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.
 
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. :)
 
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.
 
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
 
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
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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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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!
 
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.
100% agree with your suggested test and expected results.

This however is EBR and I was simply speaking to the overall experience with similar motors and batteries acting as the great equalizer.

While my 4.8" fat tire bike does not go as far as my 2.2" mountain bike with the same size/family of motor and identical batteries (I have used the exact same battery on both bikes) the range loss is only 5-15%.
 
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?

Advantage? It's a narrow window (as the opinions appear in this thread) but it's the obvious situations - Sand, Snow and open to debate (personal preference) really rough/rocky/rooted single track/back country riding.

If I was told I could only keep one ebike from my current collection it would be my 700C with 50mm tires, triple chain-ring with rack and panniers. I can ride it on city streets, highways, most trails and some single track. I would be giving up beach riding and the winter months mostly (where I live) but I still get a lot of riding in every year with that single bike, if I had to.

Having fat bike(s) and other types/setup of bikes is like having more tools at your choosing and given the option anyone would choose the best tool available to them for each situation they are presented.
 
The fad that's been around since 2005, when Surly introduced the Pugsley and setting into motion every major manufacturer building their own fatbike. :)

I got into fatbikes in 2015, after realizing my new Trek Soho DLX, while looking fine tooling around the local neighborhoods, could never take me off road, especially the deep sugar sand roads of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. I knew that for years, having tried my old Trek 9000, fitted with Michelin Wild Gripper Lite tires in the Pine Barrens and sinking in that sand.

I rode my new Specialized FatBoy for over 2 years, putting about 4 thousand miles on the bike. Thought nothing of it, riding on my asphalt rides from home and back, 20 miles, 30, 50. Off road on the canal towpaths or Pine Barrens. It's a 4 season, go anywhere, any time bike. You won't set speed records, but the ride feel will be exceptional.

The FatBoy gave way to the full suspended Haibike Full FatSix in the spring of 2017. Some 10,500 miles later, I still remain addicted to the fatbike. Like the FatBoy, I ride it everywhere. Like, a 60 mile round trip, 99% asphalt riding, 3 Sunday's ago. A 46 mile ride on asphalt last week. A 100 mile round trip from home, east to the Atlantic Ocean and back home, last summer. Running in High Power, I can squeeze out near 45 miles on the Yamaha drive system if I shift up and down to meet the road conditions & spin the cranks.

The Full FatSix IS the Yamaha TW200 of the fat ebiking world. It's stability and float in sand or loose dirt conditions cannot be matched by a 2.6 inch mountain tire, let alone a commuter tread. Aired down, it will float on top of sugar sand that will have every other skinny tired bike stalled out and dug down in the sand. In an urban situation, it would be the one true ideal commuter; with today's frost heaved, pot-holed cracked roads, the combination of shocks and low psi gives the best ride feel possible.

5 plus years of experience riding these bikes exclusively helped form my unshakeable opinion.
 

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I'm getting ready to spring for a fatty w/street tread tires to keep the noise down. 2 reasons, sandy single track trails, and ride. I absolutely do not care if I use more battery on a ride. It just means I'm going to have to charge more often. So what?

This will be bike #2. If I need more range (extremely doubtful for my purposes) I'll use the bike I have now with the 2.0 tires.

As already mentioned, different strokes.... Yes, they're both e-bikes, but they have different purposes in mind. Kinda like selecting the right tool for the job.....

My vote = not a fad. More of a different specialty.
 
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