A fixie may be able to take you from home to work and back, but if the goal is to go fast on rugged terrain, then you need to invest in a specialized outdoor bike (such as these fat bikes for winter). There are many types and models designed to let you carry a larger load, improve your maneuverability across muddy fields, or increase your security. Gliding through the snow, however, requires a specific set of perks and adjustments.
The most important of them all is, undoubtedly, a set of super-sized tires. These fat-tired bikes, or fat bikes, address a very specific but demanding niche – the people who need to ride even when dealing with treacherously soft soils and terrains. Check out the 10 best winter fat bikes below.
Juneau’s latest fat creation is completely made from aluminum and offers 21 speeds for only 31 pounds of well-employed weight. Standing at 29 inches tall, this bike is equipped with all-terrain knobby tires measuring 26 x 4 inches.
A clever aspect of this bike is its threadless headset, which makes it very easy to adjust. However, its best side is seen whenever trying to make quick maneuvers on hard terrains. The increased traction of the wheels allows you to hug corners with razor-sharp precision. Initially, this model was designed for sand rather than snow, but the extra cushioned seat has a way of staying warm even under freezing temperatures.
As an added bonus, the bike looks interesting and edgy thanks to its lime green paint. The branded decals and graphics are all removable. This means that if your neighborhood is less than ideal, it would take a real bike connoisseur to target your bike.
This exclusive offering by Framed offers 33 pounds worth of high-grade aluminum alloy and tapered steel. The construction of each part of this bike is clearly meant to resist hard terrains and demanding riders. The head tubes, welded sections, hangers, and cage are all minutely polished and reinforced several times.
The 11-gear speed cassette provides you with adaptable speed, and switches from “lightning fast” to “steadily powerful” easily. This is perfect for whenever you hit those jagged and irregular sections on the trail. In a matter of seconds, you will be ready to sink back into the post-frost slush.
Framed has tried to use as many proprietary components as possible, ensuring an efficiently made machine that can be easily assembled. Just make sure to enroll a certified technician to help you, unless you don’t care about the warranty. The handlebars, grips, seat post, and hubs were all engineered out of 32 H aluminum alloy. And wherever comfort was concerned, they were unafraid to recruit the best, such as a Velo S2 saddle.
This may be one of the best-looking options for late winter and early spring rides. It looks solid and sturdy, like the kind of bike a champion would ride. Weighing in at 45 pounds, an El Oso may be a tad bit too heavy to venture into very deep snow, despite the beautiful suspension. However, this bike performs smoothly in shallow depths and on slushy roads, thanks to the supreme grip offered by its 26 x 4.5-inch tires and remarkably stiff thru-axle.
In short, prepare for a bumpy ride. This is what this bike was created for. The speed cassette, designed by Japan’s very own Shimano, offers an astonishing 20 different gears. To round out the package, the bike includes TRP Spyke disc brakes and surprising light air-formed alloy forks.
A final design hit was the overall sleek silver plating. It is not platinum, because who would take that up a snowy peak? They have also done an excellent job of making it look luxurious and refined, with just a little bit of extra vibrancy thanks to the bright orange branding.
Equally useful on trails, off-road paths, or snowed in parks, the Alton Mammoth is a remarkably light and stable vehicle that can be used year round. It does show its best face in mud or snow, however, thanks to the seamless integration of a Rigid Corsa steel fork, a rust-resistant alloy frame, and extra sharp Cora alloy rims.
The bike uses 26 x 4-inch tires, which is the standard for fat bikes nowadays. However, the bike’s mechanisms will remain smooth and efficient across a variety of tire pressures – not only when you feel the need to glide over or float around. The result is a large but gentle ride, where safety and comfort remain at its best across the entire trail. For a beginner rider, this could make or break a purchase decision. However, even experienced or competitive riders will appreciate the Alton Mammoth for a Sunday stroll.
Kawasaki Mihara Fat Bike
A well-rounded and relatively standard fat bike, the Kawasaki is not seeking to reinvent the wheel or to feature in any of the year’s championships with their Mihara model. Instead, the Japanese firm has chosen to provide a well-balanced and dependable product that will keep hardcore hobbyists content throughout hundreds of weekends to come.
Its lightweight alloy frame and stiff steel form support tire pressures ranging from 5 to 26 psi. Although it uses 24 x4-inch tires instead of 26 x4-inch tires, the bike does not make you feel like you are sacrificing any stability because of it. In fact, it makes it feel a bit lighter and just a tad bit edgier, allowing you to skirt through narrow paths and to avoid jagged rocks as you go.
Its Shimano shifters and front derailleurs offer 24 different speeds. Meanwhile, the 160-millimeter disc brakes and strong brake levers will keep you safe across all terrain conditions – something that is only further improved by their inclusion of a Neco headset, comfy rubber grips, and an adjustable kickstand.
The Mihara comes in both blue and yellow.
Carbon fiber takes the resilience of aluminum up a notch, but with only half the weight. Unfortunately, this often comes with double the price tag. Beiou’s fat bike has managed to avoid this without seemingly cutting many corners.
Their finished creation is an efficient and high-performing bike that will allow you to reach record speeds through mud and snow alike. The inclusion of 30-speed Shimano shifters, a professional wheelset, and increased shock absorption only serve to improve on what is already a great bike.
The entire frame, handlebar, and seat post are made from Toray T800 carbon fiber, a remarkably affordable variety with just a tad bit extra flexibility. The difference in maneuverability this provides is felt when taking a hard leap or switching onto rocky terrain.
The saddle is roomy, padded, and very comfortable. Even those of us who often replace the built-in saddle will find that they already have exactly what their butt needs. Brakes and shifters are sturdy and responsive, but thanks to the lightness of the carbon fiber, the assembled bike barely weighs 20 pounds.
You can choose between a glossy black or green finish.
Japan has long been enamored with bike-riding, which is perhaps why even a small, independent bike maker can provide superb outdoor options with great value.
The Takara Nobu is not just a set of 26 x4-inch fat tires, Shimano derailleurs, and Shimano shifters. The vintage feel of this blue racer does not distract but remains aesthetically pleasing. The frame is relatively light and entirely handcrafted.
The shifters by themselves offer you seven speeds, but the Shimano cassette brings the Nobu’s flexibility to a completely new level. Meanwhile, dual front and rear hand brakes will keep you safe and ready to respond to any incoming car or rock. The only downside is that the bike may be a bit uncomfortable for people over six feet tall, and it only comes in one size.
The Dynacraft Crusher is a surprisingly flexible model (it comes in two sizes and two stock colors) that will surely be causing a lot to talk about later on. It rides steadily and glides through mud or deep snow easily. The springed saddle is padded, which offers just enough protection for you and your groin from the occasional bump on the road.
This is an excellent budget-friendly model for newcomers to outdoor sports or winter riding. Even though it lacks the multiple gears and speeds offered by most fat bike models, it includes an intuitive coaster brake and light, thin handlebars. Thin does not mean flimsy, however, as the steel frame will carry a person up to 300 pounds easily. Add a pair of coordinating rim cutouts, a three-piece crank, and a lifetime warranty on the fork and frame, and the incredible value provided by this model quickly becomes obvious.
Finally, the designers decided to take an extra chance with an unusual matte finish. Bikes usually go for the shiny and polished appeal, but in a way, matte simply makes more sense for something that is going to be taken outdoors amidst snow, dirt, and slush.
Far from being a budget option, the Cyrusher XF6600 was always meant to be a powerful model – and that is exactly what you will be getting. It is a worthy investment for those taking a long trip through superbly harsh terrain or who will need to save some stamina for kayaking or rock-climbing. Its 500-watt engine is energy-efficient, eco-friendly, relatively silent, and will let you catch a break between sprints. It reaches speeds of up to 25 miles per hour by itself, and can easily reach 35 miles per hour if you assist it.
Naturally, at such speeds, some extra safety features are necessary. The XF6600 is equipped with a bright front light, a horn, and dual brakes. The frame is made from aluminum rather than steel, but it is sturdy enough to carry up to 360 pounds. It also offers a seven-speed gearing system with Shimano shifters.
It only comes in one size, however, and the seat may prove a bit uncomfortable for smaller or shorter riders. This is a bike made for big people who want to go big.
An established bike manufacturer like Mongoose is bound to have more than one entry on any “best of” list to the point that narrowing our selection down to one favorite from this brand proved to be a near impossible task. After all, their bikes are affordable and reliable by default, but they do not all look as cool as the Vinson.
The first image summoned by the Vinson’s light and efficient design was the legendary bike used in The Postman – a 1994 movie where the bike was practically its own character. However, this is no flimsy work tool used by a working-class Italian in the 70s. A 24-speed SRAM X4 trigger shifter, Shimano shifter and derailleur, and high-grade aluminum frame provide a luxurious ride both then and now.
The stock dual mechanical disc brakes are remarkably responsive and secure. However, the 18-inch frame will hold hydraulic brakes easily. The seat could use some improvements, though, so if you like to keep yourself cushioned, budget for a replacement right away.
How Does a Fat Bike Work?
The key behind a fat bike is the increased width of each tire, which provides better pressure distribution. In turn, this lowers the amount of ground pressure placed by the rider, keeping them from sinking into deep mud, snow, or sand.
Fat bikes also have wider, lighter frames that can accommodate wider rims. This provides more room for the aforementioned fat tires and allows them to keep their shape even while keeping inflation pressure low. This further lowers the overall weight of the bike, making it more difficult to sink.
The earliest fat bike models date back to the late 80s or early 90s. Initially, they were simply modifications on more common outdoor trail bikes. However, now you can get a fully geared fat bike directly off the internet, and many of them are simply superb.