Fat bikes a fad?

Cyklefanatic

Well-Known Member
At the risk of upsetting a lot of riders I have to ask what is the current obsession with fat bikes all about?
The extra weight and resistance of these huge tires kills batteries and makes motors work much harder. A thinner tire with full suspension performs better if you need to go rock crawling or cliff jumping. On the road they make no sense to me. I see non ebike fat bikes with riders struggling on even the smallest hill.
I just don’t get it.
 

antboy

Well-Known Member
I think it's best summed up by "different strokes for different folks".

I've got a 20x4 fat folder, and even though my next bike is going to be more of a touring bike, I'm not giving up my Mule.

The Mule actually gets me out in conditions a thinner tire wouldn't, like when we get half a foot of snow, and I want to go grocery shopping, or riding the sloppy, all but barren, multi-use trails in similar conditions. :)
 

TMH

Well-Known Member
Couldn't even imaging riding one without e-assist - yes they are quite inefficient.

But they are fun in the right conditions. Wouldn't really want to ride anything else in loose sand and even if they don't have the range of a lighter e-bike with more efficient tires (less overall rolling resistance) they are still fun within their defined use envelope.

Wouldn't want to have one as my only e-bike unless I lived blocks from the beach and the only riding I did was on the beach bike trail, or out onto the sand itself. Or if I lived where it snowed during the winter, and it was a way to get out for winter exercise.

My experience is that when riders new to e-bikes first try the myriad of bikes I can lend them, they always like the fat tire bikes the best. Stability, power (with the right ones), soft/smooth ride, fun.

My Juiced RipCurrent S was a great bike, but I just didn't see it getting used all that much by me based on how my wife and I ride our e-bikes. My brother rode it and fell in love with it, so now he owns it. When my wife wants to ride fatties, she rides her FLX Gladiator (which she absolutely loves) and for something comparable I ride my 'semi-fatty' Fuji Ambient (3" wide tires). Wasn't fair in the past as her Gladiator is a Class 3 and the Fuji was a Class 1, but the PearTune chip installed on the Fuji leveled the playing field.

I think that there is a place for fatties, but their numbers probably will never grow to those of commuters, cargo bikes, eMTBs, etc. Not to say that one couldn't commute on their fatty, or make runs to the grocery store, but they will always be centered in a smaller niche market for recreational use. And they will likely be around for a while, especially in the U.S. where the most e-bikes are likely still sold for recreation.
 

Tars Tarkas

Well-Known Member
I got mine especially for beach riding, although, living in Nashville, I get out on the sand a relatively minuscule percentage of the time. As for the weight around town, it's only really noticeable to me when I'm loading the bike on the rack for transport. The rest of the time, it's freaking electric, so who cares?! As to what that weight does to battery life, I'm sure you are right. I could probably go 60 miles if me and my bike weighed 210 pounds instead of 250. Whenever I have planned to bike that far in one run, I carry a spare battery. That's been about twice so far, so again, not a big deal.

All that said, for some reason fat bikes make me think of R. Crumb, the Grateful Dead and the Doo Dah Man and it makes me happy. Part of what I'm saying though is that fat bikes do seem a little affectatious, and they probably will fall out of style at some point.

TT
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
At the risk of upsetting a lot of riders I have to ask what is the current obsession with fat bikes all about?
The extra weight and resistance of these huge tires kills batteries and makes motors work much harder. A thinner tire with full suspension performs better if you need to go rock crawling or cliff jumping. On the road they make no sense to me. I see non ebike fat bikes with riders struggling on even the smallest hill.
I just don’t get it.
It's about style, not practicality.

The research done by GM (I think) suggested that something like 95% of SUV owners use their vehicle on the paved surface for commuting, and never take them on actual off road adventure.
In addition, over 95% of Corvette and Camaro owners will never take their cars on race track or drag strip, they buy their cars for weekend cruising or commuting, not for racing.
 

CdnShaun

Active Member
My first day here, excited to get to chat with everyone and share experiences and hopefully contribute to the forums.

Since I have 3 fat bikes in my collection I can give some insight perhaps. :cool:

The first fat tire bike I purchased 5 years ago, non-e with 4.6" tires. Weighs 32lbs dry and I run the tires from 5-18psi. This is the one bike I keep that is non-e as it is fun on the dirt, in the slop and most of all beach and snow. It is a workout for sure in all cases - that's why I keep it mostly, is to get a workout from it as a form of exercise.

That said, when I invite my hardcore road riding and super fit buddies out to ride on beach and snow, I lend them this bike. A skilled rider who can put out 200-400 watts will have great fun on sand and snow with this bike.

Last year I picked up a Bionx converted KHS 500, one of the few Bionx 170mm rear hubs ever made before they went out of business. It happens to be in my avatar if you want a look at it. Where I love riding this bike is:

-Really rough single track that will just chew up my arms and shoulders on my front suspension/hard tail mountain bike.

-Beach cruising - with the motor on the back I can power through the soft sand a 2.5" or smaller width tire will just sink and fail in, fly along the water's edge floating on the sand (thanks to the 4.8" tires at 12 psi).

-Winter riding. Whole new world for me. All the snowmobile trails near my house are now available to me. I also discovered last year entire 'ski resorts' dedicated to cross country skiers for decades - who allow and fully invite fat bike riders to enjoy their trails (Running at 8 psi).

No longer do I simply 'go indoors' for the winter like years before (and frankly I barely rode, just waiting for spring) - Thanks to fat bikes I'm truly a 4 season rider now.

If you have never tried, riding groomed snow trails in the winter is a bucket list suggestion. I loved it so much I will be purchasing a season pass for the resort this winter.


So yes, as already described above, Fat Bikes are not a good choice if it will be the only bike you ride, if you ride only in the city and never make it to the beach and if you don't want to ride in the winter.

However there are more and more riders like myself who have added a Fat Bike (or 3) to their fleet and value them as the 'right tool' for certain rides we enjoy and most of all truly add winter as the 4th season we often never got to ride outdoors in before.

Cheers
 

CdnShaun

Active Member
It's about style, not practicality.

The research done by GM (I think) suggested that something like 95% of SUV owners use their vehicle on the paved surface for commuting, and never take them on actual off road adventure.
In addition, over 95% of Corvette and Camaro owners will never take their cars on race track or drag strip, they buy their cars for weekend cruising or commuting, not for racing.

Fully agree for in city riders. Humbly disagree for anyone who has access to/desire to riding on beaches and most of all are in areas that get a good proper amount of snow and they want to ride it.

Out of my rotation of bikes I ride 10-25% of the time on fat tires in the spring/summer/fall and 100% of my outdoor riding in the Winter.

Just a different perspective to share.
 

Cyklefanatic

Well-Known Member
It's about style, not practicality.

The research done by GM (I think) suggested that something like 95% of SUV owners use their vehicle on the paved surface for commuting, and never take them on actual off road adventure.
In addition, over 95% of Corvette and Camaro owners will never take their cars on race track or drag strip, they buy their cars for weekend cruising or commuting, not for racing.
Yes people do not necessarily buy what they need but with ebikes you pay a big penalty with battery range and motor stress. I like to ride too much to have a bike that is so impractical.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Yes people do not necessarily buy what they need but with ebikes you pay a big penalty with battery range and motor stress. I like to ride too much to have a bike that is so impractical.
Well what can I say .. everyone is different.

I know someone who was looking for an ebike to commute to work, and he was looking at Volbike Yukon and Rad Rover. They're both fat bikes.

I told him, why don't you get a commuter bike with skinnier tires, fenders, rack, etc?

He said no , because fat bikes look more badass so he would not be riding hybrid or commuter bikes.
 

Ebiker33

Well-Known Member
Perhaps 3" is the ideal size, not too fat but mirco suspension is built into it, probably not as important if you have a full rear suspension.
 

CdnShaun

Active Member
Yes people do not necessarily buy what they need but with ebikes you pay a big penalty with battery range and motor stress. I like to ride too much to have a bike that is so impractical.

Using the same 557wh (11.6ah) batteries I get 85-95% of the range on my 4.8" x 26" fat tires as I do on my mountain bike with 2.2" x 27.5" and 'road' bike with 50mm x 700c. I do not see the penalty in battery life you speak of?

As for motor stress, perhaps I do ride trails that have much steeper inclines when on my fat tire bike compared to my road riding - but compared to my mountain ebike I ride the same and the direct-drive hub motors I use have no issue with the hills up to 10-12% grade, steeper if the hill is short.

I can see perhaps a larger delta/penalty if comparing road tires of 25-28mm to fat tires but reality is those bikes are night and day different to begin with before any motor/battery consideration and simply should not be compared unless of course, as Timpo stated - there are people who want a 4-5" tire on their commuter bike - to each there own at that point.

Just my $0.02 - cheers.
 

Akrotiri

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
At the risk of upsetting a lot of riders I have to ask what is the current obsession with fat bikes all about?
The extra weight and resistance of these huge tires kills batteries and makes motors work much harder. A thinner tire with full suspension performs better if you need to go rock crawling or cliff jumping. On the road they make no sense to me. I see non ebike fat bikes with riders struggling on even the smallest hill.
I just don’t get it.
Unless snow and sand are a fad I don't see fat bikes becoming a passing fad at all. If anything I expect all types and classes of ebikes to become more prevalent. Fat tire bikes were never intended for rock crawling or cliff jumping, that's an incorrect assumption.
 

PDoz

Well-Known Member
It's about style, not practicality.

The research done by GM (I think) suggested that something like 95% of SUV owners use their vehicle on the paved surface for commuting, and never take them on actual off road adventure.
In addition, over 95% of Corvette and Camaro owners will never take their cars on race track or drag strip, they buy their cars for weekend cruising or commuting, not for racing.

I had a chuckle over this. Yesterday we drove out for a bush walk, down the end of the greasy rutted out dirt track was a ford monaro and Mini cooper. I felt a bit whimpy to be driving my ford ranger!

But then we were returning home along a twisty bitumen road - stuck behind a sports car and the irony set in!

In a couple hours time I'll be hitting a down hill mtb park. I'll be the only emtb in the group , but I'm 30 years older than every one else. I'll probably be enjoying my 27.5x 2.6 wide rubber because it's raining right now and it'll be a slushy mess. But the young woman on her xc hardtail accoustic with 29x2.3 is still going to be smiling, in fact I suspect even the guy on the old accoustic with 26 x 2.25 rubber will be having a ball! It beats sitting in front of a computer!!

Diversity is a fantastic thing.
 

Cyklefanatic

Well-Known Member
Using the same 557wh (11.6ah) batteries I get 85-95% of the range on my 4.8" x 26" fat tires as I do on my mountain bike with 2.2" x 27.5" and 'road' bike with 50mm x 700c. I do not see the penalty in battery life you speak of?

As for motor stress, perhaps I do ride trails that have much steeper inclines when on my fat tire bike compared to my road riding - but compared to my mountain ebike I ride the same and the direct-drive hub motors I use have no issue with the hills up to 10-12% grade, steeper if the hill is short.

I can see perhaps a larger delta/penalty if comparing road tires of 25-28mm to fat tires but reality is those bikes are night and day different to begin with before any motor/battery consideration and simply should not be compared unless of course, as Timpo stated - there are people who want a 4-5" tire on their commuter bike - to each there own at that point.

Just my $0.02 - cheers.
The physics is undeniable, a larger heavier rim and tire require more energy to overcome the their inertia. Also the lower air pressure wastes energy to flex the sidewall and generate heat. Over the same route, speed and wind the fatter tire always use more energy.
To prove it to yourself ride all three bike up a hill without motor assist in the same gear ratio. Your legs will not lie.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
If it were not for motors, only bike enthusiasts would still be puffing along on unpowered fat tire bikes, trying to make their riding harder, My neighbor rode his only once. I think he had to call for a ride home, he was so beat.

I bought one for $79 on clearance and it was truly the worst bike I owned. After I replaced everything except the frame and seat post. and put a motor in it, it was a decent ride. I put in a front derailleur and I could always find a good gear to run it in pedal assist. I guess $79 was a good price for a sturdy steel frame.

Out of the 1600 miles that my wife and I have accumulated this year, the 26" fatbike only has 10, Two evening rides around the neighborhood . I guess I feel silly riding it on the bike paths, but I will be using it more to run errands now that it's nice again.
 
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rich c

Well-Known Member
I sold my fat bike. After buying a Haibike full seven with 2.4" tires, the fat tire felt like riding a truck. Riding snow around Central IL is fun about 1 out of 10 rides. Riding powder is great, riding frozen foot prints, snow on top of ice, water on top of ice, and frozen slush is HORRIBLE!
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Perhaps 3" is the ideal size, not too fat but mirco suspension is built into it, probably not as important if you have a full rear suspension.
Just like cars and motorcycles, when they try to everything, such as Nissan GT-R and Ducati Multistrada, you will get a product of... something that does everything, but doesn't do anything particularly well.

3" would be way too skinny for fat bike lovers, whereas MTB racer would tell you 3" is way too overkill.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
The physics is undeniable, a larger heavier rim and tire require more energy to overcome the their inertia. Also the lower air pressure wastes energy to flex the sidewall and generate heat. Over the same route, speed and wind the fatter tire always use more energy.
To prove it to yourself ride all three bike up a hill without motor assist in the same gear ratio. Your legs will not lie.
I think you're focusing way too much on negatives of fat bikes.
Yamaha TW200, Suzuki VanVan,.. they have fat tires but they will outperform dirt bikes in some scenario.

I'm not an engineer, but can fat ebikes ever have any advantage?
Perhaps those heavy duty looking tires and wheels can take more abuse?