Here I am on the White River State Trail in Wisconsin and as you can see, its packed with snow. There is no way my mountain bike is going to get down this trail. The solution? Get myself a Fat Bike!
I only learned about Fat Bikes a couple years ago when I joined my local bike group. These bikes have very wide, “fat” wheels that can trek through snow, sand and big obstacles. Think winter tires for your car. The only thing is, you cannot just switch out the wheels on your regular framed mountain bike, you need a whole new bike. Hello, wallet.
Recommended Entry Level Fat Bikes
After researching several articles, the main entry level bikes and brands to consider are:
Mongoose Argus or Malus
An entry level brand with good reviews from several sources is the Mongoose Argus or Malus. This has a price range in the mid-high $400’s and there are several different models. I always look for the height range recommended for the rider and this one is a bit unclear since in the heading it states 5′-5’5″ and in the description it states 5-5″-6′. I have a question into customer service but until then riders under 5’5″ will need to look longer for bikes with smaller frames.
Specialized Fat Boy
My friend and avid mountain bike rider, Mark, has a Specialized Fat Boy. He’s been riding for over 30 years and is my go to with any hardcore mountain biking questions. This is just one of a garage full of bikes in his arsenal but he swears by it in the winter. The current price point is $1875 and its in stock in every size.
After looking at several write ups on fat bikes for female riders, the femmecyclist had done a nice job reviewing and providing a nice chart for comparison of various bikes made for women to consider. The Framed Minnesota is the choice for an entry level budget. The price is now $1049.49; $250 more than when the below comparison graph was published in November of 2021. A reasonable jump considering the demand and the supply chain issues as a result of the pandemic.
This bike is in the mid-range price point and has several builds so you can get a smaller frame if you’re shorter (like me at 5’3’). The review for the Farley 5 is on several bike blogs and retails for $1999. The Farley 7 is now in archived and no longer for sale after the Fat Bike review on Bycling.com’s February 7, 2021 article posted. And if you’re wondering if the bike is named after actor comedian Chris Farley, his family sure thought so, and filed a lawsuit in 2018.
So if you’re tempted to go out on a crisp, sunny blue skyed winter day, have no fear and get your butt in gear on a fat bike.
It is definitely going into my budget for next year!
4 thoughts on “Fat Bikes!”
As someone that always struggled to ride bikes with multiple gears, and often settling into 3rd gear on the largest sprocket, which seemed to most resemble the 20″ BMX bike I had as a kid in the 80s, how important is the ability to change gears while trail riding, or even riding in the snow? I have been eyeing some of the single-speed fat-tire BMX bikes from SE and Throne (29″ tires) and they seem like they could do the job, but maybe I would miss out by not having multiple gears?
I wish I knew the answer there! I would really like to test drive a couple because for me, having lots of gears to choose from really makes a difference on how easy or hard the toil is on my joints. I never rode a bmx bike but I bought my son one with the original tires and he loved it. Quite a cool bike and I’m sure strapped with lots of fond memories.
It’s a good question, and really depends upon what type of riding you’re going to be doing predominately. Bikes with 29″ tires, or 29ers, are the standard mountain bike tires now; 29″ tires refer to the diameter of the wheels. The width of the tire is what determines if it’s a fat bike. Fat bikes are fun for beach riding, riding in the snow, and can be used on standard trails too.
Gears are helpful if you’re in a hilly area, for sure! Most fat bikes and mountain bikes now come with one ring on the crank now, with more gears on the back cassette. So, you’ll only need to switch gears with your right hand! I still have a 26.5″ mountain bike with multiple rings on my crank, so I’m looking forward to one of those!
Head into your LBS and they will surely help you out. They’re the best source for this information. Any LBS worth their salt will be happy to sit and chat with you about these questions, especially since they know your area best.