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To Fat Bike or Not To Fat Bike.

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To Fat Bike or Not To Fat Bike.

Old 12-15-14, 02:06 PM
  #1  
rideaid
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To Fat Bike or Not To Fat Bike.

For those who have a fat bike and also a regular mountain bike, when do you decide to bring out your fat bike, vs regular? Specifically referring to trail riding here, but feel free to chime in for other types of riding too (so long as the decision is between fat bike or other).
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Old 12-15-14, 03:40 PM
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Perhaps not surprisingly I use it most once it snows but I'll ride it all year depending on the days ride. It depends on my mood and if the trail is sandy or flat or has some bushwhacking or big technical features. It also depends on who I ride with, e.g. A fat bike group ride or some of my less experienced buddies that i'll take out riding. It's a really fun trail bike but to be perfectly honest in the absence of snow I almost always chose my FS 29er for most trail riding because it's so fast and light and the ride is plush. I can go a lot faster and longer but it stays home in the winter.

I'll also commute with the fat bike on the snowy days, I choose that over the skinny tire studded cross bike which is best suited for dry, plowed, or icy conditions.
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Old 12-15-14, 05:16 PM
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I made a fat tired cargo bike (20x4.25 rear). It was a fun build, and I enjoy the bike. It also gets a lot of odd looks.

However, I'm not sure if I'd do it again. Personally I don't like the extra wide bottom bracket which I think is hard on my knees. And, I'm not convinced that the stock Mongoose axle can handle the weight that the tires can handle. Of course, the right through axe and cassette setup would fix that problem. The traction of the semi-slick Mongoose tires isn't the best either. And, since I'm on the road most of the time, knobbies would be overkill.

The BB width, however is my biggest complaint, and if I do it again, I'll add a narrow to wide idler sprocket and use a stock bottom bracket.

Anyway, each environment is different. If you are heavy into trails, perhaps one might consider it, but generally not for a road bike.
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Old 12-15-14, 08:23 PM
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I have a Pugsley and a mountain bike with two-inch studded tires. I do prefer the Pugsley because it seems a little more "sure-footed" or something. However, in deep snow I can't go with either; on ice the mountain bike seems a bit better; in the greasy mushy snow I would give the edge to the Pugsley but it still will slip around. Neither bike makes me unstoppable.
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Old 01-05-15, 12:00 AM
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I don't have a fat bike, but I am interested in this question too. I did the first two trail rides of the year on my 29er mountain bike with 2.3 inch tires aired way down. I was able to ride the trail as long as I stayed on the packed down part that the fat bikes made. Only barely able to make the ride on my mountain bike, and I know a fat bike would do better. Space is a problem, I do not have a lot of extra room in the garage for another bike (that would not even fit on the hooks). Does anyone use a fat bike during the summer to trail ride or do they ride them mostly in the winter?
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Old 01-05-15, 01:33 PM
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I have a Fat Bike and a GT Karakoram Hardtail 29er. Both are fairly new bikes acquired only a couple weeks apart, so I don't choose one over the other based on any novelty/newness factor.

We've had little snow here in WI so far, so the trails have mostly been accessible to ride on either bike. The decision for me is split like this:

1 - If I want to take a road ride to the closest trail (about 10 miles each way) then 9 times out of 10 I'll take the 29er
2 - If I plan on loading the car and driving to one of 3 local trails, then 10 times out of 10 I take the Fat Bike.

I mostly load the car and take the Fat Bike, probably 90% of my riding since late October has been car-to-trail.

The Fat Bike is a harder ride in terms of pedaling effort, but it is way more enjoyable. The trails I ride are a good mix of surface, mostly with rocks and roots, mud/dirt/gravel and even now in January - dead leaves. The fattie soaks it all up without fuss and I never get that feeling of 'Oh crap, I'm going too fast here and I'm going to come a cropper...'.

It just bounces its way over/through everything, pretty much.

It's not suited to all conditions, however. It snowed on Saturday night, about 3-4" of fresh fluffy stuff. The wind was blowing so there was some drifting on the trails of 6" depth or more. I struggled through it. I saw two other fat tire tracks that had gone before me, both got around a mile into the 10 mile loop and turned off the trail. I managed the full 10 miles at an average speed of only 5mph. It was a tough ride and I got a good workout. I think I could've ridden it faster on the 29er, but with large patches of ice under the fresh snow, it would've been pretty dangerous. With studs, it would've been an easier/faster ride than with the fat bike.

I'm thinking hard about selling the 29er in the spring, buying a new fat bike and a spare set of 29er wheels and using the fattie for everything. That would include road/trail bikepacking and 3 or 4 organized century rides. I may not do it this way, but it's a possibility. If I could only own one bike I wouldn't need to think twice - Fat Bike.

I think for intermediate riders such as myself, where speed is less an issue than safety/fun, and fitness is an important factor (you burn a lot of calories riding fat bikes) then it's an easy decision.

Last edited by bruised; 01-05-15 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 01-05-15, 02:34 PM
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This has been way informative as my recent experience with my fatbike in the snow is similar to bruiseds. Thinking hard about studded snows for the dual sport but knowing the group ride on saturday, my fear is more motorist oriented than ability to get where I'm going.

As far as the op's question, I'm sorry I can't answer yet because I'm too new to the fatbike and in the learning curve.

If you can only do one bike, go fat. Going narrower in tire size is easier than going wider. Set your wheels up to do a drop and swap.
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Old 01-05-15, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bruised View Post
I never get that feeling of 'Oh crap, I'm going too fast here and I'm going to come a cropper...'
That's at least half the fun.

Originally Posted by intransit1217 View Post
...

If you can only do one bike, go fat. Going narrower in tire size is easier than going wider. Set your wheels up to do a drop and swap.
Not.
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Old 01-05-15, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Bat56 View Post
That's at least half the fun.
.
Hmm. Not any more. Not at my age.
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Old 01-05-15, 09:27 PM
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Can I respond, even though I don't have a fat bike? (yet) - The only reason I would purchase a fat bike, (4 - 5 inch tires) is snow-bound trails, especially with more trails opening up, but with restrictions to fat-bike-only, no skinny tires on the snow trails. Possibly a fat bike, nothing less than 4 inch tires is in my future. I don't ride sand or off-trail on soft ground.

I like lighter, nimble bikes, so for me it's 26 inch (I'm under 5-6) and 2.3 inch tires on the dirt trails. They are a blast too on hard pack snow. Fatbikes are expensive and heavy, or very expensive and light enough, so getting a quality bike with quality tires is not a small investment.
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Old 01-06-15, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by RoadTire View Post
Can I respond, even though I don't have a fat bike? (yet) - The only reason I would purchase a fat bike, (4 - 5 inch tires) is snow-bound trails, especially with more trails opening up, but with restrictions to fat-bike-only, no skinny tires on the snow trails. Possibly a fat bike, nothing less than 4 inch tires is in my future. I don't ride sand or off-trail on soft ground.

I like lighter, nimble bikes, so for me it's 26 inch (I'm under 5-6) and 2.3 inch tires on the dirt trails. They are a blast too on hard pack snow. Fatbikes are expensive and heavy, or very expensive and light enough, so getting a quality bike with quality tires is not a small investment.
That's a fair and measured perspective, but don't be surprised if you buy a fatbike and your perspective changes. Mine did and I know that other folks have gone through a similar 'awakening'. The ONLY reason I bought a fatbike a few weeks ago was so that I could continue to ride when the snow came. But then, guess what? We didn't get any snow! No big deal, I'll take the fattie out and ride the deep-woods, roots and rocks and tons and tons of wet slimy leaves, and at least get a feel for it. And that was it - hooked!

Now I really don't care if it snows or if the trails are dry, wet, muddy or whatever - I'll take the fat bike out in favor of the 29er.....unless there's a lot of road involved.

Now in the interests of fair perspective, I'm not a fast rider. I'm in my 50's and the crazy days are mostly behind me. I like the thrills and spills of a good trail so I'm hardly pedestrian, but I'm not at any kind of competitive pace by any means.

For someone who wants pace on the trails and wants to be able to ride mud, ice and snow conditions on the same bike, then I think you can have your cake and eat it. Salsa make some great bikes. Their Beargrease 2 is light, (relatively) nimble and works well for fast single-track as it does for snow. There are other more affordable varieties too.

I don't want to sound like a cheerleader for fat bikes, in fact I enjoy it that there's only a couple of us out on the trails - but they are the real deal and I'm 100% certain that they are here to stay.

Last edited by bruised; 01-06-15 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 01-06-15, 11:09 AM
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bruised: nailed it. Right down to the age and riding style.
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Old 01-08-15, 02:46 PM
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The fat bike is absolutely my first choice for riding in the rain. Yup - rain ..... not snow. I'm riding with racks and fenders which is indispensible on any wet weather bike but the tires make the difference!! On any other bike I have (10 other choices) my feet will get soaked when I go through puddles. With the fat bike it's like parting the Red Sea! The tire throws the water so far to the sides my feet don't get touched and I end up LOOKING for deep puddles to drive through.

Winter riding is OK but the idea that a fat bike will go where others won't isn't quite accurate. The flotation and lower pressure that come with a larger footprint cause handling issues in any more than an inch of slush or wet snow or mud and make studs useless on anything other than exposed ice. The idea of powering up any even moderate incline is a daydream - there simply isn't enough traction in snow.

But I got this for the beach anyway - and on wet sandy beaches it's both extremely stable and a blast to ride. Rocky beaches have been a problem - wet rocks can be extremely slippery.

Up until last week I was riding the fat bike here in the winter. But when we got that winter storm with heavy snow followed by heavy freezing rains - I brought down the 26er with IceSpiker Pros instead. To date those are the best tires I've ever ridden on in winter. But just a note - those are heavily studded competition tires and not intended for a daily commute on asphalt roads.
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