12 Reasons Why Fat Bikes Are So Popular

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Up until a few years ago, I had never seen a fat bike out “in the wild” and only really saw them in bike shops and magazines. Now it seems that anytime I head out somewhere with some good bike trails, they are everywhere.

So why are fat bikes so popular all of a sudden? In this guide, I going to tell you why I believe they are so popular all of a sudden and why your next bike might just be a fat bike!

Sound interesting? The read on…

12 Reasons Why Fat Bikes Are So Popular

Great for Riding on Snow

As soon as it begins to snow everything seems to stop, but not for those that own fat bikes!  Fat bikes are made for riding on snow, with the extra-wide tires making it much easier to for you ride through the snow.

Other bikes, such as mountain bikes and road bikes, struggle when the landscape starts to look like a winter wonderland.  The main reason for this is that they have narrow tires, which are designed to reduce drag and rolling resistance when riding on a flatter surface.

When cycling, the weight of you and your bike is concentrated into the area which is in contact with the surface you are riding on.  With narrow tires, the pressure is concentrated into a relatively small space, which means when you are riding on snow, the pressure from the wheels make you push into the snow, which then becomes a lot harder to ride through, particularly when it wi thick,

With a fat tire bike, you have a much larger surface area in contact with the snow, meaning that it rides over the snow better.  If the snow is particularly deep, the wider wheels can compact a larger amount of snow than a narrow tire, again making it much easier to ride.

If you live in a part of the world that frequently gets snow, then a fat tire bike is a sure-fire way of getting around in the winter.

Great for Riding on Sand

Sand has similar properties to snow, meaning again that your fat tire bike is very well suited to this surface.

Did you know that the original fat bikes were invented for riding on sand?  They were originally made as beach cruisers, allowing cyclists to ride across the sand with less chance of their wheels sinking into the surface.

If you have ever fancied the idea of riding up and along the coast on your bike but thought it wouldn’t be possible, well get yourself a fat bike and you will soon realise it is!

Superior Grip on Ice

As well as snow and sand, fat tire bikes are also a really good choice in icy conditions.

For me, there is nothing worse than riding my bike when it is icy.  I end up feeling like Bambi on ice, riding really carefully and knowing that if I take a turn too quickly the back wheel is likely to slip out on me.

There are two main reasons this happens:

The first is that you have a very small surface area of your tire in contact with the road, resulting in a lot of pressure being applied to a small area.  This increases the risk of skidding as there is less area that can get traction with the road when you are riding and it means when your wheel does slip, it usually slips a lot.

The second reason is due to the tread on the tires.  Having more knobs on your tires as well as a deeper tread will significantly reduce the amount of sliding, as it increases the number of contact points with the road.

One way to truly make your fat bike a wintertime beast is with a good set of studded fat bike tires.  Check out our guide to the Best Fat Bike Studded Tires to find a great set for your fat bike.

Really Comfortable on Rough Terrain

When riding on rough, off-road terrain, you might find that riding can be a little uncomfortable.  Part of this will be down to how rigid your frame is and also how much suspension you have.

If your bike is rigid, it means that you will feel every lump and bump of the trail.  If you are riding through a forest route with lots of tree roots to ride over, you will feel a lot of them if you have a super rigid bike.

One way to combat this is with a good set of suspension forks and rear suspension, but another way is to reduce how riding the tires are on your bike, by letting out a little bit of pressure to make them slightly bouncier across the surface.

Whilst you can do this with a mountain bike, you can’t let that much air out before the quality of your ride (and your rims) is compromised.

For a fat bike, this is not a problem.  For bikes are designed to be ridden at low pressures.  This means that, even without suspension, they can absorb a large amount of the shock from the ground.  This, as well as the extra-wide nature of the bike, make the ride just that little bit more comfortable.

Fewer Punctures on Rocks

With higher pounds per square inch (psi) in your tires comes a lot of pressure on them.  This is great for reducing the rolling resistance when riding on the road and pavements, but can also be disastrous if you should bump into rocks and sharper stones when out mountain biking.

This is another place where fat bike tires are really useful.  Due to their width, your weight is spread over a larger surface area, meaning that if you do ride over anything that it sharp, or would at least puncture a mountain bike tire, you are less likely to get a puncture as there isn’t as much pressure concentrated into that one area.

The main reason though that a fat bike tire is less likely to puncture is due to the lower pressures you ride at.  The lower pressure allows the bike tires to deform slightly across the surface (hence why it is a more comfortable ride).  This means that rocks and stones are less likely to penetrate through the tire wall and into your inner tube.

Fat tires essentially mean fewer punctures, which in my mind can only be a good thing!

You Can Ride Pretty Much Anywhere

If your fat bike can take on sand, snow and ice with ease, is there anything stopping it from going further afield and riding on other surfaces?

The answer to that is simple, no.  Ok, so your fat bike won’t float across water or fly in the air (unless you take on a particularly large jump of course), but it really is a great tool for getting out and exploring.

You can take your fat bike on roads, pavements, fields, trails, mud, ice snow, sand, and pretty much any other surface you can think of.

You should always make sure you try and remain safe when exploring, so make sure you take some provisions with you and a good trail pump, but otherwise, they are a great all-round machine.

They Are All-Weather

Did I mention that fat bikes a great in the snow and ice?  Well if it isn’t clear yet then hopefully it will be by now!

Fat bikes can be ridden in pretty much any weather you can think of where it is safe to ride (so probably not a storm).  They are great winter machines with very few adjustments and can be ridden just the same as a mountain bike in other weather conditions.

If you want a bike that won’t let you down at the first sign of bad weather, then a fat bike would be a great choice.

Little Maintenance Required

Fat bikes are a pretty simple type of bike that are built to be very durable and strong under great pressure.  The result of this combination is that your fat bike will need far less maintenance than most other bikes.

In my experience, I have always had something go wrong with a bike that will require some significant maintenance, whether it is V-Brake that needs constant tweaking or a frame that bends easily when used off-road.  With a good fat bike, this shouldn’t be an issue and a simple clean and oil should be all the maintenance you need to do.

Easier to Balance on Than Other Bikes

For beginner bike riders, one of the hardest skills to develop is your balance.  Most beginners will wobble a lot when they first ride and this can actually put off a lot of new cyclists.

Fat bikes, due to the width of their tires, are actually a great way to start learning to ride.  This is because the extra width provides a significant amount of balance already.  This means that a new cyclist won’t have to work as hard on staying upright and can concentrate on simply riding.

You Get a Good Workout

If you are someone who rides mainly on flat surfaces, such as roads and pavements, you will find that it is harder to pedal a fat tire bike compared to a road bike or mountain bike.

Whilst this is a bad thing if you are needing a ride to get you from A to B as quickly as possible, for those who want to lose weight when riding, then this can be a great thing.  Riding for 30 minutes on a fat bike will burn more calories than on another type of bike.

The reason for this increased calorie burning is that the rolling resistance from the wider tires on the road will slow the bike down, meaning you have to work harder to get the bike moving.

So if you want a bike for losing weight on, a fat bike would be a great choice.

They Are Fast Downhill

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.  It might seem a bit tongue and cheek, but it is a fact.  Objects that weigh more will roll down a hill faster than lighter objects.


As fat bikes are heavier than other bikes, this means that if you want to go really fast downhill, which most of us do, then a fat bike is a good choice.

You get the added benefit of a comfier ride as well, so you don’t feel every lump and bump as you gather speed!

Great for Bike Packing

If you are a born adventurer and want to explore, fat bikes are great because they can be ridden on any surface and you can add lots of different bags and accessories to carry your gear on multi-day trips.

Some bikes, such as the Salsa Mukluk Microshift Advent X Fat Bike have been designed with multiple anchor points for you to add lots of different bags for heading out on an adventure.

So why limit yourself to a day trip on your gravel bike, when you can head out into the wilderness for a few days on your fat bike!

Summary

So there you are, now you know why fat bikes are so popular.

If you’ve been on the fence about fat bikes and asking yourself “is it worth buying a fat bike?“, hopefully, you now feel better informed and might just join the fat bike gang. If you are convinced but don’t want to break the bank buying one, check out our guide to the best fat tire bike under $500, and find your perfect fat bike.