Over the last 10 to 15 years, fat bikes have grown in popularity considerably. It’s gotten to the point where they are pretty common not only off-road but bike trails as well.
I love my fattie more with each passing year. The winters can be quite long and having an outdoor pass time like fat biking is essential in keeping my sanity!
The sudden rise of fat bike popularity has certainly piqued the interest of a lot of bicycle riders. Are they still in style?
1. A Bike for 12 Months Out of the Year
Depending on where a person lives, there are different seasons a person must deal with outdoors. There isn’t a bike built for every season of the year quite like a fat bike. Sure, it might not be at its best performing in perfect weather, but it still works perfectly fine for a good leg work out (does anyone like leg day?) or commuting.
It really shines when the weather is less than ideal. The tires won’t slip when the pavement is wet. It won’t sink or lose balance when going over mud, sand, snow or anything else that would instantly mess with other bikes. Riders can have a lot of confidence knowing that they can go wherever they want, whenever they want and the fat bike will hold up.
This is the major reason why fat bikes have transitioned from something more than just an off-road bicycle with really wide tires. Bike riders of various skill levels like the stability of using the bike in all weather conditions, and any service.
For a long time, mountain bikes and hybrid bikes hold the label as the best option for all-around riding. Now, people can point to fat bikes as the stylish newcomer everyone wants to try out.
2. More Customization Than Ever
People need to realize that fat bikes didn’t really take off until the mid-2000s, when companies like Surly Bikes and Fatback Bikes started marketing to the masses. When a new type of bike first became available, there were only a few options people could pick.
Now, fat bikes are so mainstream that a person can build one from scratch, or shop several different companies if they wish. That means a rider can have a 100% customized bike, fitting their needs entirely.
There are many different reasons why people invest in fat bikes, so there is no reason to have one particular option to fit everyone. Some people want a fat bike because it is the only bike they feel comfortable riding.
Some people want it because they are constantly riding on non-pavement, and this is the best build for them. Some want the luxury of a fat bike, but also one that is made of the lightest material possible for ultimate speed.
Then, there are all the different options a person has now when it comes to style. Different colors, different brands, different add-ons, and more all make a fat bike unique. As long as they are unique, it’s very hard for them to fall out of style.
If all fat bikes looked exactly alike, they would not be as popular as they are right now. Brands sometimes design bikes with a pretty conservative look, but splashes of colors are also welcomed.
3. New Tire Technology
Some people see a lack of development in the way fat bikes look like a reason to question whether or not they are falling out of style. The truth is, there is only so much that is doable with the frame of a fat bike.
Where all the innovation comes from fat bikes is in the tires. Anyone who rides a bike understands just how important fat bike tires are, and how much people are willing to spend on new technology.
The tires are what set this bike apart from all the other styles. Riders expect something extremely durable, have amazing tread on any surface and provides a lightweight, comfortable ride. The easier it is to navigate, the more enjoyable it will be.
In the years since fat bikes really turned into a mass-produced bike option, there have been several breakthroughs with fat bike tires. There are different widths available for specific terrains, and stud technology has improved as well. Anyone who does a lot of riding in the snow truly understands the difference between a studded tire 10 years ago compared to now. Speaking of which…
4. Fat Bikes Take Studs Easier Than Any Other Bike
To feel comfortable in snow, tires need studs on them. Otherwise, any slight turn can end up causing an accident. No other bike takes studs quite like a fat bike.
There are opportunities to add studs to other bike tires, but it usually does not end up well. There is also the inconvenience of taking them off, or replacing the tires altogether.
A lot of people will keep their studded tires on during the winter months, regardless of snowfall or not. They come in handy over patches of ice, as well as other slippery terrains.
5. Companies Producing Fat Bikes Are True to the Style
Since becoming mainstream, critics will point to declining sales as a reason why they are falling out of style. However, it’s all about how a person looks at that situation.
Many fat bike enthusiasts actually believe that the bubble bursting a bit is good for the market overall. Instead of certain brands coming into the fat bike market and trying to capitalize on the hot thing, it’s going back to the roots of the main companies providing innovation.
At the end of the day, few people view fat bikes as the number one bike option in all parts of the world. That doesn’t mean they won’t still be in style. Those who have a true need for a bike like this will always benefit. It’s better for it to be a niche type of bike, focused on by companies who care.
6. They Are Lighter and More Compact Than Ever
In order for fat bikes to make that transition from just a niche type of bike to something that people feel comfortable using for a lot of different reasons, they needed to lose a little bit of weight overall.
A lot of people initially thought the fat bikes were too heavy and cumbersome to move around, especially within a city. It was hard in the early days to take a fat bike and put it on public transportation, or even lift it in and out of the car consistently.
Advances in components and tires have helped reduce the overall size of fat bikes. They are always going to be heavier than most performance bikes, but that’s to be expected with such bulky tires.
The main goal was to reduce everything to a size that was much more manageable, and they have done exactly that.
7. They Act Like Mountain Bikes on Steroids
For many years, people thought of mountain bikes as the option for off-road adventures. While they still serve a very nice purpose, there are many who feel like fat bikes are what mountain bikes should be.
Mountain bikes traditionally go a little bit faster than fat bikes, but other than that, fat bikes are in style much more these days. People like the ability to handle all the different surfaces much better and no one feels overwhelmed with anything possibly throw on their way.
Mountain bikes can also be very tough for those people who aren’t particularly familiar with riding on extreme surfaces. Just having the ability to not really worry about the weather or the type of surface is a great plus for anyone to have. It takes the benefits of a mountain bike and a beach cruiser and puts it into one type of option that performs well.
8. Exercise Opportunities Are Always There
There are many benefits to having a usable bike for 12 months of the year, and at the top of that list is exercising opportunities. It is no surprise that there are plenty of people who like to exercise on a consistent basis outdoors, as no one really enjoys staying inside during the winter months all the time.
The same goes for bad conditions in the summer. A lot of people feel like they have to wait until everything is mostly dry before riding a bike on any surface. While a fat bike can slip occasionally, it’s mostly going to be able to handle everything on their way.
9. Maintenance is Relatively Easy
The great thing about having a bike built to handle so much is that maintenance isn’t that big of a hassle at all. In fact, individuals can handle a lot of basic maintenance, even if they have no real knowledge of bikes in general.
The most fragile bike out there is the road bike, and just the smallest thing can mess it up. It can get pretty costly to constantly maintain a bike like this, which is frustrating for those who might be only using their road bike casually.
Mountain bikes are slightly better than road bikes from a maintenance perspective, but fat bikes are the best. Not only is the frame and all the components sturdier, but fat bike tires are very close to indestructible at times.
Sure, there will be some random flat tires here and there, but low air pressure and thick rubber make them pretty durable. Fat tires, unless they completely blow out, are patchable if they have a small hole in them.
The cost of a fat bike initially seems steep, but it’s important to consider that maintenance costs will be down a pretty significant amount. After buying a bike, no one is forced to pour a ton of additional money into it.
10. Competition Opportunities Are on the Rise
A fat bike might seem like the classic casual option, but that is certainly not the case at the highest levels. In fact, there is more competition for fat bikes than ever these days, and it’s a challenging competition for all.
Many people love the opportunity to get involved and put themselves up against great competition. Not only do a lot of local areas offer races, but there are races for big prizes and money as well. The bikes are respected more than ever these days, and people want to show just how fast they could go.
The world championships are held in Colorado every year, and it is part of a bigger festival that encourages riders from all over to check unique trails and group rides out.
In many ways, the state of Colorado has turned into the default capital for fat bikes in the world. A big reason why is the terrain in the state. Not only can a person come across huge mountains and a ton of sand, but wet areas with plenty of snow in the winter months pop up a lot as well.
11. Faster Than Most Skeptics Think
One of the most common misconceptions about fat bikes is that they are extremely slow. They are not going to win a head-to-head race against a road bike on pavement, but that doesn’t mean they can’t pick up speed in a hurry.
Many people who finally give fat bikes a chance as a bike to use for commuting love just how fast those bikes are. They aren’t too far off from hybrid and mountain bikes, and the right set up will make things virtually the same.
There are still skeptics who see fat bikes on the pavement and wonder why people are using them, but the speed is there to perform. Not every commute is solely on the pavement, so having that extra grip to handle anything is certainly a positive.
The best advice is to stick with a fat bike early on and familiarize yourself with that type of riding. It’s not going to come extremely easy early on, but most people adjust and enjoy themselves.
12. Fat Bike Owners are Loyal
It’s no secret that fat bike sales have declined in the last few years, but there are several factors that go into that. One of the main factors is something that nearly every relatively new product goes through. That is the moment where a lot of early adopters already have their bikes, and they don’t need to upgrade just yet.
Shopping the used market for fat bikes is possible, but the choices are pretty limited. Since that is the case, used fat bikes usually hold their value a little easier than brand new options.
Fat bikes go through a lot, but they last a long time. As long as an owner goes through regular maintenance, they should get years and years out of a quality fat bike.
Do Some People Feel Fat Bikes are Out of Style?
No matter how popular fat bikes get, there are always going to be people who aren’t exactly sold on the style. Maybe they have some common misconceptions about fat bikes, or they tried them once and it wasn’t for them.
The beauty of all the different bikes out there is that there is something for everyone. If a cyclist were to pick up a fat bike, obviously they are not going to get the same type of use out of it. That’s not anything against a fat bike, it’s just common sense.
Versatility is the name of the game with a fat bike. It’s becoming an answer for anyone who isn’t quite sure where they are going to ride their bike every single day. A road bike is a perfect example of a very specialized option, as well as a dirt bike. In many scenarios, neither of these options would be great, but they are perfect for exactly what they are designed for.
Despite fatbikes not having that new feeling as they did in the past, they are still very much in style. The top companies continue to make improvements, and that brings in new riders every single year. Those who are trying a fat bike for the first time are pleasantly surprised with how it rides.
The important thing is to make sure that each individual shops around and finds the perfect fit for them. Most people will buy a bike and have it last for a couple of years, so find something that looks stylish now and enjoy it on any surface imaginable.