is smooth, it takes work to peddle the fat bike. They are also not very lightweight. Overall, the ride is a great way to stay in shape.
- Balance: Do you have balance issues, or are you a newbie to bike riding? The fat tires make it very easy to balance this form of a bike.
- Traction: The wide tires give you very impressive traction.
The Changing Fat Tire Bike
When I first fell in love with fat tire bikes, they were wonderful but not as cool as modern versions. Below, you will find a few ways that modern fat tire bikes have evolved.
Nowadays, the tires of the fats are wider so they can take on even greater extremes. It's not uncommon to see fat bike tires that have a tire size of 5 inches or more. Also, I love that they are now substantially lighter so you can rack the bike up easier or carry it over inhospitable spots in the trails without too much strain.
Frame and Fork Material
It used to be that all the best fat bikes were made with a steel frame and fork. But these days, it's becoming increasingly common to see carbon frame and carbon fork options. Carbon frame materials have gotten significantly stronger since fat bikes first appeared on the market. While carbon is expensive, many of the best fat bikes have a carbon fork at the very least because the material is so good at absorbing vibrations.
I’m an avid biker who likes to challenge my skills constantly. I adore the fact that dropper posts are becoming more commonplace so I can tackle technical terrain that once would have required a mountain bike. A dropper post enables you to lower your seatpost with the push of a button on your handlebars, getting your weight lower over the bike. Also, gear haulers appear in an increasing number of brands.
Different Crank Distances
The Q factor (the distance from the outside of a single crank arm to the outside of the crank arm located opposite) ratio has finally received the attention it deserves on these bikes.
However, please be aware that if you are looking for the best cheap fat bike, then you might encounter wider-stance cranks which is a common cause of knee and back pain in riders.
If you cannot ride a fat bike with a wider stance crank, then look for one with a narrower bottom bracket shell (ideally, one that is less than 100mm).
Finding the Best Budget Fat Bike
Are you on a budget?
Well, don’t despair because you can find the best fat bike for the money once you know exactly what you need and want.Fat bikes cover a huge price range to meet any budget.
Take the time to shop around, read reviews, and ask your friends about their choices. One of my dearest friends was new to fat tire bikes. He ended up purchasing a cheap model and then eventually customized the bike, so it fit his needs. Whether or not he came out financially ahead doing such modifications, I do not know, but he sure had fun fixing it up.
What You Need in a Fat Tire Bike
Outlined below are some considerations when picking the best fat tire bicycle for your pocketbook. You can go with a top-of-the-line fat bike model or pick the best entry-level fat bike if this is your first time hitting the trails.
If you are watching your pennies, then consider a hardtail that has a rigid steel fork because they are the most affordable. Also, a rigid fork is a benefit in cold temperatures. Don’t let your fears of a hard suspension fool you. Keep in mind that you can easily upgrade to a carbon fork at any time.
A fat bike typically has a 4 to 5-inch wide tire, but you are going to run the tire pressure at low. Low tire pressure makes even a rigid bike ride smooth because it can actively conform to the irregularities found on the trail.
However, please remember that if the terrain is extreme then you are going to want to run your tires at high pressure so there is less give or you will have to invest in a fat bike with full suspension.
Hands down, a full suspension bike is more costly but gives you extreme maneuverability, so it is worth every penny. You’ll feel less fatigued after a hard ride with full suspension.
Are you on the fence about buying a fat tire bike?
Well, then why not invest in a fat bike that is designed to support both fat tire rims and standard mountain bike rims that measure 27.5 or 29-inch?
This way, you do not have to ride fat tires all year. You can own the best fat bike for snow or sand and then remove the fat tires and go with standard tires the rest of the time.
Yes, you are going to need to invest in a mountain bike with multiple configurations and then buy a couple of sets of wheels and tires.
However, the benefits are that you only must own one bike instead of multiple mountain bikes.
You will encounter the most common 26-inch wheels or the less common 27.5-inch wheels. Remember, larger wheels roll faster and make it easier to maneuver trail obstacles. If you have a wide tire, then you are going to want a wide rim.
Rim widths run from 60 to 100 mm. Narrow rims are lighter, more affordable, and make you feel more in control of the ride. You’ll have to decide what works best for your circumstances.
Fat tire bikes were created to give you the ultimate smooth ride. With five-inch tires, it will seem like you float across the trail.
Models with 4-inch tires cause you to feel the bumps. Remember, the fatter the tires, the greater the weight and the slower the bike moves.
If you are riding across firm, dry tails at high speeds, then you are going to want to go with a narrower tire. However, if you are riding in rain, snow, mud, or sandy conditions then a wide tire is best.
Also, I like to set my tires up as tubeless with low pressure, so they don’t go flat. Purchase studded tires if you are going to be riding in the snow, so you have more traction and less chance of sliding.
Let us discuss tire pressure because it is a way to fine-tune your bike’s performance truly. If you have 5-inch wide tires and you are going to be riding on a soft trail or sand, then you will want to set your running pressure at two psi.
If the trail is rough, then go with a higher pressure to offer more support and improve the bike’s handling. I will frequently change my tire pressure several times during a ride because of the varying trail terrain that I would encounter.
Please remember, the difference in a good ride or a bad one is as little as half-a-pound of pressure, so please invest in a digital tire pressure gauge.
With a fat bike, you can have a single-speed drivetrain or up to 30 gears. Remember, gears are a benefit any time you climb. Also, they offer easier pedaling by giving more revolutions with far less resistance. Gears are a personal choice even with fat bikes.
Keep an eye on differences between manufacturers and models. Many mountain bikes and fat bikes use drivetrains like the Sram NX, Sram SX Eagle, Sram GX Eagle, or Sram Guide.
Disc brakes are the most common braking choice on fat bikes. They provide very consistent braking no matter what the weather or road conditions. Also, they function well on steep terrain. Rim brakes might be economical, but they are rare on a fat bike. They have poor stopping power and take a great deal more effort to function properly.
The best fat bikes use Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, which are renowned for their stopping power.
Choosing the right frame material is an important decision when selecting among fat bikes. An aluminum frame affordable, readily available, and lightweight Steel frame material is far heavier but tough. Sadly, the steel will also rust without proper car. Carbon frame material offers lighter weight but carries a higher price tag.
Picking the Right Fat Tire Bike Size
To truly enjoy your ride, you must pick the correct fat tire bike size to fit your body. Fat bikes are different than regular which gives you a little more wiggle room when picking sizes. The tall tires make the bike stand higher. They are available in three to four sizes depending on the model. Aluminum frame fats tend to have more sizing choices.
Typically, when you stand over a bike with both of your feet flat on the ground you want 2.75 to 3.25 inches in clearance. However, with a fat bike, you can have an inch of clearance which is usually sufficient from the top of the tube to your crotch.
Fat Tire Bike Reviews
I have compiled eight of my choices for these fat tire bike reviews. Please continue reading to learn more about each one.
The Framed Minnesota 2.0 is an affordable fat bike that lets you hit the trail in style. With 4-inch wide tires, a rigid alloy fork, alloy bar, stem, seat post, and allow hardtail frame. If you are seeking a mountain bike for year-round riding, regardless of the seasons, then this might be a good choice.
The Framed Minnesota is made with an aluminum frame material. It boasts 18 gears that let you ride a moderately difficult trail with ease. The mechanical disc brakes stop you quickly, even during descent as you control the pressure applied: front and rear derailleur.
It is a nice mix of SRAM X5 and X7. The Avid BB5s BB7s brakes are mechanical. It has 4-inch wide tires with 12tpi tires. The frame is not lightweight, but when riding the bike does not feel heavy, and it moves very smooth across a variety of terrain.
This is a very budget-friendly bike that just about anyone can afford. One thing that I like is that this bike includes with a pair of pinned alloy pedals which is not common for a bike of this price range. You get a lot of bike for the dollar, which makes it a superb choice for a newbie or moderate biking enthusiast.
Minnesota Fat Bike Reviews Pros and Cons
Carefully weigh out the pros and cons to determine which features stand out from the rest. This bike has a lot of pros and very few cons.
Overall rating : 4 out of 5
This bike is on the list because it’s a great combination of affordability and durability. Unlike other brands, this one is made of 100 percent steel that makes it feel truly solid. If you plan on cycling downhill or taking jumps, then you won’t be disappointed with the performance. Another impressive feature of this fat bike is its stopping ability. I appreciated not only the bike’s comfort but also its safety.
The Saigula has a 26-inch steel frame with a 26-inch steel fork. Choose your gears with the Shimano 7-speed grip shifter so you can climb hills with ease. The disc wheels enable stopping power. The mountain bike-style seat ensures riding comfort. The tires are standard 4-inch.
The bike is built with steel frame dual suspension, fat tires, front/rear mechanical disc brakes, and a fluid seven-speed rear derailleur. The handlebars are steel with a steel post and black plastic grips. Although steel, the bike weighs in at an acceptable 60 pounds.
The price of this fat bike does not break the bank. Many would consider it low-cost but well-equipped.
Saigula Fat Tire Bike Pros and Cons
This bike has plenty of pros but some significant cons.
Overall rating : 3 out of 5
The Motobecane Sturgis Sram NX Eagle is not an entry-level bike. It is for moderate to experienced riders who plan on hitting the trail hard and want hydraulic disc brakes. It provides very reliable handling that is a bit stiff. When riding this bike at high speeds, the 4.8-inch tires tend to wander a bit, which is something I don’t like. Sadly, the tires do not perform well in the snow because they lack any serious grip. They tend to slip or spin out on hardpack.
The bike comes with an Eagle 12-speed drivetrain component. The Ektro hydraulic disc brakes offer real stopping power. The hydroformed aluminum frame is lightweight and makes the bike weigh a little under 50 pounds.
The fat tires are 4.8 inches but lack significant traction in snow or muddy conditions. They also slip when cornering. The dual brakes are a nice perk. The Bluto suspension fork absorbs the bumps wonderfully.
The Motobecane Sturgis Sram NX Eagle Bullet is a moderately priced fat bike that isn’t over-the-top expensive. However, it has nice features for the price.
Motobecane Sturgis NX Bullet Fat Bike Pros and Cons.
Overall rating : 3 out of 5
If you are looking for a quality hardtail fat bike, then you can’t go wrong with the Diamondback El Oso Tres. It rides in both the snow and sand with ease. Even though this model is lower priced compared to others in the category, it has all the bells and whistles that you would expect in a premium bike. I’m impressed with the RockShox Bluto Suspension fork and hydraulic disc brakes. Another perk of this ride is that the clearance is an impressive 5 inches wide which most avid bikers appreciate. This bike will easily cruise across any trail surface that you might encounter with the Shimano 9 speed.
Has 73mm wide rims with 32-hole disc hubs, so the ride is always smooth. The Tektro Novela mechanical brakes stop easily. The bike’s rigid RockShox steel fork has the perk of being disc compatible. The rear hub spacing is 170mm so fits tire sizes up to 26 x 5 inches.
The bike’s aluminum hydroformed tubing keeps the bike lightweight and highly maneuverable. It weighs a wonderfully light 37.5 pounds. The large Kenda tires are very noticeable, but they could glide across snow, ice, or mud.
I must admit that when researching Diamondback fat bike reviews, this model stands out as outstanding for the price. It is not the cheapest nor most expensive Diamondback on the market, which makes it affordable.
Diamondback El OSO Pros and Cons.
Overall rating : 5 out of 5
I feel that the Mongoose fat tire bike reviews that I have undertaken show that this is a superior bike for the price. The bike stands an acceptable 26 inches tall and comes with 5-inch tires. Its height makes it suitable for tall individuals. With the threaded headset, you can adjust the seat for a variety of heights, although it's not a dropper post. The dual disc brakes help you stop safely even if the trail is wet, muddy, icy, or snowy. The bike’s sturdy build also makes it great heavy-set people.
The bike weighs 48.5 pounds. The frame is made of high tensile steel. The tires measure 26 x 4 inches wide.
The Mongoose fat tire review revealed that the bike cruises faster due to the seven speed Shimano rear derailleur. This is especially true on hilly terrain. The beach cruiser pedals are another bonus because your foot fits firmly on their surface for optimum riding comfort. The mechanical disc brakes have perfect stopping power.
This fat bike features a thrifty price. Overall, you get a lot of bike for the buck, which is one of the things I like about this ride.
Mongoose Dolomite Pros and Cons.
Overall rating : 4 out of 5
The Mongoose Malus is a very nice entry-level bike that is probably more suitable for men. If you are seeking an economy bike that can effortlessly tackle all terrains, then look no further. The bike is available in only one standard size which probably falls somewhere between medium to large. This bike is easy to assemble right out of the box, so you’ll be able to hit the trail in no time. The bike is durable and made of quality materials with a seven speed Shimano derailleur.
A hardtail style frame made of steel alloy. Even the pedals and fork are formed from a steel alloy. Interestingly, despite the hardcore build the bike still weighs under 40 pounds. It boasts the impressive Shimano rear derailleur with seven speeds. Rear and front disc brakes for fast stopping power. Low-rise handlebars for correct posture while riding. It is equipped with 26 inches by 4-inch tires that are extra knobby.
The frame has been designed to offer you greater clearance than other models. The tires and sturdy frame help absorb the shock, so you have a smoother ride even when the trail gets tough. Beach cruiser pedals fit your feet nicely. The well-cushioned saddle is also an extra comfort bonus.
This bike carries a nice mid-range price tag so it won’t break the bank. However, you still get a lot of bike for the dollar.
Mongoose Malus Pros and Cons.
Overall rating : 4 out of 5
This fat bike from Outroad offers everything you need to take on rough and steep trails. The bike is built with a high carbon steel frame and a thickened front fork that's built to take a beating. The suspension fork absorbs a lot of vibration, so you don't have to worry too much about bouncing as you ride down the trails.
This bike comes with 4-inch all-terrain knobby tires mounted on 26-inch wheels. The bike rides more like a 29er though since the tires are so thick. The bike is also equipped with custom disc brakes that use a double-wall alloy to increase durability.
Outroad built this ride with a 3 x 7 drivetrain, although it's not a standard 21-speed Shimano or Sram system. It rides easily through most terrain. The grips and pedals that the bike comes with are somewhat cheap, so plan to upgrade them if you plan to ride this bike very aggressively.
Outroad Mountain Bike Pros and Cons
Overall rating : 4 out of 5
The best fat tire bike, in my opinion, is the Diamondback El Oso Tres. The Diamondback scored a 5 out of 5 on my rating system. This bike is the lightest weight (37 pounds) of any of the above choices so you can maneuver it nicely and carry it when necessary.
It goes across just about any terrain without lagging. The bike also turns effortlessly. It has 5-inch tires with optimum tread for traction and a Shimano 9 speed drivetrain.
This bike is easy to handle and fun to ride. Even though it’s a fat tire, you feel like you are moving at a quick pace. I am confident that I can tackle any trail type in any weather. In my opinion, this is the best fat bike you can get for the money.