Fat Tire Bikes – Your Questions Answered

When I first started looking to buy a fat tire bike I had a lot of questions that I wanted to be answered. I spent hours trying to find out all I could about fat bikes, visiting various forums and websites to build up my knowledge before making a purchase.

After all my hours of research and riding fat bikes, I think I am now in a much better place to answer some of the questions that I and others have, about fat bikes.

In this guide, I will answer some of the questions I have come across on the web, as well as some of the questions I also had when I first started.

Fat Bike Riding Questions

Are Fat Bikes Harder to Pedal / Ride?

Fat bikes can feel sluggish when compared to other types of bikes. For instance, a mountain bike will always be faster than a fat bike on the trails and a road bike will get ahead of it on smooth surfaces. This is always going to be the case when you compare a fat bike to other bikes in use in their prime environment.

When making the comparison with these bikes out of their prime conditions, you will generally find that a fat bike can keep up with these bikes, or at least not feel quite as sluggish.

We cover this more in our guide “Are Fat Bikes Slow?”, which you should check out if you want more information on how to make your fat bike feel faster.

How Do Fat Tire Bikes Ride?

Whilst fat tire bikes do look quite different to other bikes you can buy mainly due to the extra-large tires they have, they ride in a similar way to other available bikes.

I would liken the experience of fat bike riding as similar to a mountain bike, as you are more likely to use tires with knobs that are compatible with mountain bike tires.

The major difference comes with the actual circumference of the wheel that will be in contact with the road. Tire sizes are typically measured based on the width of the rim, not the tire. By sticking fatter tires on the rims, you have a wider diameter wheel, which means you have a larger circumference. This means that for every wheel rotation, you will travel a little further than with smaller tires.

Some people liken a 26″ fat-tire to being similar to a 27.5″ mtb tire.

Can You Jump Fat Bikes?

When you’re riding along trails and up hills, you will inevitably come across a great opportunity to get some air of a big jump, but can you jump a fat bike?

The answer is yes, you can jump a fat bike. Whilst they are heavier than other bikes, they are still able to get some air when riding. You can even use them to bunny hop when riding on flats. However, you are likely to find it a little bit harder than when you try to do so with a mountain bike or BMX.

I would recommend that if you are regularly looking to take your fat bike on trails with jumps, a fat bike with at least front suspension would be a good choice as this will reduce the impact of absorption through your arms when riding.

Can You Use Fat Bikes in The Summer?

You are most likely to see fat bikes being ridden in the winter months when the weather is icy or slower, but can you use them in the summer?

The answer is yes, you can use your fat bike in the summer. Fat bikes are great for adventures across the sand, where skinny tires will just sink into the ground. This means you can go for a nice ride along the shore with your bike without worrying about sinking.

Fat bikes are very versatile bikes and can be used in pretty much any situation where you would use another type of bike.

Can You Ride Fat Bikes on The Road?

Yes, you can ride your fat bike on the road as long as you stick to the regulations in your area and take appropriate safety measures.

We cover this in more detail in our guide “Can You Ride Fat Bikes On The Road?“.

Fat Bike Buying Questions

What Is the Point of A Fat Bike?

Fat bikes were primarily designed for use on soft surfaces, where other bikes are prone to sinking into the ground, such as snow and sand. They are also very good when ridden on slippy surfaces, such as ice, when combined with a good set of studded fat bike tires.

In our guide “12 Reasons Why Fat Bikes Are So Popular“, we give more details as to why you are seeing more and more fat bikes on the road than ever before.

Are Fat Bike Tires Better?

Deciding whether one bike tire is better than another depends on what sort of surface you will be riding on. The following table is a list of some of the different types of tires available and where they perform best.

Tire TypeFeaturesBest Used For
RoadVery slick with little/no treadTime trials and races on smooth surfaces
CommuterShallow tread, mainly smoothDesigned for use on road, pavements and light gravel paths
GravelMedium depth tread with knobs on the sidesBest used for gravel tracks and offroad conditions when it is dry
MountainDeep treads and large knobs for superior gripOff-road tracks and mud where traction/grip is important
Fat Tires3.8″+ width, often with medium depth tread and medium knobsIdeal for loose surfaces, such as snow, ice and sand. Can be used on gravel and mud as well.
Studded TiresSimilar to mountain bikes or fat tires, with metal spikes in the large knobsPerfect for riding on ice as the studs provide extra grip on the hard surface.
Types of Bike Tires

This list is by no means extensive and doesn’t cover all the uses for each of these tires, just what they are best at.

In reality, you can get pretty much any type of tire in a fat size as well. This can be helpful when wanting to ride on smoother surfaces, knowing you can move to a slick fat tire.

What Is the Best Fat Bike to Buy?

As always, which fat bike you should ride is down to personal preference, both in terms of budget as well as your size and shape.

Rather than recommend a specific bike, you should check out one of the guides below, where you are likely to find a great bike to suit you and your budget.

Is a Fat Tire Bike Worth It?

Fat tire bikes can be more expensive when you compare like for like based on the included components and materials used to make them. So is it worth spending the extra money on a fat bike?

The answer is yes, a fat bike is worth it. Fat bikes are very versatile and can be used in a lot more conditions and on a lot more surfaces than other bikes in the market.

Fat bikes tend to cost more mainly because they are less popular than other bikes, meaning that there are fewer manufactured and therefore fewer economies of scale for the makers.

The design also means that a lot of components and framework is custom made, again, meaning it costs more to make them.

Who Are the Best Fat Bike Company?

Finding fat bikes can be quite hard compared to other bikes you can buy on the market. So who are the best fat bike company?

I am a big fan of the Framed bike company, as they have a range of fat bikes from as little as $800 up to $4,000. They also make fat bikes specifically for women and kids.

There are other brands out there making good quality fat bikes. For bikes at the cheaper end of the scale, Mongoose does great fat bikes with a BMX feel. Trek, one of the biggest bike companies in the world also do some great fat bikes.

Fat Bike Maintenance Questions

How to Stud You Fat Bike Tires

Studding your fat bike tires can be a fairly tricky task, but not beyond the realms of a fairly skilled DIY’er.

You don’t need many parts to do it. All you need is a set of fat bike tires with a deep tread and some studs for adding to your tires. If you have an electric drill this will also speed the process up.

Next, you screw the studs into the tires at regular intervals where the knobs are. This should be fairly evenly spread and they should run along the centre and edge.

And that’s all you need to do. The tricky part is working out where you want to add the studs and make sure you add them in the right places.

Alternatively, you can buy a set of studded fat bike tires, if you prefer to save yourself time.

How Much Tire Pressure in A Fat Bike?

Fat tire bikes are generally ridden at lower pressures than other bikes you can buy. This is great for helping create a wider surface area, helping you to avoid sinking when riding on snow and sand, as well as reducing the chance of getting a puncture when riding over rocks.

Exactly how much tire pressure you should use will depend on the surface you are riding on. A good middle ground is around 5 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure, as this will suit most surfaces.

If you want a more specific guide, check out the table below:

Ride SurfacePressure (PSI)Reason
Snow2-6 psiLower PSI is better for spreading your weight across a larger surface area. The more compact the snow the higher your PSI can go.
Ice5-10 psiThe firmer surface allows for a higher PSI though you should make sure you consider if there is also snow on your route.
Road/Pavement10-20 psiHigh PSIs mean less rolling resistance and therefore less effort when pedalling. The max PSI for your tire is likely to be 20, so you could go that high, but risk a major blowout if the surface isn’t smooth.
Trails6-12 psiThe mix of mud and rocks mean you should keep your PSI low in spring/autumn conditions. For summer riding, you can go a little higher. A low PSI will reduce the risk of punctures.
Wet Sand (Compact)5-8 psiThe lower PSI will spread your weight and avoid you sinking. The compact nature of the sand should allow you to raise your PSI a little.
Dry/Loose Sand4-6 psiRide similar to snow, but does compact down a little. Lower PSI will increase your surface area and reduce the chance of you sinking in the sand.
How much tire pressure in a fat bike by surface-based on someone weighing 175lbs

These pressures should be used more as a guide and not a definitive answer.

Maintaining your tire pressure can be difficult, so making sure you have a good pump with a pressure gauge is a must. We have two guides to help you get the right pump for your fat tire bike, which you can check out below.

Summary

I hope you enjoyed this round-up of some of the common questions asked about fat bikes. Finding the answers to these questions has helped me when it comes to fat bike riding and I hope it helps you too!

For more fat bike guides, please go to the fat bike section of our website.