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Old 02-18-2015, 03:56 PM   #1
Navin OP
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Fat bikes

Fat bikes?

I'm stuck with a foot plus of snow everywhere and I'm reading about fat tired bikes floating over snow and sand. Been looking at the cheapo $399 Gravity single speed monster with 26x4" tires. Also the even cheaper $299 single speed version with 3" tires but figure that is too thin to really ride snow...

Then I'm looking at the $499 multi speed version with 4" tires and really can't tell if I would be able to deal with a SS bike in the first place.

I scoured a few bike forums, guys seem to love these things and the price is great. Anyone riding one, or this style that can chime in., I took a $1300 Kona around a parking lot, eh. Didn't do much for me but pavement so wasn't expecting much. Heavy to wheelie, steered ok. Rolled down a flight of five steps with no problem. I'm not spending that much on a bike anyway, but wanted to get a feel for it.

Thanks for any advice!
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:13 PM   #2
CptSydor
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Originally Posted by Navin View Post
Fat bikes?

I'm stuck with a foot plus of snow everywhere and I'm reading about fat tired bikes floating over snow and sand. Been looking at the cheapo $399 Gravity single speed monster with 26x4" tires. Also the even cheaper $299 single speed version with 3" tires but figure that is too thin to really ride snow...

Then I'm looking at the $499 multi speed version with 4" tires and really can't tell if I would be able to deal with a SS bike in the first place.

I scoured a few bike forums, guys seem to love these things and the price is great. Anyone riding one, or this style that can chime in., I took a $1300 Kona around a parking lot, eh. Didn't do much for me but pavement so wasn't expecting much. Heavy to wheelie, steered ok. Rolled down a flight of five steps with no problem. I'm not spending that much on a bike anyway, but wanted to get a feel for it.

Thanks for any advice!
This is my third winter with one.

Don't expect them to do miracles, they are like walking in snow with boots compared to snowshoes. 2ft of fresh snow sucks either way.

A foot of fresh snow is going to stop a fatbike dead just like it would a regular tired bike.

Where a fatbike really shows it's advantages are on trails that have a little bit of traffic already but aren't very packed down, or on trails that are very narrow as the fatties track much better than their skinny tired friends and won't send you into the loose stuff, causing you to lose control.

Most newbies to fatbikes don't realize how important pressure is for them to function properly. Put 10 psi and you'll see very little advantage. Drop that to 5-6 and you'll notice a huge difference. If it's really soft, I ride down in 3 psi range, you need to see the sidewall folding underneath you when you put you some pressure on it. Unfortunately 3 psi on hardpack is like riding through quicksand.

A fatbike is just another bike that is better at riding in soft stuff, but like everything in life, it's a continuum, not black and white. Like using an adventure bike versus a dirt bike for riding off-road.

Edit: And tires play a big role as well. A 4 inch slick won't hold that much advantage. I run Surly Nates, which are like tractor tires, slow but they'll climb up a 45 degree hill.
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:24 PM   #3
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Great info, thank you.

How about gears? Do you find you are shifting a lot or just slugging thru in a low gear? The single speeds they are offering are 32t cranks and include an 18 and a 22t rear. I find I'm constantly shifting my road biased hybrid on the street all the time. I'd think off road would be even worse? Is a single speed enough?
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:30 PM   #4
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Don't exempt them to do miracles

Expect.
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:39 PM   #5
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Great info, thank you.

How about gears? Do you find you are shifting a lot or just slugging thru in a low gear? The single speeds they are offering are 32t cranks and include an 18 and a 22t rear. I find I'm constantly shifting my road biased hybrid on the street all the time. I'd think off road would be even worse? Is a single speed enough?
I know a few guys who run single speed. They tend to be pretty strong riders and accustom to riding singlespeed.

Personally, I ride in a relatively hilly area, lots of steeper ups and downs. I have a 2x9 system. 32/22 by 11-34 in the back. When I'm riding in the snow, I use 22/34 all the time and not just climbing. I don't consider myself a weak rider.

If you are expecting to just head out on a fatty and rip it in the snow, get that out of your mind. If you could rip it, the conditions are probably suitable for a regular tire bike. Most of the time, fatbikes are just allowing you to ride when a regular bike can't, but it's slow going. A singlespeed just makes it that much tougher.

As with most things singlespeed, you do it cause you want the extra challenge or your cheap, or both. If either of those things are very important to you, that's fine. But mechanical advantage is there for a purpose.
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:55 PM   #6
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Great education for me, thanks!
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Old 02-18-2015, 05:04 PM   #7
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If you are expecting to just head out on a fatty and rip it in the snow, get that out of your mind. If you could rip it, the conditions are probably suitable for a regular tire bike. Most of the time, fatbikes are just allowing you to ride when a regular bike can't, but it's slow going.
Fat bikes are a lot of work. They are fun, but they are a lot of work.

I've seen a complete novice give up on them with less than 10 miles (cumulative total), and I've seen a road racer who could annihilate me on any climb profess nothing but hate for them...
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Old 02-18-2015, 05:14 PM   #8
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Fat bikes are slow. Single speeds are for strong leg crushing racer types. If this sounds like fun, get a single speed fat bike.
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Old 02-18-2015, 05:22 PM   #9
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I guess I'd need to own one to really know. I had a MTB with road tires that I hated on the road. I'm worried I'd look at a FTB with that same distain if I was going into the woods to ride with my adult, fit son on a MTB. I'm guessing the drag of the fat tires would just frustrate me. Do they actually float over snow and sand or will it be more like , "shit, more friggin sand!"?
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Old 02-18-2015, 05:46 PM   #10
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I guess I'd need to own one to really know. I had a MTB with road tires that I hated on the road. I'm worried I'd look at a FTB with that same distain if I was going into the woods to ride with my adult, fit son on a MTB. I'm guessing the drag of the fat tires would just frustrate me. Do they actually float over snow and sand or will it be more like , "shit, more friggin sand!"?
A fatbike on regular trails is like riding an MTB on the road. You can do it, but it's not nearly the best tool. Yes it's frustrating, especially if you like a proper tool for the job.

I've ridden with guys faster than me on regular trails, me on a fatbike, them on regular bikes. It's not a fun situation at all, unless you are looking to kill yourself. I will ride with my partner, who's a fairly accomplished racer and the fatbike knocks us about even. Normally I'm about 30-40% faster than her.

The fatbike has a relatively narrow window of conditions where you realize what advantage they truly offer and still then if you don't run the right pressure and tires you might end up disappointed. Hence why they get a fair bit of bad press about their usefulness.

My average speed on my fatbike rides (in snow) is generally 6-7 mph under conditions where they are an advantage.

If you can imagine those times when you have some footprints through a bunch of snow, but it's by no means smooth, the fatbike rolls through that like a champ, though not fast.

Or the times when the snow pack will break up under your foot, where a regular tire would dig through it causing you to get squirrelly, fighting to stay up right, the fatbike tracks through that.

And they float over very little. Here is a day I went out with about 6 inches of fresh snow. I could go down hill and straight only. Uphill, turns, no way.



Here's a perfect fatbike day. Some traffic, but certainly not hard packed.

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Old 02-18-2015, 05:48 PM   #11
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I guess I'd need to own one to really know. I had a MTB with road tires that I hated on the road. I'm worried I'd look at a FTB with that same distain if I was going into the woods to ride with my adult, fit son on a MTB. I'm guessing the drag of the fat tires would just frustrate me. Do they actually float over snow and sand or will it be more like , "shit, more friggin sand!"?
Sand is a different subject. I think they are a revelation on sand. Snow varies so much with temperature and moisture content that they can either be a capable crawler or an auger depending on conditions
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Old 02-18-2015, 05:55 PM   #12
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I'm getting the impression I had my hope set way to high here for how they would perform. I'm thinking I'd need a better all a rounder for off road trails. Maybe a regular MTB is a better tool for me in the end. I get the feeling the FTB would just piss me off.

So, 29" the way to go these days?
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Old 02-18-2015, 05:58 PM   #13
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I'm getting the impression I had my hope set way to high here for how they would perform. I'm thinking I'd need a better all a rounder for off road trails. Maybe a regular MTB is a better tool for me in the end. I get the feeling the FTB would just piss me off.

So, 29" the way to go these days?
If you don't have a regular MTB, get that first, far more times throughout the year where they are far better than a fatbike and if conditions are suitable, ridable in the winter as well.

And all cool kids are riding 27.5" now.
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Old 02-18-2015, 06:02 PM   #14
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If you don't have a regular MTB, get that first, far more times throughout the year where they are far better than a fatbike and if conditions are suitable, ridable in the winter as well.

And all cool kids are riding 27.5" now.
What are the semi fit grandpas riding?

I was drawn to the FTB to ride wintery trails when the streets are too nasty but that looks like it might not be possible on any given day anyway.

Seriously, what are the benefits between wheel diameters? My last MTB was 26" and was pretty decent.
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Old 02-18-2015, 06:10 PM   #15
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What are the semi fit grandpas riding?

I was drawn to the FTB to ride wintery trails when the streets are too nasty but that looks like it might not be possible on any given day anyway.

Seriously, what are the benefits between wheel diameters? My last MTB was 26" and was pretty decent.
Very little noticeable difference for a casual rider.

29ers do roll over stuff better, which is the most appreciable quality. Roots, rocks are far less likely to impede forward motion.

Many consider them more sluggish due to heavier wheels (rotating mass) and generally a longer wheelbase, making them tougher to corner in tight spots.

26ers are lighter and accelerate better, corner better, but don't roll as easy. Rocks/roots you may not feel much on a 29er will feel like they are pushing back on a 26ers.

A 27.5 can be considered the best of both worlds or the half-ass at each.

26ers are essentially dead in the regular MTB world for new bikes.

I ride a 27.5 solely as I can fit them to me better. Get the bikes that feels most comfortable in general.
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