The first time you see a fat bike, you tend to think that it looks like a funny bike designed by a cartoonist -- or a motor bike without a motor. But that's only a first impression. The type of machine first trademarked as a fat bike in 2001 was the product of testing, development and ingenious design. It was shaped by the demands of racing on snow in Alaska.
The fat bike designs of today, with tires up to five inches in cross section, inflated to 8 psi, keep the rider in control -- not only on a snowbank, but also in slush, mud and soft sand. To provide clearance and bring out the best in those beefy, low-pressure, hard-gripping tires, a specially-designed frame and fit kit are required. A 26 inch wheel with a fat tire is the equivalent of a 29 inch in diameter, with all the easy-rolling properties of the bigger wheel.
Do you need a fat bike?
Well, a fat bike can open up new recreational possibilities -- in winter and summer. And if you dream of arctic circle or desert expeditions -- a fat bike is the logical choice. So what's available for fat bike fans in 2021? Let's take a look at some of the top contenders, starting up in affordable territory.
Salsa offers the aluminum framed Mukluk Deore for $1699.
It comes with a carbon fork and 4.6 inch heavy duty tires from Dillinger. The fit kit includes Tektro disks and 11-speed Shimano Deore gearing. This is a good frame for taking pre-existing wheels, because it come with Salsa's patented Alternator drop outs -- which accept every conceivable type of hub -- from single speed to thru-axle.
Kona sells a full alloy fat bike which is well-specced for $2000.
It comes with big fat 4.8 inch Jumbo Jim tires from Schwalbe and a Shimano Deore group set. This is good value for the price, and might be an ideal fat bike for the beginner.
Giant tempts fat bike fans with an alloy-framed model for 2021, priced at $2270.
Frame geometry features a low bottom bracket -- for getting round obstacles which force the rider to put one foot down. It comes with well-named Maxxis Colossus 4.5 inch rubber and a SRAM free hub with 11t-50t sprockets, driven by a 30t crank.
The Canyon Dude sells for $2699.
It's a full carbon fat bike with SRAM SX Eagle gearing and Shimano hydraulic disk brakes. Wheels are DT Swiss, with 27.5 inch rims and 3.8 Maxis Minion tires. It has an Iridium dropper post, and reviews speak of its lively handling and good looks. This is perhaps not a machine for the fat bike beginner. But it would make a very worthy upgrade ambition.
Specialized has a well-specced machine called the Fatboy Comp Carbon with disk brakes which retails for just under $3000.
Running gear is SRAM Eagle 12 speed. The bike comes with 3.8 inch Maxis Minion rubber on 27. 5 rims. This machine is aimed at the competitive fat bike rider.
For riders who want rear suspension, ICAN sells the full carbon SRAM-specced, carbon-rimmed SN04 Rainbow for $3800.
It has carbon seat post and bars, with an alloy stem. Even the saddle is carbon. The whole bike (less pedals) weights in at a creditable 16.4kg for a full-suspension fat bike.
For the pro, Pivot has the full carbon LES Fat 27.5, at an eyeball-popping $4999.
This lightweight comes with 3.8 inch tires, and a top class pro fit kit, with Shimano XT and hydraulic disk brakes. It's a hard tail, like most fat bikes, where the rear tire acts like a shock absorber. This bike takes up to 5 inch tires in all wheel sizes, and has adjustable chain stays. And it comes with a ten-year warranty.
Do you like which fat bike ?