If you could only have one bike, do you think a fat bike’s compelling versatility is enough to make it your primary bike?
The short answer is yes. And the longer answer is yes. But you also need to be realistic with what a fat bike can do and where it comes short.
Personally, my Giant Trek fattie has been my only bike for commuting and riding different types of trails.
Before I jumped ship, I was an avid mountain biker. I had also tried a couple of other bikes, including adventure bikes and cruisers.
The greatest shortcoming with other classes of bikes is I couldn’t ride all year, and all-terrain. I had to get a different bike for every terrain and climate.
My Giant Trek fat tire bike changed all that.
It provides a plush ride over the rough trails and off the map adventures and will gobble pretty much everything on the road.
The lower wheel PSI also provides incredible traction, especially on the loose and sloppy surfaces, while the traction for hill climbing is insane.
Of course, I know fat-tire bikes get undeserved hate, but the truth is unless you cycle in a dedicated trail path all through, you might need one.
See, I don’t know what your average road trail is, but I imagine it runs from the smooth pavement, potholes trails, dirty tracks to muddy avenues if it’s anything like mine.
So, if you’re the kind of rider looking to navigate through all these terrains, all seasons on a single bike, you should seriously consider a fat bike.
If you want to know how my experience has been, read on!
14 Reasons to Consider a Fat Tire Bike as your Only Bike
This section will share some of the main reasons you should consider a fattie as your one bike.
Better on Soft Ground
The first benefit of owning a fat bike is they can ride on soft ground like sand, snow, and mud.
Normally, these are grounds that would otherwise bog my Santa Cruz Mountain bike to a standstill.
It’s particularly a great bike choice if you live in locations with unpredictable weather.
For example, here in Delta County, we might have snow for four months and go half the winter without any. Or, we might experience a bit of snow that would be too deep for the regular mountain bike but not deep enough for cross country skiing.
You don’t have to worry about what the weather throws at you with a fat bike.
The fat tires on the fatties distribute your weight and luggage across a more surface area, so there’s less fat bike tire pressure on the ground when snow riding. Therefore, it’s less likely you’ll sink on the loose ground, such as sand or powder.
Fatties are like the snowshoes of cycling and will also excel on the groomed and muddy trails.
The extra-wide soft tires create a wide contact patch for excellent traction on the slippery and muddy ground.
Of course, it’s still manageable to track on the sandy surfaces with a conventional bike, but it would be more like an angry hamster, where you find yourself spinning a lot and hardly moving an inch.
On the other hand, a fat bike allows you to ride over the loose grounds and continue to the dirt parts of the trail without losing traction.
Fat Tires Climb Better
My partner rides a standard full-suspension MTB, and the truth is I can’t keep up with her on the downhills.
But climbs are another story.
Fat bikes climb steep stuff than any other bicycle tire and have insane traction.
The low-pressure wide fat bike tires stick to everything, and their large footprints have a crazy amount of grip that allows me to scramble up a lot of stuff I would ordinarily wash out a mountain bike.
While it won’t allow you to take the lead during the mad rush when starting the climb, in the end, you’ll be the only one standing and still spinning while your 29er’s riding buddies are forlornly pushing theirs.
See, I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet, but I’ve stormed past guys on single-ringed Enduro bikes on a 30% gradient standing up in gear I would call “not for climbing.”
My Giant Trek fat bike hardly slips all over the place as regular bikes do, and I don’t have to spin as hard as I can and pray.
I simply drop into my low gear and crawl up.
Plus, I don’t have to worry that I’ll flip onto my arise when doing the climbs. The weighted down on the front ends keep the bike firmly rooted on the ground, so I can concentrate on getting up the climb.
Ride the Unexplored Grounds
If your idea of cycling is exploring new and unchartered locations, a fat bike can be an amazing choice.
The primary benefit of a fat bike is that it can navigate a diverse range of conditions, from sand and snow to mountain trails.
Using my Giant Trek in my wet forest trails has been a pleasant experience. It’s easy-going on roots and even on wet rocks.
Poor weather doesn’t deter me anymore. As mentioned earlier, fat bikes generally have nice traction in loose conditions and will effortlessly damage the wet dirt trails, loam, snow, and much more.
I’ve also used my bike over the dune in Wales. While pedaling your way through is not necessarily easy, it’s certainly more pleasant and manageable than with a regular bike.
Fat biking is quite liberating; I ride where I want, when, and what I want.
Along with the ability to handle more trail grounds, fatties have better control and handling.
I just prefer the larger volume tire for added control and better cushion. They may feel like steering an elephant on hardpack, bike park, or tarmac, but get them on the rooty trails, and you’ll enjoy their flow and incredible control.
Bulldoze where other Bikes can’t
The ability to bulldoze over literally anything with a bike is simply mind-blowing; it changes your perception of what and where you can ride.
Mostly, I can bomb over any surface, including boulders, bushes, forests, and not care. I’ll roll over anything.
And after it all, there’s less rut and more squish.
I’ve seen most fat bike riders rolling over stuff that all other guys with their 2.1″ tires are walking up in races.
The ability to roll over anything with a fatty also allows me to go a bit faster because sticks, logs, stones, loose gravel, and more don’t cause any sort of issue.
Plus, if you’ve a nice expensive suspension bike, you can keep it from getting worn out in crappy conditions by fat biking.
Ideal for Bike packing
If you need an adventure bike for bike packing, a fat bike begins to sense for so many reasons.
Of course, I know most riders are accustomed to the 29er for bikepacking.
It has its place in bikepacking, especially when you need to rack up miles on paved, local trails and smooth gravel tracks.
However, a fat bike makes more sense if you plan to ride off-road and the more beaten paths.
Even when fully loaded, the wider fat tires are stable and provide more control.
Personally, I tend to carry lots of loads in my bike pack, and I feel the larger off-road tires (volume is key) make the ride safe and distribute my weight and cargo better.
Try bikepacking with a normal bike, and you’ll notice how squirrely it feels.
Conversely, the fat bikes can tow the heaviest bike loads with their overside contact patch grip.
Still not convinced?
Assume you’re driving a car and need to go some off-road. Would you rather have a Ferrari or a Jeep Rubicon?
Fat biking is incredibly comfortable and rides smoother and softer than other bikes.
Of course, it’s not as soft as a full-suspension, but remember, you also have the option of a full-suspension fat bike.
The biggest win with the fat bike tires is the big ass tire, which is essentially the “suspension” for the bike.
When you dial them in, the wheels do a fantastic job absorbing the small hits and shocks.
Plus, most fat bike tires ride on low pressure for a more forgiving experience on rough trails.
The soft wide tires have better shock absorption and minimize the vibrations. Once you take a hit, the tire deforms around the obstacle, thus absorbing impact instead of bouncing off. This improves the overall comfort while reducing fatigue on the rough terrain because there’s less bounce.
They’re a blast on gravel, feel more stable, and I’m confident that I come to a sudden halt, especially in locations that would be skittish on my other bikes.
The wide fat bike tires also make it easier to get into a patterned cadence, which is especially nice on the steep forest declines.
A fat bike’s geometry is another element contributing to the comfort factor.
See, unlike the traditional road bikes, a fat bike frame and geometry are more relaxed and offer a comfortable upright riding position.
The fat bike frames allow you to see the world more than having your butt up and head down. The upright position exerts little pressure on your back, neck, ad shoulders.
Overall, fat biking is a comfortable and nice experience.
Enjoy a New Riding Perception
What’s usually your end goal for cycling?
For most riders, it’s usually getting to the destination as fast as possible.
But once you get a fat bike, you’ll discover that sometimes, cycling is all about the journey and not the destination itself.
See, unless you’re a speed freak and want to bike racing, a fat bike will allow you to savor every moment of your ride.
I agree you’ll never be fast on a fat bike, but what about you cherish the ride?
Personally, I can’t help but smile when I ride my fat bike and ditch the ridiculous and useless Strava.
A fat bike’s experience is like the cross country skiing version of cycling. While some will enjoy the ride downhill skiing adrenaline that comes with bombing hills in pace, fat bike riders cherish cross country cruising down the trail with a killer workout and more!
Get Better Downhill
Ounce for ounce, most normal bikes are nimble than most fatties.
However, don’t mistake fat bikes for being sluggish or anything. Far from it!
Fatties are still decent performers and will blast over anything on the trail.
And once you gain momentum, you’ll appreciate how fast it’s easy to go downhill on a fat bike. But more importantly, how it’s easy to stop or dodge around corners or when you find obstacles or ground of other riders on the trail.
Personally, I’d be goggling as a kid while bombing the hills, taking corners, and doing the small jumps more confidently than on my other bikes.
At the end of it all, you also learn to trust your bike ad push it to the limits of what it can do.
Keeping it simple
Fat bikes are among the simplest forms of bikes on the market today.
Most of these bikes don’t come with suspension frames, so there’s less chance of going expensively wrong.
But more importantly, most fat bikes are built either from steel or aluminum, so they’re pretty robust.
The bikes will take on anything you throw at them, and it’s one more reason they’re such a popular option for the rugged terrains.
Generally, they have the strength lacking in most modern-day bikes and have unparalleled strength.
The strength is in its genes, and your typical fat bike will serve you for quite a long time without disappointment.
Keep Punctures at Bay
The greatest bane with many adventure tires is getting pinch flats and rims crumbling.
But with a fat bike tire, you can say goodbye to all of that.
See, one of the hidden benefits of a fat bike tire is that they’re mostly run-on low pressures, so the likelihood of having a pinch is close to zero compared to your regular bike.
It takes so much effort to pinch a fat tire bike, and over a couple of years I’ve been with my Giant Trek, I’ve only experienced it twice.
Of course, there’s always the risk of punctures by thorns, but you can always set your fat tire with a tubeless wheel.
Plus, the rims on the fat tire bikes are quite solid and will take on the big hits without crumbling or bending.
Of course, understand that the fat bike wheels are also pretty expensive, but that’s a small price for durability, sturdiness, and a puncture-free experience!
Fat bikes need more effort getting them to speed than the lighter “normal” bikes.
It’s nothing much, though, because for most riders, getting a fat bike to speed is quite manageable by all means, only that you’ll have to push a bit harder.
The good news is fatigue isn’t always bad when you need to do some workouts.
It’s especially true if you want something comfortable that won’t exert too much strain on your hips while still allowing you to get a decent workout.
An electric fat bike is a perfect choice, allowing you to track over anything while reducing the strain on your body.
Plus, the extra effort is also quite helpful for racers and professional athletes.
For example, once you switch to the regular bikes, you’ll have a more pleasant time than your former self.
The extra elbow grease you put on the fat bike translates to increased speed and strength in your regular bike.
Fat Bikes Inspire Confidence for Beginners
Whilst fat bikes shouldn’t be the go-to bicycles for beginners; they’re generally easier and effortless to use for a fat biker getting on their feet.
First, the wide nature of soft tires makes it easier for beginners to balance, especially for low-speed maneuvers.
The fat tires create a wide contact patch with the ground, providing more stability and control on different terrains.
The bikes are also more forgiving and easier to tackle the more technical terrains because it’s easier to lumber over the roots, obstacles, and other debris instead of steering around. And in case you hit an obstacle, chances you’ll bounce over it.
Traction also plays a key role in skull development because it allows the fat bike riders to take on different slipper terrains like ice and sand without worrying about the bike sliding under them.
The extra grip is helpful when you need to come to a stop, turn, and accelerate hard.
Combined, all these benefits will inspire more confidence in the rider, particularly those new to adventure riding.
Fat bikes are more versatile than you would think.
Beyond navigating the different terrains, it’s easy to convert a fat bike into a regular bike with 29″, 28″, and 26″ wheels.
You can convert them into rigid mountain bikes, so they can pick some slack, or convert them into a regular hardtail, which is good for ordinary mountain bikes without the rolling resistance.
I love to swap mine during summer when there is not much snow on the ground, and I don’t want to lug around a bulky bike.
Of course, the swap may also require some custom-laced wheels due to hub spacing.
Finally, I bout my fat bike because it’s generally fun to ride and puts a stupid grin on my face.
I love that the bike makes it effortless to track through snow without worrying about wiping out frequently as my previous CX bike did.
I’m also hitting 40-60 km/hr, going downhill with my Giant Trek, which is more than fast enough for most uses.
The incredible traction is also a plus. It works in every scenario, and I can ride the bike whenever possible.
Overall, fat biking is super fun and one of those things you can’t really hate about once you get addicted to it.
Difference between Fat Bike and Mountain Bike
Of all the different bike categories, the mountain bikes are the closest or rather have the most resemblance to a fat bike.
There’re plenty of similarities between these two bikes, making it easier for most riders to have a hard time picking between them.
While both are adventure bikes, there’re also many differences between these bikes. None can be taken as an alternative to the other.
In the guide section below, I’ll share every difference between these two categories of bikes and help you choose the right bike for your riding needs.
The tire width is the greatest and most noticeable difference between a fat bike and a mountain bike.
Fat bikes generally have wider tires, measuring between 3.8 inches and 5.2 inches. On the other hand, standard mountain bike tires measure between 1.9 inches to 2.6 inches.
The tire width differences may seem marginal, but they’ve a huge effect on the overall riding performance.
For example, the wider bike tires are all-terrain options that will take on literally any condition.
However, they excel most om powder, mud, loam, and sand. They’re also great on loose debris where other bike tires would struggle.
Given the range of conditions they can navigate, the fat bikes are also quite versatile on the terrains they can take.
For example, a fat bike is an incredible option for the beach, dirt trails, Rocky Mountains, and snowy terrain.
Simply put, the fat bike will navigate through the gnarly rock garden and single tracks.
On the other hand, the mountain tires are also nice for adventure, but they lack the pragmatism of a fat bike.
For example, many mountain bike tires can ride through the dirt and beaten paths but won’t shine on the loose ground.
If you take a mountain bike tire on powder, it’s likely to sink on the soft snow. It’s not wide enough to guarantee the “floatation” of the wide fat bike tires.
Steep and unyielding climbs on a mountain bike are also challenging because they don’t have as much grip as the fat bike tire.
However, mountain biking tires make up for all that with a great deal of nimbleness.
Of course, mountain bike tires can never match the agility and speed of a road bike or gravel bike, but they’re generally faster than a fat bike tire.
The narrow tires create a less contact patch with the ground. Consequently, there’s friction and less rolling resistance.
But one thing to keep in mind is speed is also relative and will depend on the terrain you’re riding.
For example, if you take both bike tires on the rooty and gnarly terrains, a fat bike is like to shine in terms of speed because it gobbles up pretty much everything.
Unlike a mountain bike tire, a fat bike tire will roll over anything and save you from dodging the debris, which may slow you.
The other difference between the bike tires and mountain bikes is the size of the tires.
Generally, fat bikes have wider rims. The wide fat rims are necessary to accommodate the already wide tires.
The fat bike rims start at 55mm, but the most common size is the 65mm. Also, most fattie bike rims are 26” or 27.5”.
On the other hand, a mountain bikes rim measures about 30mm.
Obviously, the bigger fat bike rims and tires add to the overall weight factor. It may hurt the fun element when it gets a bit technical.
The other difference between a mountain bike and a fat bike is the tire pressure that the bikes run at.
Generally, fat bike tires run at incredibly low pressure, typically between 5 to 14 psi. Conversely, mount bike tires run at a higher psi of 22 to 25.
Fat bikes can accommodate the low tire pressure because they’re voluminous, so they’re less likely to bottom-up and crumble the rim if you hit an obstacle.
The low pressure also creates a floatation experience on the bike’s riding performance. It also acts as a shock absorber, taking on the big hits without transferring vibrations.
Unfortunately, the low tire pressure also creates a wide contact patch, thus increasing the overall friction and rolling resistance. So, if you need to ride at pace, the low-pressure fat tires may not be the best option.
Most fat bikes are rigid.
Some niche options come with full suspension, but I wouldn’t say they’re reasonably priced. Plus, they’re only ideal for high-performance use.
The lack of a suspension isn’t bad because, for starters, the fatties are low bike maintenance, especially for the rugged conditions.
A rigid bike tends to be faster and nimble than the full suspension bikes on smooth trails.
On the other hand, most mountain bikes have a full suspension, making them easier to control on rougher trails.
The full-suspension on an MTB is more effective at absorbing the impacts and won’t fatigue you as much as the fat bikes on the rough terrain.
Both the fat bikes and mountain bikes come in different drivetrain configurations.
Some of the common setups are electric, single-speed, and multi-speed. However, the mountain bikes lack single-speed variants unless the bike is custom-built.
The weight capacity will depend on the individual bike.
However, both a mountain and fat bike offers the highest weight capacity limit for all the bike categories.
Generally, these adventure bikes have a weight capacity of 250 to 300 pounds.
As with the weight capacity, the durability will depend on the individual bikes.
Mostly, the components used in the bike’s design will greatly influence how well it can stand up to abuse.
Why a Fat Bike is a Great Mountain Bike Alternative?
There’re a couple of reasons to consider a fat bike over a mountain bike.
At least in my opinion, the main one is the all-around versatility.
A fat bike can navigate a range of terrains that would otherwise bog a mountain bike. While both are adventure bikes, a fat bike shine on the loose grounds such as snow, sand, and mud.
The other reason is that you can ride a fat bike in pretty much any weather and climate. Simply put, it has an all-year-round use.
Who Benefits Most from a Fat Bike?
If your idea of cycling is taking on the beaten paths and dirt trails, you’re likely to benefit from a fat bike.
In particular, if your neighborhood has plenty of soft ground and loose terrain, a fat bike is a must-have.
Also, bikes are not the most suitable long-term test bike for long-distance riders because of their weight and bulkiness. They’ll certainly put a toll on you with fatigue.
While fat bike costs more and isn’t fast, they’ll ride over pretty much any obstacle while remaining comfortable.
Can I Use my Fat Bike or Mountain Biking?
Yes, fat bikes are a great option for mountain riding. In my opinion, they’re a step-up to your regular mountain bike.
They can handle a variety of terrains with ease, including the beaten trails, loose debris, rocky grounds, and so much more.
And on top of that, they allow you to explore places mountain bikes can’t go.
The wide fat tires will roll over anything and go over debris more easily than a mountain bike tire.
Fat Bike Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Are fat bikes harder to ride?
A: Fat bikes aren’t harder to ride than regular bikes. However, most users find them slightly challenging to pedal because of the increased weight.
Q: Are fat bikes good for beginners?
A: Yes, fat bikes are great for beginners because they offer unmatched stability. The wider fat bike tires also provide more control and are easier to maneuver off-road than any other bike.
Q: Are fat bikes fast?
A: No, fat bikes aren’t as fast. But fast is relative.
Fast bikes won’t match the speed of a road bike on tarmac but will have an advantage over any other bike on the loose terrains.
Fat bikes are generally great all-around bikes and will put a shit-eating grin over your face.
They match the speed and agility of a road or touring bike but will find use on pretty much any terrain.
Personally, I’ve been using a fat bike for a couple of years now as my ultimate bike, and I don’t see getting a second one.
So, yes, I can confidently say that a fat bike can be your only bike.
What do you think? Tell us in the comment section below.