Fat Bikes


The idea of a ‘fat bike’ has been around for quite some time now. Even back in the 1980’s, people were tinkering with the idea of making bicycle tires wider. Rides, like the Iditarod in Alaska, gave necessity for the wide tire, to ‘snowshoe’ along the frozen trail and make riding in snow conditions a true possibility. Things turned mainstream when Surly introduced the Pugsley in 2005. Additional, smaller, frame builders, most notably out of Alaska, began offering options over the next decade up until the big brands like Specialized and Trek introduced their fat bike offerings around 2014. Fat bike tech has continued to evolve, mostly in tire options and catch up to typical mountain bike standards in regards to performance.

What Makes a Fat Bike, Fat?

A fat bike is classified as a bicycle with a tire width over 3.8″. In order for this size tire to fit between the stays of the frame and the fork, additional width is necessary. This is done at both front and rear dropouts, and additionally, for a proper chainline, the bottom bracket shell of the frame. Additionally, you’ll find a wider than standard rim on a fat bike. Typical rims will be between 70-100mm wide and when paired with a wide tire, the rider has the ability to vary tire pressure to best handle any type of terrain.

Tire Pressure – Explained

Tire pressure on a fat bike is extremely important. Changes of even 0.5 psi can turn a ride from miserable to enjoyable. What pressure you end up running will depend on the following:

  • Tire/rim width
  • Outside temperature
  • Type of terrain
    • If snow:
      • Groomed or ungroomed trail
      • Snow density
    • If sand:
      • Water concentration in the sand
    • If dirt/other:
      • Smooth or rough
  • Rider/bike weight
  • Bicycle feedback preferences

A good example, when riding a groomed snow trail with an outside temperature of 15°, a good tire pressure in a 26 x 4.8″ tire would be 6psi for the rear tire and 5psi for the front, for a typical rider. Now, if the conditions change to 4″ of fresh, fluffy, snow and a temperature of say 25°, you may find yourself running 2-3psi in your tires. What that then allows for is a very forgiving and compliant tire. It also changes the footprint of the tire, effectively increasing the surface area of the contact portion of your tire. A good tip is to start your ride on the high side of where you expect to be, you can easily take air out, while increasing pressure is a few additional steps.

This is too much writing, here’s a pic

Why ride a fat bike?

You may be under the impression that a fat bike is only for riding on snow. This is far from the truth! A fat bike is good for year-round riding. In addition to snow and sand riding, the advantages to having a wider tire include more traction for cornering and climbing. A fat bike is truly a bike that can do it all, letting you explore your favorite trails during any season, all with one bike. Certain brands, like Salsa, push the idea of ‘Adventure by Bike’, which can make for a fun trip with a fat bike. Loaded with camp gear, you can enter the woods and turn a ride into a true adventure.

Our fat bike options

We stock a wide selection from Salsa and Specialized. Stop down to discuss which model will fit your needs the best!

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