Image default

Fat bikes are the bikes you need in winter


Electric fat bikes are bikes designed to ride on snow, mud, sand or loose rocks, impossible or very difficult terrain to ride with other types of bikes, including mountain bikes.


Lately its popularity has grown a lot and you’ve probably coincided with some on specific bike trails. They are recognizable because they are equipped with wide tires, between 4 and 5 inches. They are especially indicated for winter, as most cyclists ride them in snow or sand, run under low tire pressure and dominate on surfaces where normal mountain, cross or road bike tires would sink. Also keep in mind that if you live somewhere where it usually snows, a fat bike can keep you in great shape throughout the winter.


You will wonder how this peculiar type of bicycle came about. Well, the first modern fat bike was built in the 80s with the aim of crossing the Sahara Desert. It was a bicycle used prototype tires and tires made by Michelin.


Although its true development is due to two coinciding stories in time: in the late 1980s, several Alaskan manufacturers began to develop bicycles capable of riding in the snow, with some early prototypes that used wheels made by welding 2 or 3 rings. Meanwhile, much further south, specifically in New Mexico, progress was being made in manufacturing wheels with 3.1-inch rims, 3.5-inch wheels, and frames sturdy enough to support those wheels. Their destination was to install them on bicycles for a travel company that planned to offer bike rides through the desert.


In 1999 both projects, already highly developed, were crossed at the Interbike exhibition in Las Vegas and Wildfire Design Bicycles, the Alaska company began to manufacture fat bikes using the wheels of New Mexico. This is how the history of these bicycles started. But what sets them apart from the rest? Let’s look at some of its peculiarities:



The fat bikes with a motor table is based on that of mountain bikes. Its geometry usually has a sloping top tube to allow the rider to flex his knees and have better control during jumps on an uneven path. The difference compared to the frames of a mountain bike is that both the fork and chainstays have more clearance to support the wider wheels. The frames are usually made of aluminum or carbon fiber and it is possible to find some made of chromoly steel.



Fat bikes use straight or double height handlebars to facilitate good control and good visibility on the most uneven roads. This type of handlebars allow a semi-upright posture more indicated for this type of road.



The vast majority of fat bike wheels are built with 170mm hubs, although 160mm, 165mm are also used. and 190mm. The hoops are usually 26 inches and are usually between 35 and 103 mm. wide, while the tires are between 64 and 130 mm. and being designed to be used on very uneven terrain, they have studs to improve traction. Using such wide tires can inflate at low pressures.



Fat bikes have wide speed ranges, with rather low ratios. This feature gives them the ability to face any type of surface, especially if it is loose terrain full of logs and loose rocks. Normally they have 2 or 3 plates and 8 or 9 pinions, although they can be found with cassettes of up to 11 steps.


Fat bikes are truly fun bikes, perfect for those looking to get off the beaten track and explore new horizons. Its wide, low-pressure tires offer a very good grip and absorb vibrations from the road very well.


In addition, they are a highly indicated tool to achieve the goal of good physical condition. Staying fit in winter is difficult, but fat bikes make exercising outdoors possible, providing demanding workouts. On the saddle of one of them you can burn up to 1,500 calories per hour in mild conditions and, on top of that, you recover faster than if you were to run for an hour.


They are highly recommended for cross training, as cooling for Nordic skiing. In fact many ski resorts offer fat bikes for rent. However, they should not be pigeonholed as simple muscle burners for the winter. Its owners achieve an average of 76 days of use per year, but some like the stability and suspension of fat tires so much that they use them year-round.