Searching For My First Fat Bike, Where To Start??- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Searching For My First Fat Bike, Where To Start??

    We'll be moving back to Montana sometime in the first part of 2020 ( late Spring ) We lived in Bozeman for 9 years from 2003 -2012. Never tried fat biking then, but now I see it as a viable option for riding throughout the winter months. Trying to wrap my head around what I need to be looking for. Do I want/need front suspension? What are the advantages/disadvantages between the two? Manufacturer's?? Dropper post or not? I just need some advice and guidance from the collective here. Been reading through some of the threads here, but haven't found anything recent that really pertains to what I'm looking for. I'm very comfortable building and working on all my full suspension bikes, but with this genre of mountain biking I am at a loss. Open to all suggestions and questions.
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    Buy a Borealis demo bike - you'll get a TON of bike for your money. Seriously - these are among the best fat bikes made, and at these prices they're a ridiculously great bargain.

    https://www.fatbike.com/demo-models

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    Quote Originally Posted by RickBullottaPA View Post
    Buy a Borealis demo bike - you'll get a TON of bike for your money. Seriously - these are among the best fat bikes made, and at these prices they're a ridiculously great bargain.

    https://www.fatbike.com/demo-models

    Thanks very much. You're right, those are some great prices for the quality of components. I see only one large. All my full suspension bikes are large, so I "assume" I would also take a large in a fat bike. I'll give them a call to double check.
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    Check out Growler and compare specs. I bought a brand new MR Big Stuff for $1500 which is what the used demos are going for! Sram 1x12, Sram Level hydro brakes, mulefut rims with your choice of tires already tubeless. If you compare- you can't beat Growler.
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    It also depends on the trail conditions you'll be riding in.
    Take a look at this post.
    https://forums.mtbr.com/fat-bikes/26...l#post14440945

    Conditions will also drive the width of the tire (and rim) you need (need, can use, or is optimum, again depending on your conditions).
    Determing the maximum tire/rim widths you'll need is required. You need a bike capable of handling that width.
    Crazy on this ship of fools...

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    Quote Originally Posted by metalskool View Post
    Check out Growler and compare specs. I bought a brand new MR Big Stuff for $1500 which is what the used demos are going for! Sram 1x12, Sram Level hydro brakes, mulefut rims with your choice of tires already tubeless. If you compare- you can't beat Growler.
    Thanks. Will give Growler a look
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canoe View Post
    It also depends on the trail conditions you'll be riding in.
    Take a look at this post.
    https://forums.mtbr.com/fat-bikes/26...l#post14440945

    Conditions will also drive the width of the tire (and rim) you need (need, can use, or is optimum, again depending on your conditions).
    Determing the maximum tire/rim widths you'll need is required. You need a bike capable of handling that width.

    Thanks Canoe. I did read that thread you linked last week. Great info. I'll be using the bike only in winter on a mixture of groomed as well as powder trails. All my full suspension bikes are 27.5. Still trying to decide if 26 or 27.5 will be the direction I'll go.
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  8. #8
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    I just picked up a 2019 Norco Bigfoot 1 a couple of days ago. 1x11 drivetrain, factory dropper post, clearance for 26x5" tires, and it was marked down to help it sell. Took it out yesterday after a few inches of fresh powder, and it was a blast. Very grippy with the stock 4.8" tires.

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    https://shop.fatbackbikes.com/fatbac...rhino-flt.html
    https://shop.fatbackbikes.com/fatback-bicycles-skookum.html
    https://shop.fatbackbikes.com/corvus.html

    I'm partial to Fatback Bikes. If there's a shop around you that stocks their bikes I would definitely give one a try. :-)

    I think that if you get a dropper post you want to do some homework regarding whether or not your favorite post will work near freezing temperatures (I've heard PNW posts work well, along with Giant's.) Also, regarding a suspension forks I've never used one. I have heard that the Manitou is a good choice in regards to the stanchion size and dampening.

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    LBS

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    There are a lot of good fat bikes out there. You will have a lot of good options for almost any budget. I have a Framed, I started on an inexpensive Bikesdirect.com bike, I do not regret either of those bikes. I have ridden a Fatback, a Kona, a Specialized and a Giant on Demos or from friends, they were all good too.
    My general advice:
    1) Leave some money in your pocket for some modifications that you won't appreciate until you have been riding a while.
    2) 1x doesn't get jacked up in snow and mud as much
    3) good tires are a big influence on ride quality. A cheap bike can feel pretty good with lightweight tires set up tubeless.
    4) wide tires are nice, wider is better in the snow.

    If you are new to fat biking the real trick will be learning to dress for the weather. How cold of weather are you willing to ride in? How long of trips do you want to take? Are you going to cut trails, ride pavement, or ride groomed trails?

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    Quote Originally Posted by iliketexmex View Post
    There are a lot of good fat bikes out there. You will have a lot of good options for almost any budget. I have a Framed, I started on an inexpensive Bikesdirect.com bike, I do not regret either of those bikes. I have ridden a Fatback, a Kona, a Specialized and a Giant on Demos or from friends, they were all good too.
    My general advice:
    1) Leave some money in your pocket for some modifications that you won't appreciate until you have been riding a while.
    2) 1x doesn't get jacked up in snow and mud as much
    3) good tires are a big influence on ride quality. A cheap bike can feel pretty good with lightweight tires set up tubeless.
    4) wide tires are nice, wider is better in the snow.

    If you are new to fat biking the real trick will be learning to dress for the weather. How cold of weather are you willing to ride in? How long of trips do you want to take? Are you going to cut trails, ride pavement, or ride groomed trails?

    Great advice. I custom build all my full suspension bikes, and I would like to do the same with a fat bike. Ive got my eye on the Borealis Crestone frame right now. All carbon with carbon fork. I can then build it up to my liking. This bike will be a winter bike only. I have plenty of cold weather riding gear. Most riding will be powder as well as trails. Definitely looking at 4-5 inch tires, laced to DT Swiss or Hope hubs. Really like the looks of the DT Swiss BR 710 26 rims as well. The frame is the big part to make a decision on. Parts and components are the fun part of the equation.
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  13. #13
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    Don't use the DT Swiss rim. The tubeless is crappy. Surly My Other Brother Darryl is what you seek.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYrr496 View Post
    Don't use the DT Swiss rim. The tubeless is crappy. Surly My Other Brother Darryl is what you seek.

    Outstanding suggestion NY. I know DT makes great products and just "assumed" the BR 710 would be a solid choice. But the Darryl looks to be on point. Does it set up tubeless easily? I've been reading online of troubles some people have setting fat rims up tubeless. My full suspension wheels are a breeze to set up.
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    I have the Mulefut rims on my bike & absolutely love them!

    https://sun-ringle.com/product/mulefut-80sl-2/

    I'm 250lbs in winter (235 summer) and they work great so far.
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    Quote Originally Posted by metalskool View Post
    I have the Mulefut rims on my bike & absolutely love them!

    https://sun-ringle.com/product/mulefut-80sl-2/

    I'm 250lbs in winter (235 summer) and they work great so far.

    Thanks metal. In my early research, the Surly and Mulefut seem to be the top 2 wheels mentioned. Two great choices.
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  17. #17
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    Longtime Montana fatbike rider here. You will want a frame that has clearance for the fattest studded tires possible set up tubeless, that means at least 26 x 4.8 and hopefully 26 x 5.05. 4" tires wont cut it for ungroomed, unpacked powder most of the time. I use a set of Surly Bud/Lou with gripstuds, but that's only because there weren't any good, big fat studded tires when I got them. I would likely get Terrene Johnny 5 now. If I was less than 180 lbs, I would go 45 north wrathchild. Fatbike ires last a long time if you store them inside when they are not in use. I have a set with and without studs.

    If you use a dropper on your regular mountain bike, you will want one on your fatty.

    I also use a suspension fork because downhill. Duh.

    Id look at the Surly Ice Cream Truck and add a dropper and a Mastodon fork, so you can fit the Snowshow 2XL if you decide you want max float to keep breaking trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rth009 View Post
    Longtime Montana fatbike rider here. You will want a frame that has clearance for the fattest studded tires possible set up tubeless, that means at least 26 x 4.8 and hopefully 26 x 5.05. 4" tires wont cut it for ungroomed, unpacked powder most of the time. I use a set of Surly Bud/Lou with gripstuds, but that's only because there weren't any good, big fat studded tires when I got them. I would likely get Terrene Johnny 5 now. If I was less than 180 lbs, I would go 45 north wrathchild. Fatbike ires last a long time if you store them inside when they are not in use. I have a set with and without studs.

    If you use a dropper on your regular mountain bike, you will want one on your fatty.

    I also use a suspension fork because downhill. Duh.

    Id look at the Surly Ice Cream Truck and add a dropper and a Mastodon fork, so you can fit the Snowshow 2XL if you decide you want max float to keep breaking trail.

    Thanks for posting up rth. Where are you located? I'll be in Bozeman again, or just outside, maybe Belgrade this time. Bozeman prices have gone beyond the roof since we left in 2011. Are you familiar with the Copper City Trail system in Tree Forks? Rode there this past summer for a few days and loved it. They have come a long ways in a short time. Will definitely be riding there in the winter months as well as the surrounding trails around Bozeman. Think Bangtails, Bridger's around Brackett Creek, and even some of the trails in the canyon headed towards Big Sky and West Yellowstone. I posted above that I'm leaning towards the Borealis Crestone carbon fat bike with carbon fork right now. Wheels, based on recommendations here, might be either the Surly My Other Brother Darryl, or the Mulefut, 26". Hubs either Hope Fatsno, or Dt Swiss. Other components will be mostly what I run on all my full suspension bikes. Sram drivetrain, Hope, or Hayes Dominion A4 brakes. I have droppers on all 4 bikes, but want to wait and see if I want one on this fat bike.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevinboyer View Post
    Thanks for posting up rth. Where are you located? I'll be in Bozeman again, or just outside, maybe Belgrade this time. Bozeman prices have gone beyond the roof since we left in 2011. Are you familiar with the Copper City Trail system in Tree Forks? Rode there this past summer for a few days and loved it. They have come a long ways in a short time. Will definitely be riding there in the winter months as well as the surrounding trails around Bozeman. Think Bangtails, Bridger's around Brackett Creek, and even some of the trails in the canyon headed towards Big Sky and West Yellowstone. I posted above that I'm leaning towards the Borealis Crestone carbon fat bike with carbon fork right now. Wheels, based on recommendations here, might be either the Surly My Other Brother Darryl, or the Mulefut, 26". Hubs either Hope Fatsno, or Dt Swiss. Other components will be mostly what I run on all my full suspension bikes. Sram drivetrain, Hope, or Hayes Dominion A4 brakes. I have droppers on all 4 bikes, but want to wait and see if I want one on this fat bike.
    Im in Missoula and I have ridden copper city, although not in the last 6 months since some of the newest trails. Its a great area, one of the best purpose built trail systems in the state (not that we have a lot) but it can be very very crowded. Ive hgeard reports of hundreds of 6-county cars on weekends. In the winter, the snow drifts. Yet more reason for my emphasis on tire clearance for MT riding.

    Im not too familar with the crestone frame, but my riding buddy has a Borealis Echo and he had to downsize his tires to wrathchild because the Lou would not fit in the rear tubeless on 80mm rims. Check that out before you buy. Unless you are a lightweight, big tires are key for MT snow and as you know, Bozeman is about the snowiest place in MT.

    And you're right, Bozangeles prices have gone through the roof (again), as have the rest of the state. I would be scared to buy a home in this market.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rth009 View Post
    Im in Missoula and I have ridden copper city, although not in the last 6 months since some of the newest trails. Its a great area, one of the best purpose built trail systems in the state (not that we have a lot) but it can be very very crowded. Ive hgeard reports of hundreds of 6-county cars on weekends. In the winter, the snow drifts. Yet more reason for my emphasis on tire clearance for MT riding.

    Im not too familar with the crestone frame, but my riding buddy has a Borealis Echo and he had to downsize his tires to wrathchild because the Lou would not fit in the rear tubeless on 80mm rims. Check that out before you buy. Unless you are a lightweight, big tires are key for MT snow and as you know, Bozeman is about the snowiest place in MT.

    And you're right, Bozangeles prices have gone through the roof (again), as have the rest of the state. I would be scared to buy a home in this market.

    I'm going to call Borealis today to confirm some questions I have regarding the Crestone frame. I think it can take up to a 4.8 if I remember correctly. I'm 180-185 RTR so hopefully that will help out on tire choices.

    We're actually building a house as we did previously. Found a great contractor who will let me be involved so that will help out cost wise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYrr496 View Post
    Don't use the DT Swiss rim. The tubeless is crappy. Surly My Other Brother Darryl is what you seek.
    Quote Originally Posted by metalskool View Post
    I have the Mulefut rims on my bike & absolutely love them! they work great so far.
    Guys... let me say, that all fat-rims of that kind are crap...
    In 2020 - the only choice for fatbike wheels could be a "single-wall carbon rim" (like e.g. Nextie Xiphias, Kuroshiro ENSO or HED).

  22. #22
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    If all you are riding is snow in the winter, then suspension isn't necessary.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
    If all you are riding is snow in the winter, then suspension isn't necessary.
    That's what I thought until I started riding this winter. People trudging on the trails through the day and make post holes that refreeze overnight making sections look like the surface of the moon. Or in one day you encounter every type of snow, slush, ice, mud, frozen rock, terrain imaginable and you wish you had something to absorb that at least on the front end because your arms and hands feel it.

    That's where I am and by next year I'm getting a suspension fork!
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevinboyer View Post
    ... I'll be using the bike only in winter on a mixture of groomed as well as powder trails. All my full suspension bikes are 27.5. Still trying to decide if 26 or 27.5 will be the direction I'll go.
    You might end up using one of your full suspension 27.5 on frozen pot-holed trails. See which of yours has the most clearance for the widest appropriate tire.

    > as well as powder trails
    If deep, pretty much means 26, wide rims and likely tubeless.
    And if deep powder, likely a dropper post.
    You've seen that one thread. You need to read this one.
    https://forums.mtbr.com/fat-bikes/fa...w-1000620.html
    and https://forums.mtbr.com/fat-bikes/ps...d-1123849.html
    and
    https://forums.mtbr.com/fat-bikes/be...l#post14468861
    once you've spent some time on 27.5 x 4" you'll have a hard time going back to 26" fat for anything other than deep snow. 27.5 fat is so much faster, more efficient, for everything other than deep snow.
    And the one on fat rolling resistance on snow (link?).

    And this one wouldn't hurt, as "powder" means you may end up there.
    https://forums.mtbr.com/fat-bikes/st...g-1098947.html
    Crazy on this ship of fools...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevinboyer View Post
    Outstanding suggestion NY. I know DT makes great products and just "assumed" the BR 710 would be a solid choice. But the Darryl looks to be on point. Does it set up tubeless easily? I've been reading online of troubles some people have setting fat rims up tubeless. My full suspension wheels are a breeze to set up.
    Other Brother Darryls are easy set up as are the Mulefuts mentioned below. If you use the tubeless kit Surly sells for either rim it will be perfect.
    I like turtles

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    Quote Originally Posted by metalskool View Post
    That's what I thought until I started riding this winter. People trudging on the trails through the day and make post holes that refreeze overnight making sections look like the surface of the moon. Or in one day you encounter every type of snow, slush, ice, mud, frozen rock, terrain imaginable and you wish you had something to absorb that at least on the front end because your arms and hands feel it.

    That's where I am and by next year I'm getting a suspension fork!
    Sounds like signs are needed on the trail so people don't walk on them with boots or shoes. Might want to post snow shoes only so that doesn't happen.

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    Trek Farley

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunner.989 View Post
    Trek Farley
    Cheapest Farley 7 with a suspension fork = $2600 (imported frame) One color.

    Growler American Stout with better components = $2300 (American made frame) AND you can pick your frame color & decal colors! Also comes with pocketed tires for studs.

    https://growlerbikes.com/collections...americanstout2
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
    Sounds like signs are needed on the trail so people don't walk on them with boots or shoes. Might want to post snow shoes only so that doesn't happen.
    Good luck with that. Freshly groomed trails are like catnip to bare-booted walkers.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
    If all you are riding is snow in the winter, then suspension isn't necessary.
    Nothing is "necessary".
    Kidding aside, your statement may be true if you only ride groomed or on roads. Where I ride, there is no grooming to speak of and we ride the exact same trails we ride without snow, except we cant usually go as high or far because the snow gets too deep. That means I'm bombing down the same hills and a suspension fork makes those descents a lot more fun, in my opinion. The OP said he's riding in Bozeman, MT which means mountains, which means descending. Also, there isnt always the same amount of snow on the whole route, so a suspension fork helps with the rocks.

    And dont forget ice and hard snow and bootpack. Suspension fork helps there as well.

    I had a rigid Mukluk for 4 years before I got a Bluto in 2015. For non-racing, non-fatbike-packing, riding in the mountains, suspension fork is the way to go.

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    Well the search has ended. I purchased a 2020 Borealis Crestone frame and fork today. Just wanted to thank all of you who gave me suggestions and advice. I have spent hours online everyday since I posted just over a week ago looking at practically every fat bike on the market. Changed my mind more than I can remember. I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted, and the Crestone completed that picture.

    Now on to the fun part. Picking out components. Going to use pretty much the same parts that I have used on all my full suspension bikes. I know these parts well and they have never let me down. But I'm sure I'll have some questions as well.

    https://www.fatbike.com/store/CRESTONE-FRAME-p124052340

    The frame only comes in green this year.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevinboyer View Post
    Well the search has ended. I purchased a 2020 Borealis Crestone frame and fork today. Just wanted to thank all of you who gave me suggestions and advice. I have spent hours online everyday since I posted just over a week ago looking at practically every fat bike on the market. Changed my mind more than I can remember. I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted, and the Crestone completed that picture.

    Now on to the fun part. Picking out components. Going to use pretty much the same parts that I have used on all my full suspension bikes. I know these parts well and they have never let me down. But I'm sure I'll have some questions as well.

    https://www.fatbike.com/store/CRESTONE-FRAME-p124052340

    The frame only comes in green this year.

    Excellent choice! Choice of wheelset matters a lot. The house brand Carbondale wheels that Borealis sells are decent options. For the crankset, which can also make a big difference on the bike (Q-factor, weight) take a look at a Next SL, and depending on which drivetrain you get, you can go as small as a 26T chainring.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickBullottaPA View Post
    Excellent choice! Choice of wheelset matters a lot. The house brand Carbondale wheels that Borealis sells are decent options. For the crankset, which can also make a big difference on the bike (Q-factor, weight) take a look at a Next SL, and depending on which drivetrain you get, you can go as small as a 26T chainring.

    Thanks Rick. Your advice had alot to do with me making my choice.

    I have Race Face Next R cranksets on all my mtb bikes, so that's what I was going to use on the Crestone. Going all Sram XX1 again as well, but 12 speed this time around. 11-50 seems the way to go with fat biking. I run 9-46 on my mtb's.
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