What's it like to ride a fat bike?

The duke

Active Member
Can someone school me on what the ownership experience is like for a fat bike?

I don't want to hear about you '7 months of snow' people or those of you trekking across the Sahara desert. I want to know about how it keeps up during weekend trail riding with buddies. How is it as a commuter on the streets? How is handles when doubling as a road bike?

Is it so much extra effort on the road that your feet feel like lead and long up hills break your spirit?

Is it so unwieldy on technical downhills that you have to get off and walk down what you would otherwise fly thru?

I'm getting older and like the idea of smoothing out all the bumps on the road and on the trail, but is that over-hyped? How do the pros and cons weigh out in your mind?
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
My opinion is likely to be unpopular, but I'm no longer a fan of fat bikes. Now each opinion will depend on the bike of course. My first eBike, that I bought off Craigslist, was a Sondors Indiegogo fat bike. I thought anyone could get $500 worth of fun from any bike! Single speed, 4.9" wide fat tires, mechanical brakes, and 36v system with a small battery. I rode it for 1,700 miles, but mostly on pavement and crushed rock rail trail. It's heavy, responds slowly to steering, and sounds like a military truck on pavement. I would not attempt to put it on a single trail, it's not even in any sort of the same league as a road bike, and I can't imagine how many sets of brakes you would put on it as a commuter. It was fun, UNTIL I bought a full suspension Haibike with over sized tires. I can take it to 28mph, climbs like a mountain goat, and with tuned suspension and correct tire pressures it can ride like a dream over rough urban riding.
 
Hi Duke! I've been a fatbike convert since buying my Specialized Fatboy. Here in NJ, my riding is mainly water-level stuff consisting of canal towpaths on either side of the Delaware River working to the north; or to the south, the deep sugar sand roads of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. No mountain side single track with deep drop-offs to your left or right while you are passing a herd of mountain goats here! :)

What I do have here outside of home, are roadways not maintained by state and local governments; frost heaved, pot-holed, crumbling pieces of asphalt here and there. I had no hesitation of taking my 4.6 inch wide tired Fatboy on my local 20 mile fitness runs to stay in some kind of cardiac fitness standard. When the days grew longer, so did my mileage runs, anywhere from 35 to 75 miles on that Fatboy. And being a first gen Fatboy, a 2015 model, it did not have the type of cassette gearing that the later ones came with, allowing true off-road jeeping behavior.

Looking around on the internet, I came across Court's site here, and his review of the Haibike FatSix and Felt Outfitter. That led to my purchase of a 2017 Haibike Full FatSix and here we are, over 6200 miles later on the Yamaha drive, dual suspensioned fatty and the Fatboy sits, collecting dust in the garage.

To answer some of your questions: My ownership experience for both fatbikes has been the most fun of all the bikes I have ever owned. The whole experience, from the solid stability the wide tire platform gives you, to the noise those tire block treads give you as you are howling along on an asphalt shoulder at 19mph, it was a kick the first time and remains to this day. The dual suspension FatSix absorbs everything our broken road surfaces give me. You will keep up with anybody you ride with on your trails and then some. On the road, you will likely be leading the pack for your friends as you pedal a steady and consistent 16-19 mph. Hills are no longer an issue on the trail or the road, up to the point of your rear tires breaking traction. On this Yamaha drive, you can give your cardiac system as much a workout as anyone else by simply powering down. If you wish to feel like you are 20 again, go to HIGH power. It really is a life changer for us folks who have gotten older by the calendar.

I've got about 4 plus years of Ride Reports with pictures included of my bike rides on both the Fatboy and starting spring 2017, the Full FatSix on a thread titled Fatbiking and Health, located on the MTBR site. I've a lot of posts there on my ride reports, but I think I answer your questions posed here, within the text. Just go to the Fatbikes section and look it up. The Fatbiking and Health thread does not have the haters and trolls that the rest of the mtbr site is known for, so you will feel welcomed and feel at home. Good people on our little thread there, with a vibe that is very much like what I find here on these forums! Here's a link to get ya going. As I mentioned, that thread serves as pretty much a daily recount of my riding on both fatbikes, the Fatboy and Full Fatsix. This particular page is a ride report (including lotsa photos) of my ride from Homebase to Milford, NJ along the canal towpath systems in NJ and PA. That day turned out to be a 95 mile run, all on one full battery charge. Not bad! Link: https://forums.mtbr.com/fat-bikes/fat-biking-health-922626-63.html

Good luck and welcome to the world of fatbiking! :)
 

Attachments

harryS

Well-Known Member
I own a steel frame 21 speed fatbike. No suspension, Rear motor. Indicated top speed of 26 mph. weighs about 56 pounds. Smooth street tires. Didn't like the howl of the blocky tires on pavement.

It's comfortable and easy to pedal at bike speeds, but I feel it's big for my bike paths riding. I'll ride it on the street to run errands or on warm summer evenings, I rode it 10 times last year. My other e-bikes seem to be more fun.

It's like having a Hummer in the burbs 30 years ago. Big attention getting vehicle, but a little car was more maneuverable.
 

LimboJim

Well-Known Member
I can't speak to commuting because I work from home, and riding to my clients' places in my largely rural area with precious few bike lanes is a nonstarter. I can speak, however, to trail riding because I have hundreds of miles in my backyard state park, which I ride year-round (e-fatty in snow, studs on ice).

I just sold my 2015 Felt LEBOWSKe (w/750 trail miles on it) because after getting high-quality, full suspension, plus-tire eMTBs, my body was able to ride much more frequently, with less "recovery" time between rides. I couldn't bear the idea that I'd only be riding that amazing e-fatty a handful of times a year when it snows (the dude that bought it lives in FL, will ride on the beach).

I used to say that fat tires at low pressure have the effect of suspension, but have since learned that that's not really true. You can get full-sus fat ebikes, but as Harry said above, it's still comparable to a driving a Hummer vs. a "normal" car. The only real advantage fat bikes have for street riding is upright stability, IMO, thanks to the 4+" tires...
 
Last edited:

The duke

Active Member
My opinion is likely to be unpopular, but I'm no longer a fan of fat bikes. Now each opinion will depend on the bike of course. My first eBike, that I bought off Craigslist, was a Sondors Indiegogo fat bike. I thought anyone could get $500 worth of fun from any bike! Single speed, 4.9" wide fat tires, mechanical brakes, and 36v system with a small battery. I rode it for 1,700 miles, but mostly on pavement and crushed rock rail trail. It's heavy, responds slowly to steering, and sounds like a military truck on pavement. I would not attempt to put it on a single trail, it's not even in any sort of the same league as a road bike, and I can't imagine how many sets of brakes you would put on it as a commuter. It was fun, UNTIL I bought a full suspension Haibike with over sized tires. I can take it to 28mph, climbs like a mountain goat, and with tuned suspension and correct tire pressures it can ride like a dream over rough urban riding.

Rich, it sounds like having a low end brick has skewed you to the point of making you slightly biased :) if you put your mind into the saddle of a quality, mid to high end fat bike that's reasonably light for the class....say 50lbs, with some decent tires and gearingx could you see your opinion changing?
 

MikeDD

Active Member
I would not buy a fat tire bike if you think it will be as adequate as a full suspension bike. I have a Rad with 4" tires and a Specialized Turbo Levo Fsr with oversized tires, 2.8". The Rad will be a grocery getter and remain on the pavement. If you ride gravel, washboard roads there is no comparison. I would look for a rental shop and try them out.
 

The duke

Active Member
I own a steel frame 21 speed fatbike. No suspension, Rear motor. Indicated top speed of 26 mph. weighs about 56 pounds. Smooth street tires. Didn't like the howl of the blocky tires on pavement.

It's comfortable and easy to pedal at bike speeds, but I feel it's big for my bike paths riding. I'll ride it on the street to run errands or on warm summer evenings, I rode it 10 times last year. My other e-bikes seem to be more fun.

It's like having a Hummer in the burbs 30 years ago. Big attention getting vehicle, but a little car was more maneuverable.
Wow, that's pretty damning. 'Like having a hummer in the burbs' is a pretty rough analogy and 10 times in a year is my worst case scenario - an errand bike. I live in SoCal. No snow. Decent roads. Nothing that would make a fatbike particularly shine. Just a lot of roadside debris while street riding and a lot of fire roads to take myself away from the exhaust fumes of our highways.

I'm scared of spending $3k on something that's to big, heavy and.....fat on the trails, and too noisy, with too much drag on the streets.
 

TForan

Well-Known Member
I have one I bought for winter riding and then found out it was way too cold for me.:) I have since taken the front entry level fork off and replaced it with much lighter solid fork. It's a long heavy powerful bike and that's just fine with me. I wasn't too crazy about the stock Kendas, so I replaced them with 3.5 inch street tires and it's a very smooth cruiser. I ride it on some packed trails but not a good choice for technical stuff. Overall, it's very enjoyable on the road and around town.
 

Attachments

rich c

Well-Known Member
Rich, it sounds like having a low end brick has skewed you to the point of making you slightly biased :) if you put your mind into the saddle of a quality, mid to high end fat bike that's reasonably light for the class....say 50lbs, with some decent tires and gearingx could you see your opinion changing?
I test rode an Easy Motion Atom Big Bud Pro with Brose mid drive, and the two wheel drive Big Bud Pro. I wasn't convinced to buy an upgrade fat bike after those two rides.
 

TForan

Well-Known Member
I rode a Felt fat bike and was not impressed. Not nearly enough power, IMO. The Bafang Ultra is made for fat bikes, if you can deal with a big heavy bike.
 

The duke

Active Member
I can't speak to commuting because I work from home, and riding to my clients' places in my largely rural area with precious few bike lanes is a nonstarter. I can speak, however, to trail riding because I have hundreds of miles in my backyard state park, which I ride year-round (e-fatty in snow).

I just sold my 2015 Felt LEBOWSKe (w/750 trail miles on it) because after getting high-quality, full suspension, plus-tire eMTBs, my body was able to ride much more frequently, with less "recovery" time between rides. I couldn't bear the idea that I'd only be riding that amazing e-fatty a handful of times a year when it snows (the dude that bought it lives in FL, will ride on the beach).

I used to say that fat tires at low pressure have the effect of suspension, but have since learned that that's not really true. You can get full-sus fat ebikes, but as Harry said above, it's still comparable to a driving a Hummer vs. a "normal" car. The only real advantage fat bikes have for street riding is upright stability, IMO, thanks to the 4+" tires...
Your opinion is really another well reasoned strike against the fatbike as road bike or mountain bike. Really appreciate the thoughts! Sounds like the plus mtb with full suspension is better at capturing the benefits of both worlds.
I test rode an Easy Motion Atom Big Bud Pro with Brose mid drive, and the two wheel drive Big Bud Pro. I wasn't convinced to buy an upgrade fat bike after those two rides.
Care to share why?
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
Your opinion is really another well reasoned strike against the fatbike as road bike or mountain bike. Really appreciate the thoughts! Sounds like the plus mtb with full suspension is better at capturing the benefits of both worlds.

Care to share why?
Because my Haibike Full Seven S-RX with Schwalbe Super Moto X 27.5x2.4 tires does everything better. More nimble, faster (28mph assist), climbs better, tunable full air suspension, and quieter on pavement. I still have my clunker Sondors Fat to take on a wet crushed rock rail trail, but saw no way that spending the money to upgrade would get me anything better than the Full Seven I already had. I've only had about 3 rides in the snow that I enjoyed this year. We've had a lot of freezing drizzle on top of the snow. We had snow on top of ice which is just slightly less slick than rain on ice. I just can't find the conditions that make that fun. So no reason for me to ever have the fat tires.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
I don't want to sound like a beater on fatbikes. Let's consider a fat bike as a special tool. For snow and sand, there's probably few machines that match it. Also makes a good commuter, because the size helps visiblity. There are a lot of things to like. And if it is the only e-bike you have, it can work.

RichC and I are in the position where we both can own more than one ebike, and because we can, the fatbike doesn't tick off all the boxes for an all around bicycle.
 

LimboJim

Well-Known Member
Sounds like the plus mtb with full suspension is better at capturing the benefits of both worlds.
Plus tires are great on packed snow, too (3" especially).

If you really wanna go crazy, you can also buy studded Plus tires; I ride icy singletrack with confidence on 2.6" Schwalbe Ice Spikers, which as of this typing are $60 apiece at ChainReactionCycles.
 

The duke

Active Member
I rode a Felt fat bike and was not impressed. Not nearly enough power, IMO. The Bafang Ultra is made for fat bikes, if you can deal with a big heavy bike.
So you think it might work with a 750w motor? From what I read, if your not doing technical trails and have sufficient horsepower to help you push the weight, it might not be so much of an issue? I'm really upgrading from the spin bike in my gym to something where I get away from it fresh air
I don't want to sound like a beater on fatbikes. Let's consider a fat bike as a special tool. For snow and sand, there's probably few machines that match it. Also makes a good commuter, because the size helps visiblity. There are a lot of things to like. And if it is the only e-bike you have, it can work.

RichC and I are in the position where we both can own more than one ebike, and because we can, the fatbike doesn't tick off all the boxes for an all around bicycle.
If your joints felt a little beat up and you wanted a bit more of an upright riding position from a stiff back, and were planning to do 15 road miles and 5 miles of fire roads, would the fatbike be something you'd grab?
 

Tim859

Member
I love my fat bike for technical single track and general trail riding. It's pretty slow and loud on pavement with knobby tires. My fat bike is non assisted though. If Surly comes out with a emtb I might have to pick one up.
 

CodyDog

Well-Known Member
I have a fat bike and it big, plush and fun. I ride with lower tire pressure and use the throttle mostly, its my cool moped for riding around ranch land. These bikes typically weigh over 60 pounds. Mine with racks and bags is pretty darn heavy.

I think 2 inch balloon type tires can accomplish the plush ride of the 4 inch tires and would be better for pavement and gravel.
 

dmark

New Member
I got my fat bike (Biktrix Juggernaut Ultra1000) in winter, but I have alternated riding it this spring with a flat bar road bike (Rocky Mountain RC70) and mountain bike (2003 Specialized Rockhopper Comp).

I find the RC70 and Rockhopper easier to maneuver through hairpin turns (pedestrian calming rails entering/exiting bridges, paved trails with post-winter gravel down escarpments). With the Juggernaut I often put a foot down, but I don't mind because the throttle allows me to accelerate faster out of turns. I often minimize the Juggernaut's pedal assist when I know I will have to do tight maneuvers because high pedal assist is too jerky at low speed.

I find that the Juggernaut is more comfortable in a straight line because the fat tires and comfy seat really smooth out road imperfections (and I used to think that the WTB saddle on the RC70 was the most comfortable saddle).

None of my bikes have suspension fork or seat suspension although the Juggernaut comes standard with suspension fork (I swapped for rigid fork). Also, I kept the Kenda knobby tires on the Juggernaut, but I don't find them to be bumpy on pavement.
 
Last edited:

Ian Moone

Active Member
I got my fat bike (Biktrix Juggernaut Ultra1000) in winter, but I have alternated riding it this spring with a flat bar road bike (Rocky Mountain RC70) and mountain bike (2003 Specialized Rockhopper Comp).

I find the RC70 and Rockhopper easier to maneuver through hairpin turns (pedestrian calming rails entering/exiting bridges, paved trails with post-winter gravel down escarpments). With the Juggernaut I often put a foot down, but I don't mind because the throttle allows me to accelerate faster out of turns. I often minimize the Juggernaut's pedal assist when I know I will have to do tight maneuvers because high pedal assist is too jerky at low speed.

I find that the Juggernaut is more comfortable in a straight line because the fat tires and comfy seat really smooth out road imperfections (and I used to think that the WTB saddle on the RC70 was the most comfortable saddle).

None of my bikes have suspension fork or seat suspension although the Juggernaut comes standard with suspension fork.
To Answer your Original question ... It's much like Riding a Tank with only Two wheels ! ??