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Impressions of Fat Bike

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Impressions of Fat Bike

Old 01-03-16, 07:22 AM
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TiHabanero
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Impressions of Fat Bike

My mountain bike adventure started in 1983 with a Miyata Ridgerunner, and progressed through several phases from commuting to racing, and has just recently turned to Fat Biking. What I have to say about fat bikes has surprised me.

The last ATB owned before the fat bike was a 2012 Giant Anthem X1 29. To date, this bike has been my favorite full sus bike. The rear suspension on it works extremely well for a non-racer such as myself. It tracked incredibly well through the rough stuff, and pedaling was not a bob session as it is with other designs. And the thing could climb, really, really climb well. Of course down hills were blazingly fast, as most full sus bikes allow regardless of design. Loved that bike.

The fat bike idea came to me as my riding style has changed from hauling the mail through the woods to riding railroad tracks and foot paths through some properties nearby. Not much demand on the bike, and full sus not really needed. Fat bike seemed a logical choice, suspension built into the wheels by size and air volume. Speed was not necessary, just the ability to go where I wanted to go.

Fat bikes really excel in deep snow. 2-4 inches of snow any bike can handle, however as it pushes 6" and up the fat bike is a pleasure to use, especially if there is a delicate ice surface underneath as the fat tires do not get caught by the ice as it pushes through it. Better control. Sand, too, the fat bike excels. Once on a normally packed foot trail or mountain specific trail the fat bike has no advantages that were readily apparent. In fact, there was a huge disadvantage in the effort needed to move the thing through the woods. The 29er's I have ridden did much better.

Here is a run down summary of my findings:

Pavement is slow on the fat bike.
Hardpack is slow on the fat bike.
Climbing is better on the 29er, it was easier for me.
Descending on a full sus can't be beat. The fat bike was good at slow descents, not so good at higher speeds, with the exception of tracking at speed into berms, it is a blast on fat bikes. Definitely due to the tire size.
Soft surfaces such as sand and deep snow the fat bike is best.
Busting trail the fat bike has the advantage.
Ice: Nothing has an advantage as I found out. Fat tires slip just as easily as 2.1 tires.

Conclusion: I should have kept the Anthem, as it only needed some upgrades due to wear and tear. Not everyone needs a fat bike, however in snow country it is a good idea to have one at the ready! Now I need to see if the new Cannondale full sus offerings will match my preferences. My wife is going to kill me.
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Old 01-03-16, 08:15 AM
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I've been off my bikes for 4 months straight and I decided to take the fatty on the Jan 1 ride because it was short. 10 miles. Yesterdays coffee ride was 28 rt and The Moose was already set up so I took it again. Even pumped up to 18 psi, it was a workout. I totally got my ass kicked by the roadies and commuters. But mostly it's because I'm out of shape. I did the same run last year and had no problems keeping up. I hope to have a set of street tires and a set of studdeds so I'm set for whatever season. But it won't happen this year.

You didn't say what f/b you have.
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Old 01-03-16, 10:16 AM
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2016 Scott Genius Plus and Scale Plus | BIKE Magazine

Tested: Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper FSR 6Fattie | Bicycling

Salsa Cycles

For riding other than deeper snow and thick soft sand we just had to give the bike world time to mature the Fat Bikes to what we are seeing In the above links..

29 plus and 27.5 plus bikes could be the middle ground between the extremes. In the right conditions, That elusive middle ground, these bikes could be a real viable option to the heavy wheeled fatty or the narrower wheeled purpose built mountain bikes..

For the riding you described,,take a look at this baby :
Sherpa | Rocky Mountain Bicycles

I really Dig the paint work
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Old 01-03-16, 02:04 PM
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So you found out that a rigid bike is a rigid bike... a rigid fat bike is still a rigid bike. And the added weight of the tires and rims (more on that later) will slow you down on the climbs and on pavement.

If you like mountainbiking on a rigid bike, a fatbike will add traction and some cushion. But, again that comes at the price of heavier wheels. There is no hiding this, a lightweight fatbike rim is going to be a good 2-300 grams heavier than a regular rim (except for HEDS, but those are very limited in usability), the lightest fat tire is the Jumbo Jim at about a thousand grams. And that is the superlightweight version that has very weak sidewalls. So if you are running Mulefut and say Maxxis Mammoths (popular summer combo) you have about a pound of extra rotational weight compared to a 29r. Yep. That will slow you down.

In snow, fatbikes win hands down. It isn't about flotation, is rolling resistance. On ice, yes both a 2.1 and a 4.0 will slip from under you. But in my experience, is easier to prevent that 4.o from slipping. Still, for ice get studded tires.

I live in Anchorage (which has been the Marin County for fatbikes) and I've had a fatbike for along time. I still ride a 29r in the summer. The fatbike can be fun in the summer, and if you get off the beaten path it allows you to monster truck over things. Which is fun. But for the way I ride these days the full suspension 29r is more fun.

I don't know that the plus sized tires are the answer to be honest. 2.8 and 3.0 tires and wide rims were available for 26" for a long time but they never took off outside of the gravity world. Why? Again weight. While we all love to say we aren't weightweenies the truth is a 1200 gram tire isn't a lot of fun when you are going uphill. On the other hand, if your accept the penalties a plus sized tire is fun, in a monstertruck plow over things kind of way.
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Old 01-06-16, 02:50 PM
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OP. You're doing it wrong. It's not an either or. It's the right tool for the task. Have at least 4 bikes. 10 is better. I will be working on a second fat bike next year
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Old 01-07-16, 06:40 PM
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My MTB ing Adventure started 10 years after yours in 1993 on a Diamondback Accent

I appreciate and agree with your summary based on my limited yet enthusiatic experiences trying them.

For my old school nature > I like a fully rigid 29er > modern times > along with some of the drop bar MTB hybrids popping up.

Plenty of snow here and if some day I tire of "hitting the gym" in winter and want to peddle 4 out of 4 seasons a fat bike would be on the menu
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Old 01-17-16, 09:13 AM
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Started to love my first fat bike. I can't see myself using it on anything but snowed-on trails but it is fun on that. It is rigid (for now at least) but with 4.8 tires at 2-6 psi and snowed-in trails, it has enough give to be comfy. I climbed 2,400+ feet on it yesterday. For trails, I prefer my lighter carbon full suspension bikes but this really opens up the winter riding and is fun. Those heavy tires/wheels are making me stronger too...a good side benefit.
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