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Advice for the New Kid: Mountain or Fat Bike?

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Advice for the New Kid: Mountain or Fat Bike?

Old 09-03-14, 11:35 PM
  #1  
InkNinja
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Advice for the New Kid: Mountain or Fat Bike?

To make a long story short my car is falling apart, it's not worth fixing and I won't be able to afford a better replacement before the inspection is due, I'm sick of gas prices and car maintenance, I'm kinda worried about the environment, and I live in a urban/suburban neighborhood where I can easily bike to the store/work/friends house etc. So I've made the decision to use a bike as my primary vehicle to get around but I live in Western New York not too far from Buffalo and that means 6 to 7 months of my traveling year will be spent in snow measured by the foot with a healthy dose of black ice added for good measure.

I've done a bit of research into the whole "mountain bike vs. fat bike" thing but the "fat bike's totally destroy mountain bikes!" tone I get from every article has me a little worried about bias and I don't want to sink close to $1,000 into a bike to realize it was all a marketing ploy and I hate it. I hear they're harder to pedal, slow, heavy, and aren't as responsive on turning as mountain bikes. All that aside I have to admit I love the look (I mean, come on they look like a Jeep on two wheels) and I'm big on performance so if the bike proves itself worth the price I won't complain about the cost. After all if the bike stays upright in a foot of snow and keeps me from skidding out on ice I'll be a happy camper.

On the other side though I have a nostalgic attachment to the mountain bike I rode when I was 15 (for a cheap Walmart bike that thing could fly). If fat bikes are as slow as they claim to be summer riding would grate on my nerves. According to REI's "Winter Bicycling: How to Enjoy It" the fat tires aren't necessary so long as the tires are studded but the accounts of fat bike enthusiasts I've read disagree so again I don't know.

So I guess my question is, given my climate, what would be the best all year bike?
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Old 09-04-14, 05:20 AM
  #2  
Isaiahc72
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Originally Posted by InkNinja View Post
To make a long story short my car is falling apart, it's not worth fixing and I won't be able to afford a better replacement before the inspection is due, I'm sick of gas prices and car maintenance, I'm kinda worried about the environment, and I live in a urban/suburban neighborhood where I can easily bike to the store/work/friends house etc. So I've made the decision to use a bike as my primary vehicle to get around but I live in Western New York not too far from Buffalo and that means 6 to 7 months of my traveling year will be spent in snow measured by the foot with a healthy dose of black ice added for good measure.

I've done a bit of research into the whole "mountain bike vs. fat bike" thing but the "fat bike's totally destroy mountain bikes!" tone I get from every article has me a little worried about bias and I don't want to sink close to $1,000 into a bike to realize it was all a marketing ploy and I hate it. I hear they're harder to pedal, slow, heavy, and aren't as responsive on turning as mountain bikes. All that aside I have to admit I love the look (I mean, come on they look like a Jeep on two wheels) and I'm big on performance so if the bike proves itself worth the price I won't complain about the cost. After all if the bike stays upright in a foot of snow and keeps me from skidding out on ice I'll be a happy camper.

On the other side though I have a nostalgic attachment to the mountain bike I rode when I was 15 (for a cheap Walmart bike that thing could fly). If fat bikes are as slow as they claim to be summer riding would grate on my nerves. According to REI's "Winter Bicycling: How to Enjoy It" the fat tires aren't necessary so long as the tires are studded but the accounts of fat bike enthusiasts I've read disagree so again I don't know.

So I guess my question is, given my climate, what would be the best all year bike?
The ONLY time a fat bike will give you any advantage is in snow and ice. In any conditions other than that, you will be way less efficient overall than you would on a mountain bike. However, if you plan on commuting, you could also look into a hybrid. I've commuted on a hybrid for the past year and have loved it a lot.

It also depends on the length of your commute. If your commute is <5 without a lot of hills, then a fat bike will be fine. If it's over 5 miles, it would probably be a better idea to invest in either a mountain bike or a hybrid/cyclocross bike.

Think about when you're feeling sick but still need to get somewhere. Will you feel like pedalling such a large bike around?
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Old 09-04-14, 06:08 AM
  #3  
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Originally Posted by Isaiahc72 View Post
The ONLY time a fat bike will give you any advantage is in snow and ice. In any conditions other than that, you will be way less efficient overall than you would on a mountain bike.
Correct with one addition: "sand."

Fatbikes are a great way to extend your riding season or allow you to bike places you otherwise could not. As a primary bike, though, there are much better choices.
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Old 09-04-14, 07:17 AM
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if you are riding on the road in the winter
then you are better off with medium width
or narrow
studded tires
not giant lunar rover tires

fatbikes have an advantage over normal mountain bikes
on very soft surfaces
but even when there is snow on the road
there is a hard surface underneath
that you can access with narrower tires

if you are exploring the wilderness
and doing rides on snowmobile trails
or the beach
then a fatbike is a good option
but they are not necessary for an everyday bike
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Old 10-17-14, 03:39 PM
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What about on big gravel around railroad tracks? I have a commute that could be done on low pressure tires, but not sure how big I should go. If I go with a fat bike and low pressure the big slag that is all over the railroad tracks might be doable. I tried it on my hybrid and there is no way. I know someone that is very hard core and he does it on the fattest mountain bike tires and he is 20 years younger than me and feels he should go to a fat bike. He also races and knows a lot. Therefore, I am thinking he is correct and am leaning to ride a fat bike for this commute. Does anyone have any thoughts on this tough commute? If I was to ride on the road it would be wicked dangerous and I don't want to do that.
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Old 10-17-14, 04:04 PM
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Prices for replacement fat bike tires will make them rather expensive to operate..
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Old 10-18-14, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by redcon1 View Post
Correct with one addition: "sand."
and mud, or deep gravel, or any surface where tires sink in causing a lot of drag and handling issues.
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Old 10-18-14, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Prices for replacement fat bike tires will make them rather expensive to operate..
At least until Schwalbe gets in the game and offers fat bike tires that last a lifetime.
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Old 10-18-14, 04:13 PM
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I rode a Trek Farley briefly and that thing handles great. It picks up really well considering the 4" tires. I could see myself riding a 10m commute on it year-round, but I probably wouldn't want to ride much farther than that on dry roads.

(You don't mention your commute distances)

This might be a solution for you - On Sale Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fat Bike 2014

A Fat bike - and for an additional $99 you get an extra set of 29"x2" wheels that you can throw on it when the roads are dry!

Seems like a no brainer, and it's less than the $1000 you mentioned, even with the spare wheel set. (less by a nickel )
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Old 10-18-14, 04:33 PM
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Sounds like you have already decided you want a fat bike. Fat bikes are a blast and will roll over a lot of things that will stop other bikes, but I can't imagine riding one as my primary mode of transportation. If I could have only one bike, it would have a rigid frame and fork with clearance to take 28-35mm tires with eyelets for fenders and a rack. My choice for an all-rounder would probably be a steel CX or Touring bike depending on my particular needs.
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Old 10-18-14, 04:58 PM
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I don't know your mechanical skills when it comes to bicycles but I would recommend a good used rigid 26" mountain bike and studded snow tires.
You can get good deals on craigslist this time of year on solid, reliable rigid mountain bikes.
I ride a rigid 1984 Peugeot mountain bike with a coaster brake, W106 tires, fenders and a rack and I commuted in the bitter cold Dakota's for years.
I have $300.00 invested in my ice bike and it works awesome.

Amazon.com : Nokian - Suomi W106 Tire 26 x 1.9" Wire Black : Bike Tires : Sports & Outdoors

Nokian W106 are expensive but will last for years and is a lot cheaper than broken bones.
Fat bikes are nice but I wouldn't choose one for a main commuter.
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