Greatest fats bikes: journey wherever and in every single place you want

The most effective fats bikes are cartoon-looking mountain bikes with enormous tractor sort balloon tyres. If you happen to fancy one, here is what that you must know.

Think about a mountain bike coming to life off a cartoonist’s drafting board. Nicely that’s a fats bike. Large balloon tyres ship gobs of grip and a sasquatch-size footprint within the dust. The big air quantity within the tyres additionally makes them surprisingly snug, even with out suspension, and meaning the frames may be less complicated with much less to go flawed. When you’ve tried fats, there’s no going again, or so they are saying.

The final tyre width window on fats bikes is 4in to 5in. Usually and traditionally talking, the rim dimension is often 26in. However there are actually 27.5in rim fats bikes popping out. And, as ever with fats bikes, there are people who’ve gone OTT and made 29in fats bikes. It’s arguably greatest to disregard rim dimension for now. Tyre width is much extra vital with fats bikes.

Something a lot narrower than 4in and also you’re coping with a Plus bike. If you happen to’ve already tried the greatest mountain bike fashions within the conventional scene, a fats bike could tick the containers you’re extra desirous about.

Trek Farley 5

Trek Farley 5

Trek Farley 5

Large title peace of thoughts and help

Wheel dimension: 27.5in | Body sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 14.66kg | Body materials: Alpha Platinum aluminium

Professionals: Carbon fork, good dimension vary, seller community and back-up

Cons: Solely 10-speed Shimano Deore with slim cassette vary

Trek may not be a specialist fats bike model, however with its headquarters in Wisconsin, USA, it’s no stranger to harsh winters and frozen trails. As such the Farley 5 might be the most-sought after employees bike at Trek throughout the low season. It will get a high-quality Alpha Platinum alloy body with OCLV carbon fork and comes inventory with 27.5in wheels and 4.5in tyres (Trek’s personal Bontrager Gnarwhal). Sliding dropouts on the again and enough clearance on the entrance means which you can additionally run 26×4.7in wheels and tyres if you want. Trek provides the Farley 5 with a dropper put up, making it extra enjoyable on difficult trails, and the fork is lengthy sufficient which you can swap it for a suspension fork at a later date with out messing up the geometry.

Surly Wednesday fat bike

Surly Wednesday fats bike

Surly Wednesday

Ignore the title: This bike will make you smile

Wheel dimension: 26in | Body sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL | Weight: N/A | Body materials: 4130 cro-mo

Causes to purchase: Conventional metal body ought to final a lifetime. Nice dimension vary.

Causes to keep away from: Mechanical disc brakes.

Surly has been on the forefront of singlespeed and fats bike design for donkey’s years, and enjoys a loyal buyer base. The Wednesday makes use of a conventional 4130 cro-mo body for final backcountry repairability. It’s bristling with rack mounts and bottle mounts, so you may head off into the again of past with all of the necessities. Adjustable dropouts allow you to run both 3.8in or 4.6in tyres. Hey, you may even go mad and run 29x3in wheels for a extra conventional journey.

Kona Wo 2023

Kona Wo 2023

Kona Wo

Canadian lumberjack

Wheel dimension: 26in | Body sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: N/A | Body materials: 6061 aluminium double-butted

Professionals: Large 4.8in tyres for a full-fat expertise. Wide selection 11-speed drivetrain.

Cons: Tall seat tube.

Kona has by no means shied away from making area of interest bikes, therefore its two-model fats bike line-up. £500 lower than the Woo, the Wo nonetheless will get a double-butted alloy body and alloy fork together with the aptitude to load it up with gear and head out into the wilderness. The Wo has a wonderful wide-range drivetrain – vital for those who’re totally loaded, or using on tender sand or snow – and comes with reliable Shimano brakes. With large 4.8in tyres on 26in rims, it affords the full-fat using expertise, and a great set-up for probably the most difficult of circumstances.

Canyon Dude CF7

Canyon Dude CF7

Canyon Dude CF7

Adjustable carbon magnificence

Wheel dimension: 27.5in | Body sizes: S, M, L | Weight: 13.5kg | Body materials: Carbon

Professionals: Select your individual wheel dimension. Superb worth.

Cons: Solely three body sizes. No dropper put up.

Canyon’s Dude walks the high quality line between fats bike and Plus bike with 3.8in tyres on 27.5in wheels – a full inch narrower than some opponents. Meaning much less floatation on tender surfaces, however a barely extra regular, versatile journey on dust. Nevertheless, sliding dropouts allow you to customise your wheels and tyres – run 26×4.8in or 29x3in in addition to the inventory 27.5×3.8in. Being a Canyon, it’s exceptionally effectively appointed, with a full carbon body and fork in addition to a 12-speed wide-range SRAM drivetrain for a surprisingly eager value. If you happen to’re fat-curious, this may very well be the bike for you.

What are fats bikes for?

“Why?” is the flawed query. Fats bikes are all about “Why not?”

What are fats bikes for, although? That’s a surprisingly troublesome query to reply. Though it’s true that fats bikes have been initially invented for using throughout sand or snow, that isn’t the explanation why fats bikes exist now. The overwhelming majority of fats bikes are ridden on the conventional trails that you just journey any mountain bike on.

You may journey fats bike… wherever. Fats bikes are at the start about grip. Traction tractors. The fats tyres aren’t actually an alternative choice to, or various to, suspension. Don’t go for a fats bike for those who’re searching for a suspension bike expertise. Fats bikes aren’t greatest handled as bump soakers. They’re for hoovering up terrain. ‘Floatation’ is a generally bandied about time period.

Why journey a fats bike?

There’s one easy reply. A solution that trumps all different solutions: since you wish to. You don’t must justify it.

That stated, the marketplace for fats bikes is much from easy or freed from tech. When you go down the rabbit gap of fats bikes you’re shortly into the sophisticated compatibility-strewn world of Q-factors, hub widths, chainlines and super-precise PSI.

WTB Gnarwhal tyre sidewall

4.5in of rubbery love


Initially, it’s nearly not price even excited about tyre tread sample and design. The sheer footprint of fats tyres is what generates the traction. Err on the facet of minimal knobbles although. When you’ve bought a couple of rides below your belt, you can begin to consider what kind of different tyre tread chances are you’ll want to check out.

As for sidewalls and tyre weight, don’t be tempted with the lightest tyres yow will discover. They simply don’t journey very effectively. They wibble round and deflect like mad. Additionally they provide no damping in any way to counter bike bobbing.

Tyre strain is the whole lot

Tyre strain governs how the fats bike will work together with the bottom. It’s a excellent concept to get your self a digital strain gauge. Large quantity tyres run at MUCH decrease strain numbers than regular mountain bike tyres; fats bike tyres run at round 10psi. Up the strain a few psi at a time for using firmer trails. Decrease it for looser or muddier circumstances. An excellent place to begin is 8psi. Suck it and see.

Attempt to bear in mind to verify your tyre strain earlier than each journey as some setups lose air faster than you may assume.

Hubs and backside brackets

The elephant within the room of fats bikes. Hub and backside bracket requirements are everywhere. As a result of you may’t match these outsized tyres into common mountain bike frames and forks, this has resulted in a scarcity of constant method to hub widths and likewise backside brackets (cranks must be set wider aside to suit both facet of the expanded uncommon stays).

It many it’s in all probability greatest to not fear an excessive amount of about it. No matter you go for you’ll be left stranded. There’ll be spares and upgrades for all requirements for fairly some time but.

That stated, if you wish to depart the choice of working a suspension fork in some unspecified time in the future, get a fats bike with 150 x 15mm entrance hub.

The rear hub width that seems to turning into the commonest is 197 x 12mm. In some methods this can be a little bit of disgrace because it results in actually particular huge Q-factor cranks (assume: John Wayne) however that’s the best way it seems to be going.

Some notes about Q-factor. Common mountain bikes have a Q-factor of round 170mm. Trendy fats bikes are coming with Q-factors hovering round 200mm.


It could really feel weird speaking about suspension when coping with fats bikes however, as we stated above, a fats tyre isn’t a substitute for the greatest full suspension mountain bike. Suspension and fats tyres do two very totally different jobs. A suspension fats bike isn’t a pointless factor.

A 4in tyre isn’t an alternate 4in-travel suspension fork.

Fats tyres are about amount-of-rubber in touch with the bottom. Fats tyres use their dimension to deform below strain (from above and beneath) to extend the quantity of tyre adhering to the path. They aren’t there to soak up tough stuff.

Fats tyres usually are not for absorbing bumps (though they do take in small path buzz admittedly). A great deal of folks assume that’s what fats tyres do. It isn’t appropriate.

Consider fats tyres for traction and suspension for management. Suspension has damping. Suspension continues to be the factor for controlling the fast after-effects of enormous exterior forces (bumps, laborious corners, G-outs and many others).

So, as with common hardtail mountain bikes, be happy to go for one with a suspension fork. We’d really strongly suggest it if you need a fats bike to be your solely/most important bike. RockShox and Manitou are the names to look out for right here.

That stated, for those who’re merely fat-curious or need a fats bike to turn into a part of your fleet of obtainable mountain bikes, there’s so much to be stated for saving cash (and weight and servicing) and going for a inflexible fork fats bike.

Body materials

Regardless of what anybody might attempt to inform you, body materials has just one impact on the bike: weight. There’s merely no approach that any inherent journey attribute of the chosen body materials is detectable by 4 inches of rubber.

Go carbon when you have the funds and wish to save weight. Go titanium when you have extra money than sense and just like the look. In any other case simply go for an aluminium or metal body fats bike.


How floaty would you like your fats bike to journey? The precept alternative right here is 4in tyres or bigger-than-4in tyres. Not many riders are effectively served by tyres greater than 4in.

Except you genuinely are primarily using on sand or snow, don’t get immediately sucked into the temptation of the fattest tyres doable. They’ll be insanely sluggish and bouncy and can shortly turn into not-fun. And enjoyable is what that is all about.

4in tyre fats bikes provide the whole fats expertise with hardly any drawbacks or compromise.

Rim width

Rim widths vary from something 50mm as much as loopy beamers of 100+mm huge. You actually do must match your tyre width to your rim width very rigorously. It’s this side that may find yourself being pricey for those who dive in to buying a fats bike too eagerly with out doing all of your analysis. Fats bike wheels aren’t low-cost.

For 4in tyres that you must pair them with rims of between 60-80mm huge. For fats bikes with tyres wider than 4in, rim width is an advanced enterprise the place single millimetres have an pronounced impact. Evidently, for 5in tyres we’d suggest not going over 100mm in rim width.


Not like on common mountain bikes, the place we might at all times suggest tubeless, with fats bikes ‘going tubeless’ is less complicated stated than achieved and the advantages are minimal at greatest. Certain it will possibly save a little bit of weight however not that a lot. And the additional heft of fats rubber is definitely a part of the journey expertise and efficiency. WOOMPH-ing your approach throughout the panorama is a giant a part of the expertise.

So though you may go tubeless, it may be difficult getting tyres to seal and should require outlay on a tubeless tyre inflator.


Resulting from their snow bike heritage – and present wilderness bike wannabe standing – you may generally discover cable actuated disc brakes on fats bikes.

To not beat in regards to the bush, cable disc brakes suck. Their one and solely benefit is that the may be mechanically/agriculturally bodge repaired in the event that they go flawed in the course of the Artic Circle. Are you going to be using within the Arctic Circle? No. Get hydraulic disc brakes.

How a lot to spend on fats bike

You get what you pay for, as with all issues in life. You will see that fats bikes being knocked out for very tempting costs. Very like with area of interest bikes like fixies, singlespeeds and even arguably BMXs, a budget choice may be very tempting. The issue is although, they gained’t journey very properly and so they gained’t final very effectively.

We’d strongly suggest fats bikes nearer the £1,000-£2,000 mark. From a recognisable and respected bike model. And buy it through a correct bike store who will assist you set it up and kind out obscure spares and many others.