Sunday, September 18, 2016

How To Choose Your First Fat Bike: Or Something Else!

Depending upon your situation, a "plus bike" might prove better than a fat bike.
When considering fat bikes, it might be wise to figure out if something else would be better. Fat bikes, while capable of things that many other type bikes are not, just might be overkill. In some other cases, if your riding never calls out for the capabilities of a fat bike at all, you probably shouldn't even be buying one.

The Case For The "Plus Bike": 

The introduction of tires in the "plus category"- those tires measuring 2.8- 3.0"- has really upended the apple cart, in terms of what might work for those who might have gone with a fat bike. These "mid-fat" platforms in 26". 27.5", and 29" sizes might have enough of the traits of a fat bike without the weight and nimbleness penalties that you may want to get a plus bike instead.

Plus bikes exhibit a modicum of float, have a bit of the stability of fat bikes, yet they tend to keep some of the playful, nimble characteristics of their "regular" tire sized mountain biking siblings. Let's say that you commute in Winter in an area that gets "some" Winter, but isn't socked in with snow all the time. Or let's say that you might be doing a lot of off roading in looser terrain, but a fat bike seems too ponderous. Perhaps you are one of many folks that are sensitive to how far apart your pedals are and fat bikes just hurt you. Then a "plus" bike might actually be a better choice.

Maybe a "regular mtb" will get you where you want to go.
The Case For The "Regular Mountain Bike":

Then there might be a lot of great reasons not to buy a fat bike at all. many times a 29"er or a good 27.5"er hard tail will do 90% of what you want and have other good applications that a fat bike doesn't have. They can be really light in comparison to a fat bike at many price points. Wheels can be far lighter and this may be a great reason to stick with a regular mtb. The aforementioned "Q" factor issues that fat bikes have are non-issues with regular mtb's, plus a mtb can usually adapt to road and gravel uses better than a fat bike can.

Prices for tires? That is a huge advantage with regular mtb's and choices are far greater in that realm as well. Fenders, racks, and other accessory items are often easier to get and fit to regular mtb's also. When it comes to suspension, regular mtb's have fat bikes beat hands down. That isn't even a question.

Now of course, you could get a fat bike anyway, and add it to your quiver of bikes, but for the person for whom a fat bike is maybe an iffy proposition, these alternatives might prove to be better choices in the end.


teamdarb said...

You just made it harder to decide. I've ridden the carbon Beargrease, obviously not going to fit my needs, and the MukLuk. Both of which needed darn near 0-2 psi to be comfortable to ride thanks to my lightweight 132lb body of Anacostia River water. I was granted a chance ride of the Dragonslayer, too. Those bars were too wide and suspension scares me. I like the bottom bracket heights of the 80s to roll over things emotionlessly. Plus bikes are interesting. I have started looking at the Pug you mentioned in the last posting.

FarleyBob said...

Many good points to ponder...but a fatbike is just so damn fun!!!

Unknown said...

I've decided after buying and riding a couple months on a Trek Farley (9), I only need two bikes. Cross bike and fat bike. I'm not racing, and they are both comfortable and fun all over the place. I still have road and mountain bikes, but they won't be getting ridden at all now. LOL