If you are keen on the trails, you will notice the number of bikes with big and fat tires is steadily growing. Welcome to fat bike generation! Riding on Fat Bikes is really fun. They allow you to go into greater lengths and moves that you wouldn’t make with the standard mountain bike. I am going to show you how to choose a fat bike. What to consider when making the final decision.
Planning to buy a Fat Bike? We are here to help you narrow down on what to consider when picking a Fat Bike.
The Fat Bike
Fat Bikes are off-road bicycles with 4.0-inch or wider tires. Originally, they were made for riding and exploring snow and sand terrains. However, today their capability has far-reaching interests even more than the regular mountain bikes. As the interest for fat bike increase, the market has also increased, along with the standards, materials, pricing strategies, and their availability in the market. In fact, almost all bicycle brand offer fat bikes.
Although most all shops allow demos while others go an extra mile to rent fat bikes. So if you are trying to choose one to buy, you will be allowed to have experience biking before you commit your investment.
But what are other things to consider when buying a Fat Bike? Check out the following:
When it comes to floatation of your fat bike there only one question to ask yourself, how floaty will you want your fat bike to ride? Basically, floatation is determined by how wider the bicycle is. Generally, there are two types of tires, the 4.0in tires and the 5.0inch types with a diameter26inches. However, there is another new option of 27.5 by 4.0inch or 27.5 Fat.
All these tires are great for off-road fun and can offer substantial floatation compared to those of a standard mountain bicycle. However, the widest tires will provide extra floatation on sandy and snow terrains. But if you are going to ride on well-groomed tracks at your local center, then you don’t need and extra-inch tire.
The rim width should also be in line with the tire thickness. Rim widths also vary and they range from 65mm to 105mm. If for instance, you have 3.8-inch tires the appropriate rim width will be 65 to 80mm wide while the 4.8 to 5.0-inches can comfortably stick with 80 to 105 mm wider rims. Mismatching will affect the shape and eventually the stability and performance of the bike.
Another important factor to consider before purchasing a Fat Bike is whether you want a rigid, front, or a full suspension bike. Most models of fat bikes in the market today feature rigid suspension. However, there are also dual-suspension fat bikes in the market, though uncommon.
The benefit of suspension is that it improves the control and comfort of your bike when riding in harsh trails. So if you are going to ride your fat bike on rough terrains then suspension of your bike is very important. Nonetheless, it also comes with increased maintenance and weight to the bicycle.
At a glance, the frame’s appearance of a Fat Bike is more or less the same as those of a standard mountain bike but with numerous distinguishable features. However, the most recognizable is the wheel clearance that is triangle-shaped on the rear while the front is modified in order to accommodate the wide wheels and fat tires.
The wider rear triangle and front forks imply that the traditional rim brakes cannot perfectly fit or even efficient enough to stop the large moving wheel. This makes the disc brakes the perfect choice for Fat Bikes.
When it comes to the kind of materials used to manufacture the frames, most of the Fat Bikes in the market feature frames that are made from aluminum or steel. However, carbon fiber frames are also gaining popularity. Very few Fat Bike frames feature titanium frame material.
Each of these materials has its own advantages and disadvantages. For instance, steel frame fat bike is easy to repair and maintain especially on the remote areas with rough terrains but heavy. But if you intend to ride you Fat Bike on regular basis, then consider exploring on lighter frame materials like carbon and aluminum.
Basically, Fat Bikes run on low gears in order to keep the wheels rolling over on a technical and harsh terrain like sand, snow, and mud. Besides, the low gearing enables rides to pedal with ease the large wheels and fat tires in order to attain a comforting and cruise ride.
As such if you are planning to buy a fat bike, make sure you scrutinize the gearing system. With the fat tires, the wider rims and you generally increase the weight of the bike. So to attain a relaxing ride, you should look for low gear as we mentioned above.
And since most Fat Bikes come with a single chain-ring drivetrain, you may want to increase the rear cog while downsizing the front chain-ring. This will possibly make your cruising relatively comfortable and possible. In this case, the SRAM’s new wide-range Eagle drivetrain can offer a better solution more especially at a cheaper GX group set level.
To have a great riding and braking experience on the fat Bike you intend to buy, it is better to choose one with mechanical, cable-actuated disc brakes. For instance, BB7 from Aid can be a great choice set of a braking system since it is serviceable and simple to set up as well as adjust.
Hydraulic disc brakes also have their place in the fat bike. But if you are going to explore the warmer regions or desert biking tour, it is advisable to have a respectable brake system that is in good shape. If you need hydraulic brakes in cold regions, the go for one that uses DOT fluid instead of mineral oil since it has a lower operating temperature while retaining a consistent feel under frosty conditions.
Maintenance and Care
Fat bikes are generally meant for hard riding in tough and rough terrains. Owing to this intended use, they are fitted with components that match the tough riding. For instance, the bearing bottom brackets are sealed and are coupled with strong alloy parts.
Even though all the components are designed to withstand the tough riding conditions, it is advisable to choose a bike that is easy to maintain and care for.
When you are buying a fat bike, you will definitely want to have one that perfectly fits your size as well as your riding position and needs. Since fat bikes come with fat tall tires, the standover height might be at the top especially if you aren’t vertically gifted.
While most carbon framed fat bikes come with 3-4 sizes, many other brands and models offer a wide range of sizes that are suited for a variety of persons below the height 5’4”. For instance, high aluminum framed bikes come in a variety of sizing options and they can be ideal if you want a lightweight Fat Bike compared to ill-fitted carbon models. With regard to your riding needs, riding position and height ensure that the fat bike you choose serves all these needs among others.
Except when you have the advantage of an electric assist pedaling, weight is another key factor to consider and it can make a truly big difference. Why? When riding uphill, biking at low speeds won’t give you the required momentum to propel you up the hill efficiently. Besides, the traction might be at its peak especially on slippery frozen snow surfaces or on softer or snow terrains.
Components like frames and wheels have a great effect on the weight of the bike and eventually its performance. The upside of this is that you can shave a significant amount of weight in these components to where it matters most. By picking the right rim and tire combination, you can reduce the weight of you Fat Bike by a few pounds.
Also, the kind of frames material used can influence the weight of the bike. Choosing lightweight materials like high-quality carbon for the frames, hubs, and rims will see your bike getting lighter. The bottom line is the Fat Bike weight is the total of all its parts and if you choose a heavy frame material and fork you will definitely have a heavy Fat Bike which will give you hard time cycling.
Before you commit your cash on a Fat Bike, it is important to ensure that the bike is worth your investment. In fact, a bike may look great on paper and online, but once you sit on the saddle for a five-minute ride you may curse it all the way to the store.
I am sure there are other things that you can look out for when purchasing a Fat Bike. However, these top 8 factors will help you narrow down to your best Fat Bike that will perfectly fit your needs. With these, you will definitely have a fun ride on!