Fat Bikes | What’s the deal with these things?

Trek Farley 9.6 Fatbike
Trek Farley 9.6, a carbon fiber speedster.

It’s getting to be that time of year folks. It’s not unbearably hot anymore, the sun is going down earlier and earlier, and Oktoberfests are readily available to purchase at most local spirits establishments. If you haven’t caught on, I’m talkin’ ’bout Fat Bike season. Now, some may say “But Kyle, isn’t Fat Bike season all year long?” Well yes, yes it is. And we’ll get to that, but for the purposes of this blog post and that extremely eloquent introduction, were going with it.

Many of you know that I love Fat Bikes (#fat4lyfe). I love the confidence and traction. I love the places and times of year that I can ride them. I love the camaraderie. And heck, I’ll admit it, sometimes I even love the stares and occasional “Holy cow, those tires are FAT!” you get while riding around town.

Surly Moonlander Fat Bike
Trail Dog Ziva & Her Surly Moonlander

No doubt I’ll interject more reasons I love Fat Bikes as we journey along, but my primary directive of this post is to cover some of the main questions/comments/concerns I hear regarding these big-boned bicycles. I’ll begin with the question that just about everyone who has never seen a Fat Bike before asks:

“Don’t those big tires make it really hard to pedal?”

Simple answer? No. Not simple answer? Not really. They are not at all as hard to pedal as what they look. That being said, Fat Bikes are not road bikes, and they never will be, but they’re not meant to be either. They are meant to be able to go anywhere at a moments notice. You’re probably not going to be winning any crit road races on one, but Fat Bikes are definitely not the slow, lumbering behemoths that many think them to be.

“Aren’t those bike really heavy?”

They can be, but they can also be extremely lightweight. The weight of a Fat Bike can vary dramatically depending on two main factors. 1) How much you spend and 2) What you want to use it for. As with just about anything in life, you can get a nicer and, many times, a lighter weight bike if you spend more money. If you want to spend $5000 on a feather weight race fattie, great! If you don’t, great! There are a bunch of options when it comes to price points. You can buy a good quality, basic fat bike for around $1000, weighing in around 34-35 pounds (lighter than many hybrids (also probably lighter than that 25 year old steel 26er hanging in your garage too)). Most mid-level Fat Bikes are tipping the scales in the 30-32 pound range, are have a ride feel that’s even lighter. The second factor is what you want to use the bike for. The Fat Bike was initially an expedition bike, built to take no guff from nobody. An expedition styled fattie is going to be heavier weight than a more trail/race inspired ride, but can potentially be more versatile in a number of categories, including cargo capacity, tire selection, etc. Next time you stop in the shop pull a Fat Bike out and pick it up, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

“Where do you even ride something like that?”

*One of my personal favorites to answer* Everywhere and nowhere. That’s my deep, poetic way of saying that there is no limitations on where you can or can’t ride a Fat Bike. From cruisin’ the bike path, to your local singletrack (Thanks LAMBA!), to traversing a snow covered frozen pond, to taking a lap around the neighborhood with the kids, to finding the figurative middle of nowhere a Fat Bike is the perfect answer. Except “Would you like fries with that?” replying to that question with “Fat Bike” is just not an appropriate answer.  Anyways, I digress. As I was saying, due to their very stable, confidence inspiring ride, Fat Bikes are great to ride anywhere, at any time of year! To put some jumper cables on the right side of your brain I’ve attached a handful of my favorite photogs of some of the more creative and scenic destinations #TeamHallBicycle has traversed via fattie.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa Surly Moonlander Fat Bike
Snow covered rail bridge. Cedar Rapids.
Trek Farley 9.6 with a lake view.
Trek Farley 9.6 with a lake view.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa Surly Moonlander Fat Bike
Wheelieing across a Cedar River sand bar.
Iowa Surly Moonlander Fat Bike
A mirrored frozen lake. Middle of nowhere, Iowa.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa Surly Pugsley Fat Bike
Traversing an ice jam along the Cedar River.
Global Fat Bike Day 2015, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Exploring the sand bars on Global Fat Bike Day 2015
Surly Ice Cream Truck, Pleasant Creek Park
Pleasant Creek Park.
Trek Farley 9.6 exploring deep in the woods.
Trek Farley 9.6 exploring deep in the woods.

So what do you think? Can’t wait for the temperature to drop and first snow to fall now, eh? Yup, same here.

In Conclusion

The coolest thing about Fat Bikes is their downright versatility. Haven’t you ever been cruising down the road or trail and caught a glimpse of a washed out entrance to an old ATV trail and thought “I wonder what’s down that way..”? Well, that’s the beauty of a 4″ tire, you now have nothing stopping you from letting your inner child out and exploring to your hearts content. And in the end, isn’t that what riding a bike is all about? Having fun? Feeling like a kid again? Going where no bicycle has gone before? Ok, maybe not always that last one, but you get the drift. Fat Bikes are fun. For me, that’s more than enough reason to ride one.

So if you have more questions about Fat Bikes, or want to test ride one, or just want a chance to critique my writing style, don’t hesitate to stop in and see us sometime!

Kyle A. Moscrip | Manager

Surly, Trek Bikes, Framed Bikes, Fat Bike
Hall Bicycle stocks Trek, Surly, and Framed brand Fat Bikes.

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