Fat bikes have boomed, but their sales are growing again. The reason why more and more people want a fat bike is that they are fun. You can’t help but have a huge smile after going out for a ride on a fat bike. If you want a no-fuss bike, you can get out and ride, no matter the conditions, then a fat bike is the bike for you.
In this article, we will write down all the details about the fat bike. All you have to know about all the parts that equip a fat bike. You will know why you should choose a fat bike to avoid more mistakes.
The difference between a fat bike and a mountain bike
How to pick a fat bike
How to pick a fat bike frame
- How to pick fat bike wheels
How to pick a fat bike fork
- How to pick a fat bike groupset
How to pick fat bike components
What is the difference between a fat bike and a mountain bike?
The simple answer is that a fat bike has fatter tires than a standard mountain bike. That simple answer, though, misses out on a whole pile of intricacies. Fat bike tires are generally ruled to be those above 3.8” wide. To accommodate tires of that width, changes must be made to frames and forks. Wheel rims and hubs must be much wider to support tires so wide. This is because wheels need to be stiffer to hold the extra tire weight.
Quick-release axle size is different
Original fat bikes have a standard 135mm rear end with a quick-release axle. As the market expanded, we saw new hub and axle standards emerge. Generally, a rear hub on a fat bike will now be 170mm or 197mm wide.
Rims on a mountain bike have a standard width of 21mm. Fat bikes have seen rim width increase up to 90mm, and you’ll need that extra width if you want to fit some 5” wide tires. The rear ends had to get longer to fit these tires, rims, and wider hubs.
These longer rear ends make fat bikes feel more stable as you ride through uneven terrain or even let fly on a downhill section. The rear end change also led to a change around the bottom bracket area.
The bottom bracket shell had to get wider to allow the stays clearance and keep them stiff. Fat bike bottom brackets have grown from 73mm wide to 100mm wide, and now some are 120mm wide.
Fat bike fork size is different
Forks also needed to go through this process. A standard mountain bike front hub is 100mm wide. Fat bikes jumped to 135mm, and now you’ll find them with 150mm width. These width changes allow a fat bike to feel much stiffer than first looks will let you think. When you ride a fat bike, one of the geometry changes you’ll probably notice is that they are not as slack as a modern trail bike. The reason is that a fat bike is not just about bombing downhill. You’ll maybe have to cross bogs, swamps, snow, or sand on one. A slack bike would be less fun to ride in these environs.
How to pick the fat bike well
- usege scenes
- What size fat bike do you want
There is no getting around it; a fat bike will be heavier than a standard mountain bike. The extra width of the parts will add to the bike's weight. Many fat bikes will be constructed from steel and some from aluminum. Steel will be the heaviest, but it looks great to many people. Aluminum will be lighter but more prone to failure over repeated knocks.
That is why we have constructed our fat bikes from carbon fiber. A carbon fiber fat bike can be much lighter than expected. It will also have a great ride feel, and carbon can last almost indefinitely — a great way to protect the value of your purchase.
Scenes to be used
The same is true with most bike genres; it is worth considering how you’ll ride the bike. There is no reason to buy a full-suspension fat bike if you only want to ride along a beach. If you want to ride along a beach, snow, and the other traditional areas where fat bikes were ridden, look at our Black Knight or Golden Knight models.
The Black Knight and Golden Knight models are 2 examples of classic fat bikes that roll right out the factory door to you. These 2 models will help you get set for bike packing, and the more you ride them, the more you’ll see there are more than capable of taking on all terrains. Look at the upgraded Black Knight model if you want a fat bike with a nod to trail riding. The Black Knight Pro features a Rock Shox Bluto fork, allowing you to get faster on the downhills while still being a great pedaling bike for the uphill sections.
If you want to take the speed even faster, we have a true trail full-suspension fat bike based on our SN04 frameset. Our full-suspension fat bike will allow you to ride downhill faster than you ever imagined you could on a fat bike. Still, it will also allow you to cross terrain that other full-suspension mountain bikes cannot ride across.
Fat Bike Price
As fat bikes do not use mass-produced parts, there will usually be a price increase over regular mountain bike parts. At ICAN, we have worked hard to keep our fat bike-specific parts affordable. Even though our parts are made from high-quality carbon that we supply directly to you, our prices will be comparable to many entry-level steel and aluminum parts from other brands.
We have also used our phenomenal experience with carbon to ensure that you pay for the qualities you need in carbon parts and don’t pay for gimmicks. Our parts all exceed what they do and should also leave you with a wallet that is still pleasantly full.
What size fat bike do you need
Fat bike sizing works pretty similarly to standard mountain bike sizing. Suppose you plan on bikepacking or major excursions and are on the cusp of a size. In that case, I’d recommend going up, unlike normal bikes, where I would recommend going down.
The extra length will give you more room for bags and luggage and will also bring you stability. After a long day in the saddle or on a multi-day trip, having some extra stability is not something to be knocked on. Having a bike that wants to keep you upright can be a godsend.
How to pick a fat bike frame
When people think about building their custom fat bike, they think about weight and how to save it. One of the most obvious choices for most people is to buy an aluminum-fat bike frame. An aluminum frame will seem to be the most affordable way to save weight.
Most people don't realize that our high-end carbon frames cost a similar amount to most companies' mid-range aluminum fat bike frames.
Aluminum is generally believed to have a 5-year fatigue life before it cracks. We will all know someone with an aluminum frame who has lived longer than that, but that is the average length of life you expect. The fatigue life of a carbon fat bike frame is now believed to be infinite.
Hardtail or full-suspension fat bike frame?
You want to pick a frame that suits the majority of your riding. If most of your riding time is spent at trail centers, we recommend a full-suspension fat bike. It will make riding downhill more fun, and you’ll fear no drops on the way down.
You’ll also want to remember that the tires bring you a fair amount of travel and rebound. So you don’t need to look for a 140mm rear travel setup as you may on a trail bike. You’ll also want to take more time to set your bike up correctly, bringing you one of the best fat bike experiences money can buy.
If you want to adventure far and wide or ride beaches, bogs and snow, we’d recommend a hardtail fat bike. The hardtail will allow you to easily keep a nice pedal stroke and help you sail across the worst terrain. You can add a suspension fork if you fancy some trail center action.
Suppose you're planning on buying a frame to replace a frame you already have. You'll need to consider how wide your rear wheels are, as we have already mentioned most fat bikes. Most wheels are 177mm, 190mm, or 197mm wide. All of our frames will fit a 197mm hub to help bring maximum tire clearance to your bike.
Fat bike frame size
As we've mentioned, fat bike fitting might be a bit subjective. Suppose you're riding our full suspension frame. In that case, we recommend checking the standover to avoid unnecessary injuries when ejecting from the bike on a downhill run. The standard advice of if you're on the cusp of a size, take the smaller one and make it bigger is what we'd follow.
If you are riding a hardtail and want a stable frame, go as large as possible. This will bring you stability and comfort for hours on the bike. You'll still want to make sure you have standover clearance, though.
What fat bike Wheels do you need
Most fat bike wheels come with an aluminum rim. Aluminum is one of the bike trade’s favorite ways to make wheel rims. Aluminum rims are easy to and cheap to manufacture. It is harder, though, to engineer all the qualities you want into aluminum rims though.
There is a material that allows you to engineer all the qualities you want into a wheel rim. Carbon fiber allows engineers to build super strong and stiff wheel rims. There is also another advantage of this method. It allows us to build a lightweight rim. Buy carbon fat bike wheels here.
Lighter wheelsets are something that all fat bike owners want, and thanks to our engineering processes and the fact that we sell directly to you, you can get carbon wheelsets at a highly affordable price.
Fat bike rim width
The wider the rim, the wider the tire you can fit. That also depends on whether your frame can clear the tire width. We offer 2 fat bike rim widths. 65mm or 90mm. 90mm is great for tires up to 45.0" wide.
Tires wide on our rims will allow you to float across boggy, snowy, or sandy terrain. These are the tires for winter riding or riding in inhospitable areas. In summer, fit some 65mm rims and try a narrow tire. You'll save some weight and make your fat bike feel like a plus bike.
If you fancy that plus bike feeling for summer, try fat bike hubs on 27.5" + or 29" + rims. You've now got 2 bikes for the price of an extra set of wheels and tires.
Our fat bike rims are tubeless-ready. Going tubeless is a great idea on a fat bike. Replacing a tube and pumping up at a fat bike tire is not fun if you are out on a trail. It can even be more of a workout than the ride you’re on. Going tubeless will also allow you to go with lower tire pressure, which is even more important on a fat bike than on a standard mountain bike.
Fat bike tires and pressures
Fat bike tires now come in a variety of styles. You’ll get full-on knobblies for muddy conditions and smooth-treaded tires for those who fancy riding our fat bikes in more urban environments.
Tire choice can be very subjective, and if you favor a certain brand, feel free to carry that preference onto their fat bike range. The only thing to remember is that the more expensive a tire is, the lighter it should be, and the easier it should be to set up tubeless.
Tire pressure, again, can be subjective. Still, you’ll need to remember that as fat bike tires are so wide, they can easily change the handling of your bike, and the higher the pressure, the more you’ll feel it rebound on you. You’ll generally need to set tire pressures based on weight and riding style.
For riding over soft ground, we recommend starting your tires at 8PSI. For general trail riding, it is around 12-15PSI. For urban riding, you’ll want around 20-25PSI. At the higher end of pressures, you’ll have to be aware that your fat bike might develop a bit of self-esteem. So, experiment with pressures and see how you get on.
Fat bike hub sizing
We’ve already talked about rear hub sizing in the frame section. You must remember that you’ll also need to know what your front wheel hub and style are. You’ll find different thru-axle and quick-release options linked to hub width.
We use the 150x 15mm front wheel through the axle. You’ll need to make sure your current fork fits that, or have a look at our rigid carbon fat bike fork. Rear-axle width: we offer widths and options of thru and quick-release axles. Make sure you pick the correct model for your frame, and if you need help, please get in touch with us.
How to Pick up a Fat Bike Fork
Fat bikes tend to come with a rigid fork or a suspension fork. Rigid forks haven't disappeared from fat bikes in the same way as they have with standard mountain bikes for two main reasons. The first is that with the inherent suspension supplied by the tires, many people don't see the need for a suspension. The second reason is that a suspension fork will add extra weight when you don't need it.
If you like flying downhill, though, try a suspension fork. The fork will help keep your wheel in contact with the ground and give your wrists a break for a bit on the roughest of trails.
As mentioned above, you must ensure your front wheel fits in your fork. Fat bike wheels tend to come with a 135mm or 150mm front hub. The 150mm front hub is becoming the favored option for most manufacturers, allowing an easy change between rigid and suspension forks. We offer 135mm and 150mm carbon forks to suit your needs.
What size travel for your fork?
Fat bike tires are generally believed to bring around 30mm of travel, and it is worth remembering that when you're buying a suspension fork for your fat bike. A 120mm travel fork will bring you 130mm of travel, which will be more than enough for most trails. With the grip given by the tires and the tracking ability of a 120mm fork, you'll find crashing becomes something you have to do rather than spend all your time trying to avoid crashing.
How to pick a fat bike groupset
Generally, picking a groupset will be the same as picking one for your standard mountain bike. If you prefer SRAM, buy SRAM. If you prefer Shimano, buy Shimano. Going with a modern 1x system should still bring you a lot of gear range but should help stop you from getting mud and debris stuck around the bottom bracket.
A rear derailleur with a clutch will greatly help on a fat bike. By its nature, you'll be riding a lot of unforgiving terrain, and any feature that helps keep your chain is well worth the money. SRAM's Type 2 derailleurs will have a clutch, so you'll want to look for a Shadow Plus derailleur in Shimano.
How to pick fat bike components
Components, again, can come down to how you subjectively feel about certain parts. We find carbon parts help further reduce weight and give a great ride feel on fat bikes. If you don’t want a dropper post, a carbon post can help to remove certain vibrations before they get to you and add a little flex into the system for added comfort.
A carbon handlebar will also help keep vibrations from fatiguing your wrists and arms. Combine this with a carbon stem, and you’ll have a very light cockpit with great steering control.
With a bit of careful thought, it is possible to assemble a carbon fat bike that will be light enough to race. Indeed, you’ll find many people using them at endurance events, not just fat bike-specific ones.
If you make your bike light and combine it with huge fat tires, you’ll find a bike that highly rewards you regardless of where you ride it. Is it time to upgrade your fat bike to some carbon fiber parts?