If you’ve been researching as much as I have, you will have noticed that fat bikes tend to be more expensive than mountain bikes with similar-looking specifications. If you’re looking at the best fat tire bike under $1000 and comparing it to a mountain bike for a similar price, you might be asking yourself, are fat bikes worth it.
In this short guide, I’m going to tell you why fat bikes are worth it.
For those in a hurry…
Fat bikes are definitely worth it if you are looking for a bike that can be used all year round and on any surface. The wider tires give you more traction on loose surfaces, meaning they are great for gravel and trail riding. They can be ridden on ice, snow and sand making them perfect for any weather. They are also great for beginners are the wider tires provide more stability.
Want to learn more? Then read on…
What Are the Advantages of A Fat Bike?
Can Be Used on Any Terrain
Fat bikes are great for riding on pretty much any type of terrain you can think of.
Whilst they were originally built for use on sand and snow, a fat bike can easily adapt to other surfaces as they have all the same features as any normal bike, just that the tires are a bit wider.
This makes them particularly good for those who want to go bikepacking (also known as bike touring) as you can simply hitch your bags or panniers to the large fat bike frame and ride on roads, trails or sand to get to where you want to go.
Particularly Good for Winter Riding
When riding a mountain bike or road bike in the winter, I often found that I didn’t have much grip and my wheels would slip at the slightest sign of ice. If the snow had fallen particularly thick, it would feel like wading through molasses as the bike would cut into the snow and act more like I was trying to plough through it, rather than ride over it.
This is where fat bikes are particularly awesome. The wider tires give you a wider surface area to ride on, meaning that there are more contact points with the surface you are riding on. This enhances your grip and allows your wheel to find traction easier when in icy conditions. You can also get some studded tires to help you if the weather is particularly icy, as these will cut into the ice and help dive you much more grip.
When it comes to snow, the wider tires help the bikes to ride more on top of the snow, rather than cut through it. Whilst I can’t promise that it is like riding on a normal surface, it is much easier on a fat bike than any other bike you could use.
Less Likely to Get Punctures
Fat bikes tend to have much lower pressure in the tires than mountain bikes and gravel bikes. This means that when you are riding on trails, where there are likely to be sharp rocks or even logs, your tire is less likely to get a puncture.
The reason for this is that the tire won’t remain firm when hitting against these surfaces and will instead deform in shape a little. Because the tire is shaping itself around the objects, it is less likely that it will pierce the tire wall and will therefore result in fewer punctures.
Easy to Maintain
Fat bikes are fairly simple machines compared to other bikes. This makes them much easier to maintain on the whole.
One area in particular where this is apparent is the gears. Fat bikes tend to have fewer gears than other bikes, meaning there is less likely to be maintenance problems with both front and rear derailleurs. I can’t count the number of times I have had gears skipping on me when changing up and down on the front chainrings!
Great for Beginners
The wider tires on a fat bike are not just great for riding on snow and sand, they are also good for giving you extra balance.
If you are a beginner cyclist, this can be a real advantage as one of the hardest things to get right when first starting out is your balance.
If you’re after a beginners bike or just something to boost your confidence if you haven’t ridden for a long time, get yourself a fat bike!
What Are the Disadvantages of A Fat Bike?
Can Feel Harder to Ride on Some Surfaces
One of the main disadvantages of a fat bike is that it can feel a bit sluggish compared to other bikes when riding on smooth surfaces.
When you think about riding on roads, for example, a road bike has very thin tires. The reason for this is to reduce the rolling resistance on the bikes and therefore help you to go faster on the flat surface.
If you are riding your fat bike on pavements or roads, you might feel that the bike is slow compared to other bikes and this is mainly due to the rolling resistance from the wheels.
Fat Bikes Are Heavier than Other Bikes
Due to the large size of fat bikes, including extra-large wheels and wider forks, they are often heavier than other bikes you can buy that are made from similar materials. For instance, Mongoose Bikes fat tire bikes are heavier than their equivalent mountain bikes with comparable specs.
The reason for this is that fat bikes are not just made using more metal, but the components have to be more durable as well as they are bearing more weight than other bikes.
This extra weight will further slow you down when riding and will therefore add to the feeling of the bike being a bit sluggish.
Fat Bikes Are More Expensive
Fat bikes are more expensive than other bikes with similar specifications. The reason for this is twofold, more materials are used to make them and the components are more specialised for these bikes.
With more materials, simply comes extra costs. This is unavoidable for manufacturers and unfortunately means that fat tire bikes are more expensive.
Fat bikes also have more specialised components than other bikes, which generally share different types of components. This is because fat bike components need to be more durable than those used on mountain, gravel and road bikes. As these products are more specialist, they are generally produced in smaller quantities. This makes them more expensive than other bike parts as the manufacturers don’t benefit from the economies of scale that come with bulk manufacturing and buying.
If you’re wondering “how much should I spend on a fat bike?“, you should generally expect to spend between 5-10% more than you would on an equivalent mountain bike.
So, are fat bikes worth it? I would say yes, absolutely. In spite of the extra cost to get one, they are incredibly versatile and can be used all year round.
Ok, you’re not going to be winning any time trials on one any time soon, but you can certainly have a lot of fun trying!