This is a gear review of the best fat tire bikes for touring, snow, sand, mud, and more in 2023.
A fat bike is all about the fat tires the bike has. They can look like mountain bikes, with extra mounts for attaching your gear. The wide tires have low pressure, which makes them float on sand and snow.
Alongside this, these tires help newer riders have more confidence and stability. Therefore, a fat bike is an ideal choice when a rider wants to travel on surfaces that aren’t typically cycle-friendly, as the wheels also act as a form of suspension. But for some adventure bike riders, a fatbike will be a better choice than a Touring Bicycle, Bikepacking Bike or Gravel Bike.
In this article, I researched and reviewed the best fat bikes that you can purchase right now. Keep reading, to discover which fat bike is for you.
Best Fat Tire Bikes 2023
The Best Fat Tire Bikes 2023 are:
- Salsa Beargrease
- Salsa Mukluk
- Trek Farley 7
- Giant Yukon 1
- Specialized Fatboy
- Borealis Crestone Eagle
- Surly Ice Cream Truck
Best Fatbike – Overall
> Carbon fiber frame, which makes it incredibly lightweight
> This bike responds well on flat and uphill descents. Corning is very easy
> Great option for Bikepacking trips
> Lots of eyelets and gear mounting options
> Not much, could be cheaper
Another fat bike from Salsa that you should consider is the Beargrease. This is a very lightweight bike, due to the carbon fiber frame. While pedaling, we noticed that this bike responds well on flat and uphill descents.
This bike is most at home on smooth dirt or snow, yet can handle slightly rougher surfaces. Alongside this, the frame also consists of various mounts, which is ideal for anyone who enjoys Bikepacking. This is a fully rigid bike, which is great going uphill, a drop seat post would have been preferred.
Yet, this doesn’t take away any enjoyment from this ride.
Overall, the Salsa Beargrease is a perfect all-rounder performer, which is ideal to take on snow and sand or Bikepacking.
Best Fat Bike for Bikepacking
> Lots of gear mounting options thanks to the various eyelets and mounts that you can apply
> Very high quality in every way
> When you aren’t facing fat bike weather conditions, you can easily change the tires on this bike and use it as a normal mountain bike
> Not the cheapest bike on the list
The Salsa Mukluk fat bike is one of the easiest bikes to ride uphill when compared to other fat bikes on the market. This fat bike has a high-modulus carbon frame, which makes the frame light yet stiff. The carbon has been layered to make the bike easy to pedal, whilst also being shock-absorbing as well.
The bike is great for anyone who enjoys Bikepacking, and you can set it up to how you like it. The bike comes with 26 x 4.6-inch tires, but these can be easily changed to suit your needs. When fat tires aren’t needed, you can change the tires and use this bike as a mountain bike.
The Salsa Mukluk also comes with the Kingpin Deluxe Fork, which is durable yet light with lots of mounts for bags and bottles. Therefore, this bike is the ideal fat bike for anyone who enjoys Bikepacking and wants to go places that are difficult for any other bike to get through. It offers you a lot of suspension and support for a comfortable ride.
Overall, this is the best fat bike for Bikepacking 2023.
More Bikepacking Fat Bikes
Trek Farley 7
> The Trek Farley 7 comes with 27.5 x 4.5-inch tires, which roll fast on all surfaces.
> Good for snow and sand conditions. suspension fork
> TranzX Dropper Post – Typically not seen on many fat bikes
> Heavy at around 35 pounds
The Trek Farley 7 fat bike is much more than a snow or sand bike. From our tests, this bike can be ridden all year and in any condition. This is thanks to the bike’s Manitou Mastodon suspension fork.
With a fat bike, the wheels have enough suspension when traveling through snow or sand. However, if you want to ride your fat bike on harder surfaces like rocky trails, then the suspension fork will make your ride smooth and enjoyable.
It has to be said that this bike is heavy for a fat bike, coming in at 35 pounds in weight. However, it rides very well, and steering this bike is easy and predictable.
Cornering and braking is simple to achieve in all conditions. Overall, this bike is an average fat bike for snow riding. Yet it is a much more versatile bike and is capable of a lot more compared to other fat bikes.
Giant Yukon 1
> Dropper Seat Post
> Yukon 1 is comfortable to ride across sand and snow
> The rear dropout is adjustable to allow you to shorten or lengthen the wheelbase, which allows you to change the size of your wheels.
> This bike can perform well on hard surfaces such as rocky trials, but it will struggle in areas.
The Yukon 1 by Giant, is another versatile bike that rides well on all different kinds of terrain. The frame of this bike is made from strong and stiff aluminum, with a rigid fork that helps this bike to perform well across different surfaces.
From our tests, this bike can climb well and it is quite enjoyable on descents, due to its dropper seatpost. However, this bike will struggle on rocky trails. This bike is best suited to true fat bike conditions. On sand and snow, this bike rides fantastically well.
This bike rides fast and quite smoothly over bumps, but completely absorbs all the bumps of your trail out. There is a huge tire clearance and adjustable rear dropout.
This allows the riders to either shorten or lengthen their chain stay or wheelbase to their choice, Which also allows them to change their wheel/tire size. Giant is known for producing great fat bikes, and the Yukon 1 is no exception. It is built well and thought through.
> The tires on the Fatboy can easily glide over sand or snow.
> Affordable and a great choice for any first fat bike buyers
> Some customers have noted having issues with their brakes being noisy and difficult to adjust
This is a much more affordable fat bike option. When faced with a blanket of snow, the Fatboy with its 26 x 4.6-inch tires can roll over pretty much anything with ease.
However, in other conditions that are not typically suited for a fat bike, the Fatboy requires a bit more effort. The carbon fork does help, in giving you a more enjoyable ride. The wheels will give you plenty of grip and traction. Yet they give you more flotation compared to any mountain tires.
Every part of this bike is very durable and reliable. You can depend on this bike to get you through those snowy trails easily season after season.
Borealis Crestone Eagle
> Good to ride on snow and sand
> Good options for mountain water bottles and other gear
> Lightweight Carbon Fiber Frame
> The wheels on this bike are quite large and heavy
Borealis have been making lightweight carbon fiber fat bikes since 2013. The Crestone is a tired and test bike that is enjoyed by Borealis bike lovers. The frame of this bike has been designed for optimal riding in sand and snow.
There is a clearance for up to 5-inch wide tires. The tires of this bike will give you more grip than you will know what to do with, which means that sometimes you need to put in more power and effort to get the bike moving.
Alongside this, the frame of this bike is quite lightweight, as it is made from carbon fiber. While also, there are 2 to 3 mounts that you can attach bottle mounts to.
You will also notice lizard skin protectors on the drive-side chainstay and down tube. This will keep these areas protected by the elements, so your bike is overall more durable and reliable.
Surly Ice Cream Truck
> Clearance for 5 inch tires
> Great on sand, snow, or mud, but can deal with some slightly rocky trails
> Good fat bike for Bikepacking
> It has plenty of options for you to attach racks and your gear
> Heavy steel frame
The Pugsley fat bike by Surly is the ultimate expedition bike that has been designed for off-road exploration and touring. The Pugsley is the ideal fat bike for those of you who want to go on a bikepacking adventure in more uncertain conditions.
There are various mounts for you to attach your belongings and gear. The frame of this bike is made from strong Chromoly steel, while both the front and rear wheels can be easily changed.
Customers have praised how sturdy this bike feels, especially as it can ride over sand, snow, ice, and mud with ease. Overall, this bike will become your new favorite bike to use, thanks to its smooth performance and versatility.
It isn’t uncommon for people to want to ride their bikes over sand or snow. In fact, this is where fat tire bikes excel. With a fat bike, you can easily ride on mud, snow, and sand. You will be able to ride on terrain that other bikes really struggle with.
Typically, you have three material choices to select from including carbon fiber, aluminum, and steel.
Carbon frames are seen as the lightest and most premium frames, as they are much more responsive and fast. However, the performance might be better, but the cost is higher as well. If you have the money, go for it.
Aluminum frames are not so common on fat bikes but those that do have them are noticeably flexible and absorb bumps quite well. Not quite as well as carbon fiber.
Steel and Chrome Moly
Steel and Chrome Moly frames are where the money saving can be had with fat bikes and all the budget models feature the use of these materials.
Fat bike normally has very good suspension due to the large amount of air in the tires. In most cases, front suspension or even full suspension is overkill and not needed.
Another consideration you should consider is the seat post. For some users any seat post is fine, however, some riders prefer a drop seat post. This is because it allows them a lot more movement and freedom while riding. A suspension seat post is generally not needed nor recommended for fat bikes as the air on the tires provides all the soft cushioning needed.
Wheel and Tire Size
Most fat tires bikes fit wheels that range from 26 inches to 27.5 inches. But some have the flexibility to also fit 29-inch mountain bike rims if you want to have a flexible bike. Just swap out the rims and tires and you have a mountain bike. Most rims have a width of between 50-100mm.
Tires range from 3 inches to just over 5 inches in width with the wider versions being the more popular. The width of the tire that will fit on the bike will be determined by several factors such as how much clearance there is on the frame and the width of the rims.
Most fat bikes will run a very low tire pressure to allow the tire to float over soft surfaces such as snow and sand. 5-10 psi is sufficient for most surfaces. If riding paved trails then slightly higher will be normal to reduce rolling resistance.
Fat Bikes are geared very low in comparison to a road bikes. Their gearing is generally the same or lower than Bikepacking bikes or touring bikes. You will be unlikely to be pedalling at high speeds on a fat bike.
Racks and Eyelets
Planning on taking your fat bike to the remotest trails in the world for multi-week or multi-month trips? Then you will need a place to fit your front bike racks, water bottles, rear bike racks, and more. While these will be important, many people will not use their fat bikes for expedition-style trips, and for those people, they are not so important.
The price of fat tire bikes is where most people stop short of buying. With many good brands well above $2000 for a good bike and more than double that for carbon fiber models with the best components. Many people will try a cheap version first and once hooked on what they can do with a fat bike then they will invest in something grander.
A fat bike is worth considering if you want to ride on more difficult surfaces. This type of bike is becoming a lot more popular, therefore, it is no wonder that there are lots of options for you to choose from.
Here are the best fat bikes for Bikepacking:
- Salsa Beargrease
- Salsa Mukluk
- Trek Farley 7
- Giant Yukon 1
- Specialized Fatboy
- Borealis Crestone Eagle
- Surly Ice Cream Truck
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends on the wheels that you have on your bike and the terrain you are taking your bike in.
For most riders, fat tires that have low pressure reduce the need for any added suspension, as the tires absorb all the shocks that they face. However, this is when being ridden on snow or sand.
However, if you are riding in more uneven terrain or technical terrain, then some added suspension may come in useful.
Sometimes, fat bikes can be ridden on rocky trials, thus the added suspension comes in handy here as the wheels wouldn’t be enough to absorb all the shocks on that kind of trial.
The wider the tires that you have, the more you will float on top of snow or sand. Although, it is worth noting that wider tires equal heavier tires, as they have much more grip and resistance.
However, this is how the tires move in these difficult situations. You want to make sure that the bike frame you have chosen can handle wider tires, as not all can
When it comes to fat biking, you may need to experiment with the pressure in your tires to find which pressure gives you the best resistance and grip.
The amount of pressure in your tires will change, depending on if you add extra weight on your bike, like if you are going bikepacking.
You need to have an accurate low-pressure pump that will tell you accurately the pressure of your tires. This will allow you to know what pressure does and doesn’t work for you in different riding conditions you face.