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A fat bike is the best type of bicycle to experience what riding on mud or snow is all about. If you live in an area where the weather gets wet and cold in autumn and winter, the fat tire bike will allow you to extend your riding season and have more fun.
Fat bikes are also a fantastic choice for bikepacking, as they can go over different types of terrain, so you don’t need to push your bike as much.
Check out what Iohan Gueorguiev is doing on his for some inspiration!
However, choosing the best fat bike can be tricky for someone who has never ridden one. If you are on the lookout for some off-road thrill of this kind, here are the
10 11 best fat-tire bikes of our choice for 2021.
Most fat bikes come with rigid forks, without any form of suspension. Many riders think suspension on a fat bike is redundant because of massive tires that soak up any vibrations, bumps, rocks, and roots on the trails.
Most fat bikes ride on tires that are 3.8″ to 5″ wide. So if you want a more comfortable ride, you can simply deflate them a bit and feel as if you have suspension.
However, there are some fat bikes with suspension forks, such as Rocky Blizzard or Norco Bigfoot that we talk about in this review.
If you want to run your tires at a higher pressure to be more efficient and maneuver better, you should consider getting some front squish.
But, most of the time, a hardtail fat bike with a rigid fork is the cheapest and the best option to go for.
Just like traditional mountain bikes, fat bikes come with different wheel sizes. You can typically get a fat bike with 26″, 27.5″, or 29″ wheels.
Most fat bikes nowadays use 26″ wheels, but the two other sizes are not uncommon either. The 26″ tires will give you better maneuverability, but larger wheels will allow you to roll over obstacles with more ease.
Rim width also varies greatly from one bike to another. Fat bike rims are usually 60mm to 100mm wide, depending on the tire width you want to run. The wider the tire you want to fit, the wider the rim needs to be.
Generally, if you plan to ride slow and bendy trails with a lot of corners, decelerations, and accelerations, you should go for 26″ wheels because they are more dynamic.
However, if you want a lower attack angle to maintain a constant speed, roll over rocks and roots more easily, ride cross country or on the snow, 29″ wheels are a much better choice.
The beauty of fat bikes is that they are very versatile. Most models can easily accommodate several different wheel sizes, including standard 27.5″ and 29″ mountain bike wheels.
When buying a fat bike, you should look for one with a frame that supports different rim options. That way, you can sometimes ride your bike with fat tires and then turn it into a proper mountain bike when it suits you.
If you plan to do this, one thing to keep in mind is hub width. Fat bikes are made with different hub standards, so you’ll likely need to buy a dedicated set of wheels or build a custom one yourself.
Fat bikes usually use tires that are between 3.8″ and 5″ wide. There are no strict rules and definitions here, just personal preferences.
However, there are a few guidelines and common sense principles you can follow when choosing which tire width to get.
Wider tires provide a bigger contact surface and more float, so they are a better choice for soft surfaces such as sand and snow. They are also better for very rough terrain with a lot of rocks and bumps.
On the other hand, narrower tires are faster and less squirmy, so you should choose them if you plan to ride on hardpacked trails that are firmer and drier.
Whichever width you choose, make sure to set up your tires tubeless. This will help you avoid flats and allow you to run lower pressure to get more traction and more squish.
Finally, if you plan to ride in winter, get a sealant that works in subzero temperatures and studded tires for a much better grip.
Fat bikes are made to be ridden on the most challenging types of terrains. Modern mountain bikes are very capable today, but there are some situations in which they simply can’t get the job done.
Wider tires, better angles, and more durable frames all come together to make a fat bike the best choice for extreme settings.
Here are some of the most common terrain choices for fat bikes and some guidelines on how to tackle them:
The correct number of gears on a fat bike is a subjective matter. Some models come with single-speed drivetrains, whereas others feature 2x or even 3x setups.
If you plan to ride in very hilly areas, having more gears is always better. Fat bikes are generally heavier than normal mountain bikes, so smaller gears will ensure easier pedaling.
Drivetrains with 1x setups (one front chainring) are becoming more and more popular because they can have up to 12 cogs (gears) in the back. They also make maintenance easier because there is just one derailleur and a lot fewer cables to deal with.
In the end, the choice is yours. However, we recommend avoiding 3x drivetrains (they’re heavy and often unnecessary) and choosing a 1x or a 2x setup depending on your budget, fitness level, and riding preferences.
Pick one of these best fat bikes and then choose your muddy trail!
Winner! Most Capable Build
Fat bikes are fun, sturdy, capable, gnarly, and they can also be affordable if you know where to look. In comes the Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1, which is an affordable aluminum fat bike with excellent components and unstoppable tires.
Co-op Cycles combines a 6061 aluminum frame and fork with SRAM’s 12-speed drivetrain to provide intermediate riders with a versatile bike that can handle different challenges. It’s our first choice for a variety of good reasons.
The first thing you’ll notice on Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1 is definitely the tires. It rolls on
Innova 4.8″ tires that don’t shy away from any challenge. You can ride on roots, rocks, sand, snow, and mud without any problems.
DRT 4.1 is built around an aluminum frame that is jam-packed with eyelets. It’s paired up with a rigid aluminum fork, both of which feature thru-axles for added stability and rigidity.
You can outfit this bike with racks and fenders, as well as two water bottles. The cables are internally routed, which makes the bike look sleek.
The groupset is SRAM’s SX Eagle which puts 12 wide-range gears at your disposal. The cassette has an 11-50T range, so there’s no chance you’ll be lacking granny gears.
A nice surprise at this price point is the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes which will transform your braking experience if you were using mechanical discs or rim brakes before. These are dual-piston brakes built exclusively for trail riding.
All in all, Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1 looks good, rides well, and has a pretty tempting price tag. Get it if you want a reliable ride that will get you through any adversity.
Second Best – Best Components
Salsa Mukluk is a capable fat bike with a phenomenal list of features. It is the right choice for riders who plan to take this bike out on dry and rowdy singletracks, in addition to mud and snow, to make the best use of the massive
Some might argue that a fat bike with such massive tires is overkill, but they probably haven’t tried riding Salsa Mukluk. It is the best fat-tire bike you can find in this price range for a variety of reasons. Great looks are one of them.
This bike comes equipped with a 1×12 SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, which is one of the best from SRAM’s mid-range lineup. The cassette has an 11-50T range, combined with a 30T crankset.
Salsa Mukluk is one of the most capable bicycles around thanks to its massive 4.8″ tires, lightweight carbon frame, and progressive trail geometry.
The 45NRTH Dillinger 5, 26 x 4.8″, tubeless-ready tires meet all requirements to be found on a fat bike and will roll over obstacles with ease. They will come in handy when you descent or have to get over sharp obstacles on a fully-loaded bike.
We also like the SRAM Guide T hydraulic disc brakes — there’s not really much that you can say about them other than that they stop on a dime.
With all of this in mind, Salsa Mukluk is a bike that you can explore your limits with both in winter and summer, on any type of terrain.
Solid 3rd – Best Carbon Fat Bike
Salsa Beargrease is a lightweight fat bike with a carbon frame and fork. It’s available in several builds, but today we are looking at the one with SRAM NX Eagle components — one of the best fat bikes for 2021.
Salsa Beargrease is not a cheap fat bike by any means — it costs more than $3,000, but it is relatively affordable for a full-carbon fat bike of this calibre.
The frame features internal cable routing and is dropper post ready as well.
Beargrease is fitted with SRAM’s most affordable 1×12 drivetrain, the NX Eagle. It features a 10-50T cassette and a 30T crankset which will give you plenty in terms of both high speed and low cadence.
Salsa makes several fat bike models, so they have plenty of experience when it comes to choosing the right parts. You can see that in the SRAM Guide T brakes which have excellent reviews online when it comes to performance and reliability.
Let’s not forget the 45NRTH Dillinger 4 tires, which are 27.5″ in diameter and 3.8″ in width and can be seen on many of the best fat bikes out there.
Salsa Beargrease also has a beautiful pink, black, and gray paint job and plenty of eyelets to mount different carriers and bags on it. Therefore, it’s ready for adventure whenever you are!
Great Alternative for Kids
Here’s another kids’ fat bike with plus-size tires, 20-inch wheels, and crazy-fun paint job that’s ideal for junior riders to learn the ropes of trail riding. Cannondale Cujo is the most lightweight choice in this price range for kids, weighing just over 21 lbs.
If you want a fat tire bike that is built especially for children, then Cannondale Cujo is the one. Its handlebar, saddle, crank, and brake levers are built specifically for sprouting cyclists and their smaller hands, legs, and feet.
The frame and fork on the Cujo are both made from the SmartForm C3 aluminum alloy which is seen on most adult bikes from Cannondale as well. The top tube slopes quite a bit, so the standover clearance is quite low, which translates to easy mounting and dismounting of the bike.
Cannondale Cujo rolls on plus-size 2.6″ Kenda tires that will teach kids about traction and grip. They instil confidence on loose surfaces and will definitely prevent quite a few unnecessary falls. Cannondale’s rims are double-walled, so they are strong enough to handle some beating.
Cannondale Cujo is jam-packed with features and solutions that make it the best fat tire bike for kids, including the geometry, components, and children-specific parts.
You’ll also see Shimano Tourney rear derailleur and a 1×7 drivetrain on this bike. The tourney is cheap and basic, but it’s the groupset most kids and most beginner riders start with — that’s what it’s made for.
Finally, the Tektro mechanical disc brakes are indispensable when riding down slopes or soaking the wheel in water and mud.
If you want to surprise your child with one of the best fat-tire bikes with a focus on low weight, Cannondale Cujo is more than a good choice.
Best Equipped Fat Bike
Few bike brands out there can come close to Rocky when it comes to building adventure bikes. Rocky Blizzard is one of the best fat bikes you can get for this amount of money. As you can see from its name, it’s ready to take you through some serious blizzards.
Rocky Blizzard is a cumbersome machine with an aluminum frame and a Manitou Mastodon Pro (Ext) with 120mm of travel.
If you have money to spare and you want a bike to ride when the weather gets as bad as possible, then your funds can safely go here. You’ll get a decent amount of value from the components and the build.
Rocky Blizzard is not the lightest fat bike out there, but its aluminum frame and suspended fork might make it one of the most comfortable and most practical ones.
Blizzard comes with a 1×12 drivetrain, so you’re equipped with plenty of wide-range gears to power through any mud pit. The components are mostly SRAM GX Eagle, except for SRAM Guide RE hydraulic brakes. All of these are reliable and efficient enough for even the most demanding of riders.
The star of the show is the Terrene Cake Eater Fast Rolling Tubeless Studdable 27.5 x 4.0 tires rolling on Sun Mulefüt 80 rims. If you deflate them a bit and add studs, you can take them over rocks and snow and let them seek adventure for you.
The only downside is the weight, which is not uncommon for fat bikes but should still be pointed out. Other than that, Rocky Blizzard checks all the requirements in this price range and is adventure-ready.
Best Price & Weight Value
Salsa Mukluk Deore is one of the best aluminum fat bikes on this list. It is also a very affordable model, making it suitable for intermediate riders and even beginners. It will ensure nothing will stand in your way on the road to success lined with roots, rocks, mud, and snow.
Salsa Mukluk Deore is basically an SUV in the world of cycling, jam-packed with high-tech components and solutions.
The aluminum frame and carbon fork on this bike provide you with stiffness, precision, and agility, whereas wide tires give you unlimited possibilities.
If you want the most possible value and you’re not willing to spend a lot of money, you’ll find this bike attractive. It has one of the biggest tires of all the best fat bikes out there. The 45NRTH Dillinger 5 tires are 4.6″ wide and 26″ in diameter, so this Salsa looks more like a moto than a bike.
Moreover, the bike is fitted with a 1×11 drivetrain and Shimano Deore components, so you’ll be able to keep it going on different types of terrain quite easily.
You’ll also get Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and rotors which are precise, reliable, and powerful the moment you engage the lever.
Salsa went all-in with the Mukluk Deore to offer the fat bike community something to truly be happy about!
Best Cargo Fat Bike
Salsa Blackborow is the best fat bike for touring. If you are planning to travel the world by staying off the beaten path, this is the bike that you can carry all of your belongings with. Essentially, it is a quirky-looking cargo fat bike with some pretty sweet specs.
Salsa Blackborow is the perfect bicycle to move all of your belongings from one house to another if you live in a remote area without any roads. However, a much more likely utilization would be to pack all of your essentials on it and make the world your home.
Salsa Blackborow is built on an extra-strong 6066-T6 aluminum frame and a Kingpin aluminum fork. The frame has an extended wheelbase and rear stays with remarkable carrying capacity. The rear rack supports up to four full-size panniers, and you can fit a few more on the fork.
If you want a fat bike that can carry the most weight and not budge a bit, then Surly Blackborow is the ultimate choice on the market.
What is the best fat bike? The one that gives you the most freedom. The tires this bike comes with are 27.5 x 3.8″ 45NRTH Dillinger 4, but the frame is compatible with 26 x 4.33″, 27.5 x 3″, and 29 x 3″ tires. Plenty of freedom there!
The groupset Salsa went with is SRAM GX Eagle which puts 12 gears at your disposal. It’s the best high mid-range choice from SRAM, so you’ll be quite happy with it.
Get Salsa Blackborow if you’re already planning your next adventure and don’t forget to share some photos
Best Fat Tire Electric Bike
Let’s wrap up this list with the best fat tire electric bike money can get. It’s the most expensive choice on this list as well, but its price is well-justified. Norco Bigfoot VLT 1 is a hardtail aluminum fat bike with a powerful motor and a durable battery.
The main problem with fat bikes is their weight. That, however, is not a problem when you have a powerful Shimano STEPS E-8000 motor and a mighty 630 Wh battery that can give you an extra push whenever you need it.
Most fat bikes don’t have any suspension at all. However, Specialized Turbo Levo Expert has a smooth suspended fork. The exact fork is a Manitou Mastodon Pro w/Dorado Air that provides 100 mm of travel. That’s why this is the best fat-tire e-bike you can get.
You have the money to spare but you still don’t have the bike of your dreams? Then Norco Bigfoot VLT 1 can solve your first-world problems!
This is a 26″ bicycle with 4.6″ tires. That’s super wide! If you lower the pressure, imagine how much fun you can have riding on snow, sand, and even over rocks.
When you finish climbing and come to a downhill section, use the dropper post to give yourself some leverage and adjust the height in multiple positions.
Other components include a 1×12 SRAM NX drivetrain and SRAM Guide T hydraulic disc brakes, none of which require much introduction. They’re crème de la crème.
Start riding the best electric fat-tire bike and stop pushing uphill!
If you need gnarly tires but fat bikes are too fat for you, you should check out some alternative models that we recommend. These are mostly bikes with 27.5+ tires or very wide 29″ tires that offer the capabilities of fat bikes, but are not as sluggish.
You won’t be able to roll over snow, mud, sand, rocks, and roots with the same ease, but you’ll save some weight and gain some speed if you choose one of these alternative models.
Clearance for up to 3.0″ Tires
If you want to ride year-round, without any limits, then Santa Cruz Chameleon A D+ is the right choice for you. It is one of the best 27.5+ tire bikes for snow, but it does equally well when confronted with mud, sand, roots, or rocks.
This bike is not too expensive, which makes it a good mid-range model and a decent investment into extending your mountain biking season.
Santa Cruz Chameleon A D+ comes with a lightweight Aluminum frame with internal cable routing. It’s convertible between 27.5″ and 29″ wheels and offers clearance for up to 3.0″ tires.
The bike comes with a RockShox Recon RL suspension fork with 130mm of travel, which will smooth out any bumps and obstacles on the trail.
Part of the reason why Chameleon A D+ made it to our best fat bike list is that it has tubeless-ready rims and tires. The WTB ST i40 TCS 2.0 rims are combined with Maxxis Rekon+ EXO TR tires that are 2.8″ wide.
Santa Cruz Chameleon A D+ is a ridiculously fun 27.5+ bike that comes with mid-range components and a very tempting price.
The bike is powered by a 1×12 drivetrain with a SRAM SX Eagle rear mech. Excellent mid-range choice! To stop and enjoy the scenery once you’re out and about, just gently engage the SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes. These are coupled with 180 mm rotors.
All in all, there’s not much not to like about Santa Cruz Chameleon A D+. It’s a remarkable mountain bike for snowy weather that does its job well.
Best Full-Suspension with Massive Tires
Fat bikes are extremely fun to ride, but they’re not the best choice for everyone. Some riders want a compromise between speed and off-road performance that 27.5+ and full-suspension offer.
GHOST FRAMR 4.7 is one of the best high mid-range full-suspension bikes with huge tires that you can use to ride all year round and test your limits on different terrain.
GHOST is one of the most popular bike brands out there when it comes to building affordable, yet quality bikes. With FRAMR 4.7 as an example, we can see exactly why.
GHOST FRAMR 4.7 is a bike that will give you the freedom to follow your intuition and choose more and more challenging trails every single.
FRAMR 4.7 is an aluminum bike that features a RockShox 35 Gold RL fork with 170mm of travel and a RockShox Monarch Plus R rear shock with 160mm of travel. It’s ready for serious riding and racing.
The most important part of this bike is its massive 2.5/2.4″ Maxxis tires that are 27.5 inches in diameter. These are Maxxis Minion tires, which is one of the most popular choices.
GHOST has also equipped this model with 12 gears that can be shifted through with a SRAM SX rear derailleur. It is the best-value choice you can get when it comes to 1×12 drivetrains.
As it befits one of the best wide tire bikes, GHOST FRAMR 4.7 comes with TRP G-Spec Trail SL hydraulic disc brakes that show no struggle when it comes to bringing this fun-factory to a stop.
The color is quite exciting as well, so we believe there’s nothing you will not love on GHOST FRAMR 4.7 Plus, you’ll like the value you get as well, which is equally as important!
5010 C R is one of Santa Cruz’s best FS bikes around $4,000. It sits in the middle of their adventure offering, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is not a seriously capable machine. It’s ideal for riders who intend to both race and ride on trails for fun, on all types of terrain.
To make 5010 C R, Santa Cruz re-examined all of their Trail and All-Mountain models and borrowed all of the best elements. The result is a versatile FS bicycle that can do whatever you set your mind to.
It’s made with a Carbon frame that’s light, stiff, and super-efficient when it comes to power transfer. The frame features one mount for a water bottle cage located inside the triangle.
No matter where you decide to ride this bike, it has everything it needs to keep going. The most important of all is the 27.5 x 2.4″ Maxxis Minion tires rolling on WTB ST i30 TCS 2.0 wheels. These are what you’d expect to see on a mountain bike in this price range.
Santa Cruz 5010 C R is equipped with Fox front and rear suspension that offers 140/130mm of travel and lots of advanced adjustabilities.
Then there’s the SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain which is SRAM’s best-value 1×12 setup. It’s part of a mid-range group which means it has exquisite value for money.
Santa Cruz 5010 C R is a strong and capable trail bike that performs remarkably on any day of the week and on any adventure you take it.
If you get carried away and pick up too much speed, SRAM Guide T hydraulic disc brakes will have no problem slowing you down and helping you regain control.
If you want the best fat bike from Santa Cruz at this price, end your search with the 5010 C R!
We chose these 10 best fat bikes to give you a broad spectrum to choose from. It includes different price ranges, component specs, geometries, and intended uses.
Whichever model you choose, you will end up with a reliable and dependable fat bike that will extend your riding season and give you new possibilities when it comes to choosing the route.
I hope you’re already planning your next fat tire adventure and you’ll share it with us!