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Fat tire or fad tire?

Old 12-16-12, 10:37 AM
  #1  
norsky
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Fat tire or fad tire?

There's a lot of buzz about fat tire bikes this year with arrival of Salsa and Surly's latest offerings. I've seen quite a few out and about so I tried one out and I wasn't that impressed. Lots of work for little joy. If one has a legitimate need for an omni-terra bike like these that's great, but the multitudes that are buying these just to ride around town seems like fad behavior and I can't help but wonder how many of these will be for sale next spring with the title "barely ridden."
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Old 12-16-12, 11:26 AM
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I've never liked fat tire bikes. Not going to start now.
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Old 12-16-12, 11:36 AM
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If you haven't ridden one, pray do so at the earliest opportunity. They're a lot of fun.

Their biggest problem is the enormous Q factor, which on a bigfella like myself isn't that huge a deal (I get hip problems from very narrow Q) but some of my svelter friends complain that their hips start to ache on a long fatbike ride.

Still, if you live in a town that gets a lot of snow in the winter, they make a lot of sense. I have one friend who has a Pug built with an Alfine 8-speed he runs with an oil bath, and it sees almost daily use from December through March. I have a Pug frame myself, but I keep dithering on my hub and rim choices for it-- somehow something always seems to need the money more.

I'd be a lot happier if someone came out with a slick tire for it for summertime city use.
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Old 12-16-12, 11:53 AM
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This what you're looking for?
https://surlybikes.com/parts/black_floyd
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Old 12-16-12, 12:11 PM
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Yeah, I guess! Though just eyeballing that tread it looks like I could expect a lot of squirm... maybe it could be shaved down... who knows? I got a bunch of other projects to finish up first....
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Old 12-16-12, 01:48 PM
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limited niche, but so much fun.
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Old 12-16-12, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by norsky View Post
There's a lot of buzz about fat tire bikes this year with arrival of Salsa and Surly's latest offerings. I've seen quite a few out and about so I tried one out and I wasn't that impressed. Lots of work for little joy. If one has a legitimate need for an omni-terra bike like these that's great, but the multitudes that are buying these just to ride around town seems like fad behavior and I can't help but wonder how many of these will be for sale next spring with the title "barely ridden."
There will no doubt be some for sale in the spring
but mine wont be one of them
the thing is just to much fun
I have only ridden mine on the dirtbike trails so far and I dont mean mups or anything like one
Im talking moto x trails/tracks and it was a blast
I realize not everybody has these trails to play on though so that means a lot
I have ridden some on the road to the trails and the nice thing about fatbikes is there is nothing the road can throw at you
that these bikes cant handle curbs, potholes, tree branchs ect,ect

They do require more grunt but that will only make a person stronger and more fit on there other bikes
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Old 12-16-12, 03:26 PM
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I agree with the 'fad' marketing aspect of fat bikes.

Look, fatter tires!

(almost) every shop i stop into north of the 45th parallel wants to sell me a fat tire bike, regardless of what type of bike riding I plan to be doing..... i find that approach a little too homogeneous for such a niche bike platform.
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Old 12-16-12, 04:26 PM
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Even if the bikes don't prove to be cost-effective, more power to them (those who buy fat bikes). If I only had a nickel for every nickel I've wasted on bikes and accessories. As someone who bought eight saddles before finding the right one, I dare not criticize someone for taking a chance on a fat bike.
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Old 12-16-12, 05:02 PM
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I don't think that fat bikes are a "fad". They have their place...and some people enjoy riding them. Nothing wrong with that... For me personally a normal mountain bike frame with 2.1-2.3 tires is enough to ride almost anywhere. For urban winter riding I prefer to use narrower tires, 700x38 are perfect.
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Old 12-16-12, 05:13 PM
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This has FAD written all over it. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing - the bike business has always been fad-driven. It's just not a fad that appeals to me.

Here in Minneapolis the stores have so many gigantic tires on display you can't get in the door. If they sell only half the fat-tire bikes on the floor, they'll be all over town. But I'm not getting the point. I ride through the winter on 35mm studded tires and while there are mushy stretches that are tough, 95% of the time the giant tires would make no difference. Winter is really mostly about riding on wet tar, or hard packed snow and ice.

Maybe lot of people want to haul these bikes out to trails but I'm wondering if this will become a bit of a plague, like snowmobiles, with people riding in places they don't belong. LIke all over the X-C ski trails, ruining them for skiers.
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Old 12-16-12, 05:42 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I don't think that fat bikes are a "fad". They have their place...and some people enjoy riding them.
True, but that's the case with most fads. They appeal to some group of people who extol how great they are and pretty soon lots of other people hop on the band wagon for awhile and the popularity grows well beyond the group that actually has a use for a particular design.

The bike business has had lots of these. During the '70s bike boom the fad was narrow-tired 10-speed (2x5 at that time) road bikes starting with 1 1/4" tires and gradually getting narrower to 7/8". Then the pendulum swung back the other way with the MTB fad starting among riders who actually rode on mountain trails but later including mainly people who never left pavement. More recently there was the move to fixed-gear bikes. All of these (incl. fat-tired bikes) can be useful and fun devices - but they've also all been fads at various times when their popularity has peaked and led to lots of sales to people who never used them for their original intended purpose - and many of whom never used them much at all.
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Old 12-16-12, 06:05 PM
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My mind is open - I'd like to try one of the Mr. Donut bikes after the next big snow. But I'd have to go for a few miles, on city streets - a lap around a parking lot isn't going to do it. And have you priced these things? A mighty expensive toy, if that's all it turns out to be.
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Old 12-16-12, 07:47 PM
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Fat bikes are no more of a fad than mountain bikes, folding bikes, or fixed gear bikes, they're simply a little newer....and more popular than with just a small segment of society or a particular subculture, like when track bikes became a fad with the hipsters who were pretending to be bike messengers.

Where I live fat bikes are ridden by bike mechanics, Fortune 500 executives, some serious MTB freaks, engineers, retired men, several petite women, and more. The one thing they all have in common is that they were all serious cyclists before fat bikes entered the scene, but fat bikes met their needs better than what they were riding before (especially in a winter state like Wisconsin). I bought my fat bike as a winter bike, but I found out that I can actually get to my commute destination on it faster than my hybrid (because fat bikes can be ridden sooo much more aggressively in urban situations), and it quickly became my preferred utility bike (the huge tires provide much firmer footing than a 700cc tire when towing a trailer, and the tires act like shock absorbers when braking).

It sure looks like fat bikes are popular enough to have a few haters, that's for sure. Not everyone gets it...
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Old 12-16-12, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by MadCityCyclist
I can actually get to my commute destination on it faster than my hybrid (because fat bikes can be ridden sooo much more aggressively in urban situations)
Huh?
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Old 12-16-12, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by madcitycyclist
fat bikes met their needs better than what they were riding before
that makes no sense whatsoever if you're talking about urban commuting in and around Madison. I ride several hundred miles further north with four times the snow, and a fat tire bike is really overkill 360 days out of the year.

but more power to QBP in totally creating a niche and owning it. impressive. I think it's great, and hope people that do get them enjoy them and ride them.

I'm still calling 'fad' and maybe that's not a bad thing. i hope a lot of bike stuff is faddy, like BB#@ or whatever it is the designers are cooking up next. or four inch wide bike rims, for that matter.

they are winter trail vehicles, not off trail in the woods in the winter, and they were definitely creating friction between user groups on some of the local ski trails last year.

This year they are going for rider ed and strict tire pressure/limits on riding times/track depths. i sense continued conflicts, snow conditions for XC skiing are so much more fragile compared to dirt. Snow bikes in winter are much worse than horses in summer in how they can tear up a trail.



ride on, however, please don't do it in the diagonal ski tracks.

Last edited by Bekologist; 12-16-12 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 12-16-12, 09:06 PM
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You echo my sentiments. I too live in mpls and ride/commute on a singlespeed with studs. I can't imagine subjecting a $2,500 bike to the corrosion bath that is our street system in winter. In regards to your last point, I have already had to deal with this on the ski trails and it's an issue. Nevertheless, these are fun bikes and definitely serve a purpose. I just think there's a number of cyclists who are buying something they will regret.

Originally Posted by jim hughes View Post
This has FAD written all over it. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing - the bike business has always been fad-driven. It's just not a fad that appeals to me.

Here in Minneapolis the stores have so many gigantic tires on display you can't get in the door. If they sell only half the fat-tire bikes on the floor, they'll be all over town. But I'm not getting the point. I ride through the winter on 35mm studded tires and while there are mushy stretches that are tough, 95% of the time the giant tires would make no difference. Winter is really mostly about riding on wet tar, or hard packed snow and ice.

Maybe lot of people want to haul these bikes out to trails but I'm wondering if this will become a bit of a plague, like snowmobiles, with people riding in places they don't belong. LIke all over the X-C ski trails, ruining them for skiers.
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Old 12-16-12, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by norsky View Post
There's a lot of buzz about fat tire bikes this year with arrival of Salsa and Surly's latest offerings. I've seen quite a few out and about so I tried one out and I wasn't that impressed. Lots of work for little joy. If one has a legitimate need for an omni-terra bike like these that's great, but the multitudes that are buying these just to ride around town seems like fad behavior and I can't help but wonder how many of these will be for sale next spring with the title "barely ridden."
Hey... could be. But my Salsa looks bloody cool, and I'm vain enough to appreciate it!
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Old 12-16-12, 10:24 PM
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My feeling is that anyone who doesn't discern between "fat tire" and "fatbike" is poorly positioned to be issuing assessments of what's a fad and what isn't.
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Old 12-17-12, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
My feeling is that anyone who doesn't discern between "fat tire" and "fatbike" is poorly positioned to be issuing assessments of what's a fad and what isn't.
Bicycles that run 4 inch wide bicycle rims aren't brimming with fad? Are they ironic?

I think they ride like pigs, are worthless in soft snow and are overkill for winter commuting or pleasure riding, but lets' hope people are having fun on them if they've got them even if they were a n+1 novelty purchase or a way to cope with riding in winter.

anything that gets more riders out in winter is a good thing. es jus u don't need a snow bike to do that.

And here is the elephant in the room when it comes to snow bikes and recreational trails in winter ------ snow conditions for XC skiing are so much more fragile compared to dirt. Snow bikes in winter are much worse than horses in summer in how they can tear up a recreational trail.

I don't have any problem riding a bike or skiing in the midst of fast, drunk snowmobile traffic on snowmobile trails, but i think a lot of snow bike riders will be a bit shy to tackle dedicated snowmobile corridors and will look to the state parks and etc for non-motorized winter trails to ride on - and therein lies a core user conflict - snowbikes unequivocally tear up ski trails. There's a lot of money, time and effort thrown at winter trails specifically to groom snow, lay diagonal tracks and skate lanes in order to create good conditions for skiing.

At the local ski trails, the conflicts from last year have led to new restrictions -bicyclists are supposed to not ride on the trails within 24 hours of grooming.... this is a voluntary ban, and the groomers are out many days out of the season- will it be possible for riders to simply turn away from the trailheads 60 percent of the time?

Thinking about the attitudes professed in mountain biking , it is fair to say compliance with trail closures is going to be an issue.

Trail use conflicts with snowbikes on winter recreational trails groomed for other purposes will continue, and grow if they indeed become more than a 'fad'.

Last edited by Bekologist; 12-17-12 at 06:12 AM.
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Old 12-17-12, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by jrhz06 View Post
This what you're looking for?
https://surlybikes.com/parts/black_floyd
Can you get those for a 29er ?
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Old 12-17-12, 06:13 AM
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I'd like to see some hard core snow bikers take up backcountry trail grooming with snowmobiles to create great downhill runs specifically for snow bike use.

naturbahn.
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Old 12-17-12, 07:55 AM
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I think that many of the people commenting are looking at the fat tire bikes from a commuting perspective. I think the bikes are meant more for recreation, like riding mountain bike trails in the winter that might otherwise be impassible with an ordinary mountain bike. For commuting purposes, I agree that the fat tire bikes seem impractical. But, I can see their advantage for something like riding single track MTB trails in January with two feet of snow on the ground. I NEVER encounter that much snow on the street during my commutes. Even in a bad snow storm, we rarely get more than about 8" accumulated before the roads are cleared by the snowplows. Within a matter of hours, the roads are perfectly passable by a mountain bike with 2.1" studded tires (or in the case of my past years of riding and the current situation of many on here, non-studded tires).
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Old 12-17-12, 07:56 AM
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The thing is, if this segment continues to grow, fat biking could overtake skiing in some areas as the major winter sport. So then who has a right to the trails then? Some areas are dealing with this proactively and working out shared use (generally wide trails) or parallel system models; our local mt bike club just cut in a couple miles of trail at a county park so that bikes could be used on a parallel trail system to ski trails. If fatbikes remain more than a fad (which they are, but not a bad one), this is something that many areas will need to deal with. FWIW, I don't own a fat bike but do X-country ski.
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Old 12-17-12, 08:41 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by norsky View Post
Nevertheless, these are fun bikes and definitely serve a purpose. I just think there's a number of cyclists who are buying something they will regret.
I think you're right on, and in fact, I'm kind of counting on the bandwagon-ers tiring of their fatbike for just tooling around town so that I can buy a used one at a lower-than-new price!

Unfortunately, here in MI, I don't see much urban fatbike use, and I think most buyers are hip to the fact that the bikes are brilliant on our sandy trails and amazing coastline, so they're getting used right and all year 'round.

I remember seeing my first fat bike, a Wildfire Designs, probably 7 years ago in the middle of the summer on one of the sandiest trails here in my neck of the woods. I spoke to the owner, who let me spin the bike around the parking lot, and he said he was stoked and delighted with how well the bike handled the sand, and said that he could clean the trail in about the same time he could on his MTB because he was rolling right through the sand without giving up much speed.
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