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inexpensive fat bikes

Old 12-26-20, 01:41 PM
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trace
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inexpensive fat bikes

I see lots of cheap fat bikes on Amazon and Bikesdirect. Are any of these decent? It looks like a lot of them have hi-tensile steel frames and weigh a ton.
Can you get a decent fat bike under $1000?
I'm 5'1". It seems likely only the better fat bikes, the ones made by actual bike manufacturers, would come in different frame sizes.
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Old 12-26-20, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by trace View Post
I see lots of cheap fat bikes on Amazon and Bikesdirect. Are any of these decent? It looks like a lot of them have hi-tensile steel frames and weigh a ton.
Can you get a decent fat bike under $1000?
I'm 5'1". It seems likely only the better fat bikes, the ones made by actual bike manufacturers, would come in different frame sizes.
Looking quickly at fat bikes on Bikesdirect, I’d say: maybe. (I ignored the 27.5+ bikes - those might also be ok, but 3” tires ain’t “fat” in my book.) I’d suggest looking at bikes with an aluminum frame and a steel or aluminum rigid fork. Fat bike tires are inherently a kind of suspension - I run my 26” x 4” tires around 6 psi, as they’re too bouncy at higher pressure - and suspension forks on cheap bikes are typically heavy and bad. I recommend against buying any bike with a high-tensile steel frame; better to buy a higher-quality bike used, and yes, a hi-ten fat bike will be an anchor.

I suggest looking for brand name drivetrain and brake components - my sense is that even the least expensive Shimano parts function pretty well these days, and I’d expect the same for Tektro. (“Pretty well” means, in particular, that they stay in adjustment, and won’t fail quickly or dangerously.)

I think it’s a plus that you’re 5’1”, because for a given bike design I expect a smaller bike with a smaller rider means less stress on the frame, wheels and components. (Big/heavy people on crummy bikes seems particularly risky.)

If you’ll need assembly help, or maintenance, from your local bike shop, maybe talk to them before you buy a bike online. They’re likely to be understanding because they may not have any bikes to sell you right now in any case. And you could - should - offer to pay them for their advice.

Anyway, I can’t imagine it’s a good idea to buy a bike from general online retailers, any more than it was ever a good idea to buy a bike from a big box store. But I’ve never looked at bikes on Amazon; and also have no personal experience with Bikesdirect, except for looking at their offerings occasionally.
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Old 12-26-20, 07:15 PM
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Thanks for your input, scubaman.
I had generally the same thoughts (if it has an aluminum frame and Shimano components, it can't be too terrible. I think...)
I do have a lot of hesitation about buying a no-name (or something like Mongoose) bike from Amazon, but then, I know people who have done it and are happy with the bikes. I'd love to buy a better used bike locally but not sure it's possible (I guess fatbikes aren't popular enough to make it into the used bike market ... never see them used.)

I moved recently and have not been to any of the bike shops in this area, so I plan to contact a few of them and see if anyone carries fatbikes and what they might have to say about them (with specialty bikes, though, I think most shops feel it's only worth their while to carry the highest of the high end, so I don't expect that they'd have anything in the budget price range, even without covid-related shortages taken into account. But still worth talking to them.) I do have 2 other bikes already so I want to form a relationship with the local shops anyway.
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Old 12-26-20, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by scubaman View Post
my sense is that even the least expensive Shimano parts function pretty well these days, and I’d expect the same for Tektro. (“Pretty well” means, in particular, that they stay in adjustment, and won’t fail quickly or dangerously.)
True, I have a cheap bike with Shimano Tourney derailleurs and still going strong after 3000 miles.

Tourneys are good enough for road and gravel use but not that good in very rough terrain. On very bumpy terrain, Tourney RD have a tendency to change a cog so if possible, avoid pedaling / loading the drivetrain over very bumpy sections and soft pedal after the rough section to settle the drivetrain unloaded.
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Old 12-26-20, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by trace View Post
I'd love to buy a better used bike locally but not sure it's possible (I guess fatbikes aren't popular enough to make it into the used bike market ... never see them used.)
I think this depends a lot on where you live! E.g., in Minnesota, they’re everywhere. But yes, they’re somewhat of a niche product, so there are generally fewer of them around. Also, I’m guessing people really like their fat bikes - I sure do - plus I think fat bikes have changed less since they were first introduced than many other categories of bike (and some changes, like Surly’s original offset 135mm rear spacing vs more recent wider and symmetrical rear ends, don’t have a ton of influence on performance for most riders).

You didn’t write anything about how you want to use a fat bike. For snow/sand/mud, I expect people would enjoy riding anything with wide low-pressure tires that fits and stays in adjustment. For single track, in place of a more standard MTB, the details would probably matter more. For my part, I bought a used steel fat bike, and over several years ended up replacing nearly everything on it; although I normally focus on what I weigh much more than what my bike weighs, I ended up reducing my fat bike from 36 to around 30 lbs. But I do ride fat instead of MTB whenever I ride singletrack, not just in winter.
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Old 12-27-20, 01:21 AM
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In S E Asia you can buy new fat bikes for US$250 to $300. I have one, I believe was manufactured in Taiwan, where many bikes sold in the US are made. It has aluminum frame and front suspension. The tires are 26 x 4.0. The rims are 4 inches wide. Many new models have 3 inch rims with 4 inch tires, which is all you need. Mine came with 9 by 3 speed, but many are 7 by 3 speed, which is all you need. Mine is very strong. I will be surprised if the frame ever breaks.

Some bikes made in China are not as good quality. Some have steel frames.

When I was in Australia, I noticed online sellers selling bikes at cheap prices. I did not want to buy one then, so did not investigate much.

I also noticed some people in Australia get a fat bike as a gift, and don't want it. Some sell for about half new price. So you might get lucky wherever you are in the world.
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Old 12-27-20, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by scubaman View Post
You didn’t write anything about how you want to use a fat bike. For snow/sand/mud, I expect people would enjoy riding anything with wide low-pressure tires that fits and stays in adjustment. For single track, in place of a more standard MTB, the details would probably matter more. For my part, I bought a used steel fat bike, and over several years ended up replacing nearly everything on it; although I normally focus on what I weigh much more than what my bike weighs, I ended up reducing my fat bike from 36 to around 30 lbs. But I do ride fat instead of MTB whenever I ride singletrack, not just in winter.

I primarily want to be able to ride on snow and sand but also would use it for general off-road riding. I just moved to a coastal area and I'd love to be able to ride on sand beaches. Plus I commute (on a road/touring bike) on a paved bike path which does not get cleared of snow in the winter, so it would be cool to be able to continue commuting on the path even with a snow cover. I'm not really a mountain biker so not planning anything too technical, I just don't want to have to restrict my riding to hard surfaces.
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Old 12-27-20, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by trace View Post
I primarily want to be able to ride on snow and sand but also would use it for general off-road riding. I just moved to a coastal area and I'd love to be able to ride on sand beaches. Plus I commute (on a road/touring bike) on a paved bike path which does not get cleared of snow in the winter, so it would be cool to be able to continue commuting on the path even with a snow cover. I'm not really a mountain biker so not planning anything too technical, I just don't want to have to restrict my riding to hard surfaces.
FWIW, I found that the hazard of commuting on paved paths is ice more than snow. For that, studded bike tires make the difference for me between riding ~safely and not riding. But studded fat tires are CRAZY expensive; even studded MTB tires (in my case, 26” x 2.1”) are expensive, but less than half the price the last time I looked.

Not trying to discourage the fat bike! Just conveying my experience. The first time I tried a fat bike, I couldn’t stop giggling, and that’s really never changed.
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Old 12-27-20, 08:21 AM
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Well, I've been a year-round bike commuter for years, but I've always ridden on regular roads that get plowed (at least somewhat... often not that well) in the winter. There is still ice at times of course, and a little packed snow. But there isn't deep snow. We just had a snowstorm last week with about a foot of snow and I learned that the bike path does not get cleared at all. People were still walking/snowshoeing on the path so the snow got packed down but it was still snow rather than ice and definitely not anything I could ride on with any kind of non-fat tires. If I decided to use studded tires I'd put them on my touring bike anyway, and not on a fat bike. I've never used studded tires, since I've found the touring bike with 35mm tires and kept around 45psi, can handle the amount of ice that's typically on a regular road in the winter. But of course, it can't handle deep snow on a path that has not been plowed at all.
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Old 12-28-20, 08:30 AM
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Never ridden a fat bike - but if you found a fat bike that you liked, i would not let a steel frame prevent the purchase. At 5'1", the weigh difference between an Al or Steel frame is only 2-3 pounds max = insignificant given the weight of the total package and the conditions you may be riding in with fat tires.
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Old 12-28-20, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Never ridden a fat bike - but if you found a fat bike that you liked, i would not let a steel frame prevent the purchase. At 5'1", the weigh difference between an Al or Steel frame is only 2-3 pounds max = insignificant given the weight of the total package and the conditions you may be riding in with fat tires.
Yeah good point.
I had another thought, at my height I could definitely ride a kids bike with 24" wheels. Seems like there are some good kids fatbikes available for a lot cheaper than their adult counterparts (Specialized makes one, Salsa does too...) Some of these have 3" tires (Salsa Timberjack 24 for example, and the kids "fatbikes" on Bikesdirect.) Which I guess would not normally be considered "fat" for an adult bike but since I am a smaller/lighter than the average adult that might be sufficient for me to use low pressures and ride on sand, snow or loose surfaces.
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Old 12-30-20, 01:10 PM
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True on the bikes that take 24" tires. The tire selection however, is much more limited. I know there is a FB page for surly/salsa sales/trades. There are also local to me MN fat biking FB pages, so I'd suspect you would have similar wherever you live as well. Anymore, seems like the bikes will pop up on these pages, and never show up elsewhere. Fwiw, I have been seeing used fat bikes for sale, maybe one small frame. I know Framed sells a lot of fat bikes for less than $1000, and they are certainly decent, and not tanks. Particularly if you swap out the tubes for tubeless tire setups, quick 2 pound loss right there.
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Old 12-31-20, 09:11 AM
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It looks like Framed has discontinued their lower-priced fat bikes (and kids fat bikes.)

I'm keeping an eye on the local sites where people sell used bikes, there are occasionally fat bikes on there but a small frame is rare. Seems like when you need a small bike at a decent price, especially a certain type of bike, you have to cast a wide net. (When I've sold my own bikes in the past, people have come from a pretty far distance to buy them. )
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Old 01-04-21, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by trace View Post
Can you get a decent fat bike under $1000?
No.
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Old 01-04-21, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by trace View Post
Yeah good point.
I had another thought, at my height I could definitely ride a kids bike with 24" wheels. Seems like there are some good kids fatbikes available for a lot cheaper than their adult counterparts (Specialized makes one, Salsa does too...) Some of these have 3" tires (Salsa Timberjack 24 for example, and the kids "fatbikes" on Bikesdirect.) Which I guess would not normally be considered "fat" for an adult bike but since I am a smaller/lighter than the average adult that might be sufficient for me to use low pressures and ride on sand, snow or loose surfaces.
Be careful with any bike market to kids. Even the big brands spec crap for kids bikes. Not all of them but I would precede with caution I have looked at few big brand kids bikes and you will still find free wheels and tourney parts.
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Old 01-05-21, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by sloppy12 View Post
Be careful with any bike market to kids. Even the big brands spec crap for kids bikes. Not all of them but I would precede with caution I have looked at few big brand kids bikes and you will still find free wheels and tourney parts.
Yeah this is what I am noticing with the kids bikes.
With the current bike shortage and my size requirements I'd be having a hard time finding anything even if price were no object. Maybe the craigslist gods will smile upon me one of these days.
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Old 01-08-21, 09:50 AM
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The question comes down to two considerations, or ways of getting into a new bike.

1. Can I afford to, at this moment, spend 2K on a fat bike?
2. Can I buy a decent fat bike platform for less, and upgrade as finances allow?

If you have disposable income and the entry price is no problem, a bike in the 1.5-2.5K range will always perform better. The frame and component specs are probably at a sweet spot there. However, not everyone has that kind of money to spend all at once and/or you have to consider just how much you will ride a fat bike in comparison to the $ outlay for entry.

Here's a sub $1000 FB that is Al frame, SRAM 1x10, hydro disc and 5" capable. You could buy that, probably ride it for all intended purposes, and upgrade any parts along the way as additional money becomes available. You're in, riding, without breaking the bank. https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...-five-inch.htm

Another avenue is buying used. A lot of people get fat bikes as a novelty, ride them a bit, and sell them on. I bought my Spesh Fatboy (new $1700) for $700 gently used. Over time I've upgraded saddle, pedals, dropper post, wider range cassette, rack/cages, frame bag. I have ridden that thing everywhere; trails, snow, sand, bike packing and mtb. Excellent bike for the price.

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Old 01-08-21, 07:23 PM
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Wow, can't believe you were able to find a used Fatboy for $700. I see people trying to sell used Mongoose bikes for not much less than that.

The Bikesdirect ones look pretty good for the price, but they are all out of stock until next December. They don't provide any frame geometry details on BikesDirect anyway, and since I'm several inches shorter than what they recommend for their smallest size I'd be hesitant to buy one not knowing if it would fit me.
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Old 01-09-21, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by trace View Post
Wow, can't believe you were able to find a used Fatboy for $700. I see people trying to sell used Mongoose bikes for not much less than that.

The Bikesdirect ones look pretty good for the price, but they are all out of stock until next December. They don't provide any frame geometry details on BikesDirect anyway, and since I'm several inches shorter than what they recommend for their smallest size I'd be hesitant to buy one not knowing if it would fit me.
BD has a link to the geometry table. they don't publish a lot of numbers, though.
their geometry is more modern than the fatboy, though. but not like a Mayor or other modern fatbike.

Ultimately you will learn if you ride all year, and in earnest, it isn't a cheap hobby. Cheaper than the suspension bikes, but quite a step up from other rigid bikes. A good rigid fatbike is around $2,500, and that still has an Al frame.
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Old 01-09-21, 03:25 PM
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I just bought my very first fatbike last Sunday - primarily to keep riding through the Wisconsin winters - and I tossed around the idea of purchasing a sub-$1000 bike vs one that might last me 10 or more years without having to do many upgrades over that period of time. I finally decided on a Salsa Mukluk Deore 11 for $1,700, and so far I've been quite pleased with it. Of course, it's not a "top-of-the-line" bike, by any means, but it seems to be a pretty solid entry-level bike for the price. I just wish I would've bought one a long time ago, for I really didn't know what I was missing:

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Old 01-10-21, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by jim_pridx View Post
I just bought my very first fatbike last Sunday - primarily to keep riding through the Wisconsin winters - and I tossed around the idea of purchasing a sub-$1000 bike vs one that might last me 10 or more years without having to do many upgrades over that period of time. I finally decided on a Salsa Mukluk Deore 11 for $1,700, and so far I've been quite pleased with it. Of course, it's not a "top-of-the-line" bike, by any means, but it seems to be a pretty solid entry-level bike for the price. I just wish I would've bought one a long time ago, for I really didn't know what I was missing:


Nice! Yeah I'm starting to think it might be a bad idea to try to aim for a sub-$1000 bike. One of the bike shops nearby sells the Surly Wednesday for $1600 ... it comes in a XS frame size... so I am definitely considering that unless something comes up in the used bike market.
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Old 01-10-21, 12:37 PM
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I bought a set of carbon wheels on DT Swiss hubs, a carbon frame, fork, seat post, and handlebar, with a headset thrown in for good measure, from a company in China called ICAN. For a little under $2,000 including DHL shipping. In October! It has just arrived!

The tires were $250, but I had most of the other stuff in my parts bins. Brooks saddle, 12 speed Eagle GX, Formula brakes. It looks magnificent. I am still waiting for a crankset, since that vendor sent me a crank for a 100 mm BB when I specifically asked for a 120 mm bb crankset. We will see how long it takes to straighten that out. So I am building a full carbon fat bike for around $2600,

But for the OP, at the price point of $1,000 the pickings will be slim. The deal I put together may not exist in their size. Even a 14" frame may be a little large, and most of the China Carbon frames only go down to 16". Before I decided to use a Chinese Carbon frame I investigated a custom steel frame. That would have run me around $1200. So custom steel frame + alloy wheels instead of carbon and the price will come to around $2500 if you don't have a well stocked parts bin.

But they can have a high quality bike that fits (maybe even use 24" fat bike wheels and cheaper tires) and uses good components with maybe a 1X12 low end Shimano or SRAM depending on their ergonomic preference.

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Old 01-10-21, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by trace View Post
One of the bike shops nearby sells the Surly Wednesday for $1600 ... it comes in a XS frame size.
Trace, if by chance you don't grab the Surly Wednesday, would you mind telling me where it's located? I'm looking for an XS fatbike in that same price range for my wife, and we haven't found much out there. Of course, if it's halfway across the country, we'll just keep looking locally. Thanks!
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Old 01-10-21, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jim_pridx View Post
Trace, if by chance you don't grab the Surly Wednesday, would you mind telling me where it's located? I'm looking for an XS fatbike in that same price range for my wife, and we haven't found much out there. Of course, if it's halfway across the country, we'll just keep looking locally. Thanks!
It is in fact halfway across the country from you (Massachusetts)
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Old 01-10-21, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by trace View Post
It is in fact halfway across the country from you (Massachusetts)
Yeah, and my wife just told me that she'd rather not get a fatbike at this time, so I guess it wouldn't have worked out anyway. That Surly is probably a pretty decent bike, though.
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