Biking

The 7 Best Fat Bikes Reviewed & Rated For [2018]

Fat tire bikes or fat bikes for short are off-road bicycles with oversized tires and rims. They’re designed for low inflation pressure to give you a smooth ride over rough obstacles.

The best fat bikes are the perfect companion to ride off the beaten track on sand, snow and ice as well as muddy or rocky underground.

Fat tire bikes are popular with adventure riders as well as beginners because their huge tires allow you to plow comfortably and stable over rough terrain.

We’ve reviewed the best fat tire bikes for 2018 and compiled a guide on how to select one that suits you best.

For more of my top gear recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: Bike Helmets, Bike LightsBike Locks, Bike Racks.

Quick Answer: The 7 Top Rated Fat Bikes For 2018

  1. Diamondback El Oso Complete Fat Mountain Bike
  2. Alton Mammoth 2.0  Fat-Tire Bike
  3. Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fat Bike
  4. Diamondback El Oso De Acero Fat Mountain Bike
  5. Mongoose Argus Sport Fat Tire Bike
  6. Gravity Bullseye Monster Aluminum Fat Bike
  7. Diamondback El Oso Grande Fat Mountain Bike

After our top selections, we’ll provide more details on important aspects of fatbikes in our buyers guide.

Best Fat Bikes

 Diamondback El Oso De Acero Fat BikeAlton Mammoth 2.0 Fat-Tire Bike Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fat Bike
editors choice
Size:16″, 18″, 20″18”, 19.5”16”
Tires:26″ x 4.5″26″ x 4″26″ x 4″
Gears:20 Speed, Shimano SLX27 Speed, Shimano Alivio18 Speed, SRAM X5
Brakes:Shimano M447 Hydraulic DiscPromax disc brakeAvid BB5 mechanical disc
Rating:4.8 / 5.04.5 / 5.04.4 / 5.0

Fat Tire Bike Reviews

#1 Diamondback Bikes El Oso Complete Fat Bike

Diamondback Bikes El Oso De Acero Fat Mountain Bike at a Glance:

  • Size: S (16″), M (18″), L (20″)
  • Tires: 26″ x 4.5″ Kenda Juggernaut
  • Rims: DB 95Wide w/55mm Cutout, Singlewall 32h
  • Frame: Butted 6061-T6 aluminum, fits up to 26″ x 5″ tires
  • Fork: RockShox Bluto 100mm Solo Air, 32mm Stanchion
  • Gears: 20 speed (2×10), Shimano SLX M670 shifter, Shimano HG50 (11-36t)
  • Brakes: Shimano M447 Hydraulic Disc – 180/180mm Rotor

The Diamondback El Oso Complete is our editor’s top pick and a versatile fat tire bike for many different situations.

It’s fun to ride and not that much different from a regular mountain bike if you ride it on regular trails, but you’ll get amazing performance once you go off-road. This fatbike excels on snow and on sand but is not limited to these surfaces.

The El Oso fatbike is indeed built like a bear: Diamondback has selected a strong and light-weight aluminum frame with hydroformed tubing and paired it with a Rockshox suspension form for extra smooth riding on bumpy trails.

The fork features a 100mm travel with air suspension and the option of a lockout if you want to ride rigid.

Frame and fork can accommodate tires up to 26” and a width of 5”. The Oso comes with 26” x 4.5” Kenda Juggernaut tires mounted on DB 95Wide singlewall rims.

These tires feature a high volume with low pressure and enable you to gain traction on trails and surfaces that have been unrideable before. Lower the pressure and experience the amazing feeling of floating along. Even when you don’t ride on sand or snow, you’ll be coasting along smoothly.

The Diamondback El Oso comes with a Shimano 2×10 drivetrain, featuring a KMC X10 EPT anti-rust chain and all Shimano derailleur, shifters and cogset. This setup gives you a total of 20 gears and is impossible to cross, enabling you to use all combinations.

Another advantage is the low clearance of the front cogwheel, making it less susceptible for bump damage. For safe braking, the bike has a Shimano hydraulic disc brake with 180mm rotors in the front and back.

The Diamondback El Oso is available in the three sizes S, M, and L (16”, 18” and 20”) respectively, which correspond to a rider’s height of approximately 5’4″ – 5’7″, 5’7″ – 5’10”, and 5’8″ – 5’11”.

I think the El Oso is the best fatbike that performs well on trails, snow or sand and is perfect for beginners to advanced riders who’ll appreciate the suspension and extra bulky, wide tires on this fatbike.


#2 Alton Mammoth 2.0 Fat Tire Bike

Alton Mammoth 2.0 Fat-Tire Bike

Alton Mammoth 2.0 Fat-Tire Bike at a Glance:

  • Size: 18”, 19.5”
  • Tires: 26″ x 4″ Innova E/V big tires
  • Rims: Cora 26″ alloy rims
  • Frame: 26” x 19.5” alloy frame
  • Fork: Rigid Corsa steel fork
  • Gears: 27 speed (3×9), Shimano Alivio trigger shifters, Shimano HG-200 (11-32t)
  • Brakes: Promax disc brake

The Alton Mammoth 2.0 is one of the best fat tire bikes for the trail and off-road exploring. It comes with a lightweight and sturdy alloy frame and a rigid Corsa steel fork.

With wide 26” by 4” Innova tires mounted on Cora alloy rims, the bike will ride smoothly through all terrain in all weather conditions. The tires have deep and thick knobs to give you traction on tricky surfaces like snow, sand and dirt.

You can use this fat tire bike with a wide range of different tire pressures for just a little flotation or the full fatbike experience.

The Alton Mammoth 2.0 has an all Shimano drivetrain with Shimano Deore front derailleur, Shimano Alivio rear derailleur and Shimano Alivio shifters.

A 3×9 speed setup gives you a total of 27 gears for low-end flexibility when climbing steep hills and sufficient high-end speed when bombing downhill or riding on concrete and more accessible trails.

Thanks to Promax disc brakes, safety is ensured and you can fully control your stops.

The bike is available in two sizes: 18” is recommended for a stand-over height of 29.52” (riders with a 30” – 32” pants inseam), whereas taller riders should go for the 19.5” version with a stand-over height of 30.31”, equivalent to an inseam of 32” to 34”.

The Alton Mammoth 2.0 is a gentle giant that rides with ease. Available at an entry-level price, this fat tire bike will not only appeal to beginners of the sport.


#3 Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fat Bike

Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fat Bike at a Glance:

  • Size: 16”
  • Tires: Framed Minnesota 26″ x 4″ 120 tpi Wire Bead
  • Rims: 26″ framed alloy singlewall rims, 80mm wide
  • Frame: Framed oversized 6061 aluminum alloy frame
  • Fork: Rigid Framed, fits wheels from 26″ x 4.0″ to 29″ x 2″ (135mm QR)
  • Gears: 18 speed (2×9), SRAM X5 shifters, SRAM X7 and SRAM X5 drivetrain
  • Brakes: Avid BB5 mechanical disc brake, G2 CleanSweep 160mm rotors

The Framed Minnesota 2.0 fat tire bike is for the price-conscious rider who nonetheless demands advanced features and high-quality materials.

For less than $800, this model delivers everything you need for riding bumpy trails, explore dirt paths and bogs or coast over snow and dunes. It will also look great and perform well during your regular commute or a Sunday country ride.

This fat tire bike is built with an oversized 6061 aluminum alloy frame for durability, paired with a rigid aluminum alloy fork.

Framed has mounted 26” x 4” fat tires with lightweight tubes on 3.14” wide alloy singlewall rims, which feature cut-outs to reduce the weight and are double pinned for further weight reduction and maximized strength.

The 120 tpi folding bead tire has the perfect pattern for best performance year-round.

The 2×9 drivetrain delivers a total of 18 gears with SRAM X5 shifters and an all SRAM drivetrain. You cannot cross these gears and can rely on easy shifting and performance in any riding conditions.

The gears act with precision and no shifting variation. Stopping power is delivered by Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes.

This fatbike is sized 16” and the manufacturer recommends it for riders with an inseam from 27″ to 31″, equivalent to a body height of 5’4″ to 5’8″.

The Framed Minnesota 2.0 is one of my top picks for the best fat bike in a cost-effective package. Its race-ready and feature-rich, you can take your off-roading to the next level with this fat tire bike.


#4 Diamondback El Oso De Acero Fat Mountain Bike

Diamondback Bikes El Oso De Acero Fat Mountain Bike at a Glance:

  • Size: S (16″), M (18″), L (20″)
  • Tires: 26″ x 4″ Chaoyang Cruiser
  • Rims: 32h Diamondback, 75Wide with 28mm cutouts, alloy singlewall
  • Frame: Butted heat treated steel, 1-1/8″ headtube, can accommodate up to 26″ x 5″ tires
  • Fork: Rigid DB El Oso custom steel fork, 135mm QR disc dropouts
  • Gears: 27 speed (3×9), Shimano Alivio Shifters
  • Brakes: Shimano Alivio mechanical disc brake

This is another model of the Diamondback El Oso (“The Bear”) series. The El Oso de Acero is a fat tire bike designed closer to a mountain bike than to a fatbike.

This makes it a great budget model available for around $800, but the features are nonetheless impressive.

The Diamondback El Oso de Acero comes with a sleek, elegant steel frame to provide strength, durability and ride quality, paired with pleasing aesthetics.

Butted and heat-treated tubes give you a riding quality full of compliance, on top of 26” x 4” cruising tires. The frame can accommodate a tire width of up to 5”. The rims are alloy singlewall with cutouts to reduce weight.

With solid Shimano parts, you can rely on this fatbike: the mechanical disc brake delivers powerful stops, and an all Shimano 3×9 drivetrain gives you a total of 27 gears, enough for all situations on the trail, off-roads or climbing hills.

The Diamondback El Oso de Acero is available in the three sizes S, M, and L, 16″, 18″ and 20″, which the manufacturer pairs with an approximate rider’s height of 5’4″ to 5’7″, 5’7″ to 5’10”, and 5’8″ to 5’11”.

This fat tire bike is a dependable workhorse and the best fatbike under $1000. You can ride it like a dune buggy or snowmobile, hop over rocks with it and bomb down hills and trails, yet it looks as slim and refined as a city bike.


#5 Mongoose Argus Sport Fat Tire Bicycle

Mongoose Argus Sport Fat Tire Bike at a Glance:

  • Size: S (15″), M (17″), L (20″)
  • Tires: 26″ x 4″ Kenda Juggernaut
  • Rims: 80mm wide with cutouts
  • Frame: Full alloy frame with 190mm QR
  • Fork: Rigid full alloy with 190mm spacing
  • Gears: 27 speed (3×9), Shimano M-379 shifters
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes with 180/180mm rotors

The Mongoose Argus Sport fat tire bike is a very affordable fat tire bike with great features and versatility thanks to its three different sizes.

You can get this model in small or 15”, suitable for riders with a body height of 5’ to 5’5”. The medium size of 17” is suitable for 5’5” to 5’9”, while the large build is recommended for riders from 5’8” to 5’11”.

Mongoose uses a full alloy construction both for the frame and the rigid fork, which can accommodate tires of a width up to 4.5”. Mounted on this model are 26” x 4” Kenda Juggernaut tires on 80mm rims with cutouts to reduce weight.

The lightweight frame paired with the mammoth-sized tires makes rolling over difficult terrain easy, and you’ll coast nicely on snow or sand with a low inflation. You’ll be hugging turns reliably and owning those tracks inaccessible to regular mountain bikes

Stopping power comes from hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm rotors in the front and rear. A hydraulic brake is a rare sight on such a budget model, you’d normally expect a mechanical disc brake at this price. 27 gears leave little to be desired when it comes to shifting.

The 3×9 Shimano drivetrain is paired with a Sunrace 11-36t cassette, allowing you to select the right gear for each climb or downhill race.

The Mongoose Argus Sport is the best budget fat bike suitable for year-round riding on a range of difficult terrains, and at this price, there’s no reason not to enter the fatbike craze.


#6 Gravity Bullseye Monster Aluminum Fat Bike

Gravity Bullseye Monster Aluminum Fat Bike

Gravity Bullseye Monster Aluminum Fat Bike at a Glance:

  • Size: 14″, 16″, 18″, 20″, 22″
  • Tires: 26″ x 4″ V-Rubber Mission Wire Bead
  • Rims: 26″ x 32H 80mm alloy with big cutouts
  • Frame: Alloy 6061 frame, with disc mount, tig weld
  • Fork: Rigid 26″ CrMo with threadless steerer 1.125″
  • Gears: 16 speed (2×8), Shimano Alivio and SRAM drivetrain with SRAM shifters
  • Brakes: Tektro Novela disc brake with 160/160mm rotors

The Gravity Bullseye Monster fat tire bike will appeal to a lot of different riders. Thanks to five different sizes, you can choose exactly to fit your body height.

The 14” mode will 14″ fit most 5’4″ to 5’7″ riders, 16” is for 5’7″ to 5’10”, 18″ fits 5’10” to 6’0″, 20″ fits 6’1″ to 6’3″, and 22″ fits 6’3″ to 6’6″.

But the features of this fatbike are equally versatile. With 26” x 4” tires, you can roll over virtually anything and make full use of the fat tires in winter.

Float over snow and sand, go for adventures in mud and bogs and finally conquer those hard trails.

With compact specs and an aluminium alloy construction, the Gravity Bullseye Monster keeps weight down and his a heavyweight champion nonetheless in terms of performance.

The alloy frame is paired with a rigid alloy form, sufficient enough to deal with bumps and shocks in combination with those fat tires.

Don’t be afraid of stopping, because the Tektro Novela disc brakes deliver power and precision. 16 gears allow you to pedal and your desired rate in all situations, and with a 2×8 drivetrain, crossing gears is impossible. Shifting is fast and precise.

The Gravity Bullseye Monster is to a mountain bike what a monster truck is to a regular car. There is hardly a place you can’t go with this beast, and you’ll definitely get noticed on the trail or cruising along on the street.

Overall, the Gravity Bullseye Monster is the best cheap fat bike!


#7 Diamondback Bikes El Oso Grande Fat Mountain Bike

Diamondback Bikes El Oso Grande Fat Mountain Bike at a Glance:

  • Size: S (16″), M (18″), L (20″)
  • Tires: 26″ x 4.9″ Chaoyang Cruiser
  • Rims: DB 95wide w/55mm cutout, singlewall 32h
  • Frame: Butted 6061-T6 aluminum, 197mm thru axle, fits up to 26″ x 5″ tires
  • Fork: Rigid DB El Oso custom alloy fork, 1.5 taper, 150mmx15mm thru
  • Gears: 20 speed (2×10), SRAM X5 shifters, SRAM drivetrain
  • Brakes: TRP Spyre mechanical disc, 160mm/160mm rotors

This is the “Big Bear” in the Diamondback El Oso series, with tires nearly 5” wide and built for power, strength and durability.

The Diamondback El Oso Grande is an impressive-looking beast, yet is able to deliver speed and smooth riding paired with nimble maneuverability. You could call it an adventure machine suitable for every trail.

The frame of butted aluminum is rigid, yet designed to shave off pounds. Paired with a rigid custom alloy fork, this fatbike relies entirely on the tires to deliver suspension. Gigantic 26” x 4.9” cruiser tires are up to the job.

You can ride them comfortably even at the lowest PSI. These tires dig their grip into any surface, no matter if you’re bikepacking, going over sand and snow or through mud and wet terrain.

Spyre mechanical disc brakes provide the necessary stopping power with adequate 160mm rotors in the front and back.

For excellent modulation and sufficient gears, all of which you can use thanks to a cross-free 2×10 drivetrain, the SRAM setup is paired with a Shimano cassette to give you 20 speed riding power.

The Diamondback El Oso Grande is available in three sizes: S, M, and L, or 16″, 18″ and 20″. Approximate rider’s height is specified as 5’4″ to 5’7″, 5’7″ to 5’10”, and 5’8″ to 5’11”.

Whether you have high demands or just want to go cruising in style with that floating fat tire bike feeling, this fatbike is for you. With lots of features for smooth riding, it’s a beast you need not fear.


Fat Bikes Comparison Table

Fat Tire Bike Size(s)TiresFrameGearsBrakes
Diamondback El Oso Complete16″, 18″, 20″26″ x 4.5″Aluminum20 Speed, Shimano SLXShimano M447 Hydraulic Disc
Alton Mammoth 2.0 Fat Tire Bike18”, 19.5”26″ x 4″Aluminum alloy27 Speed, Shimano AlivioPromax disc brake
Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fat Bike16”26″ x 4″6061 Aluminum alloy18 Speed, SRAM X5Avid BB5 mechanical disc
Diamondback El Oso De Acero16″, 18″, 20″26″ x 4″Steel alloy27 speed, Shimano AlivioShimano Alivio mechanical disc
Mongoose Argus Sport15″, 17″, 20″26″ x 4″Aluminum alloy27 Speed, Shimano M-379Hydraulic disc brakes
Gravity Bullseye Monster14″, 16″, 18″, 20″, 22″26″ x 4″Aluminum alloy16 Speed, Shimano AlivioTektro Novela disc brake
Diamondback El Oso Grande16″, 18″, 20″26″ x 4.9″6061-T6 Aluminum alloy20 Speed, SRAM X5TRP Spyre mechanical disc

How to Choose the Best Fat Bike

Let’s cover the features you need to pay attention to and we’ll explain in more detail how to choose the right fat bike for you! If you plan on using a bike rack to transport your fat bike, be sure it will accommodate the tires! Platform bike racks are an ideal choice.

Best Fat Tire Bike

Wheels

26” wheels used to be a standard for mountain bikes, but now they also come with 27.5” or 29” wheels. So do fatbikes.

With larger wheels, you’ll find it more easy to roll over obstacles as the so-called attack angle is lower. This makes for a smoother ride. However, smaller wheels are more maneuverable.

If you ride very twisty trails and do tight turns, a lower wheel size might be best for you. Larger wheels are great for sustained rolling, i.e. cross-country or through the snow.

Larger sized wheels suit tall riders best: if you’re over 6 feet tall, you’ll feel more comfortable on 29” wheels.

Size & Fit

When sizing and fitting a bike, not only is the wheel size important, but also the frame size. To fully enjoy your fatbike, it should fit you well and match your height, flexibility and riding style.

There is no absolute standard for sizing, but most manufacturers try to make it easier by providing sizes like S, M, and L which correspond to your height. A sizing chart makes matching straightforward.

Pay attention to recommendations for a specific model. If you find yourself between sizes, it’s generally advisable to err on the smaller side as you’ll then find it easier to fully dial in the fit with small accommodations. Visit your local bike shop if you need help.

As a rule of thumb: when you stand over the bike with both feet flat on the ground and legs close together, there should be a clearance of roughly 2.75” to 3.25” between your crotch and the sloping top tube.

Much less and pedalling can become difficult, much more and you’re wasting energy or making pedalling uncomfortable.

Wheels & Dimensions

Each manufacturer might have an individual pairing of fatbike tires with sizes for other parts. As a rule of thumb, the following wheel sizes correspond to these bike dimensions:

  • 26+: 26” rims, width > 1.4”, typically 2.0”. Tire width typically > 2.5”, such as 2.8” or 3.0”
  • 5+: 27.5” rims, width > 1.4”, typically 2.0”. Tire width typically > 2.5”, such as 2.7”-3.25”
  • 29+: 29” rims, width > 1.4”. Tire width typically up to 3.0”
  • XL: 26”, width 2.4”-4.1”. Tire width typically > 3.5”, such as 3.8”, 4.5”, or 4.8”
  • XXL: 26” rims, width 3.1”-4.1”. Tire width > 5.0”

Tires

Fatbike Tires
Tires of the Diamondback Bicycles El Oso Grande Fat Mountain Bike

As with many things, fat is actually subjective. So what thickness classifies as fatbike, and which tire size is best suitable for which terrain?

We’ll give you a brief overview. While standard mountain bike tires range between 1.95” and 2.5” in width, fat bike tires are between 3.8” and 5” in width.

Fat bike tires

  • 26” x 4” (559 ISO): tire width of the first fat bikes
  • 26” x 5” (559 ISO): wider fat tire bikes
  • 5” x 4” (584 ISO): new fat size

These tires provide good traction and flotation and absorb trail irregularities well. Plus tires range from 2.8” to 3” in width.

Plus tires

  • 26+ (559 ISO): rare tire width
  • 27+ (584 ISO): common plus size
  • 29+ (622 ISO): biggest size tire

Terrain

Things like geometry, frame size and suspension all influence how a bike performs and feels on the trail, but the tires and their pressure do the work of transferring the energy from your pedalling, braking and steering on to the trail.

For various terrain scenarios, different fat tires are recommended:

  • Sand & Snow: Floatation is great for snow and deep sand, so pick the widest tires according to your preference and experiment with an inflation level that works well for you.
  • Ice: On ice, you’ll want a low of traction to avoid skipping, so a wide tire with lots of profile is good. But you’ll need to inflate it more than fore sand and snow to avoid squishing and self-steering and therefore loss of control on this slippery surface.
  • Mud: Both fat and plus size tires can work well here. Depending on how squishy it gets, you can adjust the inflation to make it through without getting stuck.
  • Expedition & Exploration: If you’re heading on a long ride into unknown terrain, it’s a safe bet to pick a bigger and wider tire. What looks like overkill on the road or in areas with no sand or dirt quickly becomes an excellent choice when the going gets tough off-road. Plus tires will balance grip, float and weight well, while a fat tire lets you roll comfortably over obstacles.
  • Cross-Country Racing & Fitness Riding: If you want to go fast, wider tires mean more friction and loss of energy, resulting in a slower speed. You’ll deal well with obstacles, but lose on the climb, especially on paved road. Standard tires are best here.
  • Downhill, Gravity Riding & Enduro: You’ll need to corner fast and hard, and if you use a fat and less-inflated tire for these situations, you’ll experience tire flexing and squishing. Plus size tires perform better than fully fat tire bikes. Keep the tire pressure up and don’t go too low.
  • Dirt Biking & Trail Riding: This is a free-for-all – experiment with tire thickness and inflation level.

Fork & Suspension

Fatbike Suspension
Rockshox Suspension on
Diamondback Bicycles El Oso Complete Fat Bike

Suspension on a fatbike is less common since the thicker tires paired with a low pressure make for a floating, cushioned ride already. There are three levels of suspension:

  • Rigid: A rigid fat tire bike has no suspension other than what the tires provide. Most riders find the squish of the fatbikes sufficient.
  • Suspension fork: Also called hardtail suspension because the rear has no suspension. These bikes use a suspension fork with springs or hydraulics, which makes for a smoother ride, especially on downhill stretches. The fork can have the option to lock out the suspension for when you prefer to ride rigid.
  • Full suspension: These bikes feature rear shock absorbers for a more cushioned ride. This type is highly uncommon with fat tire bikes.

Gears

Fatbike Gears
Gears on Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fat Bike

The number of gears on a fat tire bike or any bike with a derailleur gear system is the result of the number of front chainrings multiplied by the number of sprockets on the cassette.

You can have a single speed to 30 or more gears. Gears are generally helpful if you have a lot of climbing to do and prefer easy pedalling with more revolutions and less resistance for that.

The stronger you are, the less gears you need. Keep in mind that fatbikes are slightly heavier than the mountain bike you might be used to.

If you have only one chainring in the front, you only need one shifter to cycle through all the gears, which means less cables and maintenance on your bike.

A low number of gears can be sufficient for many situations, but some riders prefer 20 and more. The choice is yours.

Brakes

Fat Tire Bike Brakes
Closeup of Fatbike Disc Brakes

The choice for brakes on your fatbike basically comes down to rim brakes and disc brakes. You’ll typically see rim brakes on entry-level models.

  • Disc brakes: A brake rotor (a perforated disc) is mounted to the wheel hub and gripped by the brakes. Mechanical brakes use cables for activation and need manual adjustment as the pads wear out. Hydraulic disc brakes are stronger and self-adjust for brake pad wear. Disc brakes offer consistent braking in all conditions and better performance in steep and wet terrain. A worn disc is cheap and easy to replace. Hydraulic brakes are more difficult to service.
  • Rim brakes: Thee brakes use pads that grip directly onto the rim of the wheel. They’re economical and pad wear is easy to monitor. However, they gradually wear out the wheel rim, have less stopping power (especially in wet conditions) and require more finger effort to brake hard.

Frame

The frame is a bike’s most important structural element. It will influence the bike’s weight (together with those fat tires), strength & performance as well as durability and price.

Aluminum alloy is a common material that is sturdy and comparatively inexpensive while also being light-weight. For a higher price, you can get pure aluminum models which will be lighter.

Alternatives for the frame material are steel, titanium or carbon fiber. Steel is tough, also inexpensive and rides smoothly, but comes with a heavy weight.

You also need to take care of a steel frame to prevent rusting, otherwise it’s very forgiving. Carbon fiber is great for cross-country and fat tire bikes because it’s a strong and resistive material with a low weight, but it’s also more expensive to produce.

FAQs: About Fat Tire Bikes

Q: What is a fat tire bike?

A: Fat tire bikes are known as fatbikes for short, but you might also hear them called snow bikes, all-terrain bikes or ATBs. Their most prominent feature are the wider than normal tires.

To accommodate these, fatbikes also use a wider fork, bottom bracket, and rear triangle to make room for the wide rims. Tire width can go to 5” or more with rims as wide as 4”.

Fat tire bikes are typically ridden at low tire pressure, which gives you good stability at low speeds and the ability to ride on loose material such as sand or snow as well as over obstacles.

Q: What tire pressure should I use with my fat bike?

A: Select the pressure you are comfortable with – every rider has their own preference. With fatbikes, the saying goes: “When in doubt, let air out” – but carry a portable bike pump to re-inflate when there is need.

Start by gradually lowering the pressure and check how you enjoy riding it. For riding on snow or sand, between 5 and 10 psi seems to yield good results. Keep in mind that at too low a pressure, your rims might start bumping on the ground, resulting in damage. You’ll also shorten tube lifespan at lower pressures. Around 3 psi is a good lower limit.

As a general rule: harder terrain requires higher pressure, softer terrain lower pressure. You might reach limitations, for example loose beach or dune sand, powder snow, shale and pea gravel.

Downhill riding is always easier, but climbing requires more traction, and even the fattest tire at the lowest inflation can bog down eventually.

Q: Any tips for riding on snow or sand with a fat tire bike?

A: Whatever you do, ease into it and take it slow, especially if you’re still getting used to your new fat tire bike. Start with a tire pressure between 5 and 7 psi. Many trails for fatbikes actually have recommendations for tire pressure.

Make sure your bike is well adjusted to your body and height. If you have trouble getting traction on loose material, keep you weight over the back tire (i.e. don’t lean forward) and pedal evenly. If you’re still getting stuck, gradually let some air out of the tires.

When riding on snow, check conditions beforehand. Powder is entirely different from packed and frozen snow. Tires with low inflation don’t perform well on ice.

When you spot a patch of ice, go slow and break before it, not on it. Stay straight with your balance centered, and don’t turn on the ice. If need be, get off and walk your bike.

Q: What surface conditions are best for fatbikes?

A: Fat tire bikes can feel amazing when you’re off-road and exploring fresh tracks. But like all bikes, they actually work better on harder surfaces. For snow and sand, firm and condensed will be better than loose.

If the trail has been groomed, it will be much more rideable. For sand and dirt trails, paths and trails that are used by quad or motorcycle riders will work for fatbikes. In the snow, snow that has been backed by skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles works great. More than a few inches of new snow are generally not rideable.

If chunks of snow are sticking to your tires or you cannot go in a straight line, skiing is probably the better way to go. Always check conditions before you go on a ride.

Q: Do I have to assemble the bike myself?

A: When ordering a bike, they will be shipped to you partially assembled. The details depend on the manufacturer, but typically you have to attach the wheels and pedals, straighten the handlebars, inflate the tires and adjust everything to your size.

On some models, you might have to insert the chain into the drivetrain. You will receive an owner’s manual with detailed instructions, but if you’re not comfortable with the assembly, bring the bike to a local shop to get assistance.

Conclusion

Remember to select the size well for your fat tire bike to match your body. Choose fatter tires if you have more aggressive use in mind, and don’t hesitate to experiment with inflation to find out the perfect PSI for various terrains and to achieve that great floating sensation when riding along.

Fatbikes are a lot of fun and come with a built-in smile factor – you can’t help but grin to yourself, because riding one feels very different from a regular mountain bike.

We hope our selection and guide are useful to you in taking your trail rides and off-road adventures to the next level!


I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best fatbike to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a bike I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.

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Jakob Straub

Jakob Straub lives in Barcelona, Spain, where he works as a freelance writer and author. He covers topics ranging from travel and outdoor to literature or software and technology. Jakob is addicted to climbing and splits his time between bouldering at the gym and exploring the crags of the Catalan countryside. He also enjoys long hikes in mountains or on the Costa Brava and is a rookie surfer on the Mediterranean shores.

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