Nowadays, cycling is more than a means to get around the town. It makes a great exercise to work out and have fun. But can a conventional road bike take you to everywhere you want?
Of course not; a road bike cannot handle off-road paths well. This is when fat bikes step in.
Have you heard about fat bikes before? Scroll down to learn everything you need to know about riding a fat bike on the road.
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Fat Bike Overview
A fat bike, also known as fatty, got its name because of the wide tires, which measure between 3.7’’ and 5’’ in diameter. Such a large surface area allows for greater suspension as well as traction.
You can check out this video to see what is a fat bike:
Another unique aspect in fat bikes is the wide rims, which are more than two inches or 55 millimeters. These rims are designed to minimize the ground pressure as you ride.
Fat bikes use the same frame as mountain bikes, so these two types of bike look similar. But there are actually some differences.
For example, the fat bikes have no suspension forks. Also, unlike ordinary tires, fat tires can be used with an extremely low amount of pressure – around 5 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch). It is recommended to keep the pressure under 10 PSI when filling the fat bike tires.
Types of Fat Bikes
Carbon fiber makes up for the biggest drawback of fatties – the weight. Carbon fiber is pretty light, so it will save some grams in making the fat bike.
As an added bonus, carbon is flexible, sturdy and produces little noise when you pedal. Also, it is not cold – a benefit that you may want to enjoy when riding on snowy paths.
Like steel, titanium offers many advantages such as good flexion, which reduces shock and vibrations when you are cycling on rough terrains. On the negative side, titanium is way too expensive. Coupled with the high price range that fat bikes belong to, few can afford a titanium fat bike.
A single speed fat bike consists of a drive train with a single cog and a single wheelchain. This is a lesser-known type of fatties.
Electric Fat Bike
Electric fat bikes are receiving more attention over the years. The electric motor will help you climb up steep hills that you cannot climb before. It is of great help when it comes to riding on fine sand too.
Fat Bike Tires
There are many kinds of fat bike tires tailored for different purposes.
Compared to original fatty tires, the street tires are often a little narrower (between 3.5 and 4 inches). Also, the drawing of the tire feels smoother. These two differences make street tires more efficient to roll on paved streets.
The studded tires increase the overall grip significantly, so they are ideal for sandy or rocky trails.
As its name might suggest, slick tires come with completely smooth drawing, making it perfect for flat terrain.
Snow tires also come with studs to improve grip experience and ease of movement on different trails.
Fat Biking Benefits
Riding a fat bike for exercise is a great way to get in shape without going to the gym. Scientists point out that if you ride a fat bike for an hour, you can burn up to 1,500 calories. Isn’t it amazing?
The best thing about riding fat bikes as an exercise is that it takes you less time to recover than running. In other words, your body will enter the recovery mode quickly after a session of fat biking.
This is because riding a bike is not a weight-bearing activity, while running is. Therefore, you need much time to recover after running or working out at the gym.
This video may help you to know which reasons to buy a fatbike:
Having a fat bike allows you to explore new trails and join off-the-beaten-track tours in your city.
With vast grip and great traction, fat bikes can take you anywhere you want, from rocky shorelines to muddy bike trails. Feel free to seek adventure with this wonderful companion!
Fun and Comfort
Fat bikes provide a different perspective to biking, and it makes riding a bike all the more amusing. Sometimes, riders will feel as if they are riding a horse in the wild. And fun also comes when your bike reaches far-flung areas where normal road bikes do not dare to explore.
Fat bike riders also enjoy high levels of comfort, even on the roughest terrains. The low amount of tire pressure offers immense smoothness that cycling feels like a dream. Say goodbye to bounces and bumps once you own a fat bike.
The robust construction reduces the maintenance work that a fat bike needs. For example, this type of bike is almost immune to pinch flat stems due to the thick low-pressure tires and wide rims. In other words, punctures are no longer a concern.
You do not have to worry about repairing or replacing the fat bike parts so often. Just hop on the bike and ride!
The Comparison of Riding A Fat Bike On The Road, Beach, and Snow
Fat bikes offer a soft and comfortable experience anywhere you ride, and smooth roads are not an exception. Hopping on a fat bike to commute to work will be just fine.
Nonetheless, fatties cannot compare to normal road bicycles with skinny tires on the road. Pedalling will be harder, and the speed will not be as fast. If you are an experienced rider, you may find these problems easy to handle. But it will be a real challenge for newbies.
This video may help you to know can you ride street on a fat bike:
It is a totally different case when there are changes in the weather. Once it starts raining and the road turns wet, it is time for the fatty to shine. With the fat bike as a companion, you will never miss a step on your way home.
Most bikes get stuck and seize up when you ride them on sand, but fat bikes are an exception. This type of bike feels a lot more comfortable on sand than on the pavement, but there are some factors to keep in mind.
First, riding a fat bike on the beach may take great efforts. You need to constantly push the pedals, and sometimes it feels as if you are not moving an inch. But once you get the hang of it, you will ride more effortlessly.
This video may help you to how to Fatbike rolls in the sand:
Keep in mind that although fat bikes can challenge many kinds of terrain, soft sand is still difficult to handle. It is recommended that you stay on the wet sand area, but not where the waves push up the shore.
Your fatty tends to get some sand in the brakes and drive train after your riding session, so make sure to open up the brakes to let the sand through. Bringing along an extra water bottle is helpful if the sand starts to grind.
Fat tires are tailored for snowy trails, so winter is the ideal season to hop on your fat bike for an adventure. The big tires together with low pressure feel absolutely stable in snow and on ice too.
This video may help you to how ho Fat Biking in snow:
There are certain tips to make your riding experience in the snow more enjoyable. For example, you should stay seated, ride with flat pedals and keep yourself hydrated.
Pros and Cons of Riding A Fat Bike On The Road
You have seen the advantages that fat biking offers, but does it have any disadvantages? Unfortunately, yes. Take a look at the pros and cons of riding a fat bike on the street below.
- Safety: Fat bikes are pretty slow on the roads, so they are a safe option for beginner cyclists.
- Versatility: There is literally nowhere that a fatty cannot go. With a MTB frame and sturdy wide tires, the fat bike can handle different types of terrains and weather conditions with ease.
- Comfort: High levels of traction translate to more comfort when riding over rocky and rough terrains.
- Little maintenance: Due to the simple construction, fat bikes do not need much maintenance over its course of life.
- Great exercise: Fat bikes are heavy, so they can be a great alternative to working out at the gym. As an added perk, the recovery time is short since there is not much weight placed on your joints (unlike running).
- Heavyweight: Fat bikes are heavy and not really portable, which means loading them onto a car is a bit hard.
- Slow speed: Being heavy also hinders the bicycle from going fast. You can only go as fast as you pedal.
- High price: High-quality fast bikes can cost $1500 or even more. Certainly, it is not the most budget-friendly budget on the market.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I ride my fat bike at a high speed on the road?
A: In fact, you cannot ride a fat bike too fast, regardless of the road conditions. Choosing a fat bike means you are trading off speed for comfort and traction. Since the fat tires add to the overall weight of the bike, you will be moving slower on the road.
Q: Are fat bikes suitable for commuting?
A: Yes, you can totally use a fat bike for commuting purposes. But it is not highly recommended, since this type of bike moves slowly on smooth paved roads due to the heavy tires and high rolling resistance. It is more suitable for riding on snow or rough trails.
Q: When should I ride my fat bike on the road?
A: Fat biking is the best choice when the roads are covered with snow and ice. Normal road conditions are fine, but fat bikes will not do as well as road bicycles, which are designed for such smooth surfaces. So you can leave your fat bike in the garage until winter months, when it heavily snows.
Q: Can I use my fat bike as an everyday bike?
A: Yes, you can ride more safely and comfortably on the road, and that is absolutely great. But fat biking is only a good option if your house is not too far away from your office. You know, fat bikes are notoriously slow.
Q: Do I need to equip front suspension on my fat bike?
A: Front suspensions are not an essential add-on if you mostly ride the fatty on snow during winter months. But if you want to ride in the summer as well, the front suspension fork will allow for more efficiency. Also, you should increase the tire pressure a bit to ride more comfortably.
Q: Are fat bikes worth it?
A: Fat bikes are shelling out somewhere between $600 and $3000. That is seriously not a small investment, so you may want to make sure it is totally worth the money.
Actually, there is no fixed yes/no answer to this. It depends on which kind of rider you are. Are you an adventurous one who travels all year round over all kinds of terrains? If you want to join off-the-beaten-track tours, you will not regret spending money on a fat bike.
But if you only need a bike to commute mostly on paved roads, the fat bike is not highly recommended. You can get a road bike or hybrid bike to achieve more efficiency and save money at the same time.
The Bottom Line
I have guided you to some basic information about riding a fat bike on the road. As you get more involved in this game, you will discover more new terms such as PSI, Q-factor, fat bike frames, and so on. But now, hop on your bike and start exploring the wide world.
I will give you a more in-depth guide about fat bikes in the future, so stay tuned! If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section so I can help you as soon as possible.
Thank you for reading.