Are fat bikes safer?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Are fat bikes safer?

    Since fat bikes have wider tires and provide more grip, do they reduce the chance of wiping out and crashing?

    If you've ridden fat bikes and non-fat, what is your experience?

    Are fat bikes safer?-rsz_mtb_over_the_bar_crash.jpg

  2. #2
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    Funny that you use that pic. I'm used to riding more slack trail bikes so can feel more prone to endo on our fatties. There are times when I find the fattie grip to be safety or cheating.

    My wife and I are same height, swap, and share a pair each of AM and fat bikes. Overall I'd not say the fatties are safer because our riding varies so much over a year.

  3. #3
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    I'm better at landing my weak little jumps on my fat bike. It's more slack than my mtb which might have something to do with it.

  4. #4
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    On my regular tire MTBs I wreck on a regular basis. I push myself way past the point that I should, which results in crashing regularly. I am a glutton for punishment, so I may secretly enjoy a decent wreck every now and then, which definitely drives me to wreck more than the average rider. Regardless, I almost NEVER wreck on my fat bikes. When I do, it is inevitable, and little to do with my riding style- like wet leaves on a wooden bridge that rides like ice. I know areas in DuPont that I have wrecked with my regular tires and I ride those same spots fat tired and zoom right through them. So for me, yes fat tire have definitely reduced the number of times I wipe out.

  5. #5
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    not necessarily.

    you can go down just as easily on a fat bike. I think frame geometry plays a bigger role here. people doing big jumps on bikes not made for big jumps, and without the skills to do big jumps are going to get hurt (pic in the first post).

    I had an otb yesterday on mine. Bailed out off of a fairly high skinny. I tried to ride it out, but couldn't get my rear wheel off quickly enough. So I landed on my front wheel and had to vault otb to avoid getting tangled in the bike. I landed on a pile of nice, soft leaves, so the only hurt I got out of the whole thing was my wrists supporting my full body weight when the front wheel hit the ground, but before I bailed. The fat tires played no role in the cause or the outcome of that incident. The geometry of my bike probably helped keep the bike from driving me into the ground face first, though (Salsa Bucksaw, with a more modern type "trail" geometry.

  6. #6
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    On snow, yes. On dirt, the poor maneuverability can be more "dangerous", or less if you have traction issues in the straight loose.
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  7. #7
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    If you are just out for a slower paced exercise ride, maybe the fat tires help keep you safer. If you are going to go fast enough to explore the limits of the bike, I don't think fat is any safer than skinny.

  8. #8
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    I just ride mine to the mall or Tastee Freezee so safety is about the same.
    ptarmigan hardcore

  9. #9
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    My fat bike is my slowest bike that I take on my slowest rides, so yeah, I think it's also my safest.

  10. #10
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    For night riding, yes. At night you lose the ability to see all of the subtle stuff on the trail and a patch of gravel or sand or funky little spot can easily get you - but fat tires swallow that stuff up like it's not there.

    For general trail riding, probably not any safer.

    -Walt

  11. #11
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    Nope. All bikes are dangerous, esp. when risk analysis and/or enthusiasm exceed abilities and/or mechanical limitations.

    At least in my experience...
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

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    Black ice on the street and large off-camber wet roots and piles of walnuts on the trail. The 4.8" tires limited sliding in a more controlled way allowing more time to regain control.

    Easier to crash on skinny tires at about the same speed in some of these same conditions.

  13. #13
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    I don't know if they're safer, but when my buddy came to visit I put him on the fatbike when we rode home from the bar... just for safety's sake.
    Ultralight bikepacking and gear lists... MaxTheCyclist.com

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Co-opski View Post
    I just ride mine to the mall or Tastee Freezee so safety is about the same.
    Don't forget the breweries.
    "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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  15. #15
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    they are as safe as you ride.

  16. #16
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    Their not "safer" just more forgiving. I went otb on mine last weekend. Came around somewhat blind corner (on a hill side so I could see if there was another trail user coming but not the trail itself) and a root had come loose from the trail bed creating a snare. I had started to come out of my lean and started to pedal for the short climb just after the corner. Inside pedal came down right as I realized that root wasn't part of the trail bed anymore. Bike stopped dead, I sure didn't. Not even sure what cut the back of my right leg, pedal got my left and handlebars left a massive bruise on my thigh. Not to mention my dignity being severely damaged it took me a good minute or 2 to pick myself up. No pain till after I finished my lap and drove back. Went to step outta the van and almost fell.

    First time so far on the fat bike.

    Fat bikes are more forgiving but that's a double edged sword as it can cause you to carry speeds that you normally wouldn't be and cause a crash for other reasons.

    Now saying you'll crash more cause fat bikes are too sluggish is total BS. That only applies to riders that don't have the physical strength and power to handle them.

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  17. #17
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    Because of the increase in wheel weight , I go a lot slower on the Fat than on the MTB.
    One can say it's safer because of that.
    (I've seen nasty slow speed crash too)

    +1 that the wider tire is a lot tougher to steer.....

    If you only use your Fatty in snow , yes it's safer
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  18. #18
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    I don't think I went on a single snow ride last winter where I didn't crash at least once. I crashed maybe twice during an entire summer of DH riding. I'm pretty sure that counts as "doing it right".

  19. #19
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    I borrowed a Bucksaw for a while when my bike was getting some warranty work done. I don't remember wrecking it, but I also didn't hit any hard obstacles either. I can't picture myself hucking it the same way as my trail bike.

  20. #20
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    I have a 29er and a fatbike that are set up very similarly, however the fatty is slacker. I think I have crashed harder on the fatty so far, but that is probably confounded by a lack of familiarity with the pedal clearance (Q-factor).
    Both bikes ride well, but the 29er is quite a bit more snappy in handling (telepathic), with a 2* steeper HA and 1"+ shorter CSs.
    I'd say the fat tires are more forgiving in corners, but have folded over a couple times in dry, fast corners as too low of tire pressure caused me a highside dismount.
    One place the fatty does shine is in low-speed anything - rock crawling, steep descents (I mean the kind where your rear tire isn't doing anything), mud, snow, sand... In those cases, where conditions are poor, it is def. safer to brake, steer, and try steep terrain.

    -F
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by FASTFAT View Post
    they are as safe as you ride.
    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    Fat bikes are more forgiving but that's a double edged sword as it can cause you to carry speeds that you normally wouldn't be and cause a crash for other reasons.

    Now saying you'll crash more cause fat bikes are too sluggish is total BS. That only applies to riders that don't have the physical strength and power to handle them.
    Those two quotes sum it up perfectly, imo.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by fokof View Post

    +1 that the wider tire is a lot tougher to steer.....
    I think this is the first I've read of this phenomenon.
    Do you think the weight might affect that to some extent as well?

  23. #23
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    They are harder to steer and the smaller the rider the more its going to be noticed. I'm a big guy, i noticed it the first couple of rides ti I adapted and now my 29er is scary till I adapt back.

    Wider bars (and not necessarily the shortest stem possible because truly that offsets the longer bars) helps a lot. Just have to adapt to moving your arms a tad further to turn the same amount. Adds leverage to compensate for the big ass tires. I went even wider than I was planning (and just 10mm shorter in the stem) and is surprisingly responsive even with the 455 stays

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  24. #24
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    "Safer" is finding almost anything else to do than mtb of any sort.

    The only difference the fat bike makes safety wise is that a) it's a lot more fun on rough trails than my skinny hard tail was so b) my trail riding time is way up and therefore c) my overall risk exposure is way up. 90% of the minor injuries I get are mtb related (and lately, that's up).

    Edit: I find the fatbike *easier* to control on the trail. It slides around less, less upset by obstacles, capable of rolling over much bigger nastier stuff. As with everything else in mtb, it's great, right up until it isn't.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zowie View Post
    I think this is the first I've read of this phenomenon.
    Do you think the weight might affect that to some extent as well?
    A lot more rubber surface on the ground compared to smaller tire.
    Mostly noticeable in summer , not very noticeable on snow/ice.
    As weight goes = depend on tire pressure you run. (true for all tire size)

    Up side is more grip.

    I agree with the larger handlebar helps handling but I can't get use to it.
    Trees around here are too close apart and I'm too old
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  26. #26
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    Trees close together are a bit of a headache with wide bars, I get lucky usually in that their offset. So I can do a quick lean one way then the other so I don't loose all my momentum when wiggling through. It takes some adjustment to get used to it. And I also realized that though it's narrow there is actually more space than I think. 2 fat trees with a gap in the middle makes it appear narrower than it is. I've gotten lucky on both my bikes realizing if I go dead center on some of those, even my widest bars have about an inch of clearance on either side. Means slowing down a little just in case I tag the bars but a lot less than before I started analyzing the gaps.

    Ive even told our stewards before that segments are too narrow, going off the old ways of narrow bars (I'm not a steward but I do help with trail work anytime I can) and my elbows even on narrow bars tag the trees. Not long after we are out fixing that segment so we can all fit through without walking.

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  27. #27
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    My Mukluk 1 has apparently not been ridden maybe all of 2016 I venture. 27.5+ took its place!

    I haven't crashed the Mukluk badly in the years I ride it.

    However once railing down Coastal Trail off Mt Tam I experienced an alarming instance of ejection from the trail rut as I pinned the slot when the side walls gripped and flung us high it seemed at the time into the air and returned to earth with a periodic double basketball rebounding of the front and rear wheels which was both highly exhilarating and difficult to recover from.

    I acted cool; no one saw it happen.

    That and braking bumps.

    Apparently I have been taking a real trail bike out this year instead of the Mukluk. But I did just get a new tire to try. So I will be busting it out in 2017.

    Fat bikes are safe if the operator is safe.

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  28. #28
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    Personally, when I'm plonking along somewhat slowly on slick / off camber / otherwise worse surfaces, it feels much more sure-footed. BUT, when I'm going much faster, the bounciness of the huge tires is a negative.

    So, the answer is 'sure, sometimes, I guess' for me.
    Yamaguchi Cross YT Jeffsy Salsa Mukluk & Vaya Canyon Commuter

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by letitsnow View Post
    If you are just out for a slower paced exercise ride, maybe the fat tires help keep you safer. If you are going to go fast enough to explore the limits of the bike, I don't think fat is any safer than skinny.
    x2. At slow speeds so long as the trail is not super twisty the fatbikes have some advantage but at high speed nope, they turn like slugs and the effort to horse the bike around far overtakes any traction advantage in terms of safety

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    For night riding, yes. At night you lose the ability to see all of the subtle stuff on the trail and a patch of gravel or sand or funky little spot can easily get you - but fat tires swallow that stuff up like it's not there.

    -Walt
    Same can be said for in the fall, right after all the leaves come down and roots/rocks/etc are hidden.

    In some scenarios like off camber stuff and really steep stuff where the traction is way better, yes.

    In some scenarios where you get that uncontrollable front tire bounce at the worst times, no.
    "I ride to clear my head, my head is clearer when I'm riding SS. Therefore, I choose to ride SS."~ Fullrange Drew

  31. #31
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    In theory yes.

    They are slower and have more traction in addition to deflecting boulders in a more controllable fashion.
    In reality they are super fun at speed and likely to make you try silly stuff you would normally not do.

    My six broken ribs and clavicle are proof of the later.
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    The wheel is a extension of the foot

  32. #32
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    26 years of riding and it took a Salsa Bucksaw to do this on an easy trail.

    Are fat bikes safer?-001.jpg
    Flotilla or Buffet.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by yakkoTDI View Post
    26 years of riding and it took a Salsa Bucksaw to do this on an easy trail.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Yuck! How?

  34. #34
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    Oh I was surprised I didn't break anything on my otb incident a couple weeks ago. I'd hate to see the level of crash needed to break your leg like that... Thankfully I don't use clueless which probably saves me from some worse injuries.

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  35. #35
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    I push my fat bike harder and ride to a farther edge than with skinny tires, so that when I wreck, I wreck more spectacularly. They are not necessarily safer, IMO

  36. #36
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    For an average rider under the same conditions and speeds, yes they are safer.

  37. #37
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    On a normal bike, when faced with a vast wilderness of bog / sand / snow / tussocks, you'd say - " Nah I'll go another way". On a fatbike you'd be like "Aye that'll go, lets do it" And end up a lot further in the s*** than on a normal bike.

    that said life is a lot better if you risk it occaisionally

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by FASTFAT View Post
    they are as safe as you ride.
    Agreed. I initially liked fat for summer because of the extra grip, but then I just raised my expectations for cornering speed.

    It made my crash speeds higher. Had to sit and have a good think after that epiphany.
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (officialy in 2016, functionally in 2020).

  39. #39
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    Are fat bikes safer?

    Picard, is that you?
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by AshevilleMTB View Post
    Yuck! How?

    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    Oh I was surprised I didn't break anything on my otb incident a couple weeks ago. I'd hate to see the level of crash needed to break your leg like that... Thankfully I don't use clueless which probably saves me from some worse injuries.

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    Crash thread is here.
    http://forums.mtbr.com/rider-down-in...g-1028194.html
    Flotilla or Buffet.

  41. #41
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    I broke my leg like that just collapsing getting out of my truck..It sucks having no muscle control below knees..you fall a lot

  42. #42
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    This thread has made me think again about my fat bike riding experiences.

    Originally I bought it both for the novelty and riding on the beach, and for potential bike camping. Snow is far from my location.

    Now I am thinking that I should really ride this bike for what it was made for and what I bought it for, and not getting rowdy on the trail, especially as mine is a first generation geometry.

    The other thing about my fat bike is that it is very heavy. At the time I bought it, basically new for $750, I just wanted to experience joy of fat tires, and perhaps benefit from the workout.

    It all worked out fair and square. I did have some falls, but didn't get hurt. I did wheelie over once climbing, and got lucky. I have lost traction on corners on loose over hard pack summer conditions and low sided at speed. The self steer problems and the uncontrolled fat tire rebound have caused near crash situations.

    The bad handling traits discouraged me from riding it a lot as a trail bike lately. It just hangs in the garage and I should probably try to sell it. However, I know I love to ride it, and so will again.

    But compared to my full suspension plus bike, this thing is dangerous to try to ride the same way. So yeah, my fat bike is dangerous.

    Once I spent a day on a Bucksaw in Hurricane UT. That was a great ride that day. I rode up some steep rock stuff that I wouldn't have tried on a skinnier format. The capability enabled me to place myself into a higher exposure. So that is objectively more dangerous.

    I also spent a day on a Rocky Mountain Sherpa on Gooseberry Mesa. That was the ride that made me want to get a full suspension plus bike.

    At some point the extra weight and peculiar handling of bigger tires and wheels reaches diminishing returns.

    My conclusion is that for me the fat bike is a like my single speeding. It's not the all around best bike at all. The fat bike is a fun bike to ride, and a beautiful experience.

    Ride to ride another day. I sometimes get into a "die trying" attitude, which produces some amazing results 99 percent of the time. It's the 1% of the time where it gets weird.

    Today new geometries and forks are way more capable than my basic rigid fat bike ever could be.

    I think the new wave of fat and mid fat are not going to be more dangerous that anything else.
    Safety depends upon the rider capability and attitude and knowledge about the conditions of their equipment and terrain.

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  43. #43
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    My fat bike is 2011, definitely old school geo. 70deg HTA and 454 stays iirc. I changed some stuff to lighten it up (rims and tires mainly), learned my tire pressures and been no issue blasting trails on 4.7 tires.

    An older frame can be made fun with a few updates, no reason to sell it.

    No reason you cant update

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  44. #44
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    As I was crossing a frozen creek today, I thought to myself:

    This is much more dangerous than riding in the summer time. Even when it's not ice and just snow, you can't push hard in a turn because you'll fall. But, this is much safer than than trying to do the same (in the winter) on a normal bike.
    "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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  45. #45
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    I can't wait to play on snow covered ice! One thing I really haven't done yet but once things freeze enough I've seen it happen plenty.

    I wish I knew how to sort out ice thickness cause I could explore some "hardly ever touched by man" areas that are only accessable by boat normally.

    That reminds me of a freak deep freeze right about this time of year about 10 yrs ago. Such a rapid deep freeze the river back waters at the marina went from nothing frozen to ice 8-12" thick in 4 days. Was a total nightmare as I worked that marina and we werent done pulling boats for the winter yet. We were standing on the ice with sledge hammers and ropes around our wastes tied to the boats we were trying to get free. Thankfully wasn't a week later temps came above freezing and right after Xmas we saw 60deg.

    That's one thing about a fat bike that's bad, you think of new, stupid shit to do... At least with a wife and kids I know better than to do it alone.

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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post

    I wish I knew how to sort out ice thickness cause I could explore some "hardly ever touched by man" areas that are only accessable by boat normally.
    Well, even if you know the thickness (drill?) it's no guarantee of anything, since overflow can create multiple layers of ice, so you have to keep your head on a swivel. There are tools you can buy that are for dragging your body out of the water when you fall through ice (lightweight and go around your neck). If it's been cold for a while around here, pretty much everything on top is frozen solid, but even in significantly -F temperatures, rivers still flow beneath (and sometimes over) the ice. Every day can be different.
    "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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  47. #47
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    Rovers Run is one of the most dangerous trails in the world said Outside Magazine but I ride that all winter on my fat bike and avoid it in summer.https://www.outsideonline.com/185663...hikes#slide-19
    Here is an xray be safe out there.
    Are fat bikes safer?-phone.jpg
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  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    As I was crossing a frozen creek today, I thought to myself:

    This is much more dangerous than riding in the summer time. Even when it's not ice and just snow, you can't push hard in a turn because you'll fall. But, this is much safer than than trying to do the same (in the winter) on a normal bike.
    I think my fatty saved me by NOT washing out on a frozen wooden bridge. I was going fast and I wasn't lined up on the bridge when I hit it. I was either going to steer dangerously close to the edge, or I was going to washout entirely. I didn't have room to drift or anything, and my weight was forward to keep the front tire planted, so if it had washed out I was going head first. I don't know what was holding me and the front tire as I steered, but I stayed on. sheesh!

    -F
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  49. #49
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    Old thread, I know. Resurrecting it because I'm looking to get a fattie as well soon.

    Since fat bikes have been out for a while, can anyone share their experiences on whether or not they feel that it is safer?

  50. #50
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    Not sure about safer but they are definitely x10 on the fun factor.

  51. #51
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    Would there be a difference between 26 fat vs 27.5 fat wtr to which might be safer?

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    Not that you would be able to discern.
    Get 27.5 because that's the better rollover and have a ton of fun.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by AVL-MTB View Post
    Old thread, I know. Resurrecting it because I'm looking to get a fattie as well soon.

    Since fat bikes have been out for a while, can anyone share their experiences on whether or not they feel that it is safer?
    Safer is a bunch of rubbish! It is all about fun and being able to ride places that skinny tires cannot. Think smiles per mile! While a roadie is paranoid that their tires are in excess of 100 psi, I'll likely be letting some air out to make it through some deep sugar sand. The fat bike doesn't shake and rattle your teeth out of your face and is very comfortable. It requires your inner child to get hooked on. That is why I ride my fat year round. I'm just not pompous enough to ride a road bike anyway.
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
    Doctor recommended...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Funoutside View Post
    Would there be a difference between 26 fat vs 27.5 fat wtr to which might be safer?
    Not as much as going from 177 hubs to 197s.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Funoutside View Post
    Would there be a difference between 26 fat vs 27.5 fat wtr to which might be safer?
    Quote Originally Posted by Bifffff View Post
    Not that you would be able to discern.
    Get 27.5 because that's the better rollover and have a ton of fun.
    I think there are a lot of other things like brakes, tires and geometry that would have more of an impact on safety, but overall you can get better contact patch and tire deformation with 26" so may be safer in that regard.

    As for rollover, there is not that much of a difference between the 2 sizes. Only 1 inch diff in diameter which equates to only 12mm difference in rollover or 2-4% diff with all other things being equal. For fat bikes it's all about tire deformation and contact patch and you can get more of that with a 26" fat than you can a 27.5" fat since 26" can run much wider than what's possible with 27.5 fat.

    27.5" allows for a lighter set up with similar height as a wider 26" at the expense of less contact patch and tire deformation than a wider 26".
    Get out of the gutter and onto the mountain top.

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    Its up to the rider, bicycles are inanimate objects its not the bikes fault, its the riders fault. You need to learn to adapt, and practice and gain experience before doing something you have done little to nothing of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt4x4 View Post
    Its up to the rider, bicycles are inanimate objects its not the bikes fault, its the riders fault. You need to learn to adapt, and practice and gain experience before doing something you have done little to nothing of.
    Oh, says you! Some of em have an attitude problem...
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
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    At the risk of giving advice on a subject I don't know about, I would say that if you are on the fence about fat bikes, consider a plus bike. I am a very inexperienced mtb rider, but my 29x3 Chupacabra tires on my "rigid bikepacking bike" gives me great confidence. It sux on pavement, but has so much grip on gravel and worse surfaces.
    Edit for spelling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadGrandpa View Post
    At the risk of giving advice on a subject I don't know about, I would say that if you are on the fence about fat bikes, consider a plus bike. I am a very inexperienced mtb rider, but my 29x3 Chupacabra tires on my "rigid bikepacking bike" gives me great confidence. It six on pavement, but has so much grip on gravel and worse surfaces.
    The Chupa is a rather fuel efficient tire at the right pressure for the load. The more aggressive tires really offer poor rolling characteristics on pavement in compariason. I do adjust tire pressure for the terrain to gain performance. It makes a major difference in overall experience with both plus and fat.
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
    Doctor recommended...

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by BansheeRune View Post
    The Chupa is a rather fuel efficient tire at the right pressure for the load. The more aggressive tires really offer poor rolling characteristics on pavement in compariason. I do adjust tire pressure for the terrain to gain performance. It makes a major difference in overall experience with both plus and fat.
    Yes, tire pressure is everything with the bigger tires. Too much, very bouncy.

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    they are slippery on grass since the tires aren't digging in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadGrandpa View Post
    Yes, tire pressure is everything with the bigger tires. Too much, very bouncy.
    Indeed tire pressure is everything
    terrain, sand, snow, mud or powering around bends, or grass, or up slippery flat wooden obstacles in the bike park, road riding, single track, pathway, cruising.

    Almost need 4 or 5 bicycles for every condition. The plus bikes can do a bit of this and a bit of that, better at this a little not good at that. It may be a good comprimise for whatever terrain your riding the most vs a little bit.

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    Are fat bikes safer?

    My experience is that the bike you go slower on is the safer one.

    Thus, my fat bike is a lot safer.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    Is a monster truck safer then a half ton truck or a honda civic.
    Its up to the user and the choices they make with the experience level they have.
    Fat bike vs plus bike vs mtb vs cruiser vs gravel vs road vs bmx it all comes down to whats mentioned.

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    Are fat bikes safer?

    Double post. Sorry.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    Double post. Sorry.
    Haha, nice username.

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