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How useful is a fat bike...really?

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How useful is a fat bike...really?

Old 01-30-16, 11:36 PM
  #1  
Banzai
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How useful is a fat bike...really?

Still mulling a build over in my mind. I test rode one a while back, and it was fun, in a goofy way. But I test rode again the other day and I'm starting to wonder about the utility.

Admittedly, if you are going to go cross-country on snow, then there is some definite utility. And probably for flat, mixed terrain routes.

Some things that struck me from an urban/suburban/trail winter ride:

Steering: I don't think I really noticed how squirrely the steering can be on huge, low pressure tires before. On ice it felt less sure-footed than my 37mm Contact Winters.

Filth: Fat tires kick up fat slush, and fat dirt, and fat road sludge, and any other slop you might ride through. Fender options are appallingly limited, and the drivetrain was just wrecked by all the filth that the front tire kicked up. In winter I run full fenders on my current bike, to protect both me and my drivetrain. That drivetrain is hard enough to keep functioning even with Cascadia fenders on; why would I want to throw buckets of crud into it?

Weight: Of course, everyone knows that this is an issue. I didn't notice it much on the first ride, because of the fun novelty. I sure noticed it this time though.

Components: They're highly specialized, and in many cases, accordingly highly expensive. Especially the tires, which are, of course, consumables.

Some directed perusing of this forum, and MTBR, reveals a lot of people who posted ecstatic write-ups about their fat-bikes, only to have sold them and moved on within the year. I'm starting to think that maybe this fad is just that - a fad - and that as an addition to my stable it's not one I need. The more I think about it, the more downsides there seem to be. I'm starting to believe that in a few years, we'll look back on all this with bemusement, and people will occasionally overcome their embarrassment enough to drag the fatbike out of the back of the garage to ride it, just to re-experience the fad.
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Old 01-31-16, 12:29 AM
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Seems like your re-hashing what you kinda' knew already


-- i dont get as much snow here in Oklahoma though -- but even so, a Cyclocross bike seems to have more utility in case i have to (egads !) jump on a snowy slushy road surface somewhere

I stay off the trails when they're covered anyway though - done it before - but too many roots, rocks and holes to grab ya regardless of your tire size and width
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Old 01-31-16, 05:00 AM
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IMHO- This is a fad that will ultimatley be a very small part of the MTB catagory. At the end of the day, its a limited use bike and most people will never buy one. Lack of Market demand will take care of the rest.
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Old 01-31-16, 10:16 AM
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Very useful for those of us that live in a winter climate. Can't ride the regular mountain bike cuz the single track trails are covered with snow. So we use fat bikes to ride trails that clubs and organizations groom. Gives you the ability to ride year round. Could ride my hybrid bike on the roads, but the salt would eat up the components.

Also have used mine for a gravel racing. Would rather gravel race with a fat bike than use a dedicated gravel bike.

Have used mine in summer also on single track trails. Traction is great and you can roll over a lot of stuff very easily. The only downside I found is no suspension on some of the bumpier trails. But I plan on getting a full suspension rig anyway for summer riding so no big deal.

It's not a fad either. It's growing in popularity and people are seeing the uses for them. More fat bike trails are popping up, more x-country ski / snow shoe areas are opening their trail systems for fat biking, ski hills are starting to let fat bikes ride their hills. Fat bikes aren't disappearing anytime soon.

'Fat bikes' gain traction with cyclists

Rolling Over


How Fat Bikes Became the Hottest Trend in Cycling | Outside Online
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Old 01-31-16, 03:32 PM
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I'm surprised you're finding fat bikes less than useful in the twin cities. I live in Chicago. Here, like the twin cities, winter weather is plentiful, trails are limited and topographical variety is non-existant. A fat bike is actually much more useful than a traditional mountain bike to me and many around here. The grip and unstoppability of a fat bike is also very confidence inspiring in the summer off-road. Perhaps most importantly, a fat bike is simply a ton of fun to ride.

Also, many of the factors you mention are debatable. Prices have plummeted in the past couple of years and the equipment is far better than it was. Equipment options are much more plentiful than they were even last year: it's no longer a pain to find anything. Weight is also less of an issue, finding relatively inexpensive fat bikes in the 25-30 pound range is easy these days. Also, modern fat bikes handle better and are more useful in summer than bikes only a couple of years ago.

One other underreported but hugely important recent development is that fact that the vast majority of fat bike frame are symmetrical these days (as opposed to the old offset designs) and designed to fit 29er or 27.5+ wheels in addition to traditional 26" fat wheels. My bike has a sliding rear dropouts and can handle any wheel standard you can think of. This makes the bike very versatile, all you need is another set of wheels with fat bike hubs.

I'm sure fat bike equipment will only continue to get cheaper and better. This improvement will only make the bikes more useful. This is no fad.

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Old 01-31-16, 04:10 PM
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some may not like them. I love mine. I race almost every weekend from mid-December until mid-March. Sure beats sitting on the trainer in the basement for hours on the weekends. For commuting I ride either the fatbike or my rigid single speed 29+. I could ride my full fendered CX bike, but it is too pretty to get dirty...LOL.
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Old 01-31-16, 04:42 PM
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Fatbikes aren't for everybody, nor do they work for everything. For most commuters a fatbike isn't a good option, for pretty much the reasons the OP mentioned.

Are they a fad? Sort of, there is a boom now. Mostly because they are new (ish) but yes, the fatbike market will slow down once people get them. A good example are fat studded tires. The last two or three years 45nrth sold out of them by January. This year they are still available, because most people who were going to buy them already did (and those things last a lot of miles) Are fatbikes going to fade away? Not very likely. For the industry it has extended the bike season into the winter in a lot of markets. People who otherwise would stop riding (and spend money on other snowsports) are now buying bikes, and accessories to ride in the winter. So it isn't likely you will see it completely fade away.
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Old 01-31-16, 11:43 PM
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The + specifically the 27.5+ seems to be the hotness ATM. One of my riding buddies just a bought a 27.5+ and it does look nice on the marginal days where it is a bit muddy but not muddy enough to stay home.
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Old 02-03-16, 07:33 AM
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Does it have to be useful? How about just fun.


https://youtu.be/G5cN3nNaqlQ
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Old 02-03-16, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Does it have to be useful? How about just fun.


https://youtu.be/G5cN3nNaqlQ
Because fun is not useful. He should probably just get a Big Dummy and get on with his life.
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Old 02-03-16, 08:29 AM
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Well don't use it for a commuter then. They work well in the snow and sand, do you mt bike year round?
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Old 02-03-16, 08:39 AM
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I think terms like "useful" are too vague and overused. In reality, how many of use can say that their bikes are "useful"? The answer would depend on our definition of useful. For me, useful means it serves a purpose, even if it is not a generally accepted one.

I ride bikes for a purpose, to relax, meditate and fitness. The fat bike gives me the option of extending my riding season in the Catskill Mountains of NY. What I have discovered is that this bike is so much more universal than my Giant Anthem X and just changing the tires to skinnier ones gives me a whole new bike.

The fat bike with fat tires has several key advantages over the regular Mtb and the lack of rear suspension has made me a better rider by learning how to chose better lines and ride through obstacles, rather than just have the bike deal with them. I made some modifications to my fat bike like a seat post suspension but overall, it is mostly stock and I am enjoying it for maintaining my physical conditioning during the normal winter off season.

So, with that said, is a fat bike "useful"? My answer is absolutely!

If I were to do it all over again, I would just buy a fat tire bike to ride off road and maybe, just maybe, install skinnier tires in the summer months and ride the same bike all year long. For those lucky enough to have warm winters, this may not be a problem for you, but it is here in the NE of USA.
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Old 02-03-16, 02:18 PM
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OP, got any snow in St. Paul ? Couple of points. Use studded tires for ice, they work well. My Farley 8 weighs less than my 29er full sus. The fun factor is huge. They are not for everyone.
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Old 02-04-16, 10:27 PM
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It's a far more specialized piece of equipment than a lot of the hype indicates.

Doesn't do better than a MTB on most surfaces, can't outperform my cx commuter rig in the snowy streets. But good on backcountry snow and on sand. Very limited.

I'll have to think about this.
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Old 02-04-16, 10:55 PM
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I don't have one but they are super popular where I live. I see them all the time. And the high end fat bike are getting really light. Some of the guys at my local shop were showing some the new stuff. If you want to spend the money you can get a fat bike that weighs about the same as a mid line hard-tale mountain bike. I was behind an older guy on one last month that was keeping a really fast pace. Everyone I know that has one says they love em. I think they're here to stay.
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Old 02-05-16, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
It's a far more specialized piece of equipment than a lot of the hype indicates.

Doesn't do better than a MTB on most surfaces, can't outperform my cx commuter rig in the snowy streets. But good on backcountry snow and on sand. Very limited.

I'll have to think about this.
But they are are fun as ****. Sort of like wearing giant, overkill boots.
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Old 02-05-16, 11:23 AM
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I had one and within a year I traded it for a full rigid SS 29er. I have used that far more than I did the fat bike. It was a fun novelty in fresh snow and the one time I rode it on the beach. For daily use, for me, and for commuting, it wasn't working. Once the initial grin wears off, and you ride it daily, you start to see the limitations of what it can and can't do.
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Old 02-05-16, 08:22 PM
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The interwebz are seeing more posts like this as we advance from year zero of the fatbike phenomenon.

Starting to lean towards selling the pugs frame before I build it. Cut my losses before I'm in too deep.
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Old 02-07-16, 07:04 AM
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The fat bike Is evolving,

https://www.scott-sports.com/us/en/page/genius-plus

Specialized Bicycle Components

Salsa Cycles


My next bike will be that Scott Genius 720 27.5 plus..

I rode a hard tail fattie, and rode the full suspension bucksaw both with true fat wheels. I don't ever have snow.
4.0" wide or more, 4.6" Is way Too much tire unless you got snow IMO.
Handled like a 4x4 truck, lost all my flickablity and hauling that much wheel and tire up hills wore me out...
It felt like I was not riding a bike but Instead I was being taken for a wild ride on a bike,,lots of fun It was,,,,once,,,,, follow me ?

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Old 02-24-16, 01:47 PM
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I mentioned this in another post, but I was going to get a fatbike to ride in the snow and sand but instead I got a Hopey steering damper. It keeps your wheel straight so that you can plow through instead of your tire going all squirrelly on you. After I got that and rode in snow and sand without any problems I dropped the fatbike idea.
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Old 02-24-16, 01:51 PM
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I like riding my rigid mtb with studded tires in the snow. I've thought about a fat bike but my mtb works just fine and it's a heck of a lot more useful than a fatbike as a general all purpose bike.
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Old 02-24-16, 02:12 PM
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Fat bikes are great. Their inherent stability means you can prop more stuff up against them when they sit unused in your garage.
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Old 02-24-16, 02:23 PM
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How does a steering damper provide flotation on soft snow? And how does it help provide traction on soft snow?
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Old 02-24-16, 02:26 PM
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it's simple: it works where other bikes do not work. If you have these conditions where you ride then you need a fat bike. I use it on the beach and on snow. I don't use it on the road, ever.
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Old 02-25-16, 12:44 AM
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Originally Posted by maelochs View Post
fat bikes are great. Their inherent stability means you can prop more stuff up against them when they sit unused in your garage.
Ha!



Yeah, I think I'm going to abandon this idea. My commuter/utility bike will continue to work just fine.
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