TCI Friday is an open forum wherein I pose a question, and you posit an answer, below, in comments.
The last time I rode a fat bike was at my friend Bob’s shop, Wheel Werks, in about 2013. There was no snow on the ground at the time, and I spent most of the ride trying to get the thing off the ground by ramming it into curb cuts, like used to jump my BMX bike when I was a kid. Fat bikes were still sort of a novelty at that point, or at least a novelty to me. What I notice is that fat biking doesn’t have enthusiasts. It has devotees.
For example, in Idaho this week, the Fat Pursuit fat bike race goes off. Old friend of the site Patria Vandermark will be there, fully loaded and ready to grind her way to snowy salvation. Patria’s favorite bike is her fat bike. She prays for snow. When it’s not snowing, she seeks sand. If you know her, you know her enthusiasm is infectious, so it leaves me wondering, do I need a fat bike?
My friend Matt also just built himself a fattie (apologies…I think this is not actually a term of reference here), and I trust Matt’s judgement. That’s his bike in the image above. He’s got the bike skills to pay any bike bills, so if he thinks a fat bike is a good thing to have, why wouldn’t I?
On the other side of the ledger, I don’t need more bikes. The basement is full. And a fat bike isn’t a willowy road machine that can slot into a small space. It’s got a footprint like a certain elusive cryptid. My washer/dryer takes up less space, and it gets a lot more use than a fat bike might.
On top of that, I rank among the least patient people in my area code. A bike that goes slowly is the sort of thing that would probably drive me straight up the wall, like people who don’t use their turn signals or line dancing.
Unsurprisingly, this week’s TCI Friday asks, do you have a fatbike? What do you love about it? If you don’t have one, are you curious?
Did you know that TCI has a tip jar? It’s out on the counter for those of you reluctant to subscribe.
I have one. Living in northern Michigan, it’s rather important for continuing to ride through the winter. Is is slower that a gravel bike? Yeah, but I’m not winning any races no matter what bike I use, so that’s not an issue. A fat bike is stable, forgiving, and fun. I ended up replacing my mountain bike with my fat tire, and ride it year round – there’s nothing a standard mountain bike can do that a fat tire can’t.
I’ve been curious for years, I’m even more on the fence this year.
Here in Mass, winter is often a sloppy mess that I don’t want to ride in anyhow. So that really limits the snow rides to only the perfect days.
But they might also be cool for other stuff. Perhaps the same old mtb trails will be a whole new thing; something I want to do all year along with the road, gravel and mtb that I do as much as I can.
So I don’t know.
Id suggest your washer and dryer get more use than any of your bikes so its not fair to put them in the decision mixer here.
Fat bikes put a huge smile on your face and push you out the door on days you would have never thought to ride in the past. They are trail worthy bikes year around but the fact that they let you do something you couldn’t before is the real headliner. If you thought the Kingdom Trails were fun in the summer, wait till you get out on their 30+ miles of groomers one mid winter–its that good. If adding a bike is not in the cards, than a proper fat bike can also be a replacement for your hard tail. After all, it is a trail worthy hard tail that also opens new doors of opportunity in the snow and/or sand. Do it!
I don’t own one. It does not snow really any notable amount in the ATL metro. That said, every time I’ve thrown a leg over a fat or plus bike there is something about those tires that makes me wanna ride like even more of hooligan than I already do. I’ve yet to find that sensation outweighs the downsides to those bikes and my bike’s styles already get me into lots of trouble. Still, now and then I consider plus tires as possibility on a hardtail.
I picked mine up (a Framed Minnesota 3.0) in 2015 and dollar for dollar, it’s the best bicycle purchase I’ve ever made. If some monster made me give up all my bikes but one, the fat bike would be the last one standing. (That is, if I somehow failed to slay the monster.)
@tcfrog has it right.
@hmlh33, I’m in MA, it’s been great, if you have the opportunity, pick one up. With the craze several years subsided and the pandemic shortage behind us, there may be some deals.
@Wyatt, I couldn’t have said it better, so I won’t remake any of your points. See you at KTA Winterbike in Feb?
Yes, there are occasional times where I wish I had real suspension. But those times aren’t all that often. Maybe the best is when I’m riding with a bunch of my 29er friends and we cone across a family out walking the trails. The 6-10 year old set isn’t going nuts over the skinnies, they’re giving me all the love.
@patria, ride like the (very slow) wind!
“…A bike that goes slowly is the sort of thing that would probably drive me straight up the wall…” Kinda where I am. I prefer to throw a leg over my Six-Thirteen or my latest purchase, a titanium gravel bike sporting 700-38’s.
When there is a lot of snow, I prefer to get lost in the mountains on my X-C skis because to get anywhere, I would be on roads covered with sand grit, and driven on by idiots. Unfortunately for the last few years, there hasn’t been much snow. So to me, it a fat bike seems like a solution in search of a problem. Unfortunately too, if I tried one, I’d probably want it, always being a sucker for a new toy. And then the washer or dryer would have to go.
@Kal Spencer, you write: “Unfortunately for the last few years, there hasn’t been much snow. So to me, it a fat bike seems like a solution in search of a problem.”
I had to smile at that … one problem the fat bike solves is “not much snow.” Fat bikes are great for riding trails that are snowy but with extended dirt sections. XC skis and snowshoes, no. Fat bikes, yes. Sand? Fat bikes yes? Dirt trails? Fat bikes yes. Pavement connections? Fat bikes yes.
Robot, go phat. Put all your expectations in a box and ride with new eyes. The experience will make all your riding better.