Everything You Need to Know About Fat Bike: The Complete Guide 2019

Fat bike 101-complete-guide-rinasclta-2019

The ultimate guide to choosing a fat bike, very detailed and with all the pros and cons these bikes offer us. Will a fat bike be your next purchase?

In this article, we want to write down all the details when buying a fat bike. All you have to know about all the components that equip a fat bike. In this way, you will understand why you can not miss this fun bike in your home.

Let’s dive right in.

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Everything You Need to Know About Fat Bike: The Complete Guide 2019

1. Fat Tire Bike

● What is a Fat Bike?

Basically, a Fat Bike comes from a frame of an MTB, but with oversized tires, and it has a fork that allows mounting wheels with a width of up to 130 millimeters. They are designed primarily for riding on snow, mud, and sand, terrain impossible to ride for other bikes, although its peculiar design and versatility have captured the attention of a much wider market.

In the next lines, we will describe a few types of fat bikes we can find on the market.

● Carbon Fiber Fat Bike

Why is a Carbon Fiber Fat Bike highly recommended? Because it has advantages over other materials. Carbon fiber is light for its hardness/weight ratio, so, on a bike that is already heavy, saving grams in the material is always an advantage. Carbon is also rigid while flexible as steel and very quiet when pedaling. Finally, it is not cold to the touch, an advantage for a bike that is made to ride on snow.

● Full Suspension Fat Bike

Fat tires are not an alternative to the suspension of the bike. Although the most normal is to find front suspension fat bikes or rigid front forks, we can also find full-suspension fat bikes recently on the market. The rear suspension adds weight to the bike, and it is difficult to configure the bike successfully (tire pressure, rebound, compression …), but with the right technology (and is progressing properly) we can achieve much more fun with our full-suspension fat bike and you will not feel the impacts on the trails. Salsa incorporates in its catalog some very interesting options for full suspension.

● Single Speed Fat Bike

This type of fat bike has a drivetrain with a single wheelchain and a single cog. Because it is a single-speed, it will make you pedal more on the flat ground, and you will have to suffer more in the hills. Some brands mount this type of drivetrain on their fat bikes, but it is not the most common.

● Titanium Fat Bike

Titanium fat bikes have all the advantages of steel, but it is a much lighter material than steel. Titanium has such good flexion that many high-end bicycles incorporate it into their design to absorb vibrations. This makes it ideal for incorporation into fat bikes, since these are designed for rough terrain where they will receive small impacts. The notable disadvantage of titanium is its high price due to the cost of the material and the difficulty of manufacturing, so few manufacturers include it in their catalogs.

● Fat Tire Electric Bike

Electric bikes have also entered the fat bikes market strongly. You can find different types, including electric folding fat bikes! and they are of great help in areas of fine sand. And the electric motor will help you climb the hills that you couldn’t climb before. You will feel like riding a motorcycle.

2. Fat Bike Tires

In this section, we are going to write down everything you need to know related to the tires that mount fat bikes.

● Fat Bike Tire Pressure

The pressure we have to put on the tire will depend on the width of the tire. Fat bikes ride tires ranging from 3.5 to 5 inches.

The wider the tire, the less pressure we should put on it. Therefore, fat bikes should have approximate values ranging between 5 PSI and 15 PSI (0.5 and 1 BAR). This will give us a feeling of buoyancy and a perfect grip on the ground.

● Fat Bike Street Tires

Although they can be found in any width, the tires for the street of fat bikes are usually a little narrower (between 3.5 and 4 inches) and the drawing of the tire is smoother, making it more efficient to roll on the street. Some recommended tires for the streets are:

–       Origin 8 Captiv-8er
–       Origin 8 Supercell
–       Surly Black Floyd

● Fat Bike Slick Tires

These types of tires are designed with a completely smooth drawing and are perfect for riding on completely flat terrain. In the market, we can find the Vee Apache Slick of 26 x 4.5 inches.

● Fat Bike Studded Tires

This type of tire is ideal for trails with sand and rock because its studs improve grip on that type of terrain. They are tires that can also be used on snow and even ice. Some recommended tires are the following:

      Terrene Wazia
      Bontrager Gnarwal

There are different type of tires, 26 and 27.5 inches, and a width between 3.8 and 5 inches. Off-road tires.

● Fat Bike Snow Tires

I think it is not necessary to explain for what terrain this type of tire is perfect. Fat bikes began to be used largely to ride and move on snow. These tires incorporate studs to improve grip on snow or ice. In the market, we can find a multitude of tires of different sizes, although the wider the tire, the better grip experience and ease of movement the fat bike will have. The following tires are recommended for snow:

–       45NRTH Dillinger 4 and Dillinger 5
–       Surly Bud
–       Vee Snow Avalanche
–       Vee Snow Shoe, XL, and 2XL
–       Vittoria Cannoli

● Maxxis Fat Bike Tires

So far we have mentioned many brands of fat bike tires, but … what about Maxxis?

Maxxis has to have a section for herself. We can find tires of both 26 inches and 27.5 inches, of a wide range of widths, from 3.8 to 5 inches, and for any terrain. Among the recommended Maxxis tires are:

–       Maxxis Minion FBF: 26 and 27.5 inches. Between 3.8 and 4.8 inches. Wet and loose ground.
–       Maxxis Minion FBR: Specific rear tire. 26 and 27.5 inches. Between 3.8 and 4.8 inches. Wet and loose ground.
–       Maxxis Colossus: 26×4,8
–       Maxxis Mammoth: 26×4.0. All-terrain tires.

● Fat Bike Tubes

We can find in the market fat bikes with tubes and tubeless. The tires of these bikes are prepared to withstand punctures, so the tubes will have a longer life. However, since fat bikes are very heavy, it is advisable to lighten the fat bike as much as possible, and a good solution would be to use tubeless tires. Fat bikes tubes weigh around 500 grams, so it would make a difference.

3. Fat Bike Accessories

In this chapter, we will describe the possible accessories that we can incorporate into our fat bike. From racks for our saddlebags to suspensions.

● Fat Bike Rack

If you are an adventurer who likes long bike routes, or a bikepacking lover, you will have to equip your bike with racks to carry saddlebags. In the following lines, we will describe two types of racks, front and rear, to transport saddlebags on the bike.

–   Rear Rack:

To choose the perfect rear rack we have to consider the following: Wheel size, rack weight, capacity, mounting points and purpose of the racks. Not all fat bikes are designed in the same way, so not all racks can be mounted on our bike.

The size of the wheel is important so that the rack does not rub against the wheel.

The weight of the rear rack should be as small as possible, as we have said before, the lighter our bike, the better.

But we also have to take into account the capacity (or weight) that the rack will have to support. If the rack is very light, it could be more fragile and not support the weight it has to carry on it.

Mounting points, for obvious reasons, are essential when choosing our rear rack. Ideally, having to anchor the rack with the least possible mounting points.

–   Front Rack:

The front racks for fat bikes are those that are placed on the fork of the bike. Like the rear ones, described above, you have to take into account the weight of the rack, the capacity (or weight) that will have to support when carrying the saddlebags, and the mounting points, which will attach the fork with the front rack.

● Fat Bike Fenders

When choosing a good fender for our fat bike, we have to consider the space between the fender and the wheel. For this, the ideal is to have a gap of 5 centimeters on each side of the tire and about 20 centimeters between the upper part of the tire and the fender.

One of the problems that can cause riding a fender on the bike is that a stick can cause damage to the fat bike if it gets stuck between the fender and the tire.

● Fat Bike Crankset

If we talk about the crankset, we can find two types: with a simple chainring or with a double chainring. Both have their advantages (and disadvantages). Let’s see:

If we equip our fat bike with a double chainring crankset, the hills will become more feasible and easier to climb, while having double chainring, the wear of the teeth will be distributed among them. Instead, we will increase the tension of change and transmission.

On the other hand, if we equip our fat bike with a single chainring, our bike will be lighter and easier to handle (we don’t have to think about changing the chainring), but we will wear the teeth of the chainring more.

● Fat Bike Trailer

With the increasing popularity of bikepacking, if we are brave enough to do it on a fat bike, an element that we could incorporate into our fat bike is a trailer. In this way we can transport more material to spend the night outdoors, or whatever we need.

The wheels that equip these trailers are normally 16 inches and 3 inches wide, while they are capable of carrying up to 50kg. An interesting option for bikepacking.

● Fat Bike Front Suspension

As we have described above, we can find fat bikes without suspension, with front suspension, or full suspension. In this section, we are going to focus on the front suspension.

If the trail you are going to travel is irregular and hard, the front suspension on the fork is more than justified. The suspension absorbs the continuous impact on the hard ground. But if what we are looking for is riding on sandy terrain or snow, it is possible that the weight of the suspension will hurt us and stop us.

● Fat Bike Bottom Bracket

To counteract the wider width of the bushings and that the chain does not go excessively crossed, the box and bottom bracket have grown with respect to a MTB, separating the connecting rods from each other and increasing the Q factor.

Thus, in a Fat bike, the bottom bracket can be found in different widths: 100 and 120 mm, usually with threads. And you can distinguish three different types of bottom bracket: Cartridge BB, Bearing Cups, and threadless BB92.

4. Fat Bike Frame

When choosing the fat bike frame, we have to take into account the frame material, the suspension we want, and the budget we have.

● Carbon Fat Bike Frame

If what we are looking for is a lightweight frame, resistant to corrosion and oxidation, with great absorption of small impacts when riding on uneven terrain, the material you should use for your fat bike is carbon. It is an incredibly resistant and lightweight material. As against we have that its price is much more expensive than aluminum frames and that in case of an accident or strong impact, it is easier to break than aluminum (which tends to bend.)

● Full Suspension Fat Bike Frame

These frames are characterized by having a suspension on the front fork, and another suspension on the back of the frame. Due to this second suspension, the weight of the fat bike increases, but at the same time, it provides a better grip on uneven terrain by absorbing the impact more. Lately, they are beginning to be more popular, as technology advances and more manufacturers are betting on this type of painting.

● Aluminium Fat Bike Frame

If your budget is tighter, perhaps the most advisable thing would be to opt for an aluminum frame, which is more resistant to fall impacts (the frame tends to bend and not break) and much cheaper. As against we have to say that it is a much heavier material, and being metal, it is possible that it rusts over the years. A good option for your painting if you prefer to save some money.

5. Fat Bike Wheels

To classify our bike as “fat” it needs to mount wheels larger than 3 inches (usually from 3.5 inches). In this section, we will describe everything you need to know about the wheels of a fat bike.

● Fat Bike Rims

It is very important to verify the measurements of the rims since if the rims are very large and the width of the fork is very small, the cover will rub or be blocked because it will touch the fork.

A peculiarity that the tires have is their design: the generous width provides enough rigidity to dispense with the characteristic double wall. In addition, holes are usually drilled to lighten the piece and thus save between 350 and 400 grams. Now we will analyze the differences between a carbon rim and a titanium rim:

–   Carbon Fat Bike Rim

Carbon rims absorb small impacts on uneven terrain very well and can be perfectly mounted on a fat bike. Carbon rims are very light, and resistant, although more expensive than aluminum rims.

–   Titanium Fat Bike Rim

Titanium rims are not very common among fat bikes due to their price. As an advantage, we could say that they are rims for a lifetime since titanium is very resistant. They are also very light, and if the terrain is more rugged and complicated, as trails with rocks, they are the perfect choice since it is possible that carbon rims can not withstand such strong impacts without being damaged.

● Fat Bike Hubs

The hub, the element on which the wheel rotates, is another component of the wheel that we have to measure and choose according to the fork. If we choose a hub that is too big or too small, we cannot mount it on the fork. The hubs for fat bikes have increased their size, installing 135 mm front and 170 rear.

● Fat Bike Rim Wheelsets

We can also buy the entire wheelset, with hub and rim. We can find them 26 and 27,5 inches for fat bikes, with rims width between 60 and 100 millimeters. You can also find the wheels for the bikes plus with 27.5 and 29 inches, where the width of the tire is a bit smaller (around 50 millimeters).

● Fat Bike Rim Strips

Most entry-level bikes have a rim strip as protection between the rim and the tube. The problem is that these rim strips are usually made of rubber and after a while, it can wear out and stop protecting the tubes. As many rims have perforated holes, this protection is very important to avoid punctures of the tube. Rim tapes are a safer option.

● Fat Bike Rim Tape

The rim tape is made of cloth or nylon and more effectively protects the tube of the fat bike from the spokes and the holes of the rim. These materials are more resistant and have greater durability than rubber rim strips.

For fat bikes we find wider rim tapes to protect the entire width of the tire band.

6. Fat Bike Fork

Another component that has had to adapt is the fork. The suspension chassis widens to accommodate the tires. These modifications have increased the weight, up to 2 kg in the lightest fork models. The option of having a rigid fork saves this increase of weight without significantly reducing absorption, due to the action of the tires widths.

● Fat Bike Suspension Fork

Little by little the technology advances and with it the suspensions for fat bikes. A pioneer was the RockShox brand. This suspension is capable of mounting 26 “tires up to 4.8 inches.

● Carbon Fat Bike Fork

We can find forks with a width from 135 mm to 150 mm with a 15 mm thru-axle. The most common is the 135 mm rigid suspension made of carbon. This is the lightest because it has no suspension.

7. Fat Bike Handlebars

The fat bikes use a double-height or straight handlebar, which makes the cyclist take a semi-upright position, which is ideal for the type of trail for which the fat bikes are manufactured, in addition to improving visibility and control. These handlebars are wider than the handlebars that equip other types of bikes.

FAQ about Fat bikes

● What is fat bike birkie

The Fat Bike Birkie, is the largest fat bike race event hosted by Freewheel Bike in North America. The Fat Bike Birkie provides this one day per year event to ride your fat bike on the groomed, snow-covered American Birkebeiner Ski Trail. 

Date: Fri, Mar 6, 2020 – Sat, Mar 7, 2020

Location: American Birkebeiner Trailhead, Wisconsin, United States

● Can I ride a fat bike on the road?

Yes, you can ride a fat bike on the road, but you will go slower than a mountain bike and a road bike. The fat bike wide tires are mostly between 4″ and 5″ with lower tires pressure. You can ride quite comfortably on the road for relaxing and weekend short trips.

● Can fat bike be used as an everyday bike?

Yes, you can use fat bike as an everyday bike if you only need to ride lew than 30 minutes to arrive. With wider tires and lower tire pressure, you will ride safer and more comfortable on the way between home and work office.

● What is the benefit of fat tires on pavement?

There are at least 3 benefits of flat tires on pavement.

  1. You can ride safer due to the wide tire.
  2. You have easier control over the bike due to the heavier weight.
  3. You can ride more comfortable due to the low tire pressure.

● How to ride a fat bike?

Here are some tips for you to ride a fat bike.

  1. Choose the right size fat bike frame
  2. Test different fat bikes in a local shop or from your friends
  3. Adjust the tire pressure between 8-10 psi based on the trail condition.
  4. Practice turning and biking on snow or beach.
  5. Wear helmets and install bike front and rear lights.
  6. Wear warm gear in the winter.
  7. Bring enough water and energy food for each biking.
  8. Stay alert and sharp at all times.

● Why buy a fat bike?

Fat tires bikes are a more enjoyable cycling than normal bike, here are 3 reasons why buy a fat bike.

  1. You will have more control on the bike.
  2. You can ride on almost any road condition or off road.
  3. It’s more comfortable to ride.

● How to biking on snow?

Biking on snow will be quite fun if you learn the tips here.

  1. Ride with flat pedals, no need for lock pedals
  2. Adjust the tire pressures for snow path ( between 5-8 psi)
  3. Always ride on the seat to keep the weight of bike.
  4. Pedal consistently, no spin and no sprint
  5. Stay hydrate.
  6. Ride in the aeras you know.
  7. Wear the right gear( helmet, gloves, boots, sunglasses)

● Where can I buy cheap fat bike?

There are a few spots you might find cheap fat bike.

  1. Local second-hand bike online sites.
  2. Fat bike forums in your countries.
  3. Amazon, Aliexpress or eBay for worldwide buyer.

● The best fat bike forums

● Do you need front suspension on a fat bike?

The front suspension on a fat bike is not necessary. Here is the truth

  1. If you ride in the winter on snow, you don’t need the front suspension
  2. If you ride in the summber in mountain area, you can ride with front suspension fat bike fork for with higer tire pressure and more efficience.

● Do I need Tubeless fat bike tires?

If you don’t care too much about the speed, you can try to ride on fat tires with inner tube. But if you want to go faster and save your watt, then tubeless fat bike tires are a necessary update for your bike.

● Can you put drop bar on fat bike?

Yes you can install a drop bar on a fat bike. But normally you need to ride on a wider flat mountain bike handlebar on your fat bike. Drop bar is more narrow and you don’t really need to ride with a drop bar.

● What’s the best fat bike tire pump?

There are so many different bike tire pumps, but fat bike tire pumps are special, when you choose a fat bike tire pump, you need to check these points first:

  1. How fast will it pump the tire
  2. Do you need a portable pump ( CO2 or mini bike pump)?
  3. How often will you ride on the fat bike

You can also take a look at this video for fat bike pumps from Power in Motion channel.

● Can I custom fat bike?

Sure you can. You can contact us on chat and our colleague will help you to get your customised painting fat bike frame done in 2 working days.

● Can I ride 27.5er plus wheel set for fat bike?

Yes you can. 27.5er plus wheels are mostly been used a 27.5 inch rim with a 2.8-3.0 inch tire. While fat bike frame allows you to ride with max tire width of 5 inch.

● What’s the fat bike weight?

The most common Aluminum fat bike weight is between 15-18 KG (33-39 pounds)

The carbon fiber fat bike weight is between 12-15 KG ( 26-33 pounds)

*The weight is not include pedals.

● How to choose fat bike size?

To choose the right fat bike size is easy, here is the fat bike frame size chart for you. For further reading, you can check our bike size chart guide here.

men's mountain bike size chart

● What is Fat bike beach cruiser?

Fat bike beach cruiser is a unique kind of fat tire bike with high butterfly handlebar. Mostly it looks like a vintage simplified motorcycle with wide tires to ride on the beach.

● Do I need a dual suspension fat tire bike?

A dual suspension fat tire bike is a fat bike with both front and frame suspension. Normally you don’t need any suspension on the fat bike due to the low and wide tire pressure. But if you ride in the mountain area a lot, you might need front or dual suspension on your fat bike.

● How much pounds can a fat tire bike carry?

A fat bike can hold riders and cargos with weigh up to 350 pounds( 160KG).

● How much less psi can i run my fat tire bike if i go tubeless?

Normally you can ride the fat bike tire with 6-8 psi tire pressure, while you can ride with as low as 4 psi tire pressure if you go tubeless.

● How wide are fat bike tires?

Fat bike always comes with oversized wide tires, typically varies between 3.5 inch to 5 inch. The wider tire you get, more comfortable you will ride on off road conditions.

● How to haul(transport) a fat bike?

Just like haul normal bikes, you can lock the fat bike on your bike tracks. But make sure the tire size fits the track, or you have to remove the wheels.

● How fast is normal for a fat bike?

The normal speed to ride on a fat bike is around 8mph to 10mph (12kmh to 20hmh). It’s obviously slower than mountain bike and road bike.

● Is a fat bike hard to ride?

Fat bike actually is much easier to ride than other bikes. With wider tire and lower tire pressure, you have more control on the bike, especially on off-road trails and turns.

● How many spokes fat bike need?

Normally you can ride with 24-28 spokes on the front fat bike wheel, and 28-32 spokes on the rear fat bike wheel.

The fat bikes industry advances rapidly, investing in new technologies, and begins to give results little by little, both for bicycle enthusiasts and professional cyclists (we can highlight that there have already been fat bikes that have won in the titan desert race). Because of this, more and more people are interested in getting a fat bike, to have fun riding on a completely different and fun bike.

Now over to you,

What’s your experience on your own fat bike?

Do you ride on a carbon fiber fat bike or suspension fat bike?

Or you are a beginner for fat biking?

Either way, let’s us know with your comment below

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Nice guide. I just wonder how to start my fat bike frame from you guys (I just bought an aero disc frame last month from you). I will take a look at your fat bike frame, maybe I could get some discount 🙂

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