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Biking is one of the most popular outdoor sports in the world. In fact, an estimated 100 million Americans bike each year, with many of them biking multiple times a week. One of the greatest things about biking is the endless environments that you can explore while enjoying a great workout.
You might bike around your neighborhood or head to the neighborhood park. If you're more the adventurous type, then you might check out the less explored trails. With mountains, beaches, communities, and parks to enjoy, cyclists have a lot of great choices.
Just as there are numerous trails to explore, there are many different types of bikes to choose from too. While a traditional mountain bike might be suitable for riding around your neighborhood, if you're the type of rider who prefers to explore the path less traveled, you might consider a fat tire bike for your next adventure.
Fat tire bikes are better on rough terrain and are designed with materials that make for a more comfortable ride.
What Is a Fat Tire Bike?
A fat tire bike, sometimes referred to as an off-road bicycle, is a bike that comes with oversized tires. These tires allow bikers to venture over more difficult terrains like snow or sand. More specifically, fat tire bikes have a minimum of a 3.8-inch or larger tires with rims with a 2.6-inch minimum width. Fat tire bikes are similar to a mountain bike, except with the addition of larger bike tires.
Fat tire bikes offer the following benefits:
- Ideal for low ground pressure terrains
- Electric fat tire bicycles with hydraulic disc brakes have the power to tackle longer rides
- Increased comfort for longer rides
- Gives you the ability to check out new terrain
- Good for bikers who live in areas with difficult roads
- Ideal for carrying a heavy load, such as with backpacking or camping
- More comfortable for long-range road trips, with less pressure on the back
- Easier to ride than when compared to other bike types
- Safer commute with more traction and control on the road
- Allow you to continue riding your bike well into winter months
With wider tires and a sturdier frame, many cyclers consider fat tire bikes to be a more comfortable option. They are one of the most diverse bike options. You can cycle through snow, sand, or even use it as a beach cruiser. Some fat tire bikes can also be used on ski trails, making them a popular winter biking option.
What Size Tire Should I Get?
Fat tire bikes come in all different types and sizes. The tire size you get will vary depending on your preferred riding style and the terrain you ride most. Fat tires that are smaller in width tend to be ideal for snow-filled conditions and riders who need less floatation.
Fat tire width sizes tend to top out at 4.8-inches. These wider tires are good for lighter snow and desert sand. The weight of the rider can also influence the best tire size. Smaller riders typically don't need as much support, whereas larger riders, especially ones who want to get more floatation in the air, might choose a larger tire width.
You can narrow down your tire size options with the following steps:
- Determine your riding environment: Consider the type of terrain that you frequent most when biking. If much of your cycling is spent off-roading on difficult terrain, then you might consider wider tires. However, if you're sticking to paved trails, then a smaller width might work just fine.
- Evaluate your thread options: The size of your tire is not the only thing to consider when choosing the best tires. Evaluate the thread patterns and determine how much traction is needed for your riding environment.
- Choose the appropriate rim: It is also important to match your rim with your tire for the best fat biking experience. Fat tire rims tend to range between 50-100mm. Smaller widths are preferred when biking on easier terrain, whereas wider widths are ideal for larger-sized riders or those biking on more difficult conditions.
- Find the ideal pressure: You can further affect your fat tires' efficiency and use by how much you inflate them. Before testing out a new terrain or navigating more difficult road conditions, consider testing out a few different tire pressures until you find the best one. Tire pressure can range between 3.5-5.0-inches and 8-10 psi. Keep in mind that wider tires often require less pressure than thinner tires.
Of course, you will also want to consider the different available features when choosing the right fat tires. You'll want to consider things like the frame material, suspension, motor, and how customizable your gear is. Some bikers also choose an electric fat tire bike with hydraulic disc brakes for more power. Hydraulic disc brakes also help bikers come to a faster stop.
Other Features to Consider When Choosing the Best Fat Tire
The best fat tire bicycle is one that is suited to your preferred style. Here are a few other features to consider when choosing the best fat tire:
- Suspension: Suspension is important as you maneuver your way over bumpy terrain road conditions. If you frequent especially rocky or bumpier road conditions, then you might find a fat tire bike with full suspension important. Your frame and fork design will ultimately affect the level of its suspension.
- Customization options: There are some situations in which you might want to swap out your tires, either for a smaller or larger size. For example, some bikers choose to swap fat tires on their mountain bike when testing new terrain. There are fat tire bikes that allow you to configure and customize your tires for your current road conditions.
- Tires: You will also want to consider the type of tires. Some tires are softer, while others are more rigid. Many fat tire bikes also come with tubeless tires. Available fat tire options include street, slick, studded, snow, bike, and tube tires.
- Materials: The suspension fork and frame materials will affect its weight. You might choose carbon fiber, alloy, aluminum, or steel.
It is important to consider each function of your fat tire bike. This will help you narrow down your options.
Best Fat Tire Bike Brands and Models
Kona Wozo 2019
The Kona Wozo 2019 comes with a front suspension design, which gives you added comfort. It will give you full support on even the most difficult of road conditions.
Ideal for: Snow and dirt terrain
Giant Yukon 1
The Giant Yukon 1 fat bike features many design cues that make it an ideal fat tire bike. The slim frame keeps the weight light while the all-performance, 27.5-inch aluminum tires help you cover more difficult terrain.
Ideal for: Snow, sand, and trail riding
Gravity Bullseye Monster
The Gravity Bullseye Monster features a simple design. The fat tires on this bike will make you feel like you are effortlessly floating over difficult terrain like sand and snow.
Ideal for: Sand, snow, and muck
Framed Minnesota 1.2 Fat Bike
The Framed Minnesota 1.2 is a good option for bikers who are newer to fat tire biking and looking to test it out, without breaking the bank. This bike is affordable, but it is also smaller in size, allowing you to transport it on the rear of your vehicle with ease.
Ideal for: Trail-riding and mountain biking
Understanding Weight Limits on Fat Tire Bikes
Heavier riders, or those with a lot of cargo, tend to enjoy fat tire bikes because of their added comfort and support. Fat tire bikes can generally hold up to 300-350 pounds. Also, some bikes are better equipped to handle larger weight limits, so it is important to be aware of weight limits when choosing a bike.
Fat Tire Biking in Winter
Unlike with traditional mountain biking, fat tire biking can be done throughout the winter months. Fat tire bikes are great on more difficult terrain, making them a popular choice for snow. Some bikers will also use them on slushy or muddy conditions. Just make sure you have a lower tire pressure and you can easily navigate your same favorite roads, even into the winter.
Best Electric Fat Tire Bikes
An electric fat tire bike is a bike that comes with larger wheels and is electrically powered. Electric bikes give you greater stability and power while allowing you to travel further distances in comfort. Here are a few of the top electric fat tire bikes:
AddMotor Motan 750 W
The AddMotor Motan 750W is electrically-powered and one of the most durable and flexible fat tire bikes in the market today. It is designed with a sturdy aluminum-alloy frame that can easily be folded.
Ideal for: Downhill trail-riding
Ecotric 26" 500W E-Bike
The Ecotric 26" 500W E-Bike is another top choice in the electric fat tire category, especially if you're on a budget. It comes with a removable battery, making it easy to charge.
Ideal for: Entry-level or beginning riders
Rambo Roamer 750W XC Fat Tire Electric Bike
The Rambo Raomer 750W XC Fat Tire Electric Bike has a powerful engine and large, puncture-proof tires that will give you confidence on your next ride. This bike also comes with additional technological features like a thumb throttle and pedal assist.
Ideal for: Rock terrain and mountain conditions with a lot of downhill
Electric Juggernaut MDV by Rungu
The Electric Juggernaut MDV by Rungu is an option that comes with a powerful motor. It comes equipped with large, 4.8-inch off-roading tires and an upgraded suspension fork.
Ideal for: Off-road conditions and long distances with soft-ground terrain
How Much Do Fat Tire Bikes Cost?
Just as regular mountain bikes range in price, so do fat tire bikes. Typically, you can expect to pay somewhere between $500-$2,000. The price will vary depending on the type, brand, design, and feature of the bicycle. Entry-level fat tire bikes tend to come at a lower price range than electric bikes with a carbon frame. Of course, the brand of the bike can also affect its price.
Popular Types of Fat Tire Materials
It helps to understand how fat tires bikes are constructed and the most common materials used in their design. These are the following types of fat tire construction available:
- Carbon fiber: Carbon fiber makes a fat tire bike lighter in weight. Carbon fiber is also a rigid material, giving bikers more control. It is a good material to consider if the majority of your biking is done outdoors, especially during the winter months. Carbon fiber materials do not get cold to the touch, allowing you to bike, even with freezing temperatures.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is most often used in fat tire bicycles and other mountain biking gear for its versatility. It is also very light-weight, reducing the overall weight of a bike to get more floatation. Many fat tire bikes are made with aluminum-alloy rims and fat tire frames.
- Titanium: Titanium materials have many of the same benefits as steel, but are even lighter in weight. This material is also flexible enough to absorb some of the impact of bumpier road conditions.
- Steel: Steel is a popular choice in mountain bikes for its durability. A steel frame or suspension fork is often one of the most durable and rugged choices in the market.
As you can see, you have a lot of options available when choosing a fat tire bike. Narrow down your options by evaluating the type of terrain you frequent most.
Tubeless-Ready Technologies and Fat Tire Bikes
Another word that you might come across while searching for the perfect biking gear is tubeless-ready tires and technology. Tubeless-ready tires are recommended if a lot of your biking is in desert conditions or backroad mountains. Tubeless-ready tire casings are made with upgraded technologies that give you greater traction and comfort when riding on the most inclement of road conditions.
A few of the benefits of tubeless technology include:
- Less risk of tire punctures
- Improved efficiency on more difficult of terrain
- Gives you a lighter ride (Tubeless technology can reduce your bike weight by as much as one pound)
- Maintains wheel pressure even in freezing cold temperatures
- Allows you to reach an increased speed
- Allows you to ride on less pressure, as low as 6-8psi, and with some tubeless bikes, as low as 4psi
If you want a fat tire that is reliable, then you might consider tubeless tires. In some cases, you can convert your current fat bicycle to a tubeless one.
What Clothes and Shoes Do You Wear Fit Biking?
With all of the time spent determining the best fat tire bike for your needs, it is also important to ensure that you are wearing the appropriate shoes and clothing. Protect yourself with the following tips:
- Consider the weather: Choose bike shorts/pants based on weather conditions. If you're biking in cold weather, you might want to choose something windproof or insulated. If you're biking in the desert in the heat, you might choose something that is sweat-wicking.
- Consider the road conditions: Some road conditions can pose a risk for injury. If you're tackling more difficult road conditions, consider wearing long pants or protective gloves.
- Consider comfort: While fat tire bikes do offer improved comfort, you can enjoy even more comfort by choosing the right clothing and shoes. Choose protective boots that fit your feet and give you the needed traction when biking. It is also important to consider any activities you might do when you reach your destination.
- Prioritize safety: When choosing the best clothing and shoes, you should always prioritize safety. Protect any exposed skin and make sure your body has the appropriate room to breathe. Avoid clothing or shoes that are restrictive and will prevent you from long rides.
Once you choose the best fat bike, you can determine which clothing and shoes fit best.
How to Transport Your Fat Tire Bike
Finding the right fat tire bike is only one half of the process. You will also need to determine how you will transport it to your preferred biking destination, whether that is the nearby biking trail in your hometown or the mountain a couple of states over.
Car bike racks are often divided into two types of bike racks:
- Rear rack: A rear rack allows you to store your bike on the rear of your vehicle.
- Front rack: A front rack allows you to store your bike on the front of your vehicle.
Of course, the vehicle that you drive will also affect which car bike rack makes the most sense to you. By choosing the right tire rack, you can transport it more conveniently. Otherwise, you might have to remove your tires before loading and unloading your bike, which can be overwhelming and tiring.
Whether you're looking for a bike to enjoy biking well into the winter months or looking for something to accommodate you on your next cross-country skiing trip, fat tire bikes offer many benefits. They are more comfortable and durable, which means you can enjoy longer rides and transport even more equipment on your trip.