By Danielle Sussmann Turo
Do you know what a fat bike is? Fat bikes are your guarantee of a fun bike ride in all-terrain, in all types of weather, all year round.
“Fat bikes are mountain bikes with big goofy-looking tires”, says Carrie Tomczyk, co-owner of Village Sport Shop, a bike shop in Lyndonville, Vermont. Those “big goofy-looking tires” range from 3 inches to 5 inches wide, while regular mountain bike tires are 2 inches to 2.5 inches wide.
The differences between a regular mountain bike and a fat bike don’t stop there. A special fork and frame are required to allow for the big tires, and the big tires require low air pressure, as low as five pounds per square inch (psi), to allow better traction while conforming to the terrain. The range of eight to ten psi is right for most riders.
Chris Hibshman, co-owner of Village Sport Shop, and Tomczyk’s brother, explains that today’s carbon fiber technology used in manufacturing Fat bikes is incredibly agile and light. There is no doubt that Fat bikes are all about the tires, pressure, tread, and width. “A wider tire will have a very stable feel,” explains Hibshman.
Fat bikes were invented in the 1980s for winter biking, and racing in Alaska on the Iditarod Trail, and for traveling the deserts of New Mexico. These bikes have no limits. You can ride on pavement, trails, rocks, snow, mud, and sand – everywhere. The big fat tires make for a stable and smooth ride.
In the winter you can find trails specially groomed for fat bikes, like the Kingdom Trails, in East Burke, VT. Winter trail riding will offer you great exercise, beautiful views, fresh air, and a new perspective about biking. Just be sure to wear “proper attire, and you have just extended the fun from fall into spring,“ adds Tomczyk.
Anyone can ride a fat bike, and they even come in kid’s sizes. “In fact, for people who struggle with balance, fat bikes might be a little easier because of the wide, stable tires”, Tomczyk explains.
There are companies manufacturing fat bikes for commuters, which is good news for people looking into fat bikes for transportation. Hibshman says that fat bikes offer great potential to commuters because of their stable platform. They also provide a level of safety in adverse conditions.
Fat bike prices start around $600.00 and go up from there, though models at the Village Sport Shop start at prices a bit higher. Hibshman tells us that new manufacturing companies, and a diversity of full suspension models are making these bikes more financially accessible to the public. Tomczyk remarks, “spending more on a bike usually makes it easier and more comfortable to ride, … higher priced bikes (from the same manufacturer) typically are lighter, have better components (like gears, brakes, shocks, tires) and often have a more elaborate frame geometry to make the ride quality better.”
So if you love to ride a bike, and have always dreamed about being able to ride year- round in all conditions, a fat bike might just be a bike for you, especially, if your budget only allows the purchase of one bike.
These bikes are cool looking, tough, good for all-terrain, all weather, with endless purpose from recreation, to transportation. They are here to capture the hearts of aspiring bikers, and to amaze all types of seasoned bikers. They are big fat bikes that will leave nothing else behind on the trail except for great memories, and big fat tire prints.