Is a Fat Bike worth it for big dudes??- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Is a Fat Bike worth it for big dudes??

    I've been watching some videos on snowshoe XXL in deep snow. I just got 8-10" of very dense snow and tried to ride it on 26x2.8. If it's light, fresh powder, I can do it...but this super dense, wet, heavy snow

    My question is this:

    At 215-225lbs will a Fat Bike with Snowshoe XXL have significantly more flotation than 26x4.8? If I can't stay on top of dense snow with XXL at my weight, what's the point of going above 26x4.8 with a less desirable bike geometry?

    Some say no matter what you're using, you're still going to sink down in the snow.

    Half the fat bike vids I'm seeing look like the GMBN video that's on hardpack snow that looks like it could be done on a plus bike.

    The deeper stuff though... I'm thinking at my weight of 215-225 would sink down and be fairly unrideable.


    Trying to decide on Wozo as "The One" bike as a hardtail with multiple wheelsets vs dedicated extra fat that will keep afloat in deep snow.

  2. #2
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    8-10" is a lot of snow and I've not been able to ride on top, maybe close to 8 for very short periods downhill, but generally that's too deep. It may be different if that snow is on top of a hard surface/ground, but still, that's a LOT of snow to ride a fatbike on. Fatbikes generally are not for riding on untracked snow, they are for riding on semi-compact surfaces that don't have enough packing to be ridden with normal bikes. Untracked snow is generally a treat to ride, but you can't really ride very "deep" snow. More float definitely helps, but fatbikes usually need some kind of packing/compaction to ride on unless the new snow is 5" or less, but again, this varies significantly with the moisture content.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  3. #3
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    Thanks for weighing in. I'm a fat lurker. Never tried it yet. So it sounds like it's worth it to a point. I think I'll concentrate less on which bike can clear a snowshoe XXL and concentrate more on the Wozo for its geometry. Then I can go with a 29x3 wheelset and a 26x4.8 wheelset.

  4. #4
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    Jayem makes good points. The biggest challenge for us is that we donít really know what your local trails are normally like. Heck, I can barely predict my trails! Everything from a 2.1 Ice Spiker to a Snowshoe XXL is potentially useful at some point in somebodyís winter.

    Assuming you will be riding at least a decent chunk of semi compacted and loose snow Iíd highly recommend a bike that can handle a 4.5Ē or bigger tire. Iím 235 pounds plus gear and I notice a huge difference between something like a D4 or a 4.8 Bud.

    No, Iíve never floated on fresh snow.

    If your normal conditions are firmer or low snow, then sure, 4.0 or a plus tire is great, most of the time.

    You want really confusing, letís talk about how many different skis I use in an average winter...
    Last edited by CanmoreBruce; 01-16-2019 at 08:47 AM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by chelboed View Post
    Thanks for weighing in. I'm a fat lurker. Never tried it yet. So it sounds like it's worth it to a point. I think I'll concentrate less on which bike can clear a snowshoe XXL and concentrate more on the Wozo for its geometry. Then I can go with a 29x3 wheelset and a 26x4.8 wheelset.
    If your talking about the Wozo I'm pretty sure a 4.8 isn't going to fit. I know someone who just tried a 4.6 and the chain was rubbing the tire on the two lowest gears. He's hoping to correct this with a new chainring that has less offset, but his chainline will never be right.

    I'm about the same weight as you geared up and a 4.0 in the rear left me wanting more but it got me by for a few years. Last season a put a 4.6 Dunderbeast in the back and it made a big difference. More volume yes but also super aggressive tread. Works great for me. (I do agree that guys over 200lbs benefit more from a wider tire than guys that weigh 150 lbs, they seem to do just fine on 4" tires)

    If ultimate floatation is the goal, a 5" tire on a 100mm rim is the answer. Check out the Surly ICT, they just redid the geo and I really like the updates.
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  6. #6
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    Most snow riding is done on groomed trails. Studded tires are a must. If you want a fatbike, go all out and get a fatbike with the widest tires you can get. Some of the lessons I've learned to make Winter fatbiking enjoyable.

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2old View Post
    Most snow riding is done on groomed trails. Studded tires are a must.
    Uh, maybe where you live. Not everyone rides the same conditions as you. I don't have groomed trails or studded tires but somehow I manage just fine.
    Rigid SS 29er
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  8. #8
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    Havenít found a need for studs here in the Sierras over the last 6 years. If you ride a lot of clear lake or river ice then yes I could see owning some studs


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by chelboed View Post
    I've been watching some videos on snowshoe XXL in deep snow. I just got 8-10" of very dense snow and tried to ride it on 26x2.8. If it's light, fresh powder, I can do it...but this super dense, wet, heavy snow

    My question is this:

    At 215-225lbs will a Fat Bike with Snowshoe XXL have significantly more flotation than 26x4.8? If I can't stay on top of dense snow with XXL at my weight, what's the point of going above 26x4.8 with a less desirable bike geometry?

    Some say no matter what you're using, you're still going to sink down in the snow.

    Half the fat bike vids I'm seeing look like the GMBN video that's on hardpack snow that looks like it could be done on a plus bike.

    The deeper stuff though... I'm thinking at my weight of 215-225 would sink down and be fairly unrideable.


    Trying to decide on Wozo as "The One" bike as a hardtail with multiple wheelsets vs dedicated extra fat that will keep afloat in deep snow.
    Youíll want a bike with 150 front, 197 rear through axles, 100mm wheels and the clearance for 5.05Ē tires, the biggest currently available. Youíll have to do some research on the 2XL thread as most bikes canít fit those tires. Then you will have the most capable bike currently available and if you find your conditions are more hard packed than expected you can go to a narrower set of tires to pick up some speed and for easier pedaling. I think youíll be pretty surprised to experience where a Fatbike can take you.

  10. #10
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    I know it's a mistake to try to build a "The One" bike if you're a versatile rider..but I was hoping for it, LOL. I have reduced the size of the drops-to-flat I'll do since I'm just riding only hardtails these days. So there's already 1x compromise. I won't do anything over around waist-high without a nice transition to land on.

    My trails are generally very rocky, rooty...quite a bit of limestone shelf-drops, etc.

    In the winter it's generally not a lot of snow. 3-6" at a time maybe. Sometimes very little. But this last 8-10" dense snow and the upcoming weekend makes me want to prepare for the worst. I used to somewhat get by on my trail bike with homemade studs.

    I was hoping for the Wozo to be a 26x4.8 or 27.5x4.5 fat experience that I can put a nice 29x3" wheelset on for the dry weather. It would spend more of it's time as a Plus Bike...but be my "The One" bike.

    I am however sensing that there's no way I can find a 5" capable bike that will still roll 29x3 with the grace of my Stache...so maybe I just keep my Stache and build a Fat bike for the bad weather or an alternate trail experience when I get bored or creative. I demoed a $2k FatBoy for a week in the summer to see what 26x4.8 would be like on the dry chunk. I'm going to try to demo it again this weekend when this next snow hits and see what my thoughts are on the fluff.

    Thanks for the insight.

  11. #11
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    Jayhem hit it. I'm a 220 pounder and the fatty has been gr8 to me. But I'm using it for northeast snow n ice which is often hard and crusty where I ride. Deep virgin ungroomed is hell to get thru .... Like screw it where's the bar time.

  12. #12
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    I've never been over 190# but the fatty really expands my riding compared to my old Winter set-up of 26x1.95 Panaracer Spikes (and I could ride a LOT of stuff with those). The difference came when we finally got enough snow that the skinny tires could not reach the ground underneath. The loose snow was too deep and heavy to plow through (10" of dry powder would've been no problem). The packed snow would not support a skinny tire and kept sinking and bogging down. But the fatty (26x4.8 Bud/Lou) would go everywhere. It would float on the packed snow. It would pack new snow enough to provide forward thrust and at least some kind of steering. I actually don't even really mind breaking trail with it. I can often just ride wherever I want without even following a trail. A 26x4.0 would not perform nearly the same. So I guess if you are 40# heavier than me, you'd want the 2XLs. And I do have 29x3 wheels for Summer trips, but it doesn't replace my 29er for real fun time riding, though. The 29+ makes it more of a low-speed comfort bike or rock crawler.

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  13. #13
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    I'm 265 pounds. My fat bike fits 5" tires and I've had em on 100mm rims and 80mm rims. I have never been able to float over snow. What I do gain by riding a fat bike in snow is the ability to climb hills and take tight turns almost as easily as riding on dirt.
    A couple of years ago we had insane snowfall on Long Island. Put a damper on everyone's riding. A whole bunch of us got together and snowshoe'd out a three mile loop in a real techy twisty section and all rode it. It was the best thing. My Bud and Lou equipped bike handled it like a champ.
    Another time I broke tracks at the local trail in about 8" of fresh snow. It was work but I was the only one able to get through out of my group. The other guy's tires weren't gnarly enough. I went first and they followed. After the first lap the second and third just got better and we rode in our tracks and made em wider.
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  14. #14
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    I am 6' tall and @ 245lbs. We just got (last Saturday) 10-14" of snow. I took my Spec Fatboy out in the fresh powder, my 125lb wife also road her Fatboy and our 200lb son rode his Kona 26" duallie with 2.3" tires. I had the easiest ride of all of us, my wife had the most difficulty. Granted, this is not very scientific but my thinking is I have the weight to drive the rear tire to get traction more than my family.

    Otherwise, are fattys for fatties, HECK YES! They make you look skinny! LOL

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by chelboed View Post
    Thanks for weighing in. I'm a fat lurker. Never tried it yet. So it sounds like it's worth it to a point. I think I'll concentrate less on which bike can clear a snowshoe XXL and concentrate more on the Wozo for its geometry. Then I can go with a 29x3 wheelset and a 26x4.8 wheelset.
    I'd vote for this... don't get hung up on being able to handle the widest tires. you don't float on unpacked snow... but a 4.6 will be better than a 3.8.... tread is everything.. my fav.. Bud and Lou...
    anything over 8 inches your feet will be paddling through the snow which doesn't sound too bad, but gets tiring all the same...

    sounds like you have a good game plan.. I've had fatbikes now for 5 years.. currently have different wheelsets.. 26 fat.. 27.5 fat 27.5 + and 29+....

  16. #16
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    I ride a Wozo and am 6'1" and weigh 220# in my birthday suit. It is my one bike with multiple wheelset quiver killer, at least for me. I have a 27.5x4.5 Gnarwhal up front and a Barb 27.5x4.5 in the back, both on 80mm rims (Purple Frame currently as my old green frame did not work w/ that back wheel. Though, I saw photos of other green Wozos w/ that set-up). Tight in the back but it works fine. No rub. Summer time I slap on 27.5x4 summer fat on those rims or I bust out my 29+ wheels when I wanna go fast. Only in the big dumps do I struggle in Idaho. I routinely cruise through 4-5" of powder and ungroomed trails. I never ride groomed. Every once in awhile I wish I had a beefier back tire but I'm still able to climb as well as any other tires my fatter riding buddies are on. Quite pleased with my set-up. Summer time it rips on the DH w/ my 140 Mastodon and is equally as great bikepacking. I'm thinking of adding another wheelset to split the difference for the summer. The Wozo simply kicks ass!

    I'd like to see a 220# man on any size tire ride through 10" of powder. Don't think it is normally doable for us mere mortals. Least my experience. For all the other times.... The Wozo steps up!

  17. #17
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    Absolutely!

    I'm 6'4"/230lbs and unless I'm hitting the skatepark, I only ride my Fat bike. Tubeless 4.8" (4.6" actual on 80mm rims) is plenty nimble. I ride with 29'ers all day long and I'm actually surprised how light the XL Fatboy is. I have no intention of narrower tires, ever, but maybe two wheel sets - Fat/Summer and Fat/Winter-studded (Avoid the hassle of changing tubeless).

  18. #18
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    The most frequently asked question I get from people on the street about riding a fat bike is almost always how deep you can ride it in.

    My simple answer is that (on 4.8 tires) it compares to walking on/ in it. If it's knee deep walking it's going to be same riding and not a lot of fun. If it's hard enough that I can walk on it that I don't punch through it's hard enough that I can ride on it....very fun. In general this analogy generally has held true in my experience.

    I also tell them that the biggest asset of riding a fat bike is primarily the additional traction you get from a wider/ softer tire. The floatation improves too, but it's not like I'm magically floating on snow.

    As for the difference between a 5.15 vs. 4.8 vs. 4.0, obviously wider is better, but I honestly think it starts to become a matter of diminishing returns the wider you go.

    If you ski, think of it in terms of ski width. Back in the day, a 100 mm wide powder ski was an outrageous fatty, now it's considered kind of a conservative all mountain width. Sure, you can ski hardpack on 120 mm boards, but it's a lot more work and why would you want to do that?

    Buying a fat bike and having an assortment of wheel sets is a excellent way to have the right tools for the job without having multiple bikes. I have a set of 29+ fat bike wheels and they work great. I much prefer riding plus in the summer months when fat tires are a bit overkill. But fat tires come in to their own when the snow or mud gets deep.

  19. #19
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    Not as many people have ridden, or remember riding, skinny tire bikes on snow. Sometimes when it's packed enough, you can, but you stray just a bit towards the side of the trail and your front tire instantly washes out and digs a huge rut. This gets you nasty-looks these days from fatbike riders, because it tears down the edge/side of the trail and makes that tendency more prevalent for all riders. But on a fatbike, with no ruts to drag you to the side, this tendency is way way lower because of the incredible grip of fat tires. When this is bad on a skinny bike, it ends up not really being "riding", but just "sliding" downhill and putting your foot down all the time and trying to keep it going in a semi-direction you want. On a fatbike, it becomes much more like riding a normal bike in the summer and the tires tend to keep packing the trail and improving the surface.

    One thing that I have never understood out here is the love for the D4 tire, I think it's because it was all we had for many years and therefore it got put on most bikes. I find with a wider tire, when there's low-snow or it's just all ice, I can lower my pressure MORE than I can with a narrower tire and get a better and more comfy ride. The D4 is basically the opposite of this, you can't lower it all that much because of the size. The only time I want something like the D4 is for hardpack conditions with a lot of snow to make the surface smooth. That tends to be fairly rare around here on singletrack, usually it's either low-snow and lots of ice, or lots of soft deep snow. My point is that soft snow is not the only surface I appreciate the wider/bigger tires on, but as above, it's possible to go too large for no reason, like a 5" tire on generally smooth hard packed surfaces.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    My point is that soft snow is not the only surface I appreciate the wider/bigger tires on, but as above, it's possible to go too large for no reason, like a 5" tire on generally smooth hard packed surfaces.
    The way I see it, the only detriment to wider tires is a perceived weight penalty. I'd love to ride 5" tires but my riding conditions do not justify the added weight. So I stick with 4.8's year round...

  21. #21
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    Like others have said, no amount of tire is going to float you over fresh, soft snow. Around Northern Utah, the trail running and snow shoeing crowd is strong! It seems as soon as we have fresh snow, the trails are packed down within a couple of days. Some folks continue to ride their skinny 2.3 inch tires on the packed snow, but its quite a bit more sketchy for them. Where the fat tire really shines is in the steep climbs, tight corners or wanting to stop quickly.

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  22. #22
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    I have a dedicated snow bike that fits 5.2" tires on 105mm rims. It'd fit 5.6" tires if any ever existed. I ride this bike...

    ...on snow. The geometry that makes it good there makes it not ideal pretty much everywhere else.

    And I'm OK with that.

    I also have a Farley, which is a fantastic all-around fatbike. It just doesn't hold a candle to my snow bike, when ridden on snow.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by chelboed View Post
    Thanks for weighing in. I'm a fat lurker. Never tried it yet. So it sounds like it's worth it to a point. I think I'll concentrate less on which bike can clear a snowshoe XXL and concentrate more on the Wozo for its geometry. Then I can go with a 29x3 wheelset and a 26x4.8 wheelset.
    I'm a fat lurker too. I laughed out loud on that one! (I really am! Looking at a Farley 5 for myself and the little lady and am learning a ton!)

    Fat lurker!!

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