322 S Union St.
Traverse City, MI 49684
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November 26, 2018, 1:58 pm

Looking to buy a fat bike? We’ve got the three things to think about before you pull the trigger on a new bike.

Fat bikes are all about having fun, and with the long, cold winters here in northern Michigan, having a fat bike you enjoy riding is really a good investment even if you have a nice mountain bike to pick up once the snow melts. In a lot of ways, fat bikes aren’t much different from picking out a normal mountain bike; you want to balance weight, size, and the right components to suit your needs and budget. Get what you need to feel comfortable, and we often recommend getting the same groupset that you ride during the summer to making maintenance and replacing parts easier.

But what else should you consider? We have three things we always ask customers to think about when they’re looking at fat bikes.

1. Tire Size. Fat bike tires aren’t cheap, and while you’ll almost never have to replace them, you’re going to want to start out with the right ones for you. Because so much of fat bike riding is on snow or dirt, and the compounds are so tough, they take a really, really long time to show any signs of wear. That also means you won’t have the chance to replace them, either, so think about the kind of riding you’re doing and get a pair that makes sense. If you’re planning on riding primarily groomed trails like NMMBA’s Winter Sports Trail, Cadillac Pathway, or if you’re planning on racing, you’ll likely want to opt for a four-inch tire. The narrower width means less weight and less rolling resistance, and it’s a better option for dirt riding, too. It does mean you’ll give up just a little bit in floatation, and that’s why a five-inch tire is often a better option for folks riding two-tracks or trails that aren’t groomed regularly.

Riding a bit of both? 45NRTH’s FloBeist and DunderBeist 4.7” tires rather neatly split the difference, giving you aspects of both 4” and 5” tires with a nice, meaty tread pattern to boot.

2. Are You Racing? With four local fat bike races and plenty more around the state, there are plenty of folks who want a lot of out of their fat bike. Many spring, summer, and fall mountain bike races also offer a fat bike-specific category that’s plenty competitive, too. If you think you’ll be using your fat bike to race during the winter season or all year, go for a carbon frame to make your rig as light as possible. Carbon frames, carbon rims, and carbon cockpit components can make a big difference, and fast. While plenty of fat bikes are in the 30-35 pound range these days, the bikes you’ll see on the start line are often under 25 pounds! A Borealis Echo, one of our carbon options, is likely your ticket here. If you aren't racing, look for utility and floatation; wide tires, plenty of mounts for bags and bottle cages, and tough components to survive your wildest winter adventures. You might be a Scott Big Jon candidate! 

3. Consider Two (More) Wheels. We’re big fans of running your fat bike frame all year long and investing in a second wheelset. This lets you invest more in one bike and then spend less to maintain it, rather than trying to keep up two bikes with different components. Running a Borealis Echo with wider rims and wider tires all winter, then swapping in another wheelset with 2.3” or even 3” wheels, or 27.5”+, offers great ride quality and excellent floatation in the sand pits, plus killer handling in the singletrack. There’s also the option to run even bigger 29”+ wheels for more momentum. One bike, two wheelsets, and a lot less to worry about. For the right rider, it’s a great idea and an option you might consider when you buy your fat bike initially.

The snow isn’t far off, and we hope you take the chance to get outside this winter!


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