When people indulge themselves into having a hobby, they always find it interesting to be witnesses of the evolution of trends related to it. But just as it happens to anything in life, trends tend to attract both acceptance and rejection.
Bike riding is no exception. One good example of such a trend is fat tire bikes. When they were first launched on the market, some embraced them, even if out of curiosity, while some looked at them as though they were alien life forms.
As time passed and people understood their utility, fat bikes gained more and more adepts. Still, many remain reluctant to the idea, but those who tried riding fat tire bikes understood what the fuss was all about and became fat bike advocates. Some even sold their old bikes and kept a fat tire bike for an all-purpose mean of transportation.
Are fat tire bikes for you? It depends, so here are 8 reasons you should consider buying a fat tire bike.
1 – It takes you places you’ve never biked before
Fat bikes are extremely appealing to cycling addicts that do not allow anything to confine them to indoor activity. Fat tire bikes provide improved grip and traction on the most troublesome terrain. Regardless if it’s wet stone, muddy paths or snowy hills, these bikes will take you anywhere.
Leaving your bike tied to a tree and going the rest of the way on foot to prevent pedaling your way out of a hole is now history. Thanks to the extra grip the wide tires provide, no surface will be a match for the wheels.
Fat tires are designed to decrease the cumulated pressure of the bike and biker by adding extra contact surface. This is why fat tires will make a good impression even when the ground is covered in snow.
Fat tires are suitable for riding on the mellowest sandy beaches, something regular MTBs cannot provide. Fat tires will not slip on wet ground and will not crack when in contact with icy corners.
2 – You can bike regardless of weather
Some people are really into sports and no weather scares them away from completing their training routine. Fat tire bikes are likely to adjust to any kind of weather. They will not slip on wet stone or asphalt. Neither will they sink in mud or snow, making them the perfect mean of transportation to get from one point to another, especially when public transportation is not running. Also, since they weigh more than a regular MTB, fat tire bikes are very likely to resist strong winds, without endangering the rider.
3 – Increased comfort during the ride
Fat tires don’t need to be inflated very much, as they provide high comfort standards at lower tire pressure. The pressure fat tires can support can go as low as 15 or 10 psi, maybe even lower.
Also, fat tire bikes are rigid and are not equipped with any kind of suspension system. They don’t really need any suspension as it is “integrated” into the tires. That’s right, fat tires become squishier at lower pressure values and the elasticity of the rubber helps absorb shocks, increasing comfort.
4 – Little maintenance required
Considering fat tire bikes are rigid, the manufacturers didn’t put a lot of work into the frame of the bike. This means that there are not many parts that can get damaged and need to be replaced.
Even if it may seem somewhat pricey, when purchasing a fat bike, you don’t need to worry about constant maintenance. Look at it as an investment.
5 – You’re in for a real challenge
Just because fat bikes are ideal to ride on snow or soft surface does not mean that riding them is a flinch. Many fat tire bikes have only one speed and you need plenty of muscle power to move forward.
Furthermore, since the fat tires increase the overall weight of the bike, they also move slower and are more difficult to handle. That being said, rest assured that you will get the exercise you were looking for both your lower and upper body.
6 – Better balance for beginners
Since the contact surface is wider, fat tires also translate into better balance. That is why fat tire bikes are perfect for those learning how to ride a bike.
With some practice, even the most inexperienced rider can get the hang of it in no time. And since they won’t go very fast, unless the rider has some serious muscle power, beginners are less likely to get injured.
7 – A new way of having fun
The unique look and features of fat bikes simply make riding them fun. Getting a fat bike is simply a way to ride local trails, while getting a different perspective.
Also the efficient semi-suspension the tires provide helps riders to explore more of the local area that might be rideable only with a bike equipped with wider rubber.
On the other hand, fat bikes are a good excuse to socialize. Some experienced bike owners need something to slow them down in order for their friends and dear ones to keep up with them.
The comical proportions of fat tire bikes will make riders stand out. But riding such a bike is the only way to understand why everybody is talking about it. Riding a fat tire bike is not about speed, it’s about enjoying the outdoor at a slower and comfortable pace.
8 – You can take part in unique competitions
Since fat tire bikes are slower than MTBs or race bikes, some would assume they can’t participate in bike competitions. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong. Since fat tire bikes are becoming increasingly popular, many sports association saw this as an opportunity to create events meant for people owning fat tire bikes.
While this might seem a bit exclusivist, it is also a good chance for fat bike owners to show off with their biking skills and have lots of fun at the same time. And if you don’t own one, who says you can’t borrow or rent it just for the competition? Such events are a good excuse for sports addicts to buy a fat bike, but don’t have snow or sand nearby.
Comparing products: MTBs, cruisers and Fat tire bikes
Casual bikers often don’t know what to choose when it comes to buying a recreational ride. Should they go for a fat tire bike, cruiser or a sports bike? In terms of durability, it seems that both beach cruisers and fat tire bikes are basically indestructible. Cruiser bikes also come equipped with wide tires.
Still, even if their tires are rather wide, cruiser bike riders are often limited to boardwalks and streets, as the tires are not wide enough to float on sand. A fat bike allows users to travel across sand covered surfaces, without having any trouble. While fat tire bikes seem out of this world, cruisers have been designed to be stylish while having an expressive vintage look.
Both fat tire bikes and cruisers are often one-speed bikes meaning they don’t require complicated maintenance. Still, being very heavy also makes them slow and maneuvering them is highly soliciting. But that is not very important to casual riders; as such bikes are only ridden for pure enjoyment.
Handling fat bikes seems to be smooth as well, but maybe not as easy as handling a sport bike is. Sport bikes are equipped with a shorter wheelbase and are built of lighter materials. Because they come with smaller wheelbase, the turning radius is smaller.
And the less it weighs, the better the control is while leaning or counter-steering. Sport bikes are suitable to those with little upper body strength, meaning that a fat bike will provide a better workout in this sense.
Where the weather is concerned, sport bikes are likely to slip on wet terrain. That isn’t the case with fat bikes and cruisers as both the width of the tire and the weigh contribute to increasing control on wet surfaces, but their construction makes them slower and the turns need to be wider.
While cruisers tend to occupy more space, the only thing big about fat bikes are the tires. Just like when riding a sport bike, fat bike riders have to sit in a forward leaning position. When riding a cruiser, the sitting position is upright or slightly leaned on the back. This difference should make us think that fat bikes are genuinely faster than cruiser bikes because the sitting position would make one more aerodynamic than the other.
In terms of safety, it wouldn’t be too far off to assume that fat bike riders have little chances of getting injured in traffic accidents. This is typically attributed to the riding style, as fat bikes are not capable of being a fast mean of transportation. Since riding fat bikes implies inferior speed, crashes that don’t involve another vehicle are less likely to happen.
I asked people owning a fat tire bike and I wasn’t surprised to hear that some considered it to be the best ride they ever had, especially when the tires were inflated at lower pressure values.
Some believe that since two-wheeled motorized vehicles imply lots of maintenance fat tire bikes are the future. However, even if their features are basic, it seems that not all fat bikes are not exactly affordable. Still, the basic versions are available at decent prices.
Some bike owners converted to fat tire bikes completely. Those people used to own full-suspension bikes and sold them in order to purchase a fat bike. Why you may ask? The reason could be to keep up with friends or dear ones.
Others mention they relived their childhood, when riding a bike was just for fun. Most fat tire bike owners admitted they enjoyed their ride because it made traveling on gravel paths possible and more fun.
Still, others mentioned that they were not ready to give up their full-suspension MTBs just yet, as they noticed it is a better choice when facing a more technical trail.
Also, riding a heavy bike is tiring if the trail you chose involves a lot of climbing and accelerating frequently. But still, riding a fat tire bike is an experience like no other. And above all, it’s fun.
Fat bike tires are enjoyable means of transportation. They provide a good grip on uneven terrain and allow sport lovers to get a good workout even when the ground is covered with snow. Since they are not widely spread in some areas, riding a fat bike is bound to make an impression on friends and family members.
The unique traits of fat tire bike earned the right to at least be tried on by sport addicts, if not purchased from the store. Since they don’t require very much care, fat tire bikes make an ideal choice for the average biker that needs a bike for basic transportation needs.
Fat tire bikes are rather safer than bikes, providing more contact surface. Since they are heavier, they won’t be blown away by wind and they won’t slip on moisty or soft surfaces. But should regular bike owners give up a daily bike for a fat bike? No, they don’t have to. They don’t even have to purchase one to understand what it is all about.
But they should at least try it. If they don’t like it, it’s another crossed out experience in the “must do” notebook. Sometimes riders need to forget about weight, speed, rolling resistance or time for that matter. Riding a fat bike is not about improving performance. It’s about indulging yourself to a simple pleasure.