A fat bike is the perfect tool for extending your riding season if you live where it’s snowy or wet, or where riding a regular-tire mountain bike is futile, not fun, and might damage the trails. Fat bikes are also highly functional for bikepacking, and for riding on sand because larger tires that are run at low-pressure float over soft surfaces. And they smooth out your ride even on a frame without suspension.

Fat bike tires are getting wider for more float in extreme conditions, and the bikes are being built lighter with higher performance in mind. Dropper posts are becoming increasingly common on stock builds, making it easier to ride technical terrain and remount in deep snow.

And more manufacturers are paying attention to Q Factor (or stance width), which is the distance between the outside of one crank arm to the outside of the opposite crank arm. To create the clearance for wider tires, brands use wider rear hub spacing (up to 197mm—a typical mountain bike has a 148mm -wide rear hub). Wider rear hub spacing requires that the crankset be shifted outboard to maintain a reasonable chain angle for proper shifting, which increases the stance width of the cranks. Wider-stance cranks can cause knee or hip pain in some riders. If this is you, look for a fat bike with a narrower bottom bracket shell (less than 100mm).

This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

In the market for a fat bike? Here’s what you should be thinking about as you shop around.

[Related: All of the Different Types of Bicycles—Explained]


A hardtail with a rigid fork is the most affordable and most common type of fat bike. Because most of these bikes use four- to five-inch-wide tires, and because you typically run those tires at low pressure, even a rigid bike can feel like it has suspension as the tires conform to irregularities in the trail. If your riding surface is particularly uneven, rooty, or rocky, or you want to run your tires at a higher pressure for less squirm, consider buying a fat bike with full suspension. A full-suspension setup can help you maneuver better, keep you from feeling beat up after a long ride, and make the ride more enjoyable if you swap fat rims for standard mountain bike rims. However, if you typically ride in extremely cold temperatures, a rigid fork may be more reliable.

Join Bicycling All Access for more gear advice

Wheel Swapping

Some fat bikes are designed to accommodate both fat-tire rims and standard 27.5 or 29-inch mountain bike rims. If you don’t want to ride fat tires all year, buying a frame with multiple configuration options lets you have one bike with multiple personalities. In snow or sand, run it with a fat-tire setup. Buy a set of mountain bike wheels with narrower rims and equip them with smaller tires, and you have another option that’s lighter and may be better suited to everyday riding. All fat bikes are built with different hub standards, so you’ll likely have to buy a dedicated second set of wheels if you want to enjoy different options.

Wheel Size

Most fat bikes use 26-inch wheels, though 27.5-inch builds are not uncommon. Larger wheels are faster rolling and make trail obstacles even easier to push over or through. Fat tire wheels come in many different rim widths, ranging from 60 to 100mm. In general, the wider the tire you want to use, the wider the rim you will want. However, a narrower rim will save weight and make the bike feel livelier.

Maxxis FBR
The Maxxis Minon FBR and FBF are a popular tire choice on this list. You will also find Schwalbe Jumbo Jim on a number of brands. They both go up to 4.8 inches to roll through sand and snow.
Courtesy of Maxxis


The fatter the tire the cushier the ride. Five-inch tires give more float on soft ground than four-inch models. But fatter tires are heavier, slower, and bouncier on firm ground. For riding on firmer and drier trails, and at higher speeds, a narrower tire is going to provide a more satisfying, and less squirmy, ride. Whichever you choose, consider setting them up tubeless and running low pressures for less chance of flatting. Just ensure the tubeless sealant you choose works at subzero temperatures. If you’ll be riding in icy terrain instead of snowy trails, you’ll want to buy or make a set of studded tires for enhanced grip.

Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is the best tool you have to fine-tune the performance of your fat bike. With five-inch-wide tires in the softest conditions, you may be running pressures as low as two psi. In firmer or rougher terrain, or for higher speeds, you will want to use more pressure to increase the support the tire offers, and to sharpen the bike’s handling. You may even want to change your tire pressure several times on a single ride as you encounter different conditions. For the best fat-biking experience, you’ll want to invest in a good digital tire pressure gauge, because differences as little as a half-pound of pressure make a significant difference in the feel and performance of a fat tire.

—Best Sub $1k Fattie—

Rocky Mountain Blizzard 10

Blizzard 10

This sub $1,000 fat bike features trail bike geometry paired with high-quality 4.8-inch Maxxis FBF/FBR tires. Shimano provides the drivetrain components in the form of an Altus nine-speed shifter and rear derailleur. House-brand cranks spin a 24-tooth chainring with a SunRace 11-40 cassette on the other end. The Tektro disc brakes will keep your speed in check on fast descents. It comes with 26-inch wheels but will take larger wheels also. When you want to go deeper into the woods, use the copious cargo mounts on frame and fork.

—Best Value—

Kona Wo

Kona konaworld.com

The Wo is a mid-priced fat bike with top-of-the-line value. For $1,799 it provides a smooth-shifting Shimano Deore drivetrain, Sun-Ringle Mulefut tubeless ready rims with 4.8-inch wide Schwalbe Jumbo Jim tubeless-ready tires, and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. The butted aluminum frame has tons of standover—helpful when you’re trying to get started in deep snow—and rack mounts so you can bring enough gear to play all day. The Wo has thru-axles front and rear and is dropper post and 2x ready if you want to customize its build. As usual, Kona beats its own path with frame and graphic color combos, but (also as usual) this bike looks damn good in person.

—Best All-Season Fattie—

Trek Farley 7

Trek Farley 7
$2,599 trekbikes.com

  • Faster-rolling 27.5 wheels

  • Heavy, even for a fat bike

Like many fat bikes, Trek's Farley 7 has stud-ready 4.8-inch-wide tires. However, those tires are wrapped around 27.5-inch rims, instead of the usual 26-inch rims. The larger diameter means smoother rolling and better traction, and since traction is the point of a fat bike, more is always better. Beyond the larger diameter wheels, the Farley 7 has an 80mm suspension fork and a dropper post. These three features make the Farley 7 more than a snow bike. The suspension fork provides additional traction and control on hard surfaces, and the dropper post gives you control at higher speeds. The Farley's handling befits this all-season versatility, proving predictable at slower speeds on soft surfaces, and surprisingly predictable at higher speeds on dirt trails.

Read Review View Gallery

—Best For Bargain Hunters—

Canyon Dude CF 8

Dude CF 8
Canyon canyon.com

One of the more affordable carbon fat bikes you can buy, the Dude CF 8 sets you up for winter riding success with a light frame and low gearing—a 30-tooth chainring paired with an 11-50 cassette helps this bike power up hills. A dropper post and grippy tires will have you hooting on the descents. Maxxis Minion FBF/FBR 3.8-inch tires on 27.5-inch rims are fun and weight conscious. If you want more float the Dude fits tires up to 4.8 inches wide.

—Best Build—

Giant Yukon 1

Yukon 1
Giant giant-bicycles.com

This sultry chameleon-colored bike is more than just nice to look at—it’s beautifully thought out as well. Full length, and mostly internal, hose and housing routing keeps them protected and out of the way so it’s easier to attach cargo bags. Rear dropouts are adjustable to tweak the geometry or run it single speed, and Giant says the seatstays are shaped to provide extra clearance for thick riding boots. The dropper post helps on the downhills and makes it easy to remount the bike when your feet are post-holing in deep snow. The 90mm-wide rims are drilled for both presta and Schrader valves, so you can run it with tubes (Schrader), or tubeless (presta; a tubeless conversion kit is included but not installed). It has a SRAM 1x12 drivetrain with SRAM hydraulic disc brakes, a carbon fork to smooth bumps (with cargo mounts), and 27.5x4.5 Maxxis Colossus tubeless-ready tires. Unless you need a carbon frame, this bike has everything you want.

—All The Right Stuff—

Specialized Fatboy

Specialized specialized.com

The Fatboy is a straightforward mid-priced fat bike with all the right stuff. It starts with the 27.5x3.8 Maxxis tires. The larger diameter—versus 26-inch wheels—increases rolling speed and traction, and the chunky knobs provide predictable traction in soft conditions. The rims and tires are tubeless ready, so you can run single-digit pressures with less chance of flatting. The Fatboy also has a SRAM 1x12 drivetrain for lots of gear range, and the DOT fluid in the SRAM Level disc brakes is stable in below-freezing temperatures.

—Best Cheap Fattie—

Mongoose Malus

Mongoose amazon.com

A great bike to get you rolling, the entry-level Malus has 4-inch-wide tires, a Shimano 1x7 Alivio drivetrain, and mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors. One shifter keeps things simple, and the brakes are trustworthy in winter, with stopping power to keep you on track all year long. The bike is on the heavy side, but it’s a great option for exploring the world of snow or sand without breaking the bank.

—The Fun Doesn't Stop When The Snow Melts—

Borealis Telluride

Borealis fatbike.com

The Telluride is the fat bike for riders who want to ride on more than just the fattest tires. It will fit up to 27.5x4 tires for soft conditions, but when it's drier and firmer out, run it with faster rolling 29x2.8 tires. When the conditions are drier, and the speeds are higher, you'll appreciate the added stability of a 120mm fork, dropper post, and the longish wheelbase. The Telluride also uses a narrower BB shell—83mm instead of the 100mm shell typically employed by fat bikes—so you won't feel like a bow-legged rodeo rider when pedaling this up a hill.

—Most Adaptable—

Salsa Mukluk Carbon NX Eagle

Mukluk Carbon NX Eagle
Salsa salsacycles.com

Few, if any brands, do adventure bikes as well as Salsa. The Mukluk is extremely adaptable, with swinger dropouts for geometry adjustment or running it single speed; lots of frame and fork cargo mounts; and it is dropper and suspension fork ready if you want to add those options. It can take 4.8-inch tires with 26-inch wheels, 4.0-inch tires with 27.5-inch wheels, or 3.0-inch tires on 29-inch wheels. The geometry, says Salsa, is intentionally designed to shift the rider’s weight rearward for more stability in loose condition, and lighter steering. This build uses a carbon frame—a lower-end Mukluk with aluminum frame is also offered—with SRAM Eagle drivetrain, Sun-Ringle Mulefut SL 80mm rims, and tubeless-and-stud ready 45NRTH 26x4.6-inch tires.

Read Review View Gallery

—Best Mountain Town Cargo Bike—

Surly Big Fat Dummy

Big Fat Dummy
Surly surlybikes.com

Surly’s Big Fat Dummy is a tractor trailer of a fat bike. This Chromoly steel frame is stable and stiff with exceptional traction that shines when you’re toting groceries, trail tools, an expedition’s worth of gear, or a passenger. The bike has a longer top tube and slacker head angle for stability when loaded down. The cargo area is built with thinner, lighter tubing than the rest of the bike to keep its weight in check. The Big Fat Dummy can take 29 or 26 inch wheels, with maximum tire widths of 3 (on 29er rims) to 5.25 (on 26-inch rims) inches wide. The bike comes with a deck, rails, bags, and rail collars (required for hauling humans in the back).

—Best Expedition Bike—

Salsa Blackborow GX Eagle

Blackborow GX Eagle
Salsa salsacycles.com

The Blackborow is a trail-oriented cargo bike that is compatible with 26-, 27.5-, or 29-inch wheels, and tires of up to 4.33 inches wide with a 26-inch wheel. It has a removable direct-mount front derailleur bracket that gives you the option to run a 1x or 2x drivetrain. It comes with a rear rack, so it’s ready to be loaded up with frame packs or bags for adventure riding. If you want to get out on technical terrain, the frame accommodates internal routing for a dropper post. SRAM GX Eagle comes with a 30t chainring to give you a gear small enough to get the fully loaded frame up and over hills. For trail riding or just moving stuff around, the Blackborow is a good option.