Is It Harder To Pedal A Fat Tire Bike?

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Fat bikes are fun to ride and look really cool, but with the extra size comes extra weight. When it comes to cycling the general rule is the lighter the bike, the faster you go, so you may be wondering, is it harder to pedal a fat tire bike compared to other bikes?  In this guide, I will discuss why you may think it is harder and also where fat bikes are actually easier to ride.

For those who want the quick answer…

Fat tire bikes are harder to pedal than other bikes when riding on smoother surfaces.  This is due to the extra rolling resistance that the wider, lower pressure tires create, increasing friction and therefore slowing you down.  However, they are much easier to ride on snow and sand, as they ride across the surface rather than cutting through it like bikes with narrower tires do.

Want to learn more?  Then read on…

Is It Harder To Pedal A Fat Tire Bike

Could Extra Wide Wheels Slow You Down?

Whilst wider tires will provide more balance, they will also increase the amount of tire that is in contact with the road. This extra contact increases the rolling resistance of the bike, causing it to take longer to climb hills, and also making it harder to pedal. Without a doubt, the increase in rolling resistance is the most detrimental aspect of wider tires.

As the section of the tire in contact with the road increases, the interface between the tire and the road becomes more important. There are two basic interfaces that are important: traction and contact.

Traction is friction between the road and the tire. The more traction the tire has, the less traction the road has, the greater the traction. The traction is most important when the wheel is on pavement or in the mud. There is also a kinetic part to traction, where the speed of the wheel and the speed of the road are important. Usually, we want the road to be slower than the speed of the wheel, as this will lead to more traction.

Contact is the force between the road and the tire. It is important in order to transfer the load from the wheel to the road. If the load is not transferred, the wheel will sink into the road and the traction will be lost. The contact is the most important for traction when the wheel is in the air.

Fat Bikes Are Great for Winter Riding

If you’re wondering, “Is it worth buying a fat bike?” given the negatives listed above, then you will be please to know that it’s not all bad news.

One of the main issues with mountain and road bikes is that they can’t be ridden in the winter when there is a significant amount of snow. This is where fat bikes really come into their own, with the longer wheelbase allowing the bike to travel through the rough stuff with ease. This is because the bike will have more stability in tightly packed snow and sand.

Aside from that, there isn’t a whole lot of difference in construction from mountain bikes, but the fat bike has extra parts to make it more suitable for winter conditions. You can get a decent starter fat bike for about $500 and should check out our guide to the best fat tire bike under $500 to find one for you.

Have Fun and Lose Weight!

Having a bike that is harder to ride shouldn’t necessarily be considered a negative though. The extra effort that you have to put in when riding is actually great for losing weight.

The extra rolling resistance created by the fatter tires will slow the bike down quicker, which means you have to put more energy into the pedals to make up for that.

This is a great workout if you really think about it.

If you want a bike that is fun to ride and can help you burn more calories for each mile you ride, a fat bike might just be the right bike for you.  This is just one of the reasons why fat bikes are so popular!


The simple truth is that fat bikes are harder to ride than other bikes, particularly across smooth surfaces such as roads and pavements.  The wide tires do have an advantage over narrower tires on snow, sand and loose surfaces.