A fat tire bike is an off-road bike with oversized tires that are specially designed for use on soft and uneven surfaces. Oversized tires and a sturdy construction make fat bikes ideal for riding through mud, on the sand, and in snow.
You might be thinking that the best fat tire bikes are beyond your budget…
So it it may come as a surprise to learn that a fat tire mountain bike can have high-end components that add quality without increasing cost.
In this article I review the following 6 best affordable fat bikes:
- Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Bike (MY FAVORITE)
- Framed Minnesota 1.2 Fat Bike
- SAIGULA Fat Tire Mountain Bike
- Farley 5 Fat Bike
- Framed Minnesota 2.0 Men’s Fat Bike (BEST FOR BEGINNERS)
- Framed Minnesota 2.0 Womans Fat Bike
Read more: Detailed Buying Guide for Fat Tire Bikes
The Best Fat Bikes For The Money Review
The attractive Mongoose fat tire bike has a 17-inch tensile steel frame and 26-inch wheels. The mechanical front and rear disc brakes give you full stopping power when you most need it.
The 7-speed Shimano rear derailleur and twist shifters make it easy to climb hills and let you quickly shift gears while your bike is moving.
You will really appreciate the traction from the Dolomite’s 4-inch all-terrain knobby tires. Front and rear disc brakes make this bike easy and safe to ride on any terrain.
This great off-road bike performs well on just about any surface, including mud, snow, dirt and sand. Riding on uneven ground and shifting gears while you are in motion are light work for the Mongoose’s Shimano derailleur and twist shifter.
The Mongoose fat bike is lightweight and strong alloy rims perform well without adding weight to the bike, which makes it easier to maneuver on those long rides through the back country.
A threadless headset is easily adjusted for riders who are between 5’6” and 6’0” tallM
The Framed Minnesota 1.2 is a great bike for all your off-road travels. The frame is built from 6061 aluminum, which makes the bike lightweight and strong to handle those long treks over unstable terrain.
The SRAM 10-speed rear cassette and Truvativ 32T 175 millimeter crankset will let you tackle any terrain without a hitch.
You can seamlessly change gears as you move and you can rely on the bike’s mechanical disc brakes to give you powerful stopping action at any time.
The oversized aluminum alloy fork can accommodate tires ranging from 26″ x 4.8″ to 29″ x 2″ to give you the versatility and stability you have come to expect from a fatbike. The standard 26” x 4” bead tires give you optimal all-weather performance.
Lightweight alloy single-wall rims are hollowed out to give you an outstanding balance between strength and weight.
The Minnesota 1.2 includes the same options as the 1.0 model, but features a tapered head tube that allows you to install a framed carbon or suspension fork as you get ready to tackle more biking opportunities.
Aluminum brake levers that are fully reversible, a rust-resistant chainring and fully replaceable crankset round out the rich feature set of this cheap fat tire bike.
The 1.2 now includes four frame sizes to give you a more precise fit and a better riding experience. Frame sizes include 15, 17, 19 and 21 inches. The suggested maximum rider weight for this bike is 280 pounds.
The SAIGULA 7-speed mountain bike is made with an 100 percent steel frame. The 26” x 4” Maqisi tires provide the kind of stability that make this bike a good choice for off-roading.
Front and rear disc brakes give you all the stopping power you will ever need.
The dual suspension system with shock absorbing front forks lets you ride comfortably across all types of surfaces.
The 7-speed Shimano rear derailleur and twist shifters make light work of any hill and let you smoothly change gears while your bike is in motion. Its ability to climb hills, come to a sudden stop and absorb impact make the SAIGULA the perfect all-terrain bike.
This bike safely holds riders who weigh up to 330 pounds. The mountain bike saddle and durable steel kickstand round out the feature set of this sturdy bike.
This SAIGULA mountain bike is very large and some riders have complained that it is difficult to get a comfortable fit.
#4. Farley 5 TREK Fat Bike
The Farley 5 is a higher-end fat bike that is perfect for year-round riding. The Farley’s Bontrager Gnarwhal TLR extra-grippy tires are a generous 27.5 x 4.5 inches and provide exceptional stability and traction year-round.
The Bontrager Haru carbon fork and Alpha Platinum aluminum frame make this bike durable and lightweight, providing strength and stability to your ride.
SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes provide easy stopping power on any surface and make this a good all-weather and all-terrain fatbike.
High-quality Shimano rear derailleurs and 10-speed drivetrain make shifting gears an easy job. The stranglehold dropout allows for single-speed and multiple-gear options. Unique tubeless-ready wheels add to the long list of potential upgrades that you can make to this bike.
The Farley 5 is available in five sizes that fit riders who are between 5’0” and 6’8” tall and have inseam sizes ranging from 72 to 95 centimeters.
The Framed Minnesota 2.0 is an excellent bike for beginner fatbike riders. Its tight wheel base and trail geometry make this bike easy to maneuver on turns and around obstacles.
This Framed model has a durable rust-resistant aluminum alloy frame that keeps the weight of the bike low while also providing a stable ride.
The bike is available in 16-inch, 18-inch and 20-inch sizes.
Its integrated shifting mechanism makes gear changes a cinch whether you are riding on hills, snow or mud.
Mechanical disc brakes put stopping at your command and the wide 4-inch tires make this bike a good choice for any type of off-roading activity.
The Minnesota 2.0 features a TIG welded aluminum alloy fork that can accommodate 26 to 29-inch wheels that are between 2 inches and 4.8 inches wide. You will love the quick-release wheel mounting system that lets you easily swap out your tires whenever your travel destination changes.
Tires with all-weather tread make it a cinch to navigate through rain, wind and shine. Sealed bottom brackets protect the cranks, keeping them rust-free so that you can ride worry-free.
A specially designed womens fat tire bike. The Framed Minnesota 2.0 has a 6061 aluminum alloy frame that makes this bike strong, lightweight and corrosion-resistant for year-round riding.
Its 26” x 4” tires lend to the stability and quality of this ride.
The integrated headset and replaceable derailleur hanger give you plenty of drivetrain options. A suspension-ready aluminum fork gives you the opportunity to upgrade when you are ready to tackle more challenging rides.
The Minnesota’s wide aluminum fork fits wheel sizes from 26″ x 4.0″ to 29″ x 2″ to give you an expanded set of terrain choices.
The wheel dimensions and two frame sizes of 15 and 17 inches make it a breeze to make height adjustments to fit riders.
An alloy crankset and durable heat-treated steel chainring provide a hardy gear system that can withstand rough treatment and off-road rides. The aluminum alloy single-wall rim is double pinned and designed to maximize strength and minimize bike weight.
Buying Guide To Fat Bikes
I think you might be having some questions as you look for an affordable fat tire bike that meets your needs and quality expectations. I am going to answer some of those questions to help make your shopping experience a little easier.
What are the benefits of fat bikes?
One of the benefits of fat tire bicycles is that they are great for riding on any surface that is soft, mushy, and uneven. They are the ideal off-road bike because they are sturdy enough to handle bogs, snow, sand, and mud.
Is a fat tire bike more comfortable to ride?
Compared to other bicycles, even like regular mountain bikes, fat tire mountain bikes are much easier to ride on unstable terrain. Their wide tires are specially designed to accommodate low ground pressure, letting you quickly and safely tackle the softest and most irregular surfaces.
Are fat bikes any different from all the other bikes?
They invented fat bikes for use on snow and sand. Their sturdy construction and oversized tires make them suitable for use on any terrain that is soft and unpredictable.
The earliest versions of fat bikes (big tire bikes), were probably built in the first part of the 20th century. But the versions we know today did not appear until the 1980s.
In the early 2000s, fat tire mountain bikes began to be used in the Iditarod races and became known as snow bikes. (1)
Fat bikes have frames built with exceptionally wide forks that can fit their massive tires. Unlike standard tires, fat tires are designed to work well when under-inflated as this improves their handling on soft surfaces.
Fat bikes, in contrast to cruisers or road bikes, are more often made of steel and typically have additional non-standard features that improve their hardiness and adaptability.
These features can include quick-release tire swapping mechanisms, double-walled tires, and reinforced rims.
Different style bikes can share a variety of features, but several features distinguish fat bikes from the others:
- A very wide fork constructed of steel or aluminum alloy
- Super-sized tires that can exceed 4 inches in width
- Ubiquitous inclusion of front suspension among its features
- Disc brakes favored over rim brakes
You are far more likely to encounter the full combination of suspension, shock absorbers, disc brakes, and wide forks in fat bikes than you will in any other type of bicycle.
It is also common for snow bikes to feature tires that have a knobbed or webbed tread that improves traction on soft ground.
What are fat tire bikes used for?
The best use for your fat bike is on off-road travels that take you through the winding and muddy back roads or hot sandy beaches.
Fat bikes are at their best when you ride them through the types of terrain that you would probably never want to walk on.
While you can use your fat tire bicycle to ride around town, I would not recommend it. This because fat bikes are heavy and may prove challenging to handle in traffic and on longer city rides.
A cruiser is a lightweight bike and might be a much better choice for your urban commutes.
What features should I look for in a fat bike?
You can combine features in several ways to customize the functionality of your new bike. You can even purchase additional or substitute parts, such as a wider saddle or a cargo rack.
In this way, you create a bike that is a perfect match for your personal needs and riding preferences.
Regardless of how you choose to customize your new investment, there are several essential features that you should always keep in mind when shopping for a bike.
Fat Bikes Fork & Suspension
The suspension system is your bike’s shock absorber, providing you with a safer and more comfortable ride.
The suspension is a great feature to have on your fat bike and makes all the difference in how comfortably you can navigate all types of rough surfaces.
Fat bikes with wide forks can accommodate its oversized tires. The most common fork materials are aluminum and steel alloy, both of which are durable and inexpensive.
A steel fork lends stability to your bike and will hold up well on off-road excursions. Aluminum forks weigh less but are also durable.
Steel is quite a bit harder than aluminum, though, and this might be the right choice for you if you think your fat bike might need to handle a lot of abuse on rough rides.
Fat Tire Bike Wheels
Bike wheels have several essential features that you should keep in mind when choosing your new bike.
Rims made of steel alloy are particularly sturdy, which makes them the ideal choice for use on off-road bikes. Aluminum alloy rims are a little bit lighter but are also built to last.
If you do decide to choose steel rims, you will want to protect your investment by making sure the rims are corrosion-resistant.
Rims on fat wheel bikes are usually 2.16 inches or larger to accommodate the extra-wide tires.
Size and dimensions
Wheels that are between 1.77 and 1.97 inches (45 – 50 millimeters) are popular with all-season fat bike riders. This size wheel fits tires that are large enough to tackle all-weather terrain and small enough to make for secure handling.
You need a rim that is at least 1.74 inches (44 millimeters) to hold a 26-inch x 3.8-inch tire safely.
For the most part, though, you would likely choose a larger wheel for tires that are 3 inches or wider. Oversized tires are the better choice for off-roading and give you more stability when moving over obstacles.
Wheel swapping is a very convenient feature that lets you get the most use out of your fat tire bike throughout the year. Look for a bike that comes equipped with a quick-release mechanism that allows for easy swapping.
The size and pressure of your bike tires will directly impact safety and stability. These are the two most important features to consider before you make your purchase.
The 26-inch tire, also known 26” or 700C, is the most common size tire you will find on bikes. This size tire has widths that range from just under 1 inch to 2.2 inches.
Most fat bike tires have a width of at least 3.8 inches and rims that can be 2.16 inches or wider. The large tires and rims lend stability as you ride on soft surfaces that change unpredictably from dirt to sand to mud and beyond.
Fat bikes have massive tires specially designed for low ground pressure. They can often be under-inflated to help you navigate safely through the unstable ground.
Most fat tire bikes perform best at a pressure of 550–690 hPa; 0.55–0.69 bar (8 – 10 psi). However, tire pressure as low as 340 hPa; 0.34 bar (5 psi) will give you a smooth ride on many of the surfaces on which you will ride your fat bike.
Fat bikes are especially well-suited for riding on soft surfaces like mud, sand, snow, and bogs.
They are built to let you safely maneuver over unstable terrains, that can change quickly, and that may present obstacles that you must maneuver.
Gears and shifting
Bikes can have between 1 and 27 gears.
Single-gear bikes are ideal for use on paved and even terrain, but more gears give you better options for riding surfaces and road conditions. Extra gears make it safe to ride at higher speeds and to tackle hills without your bike becoming unstable.
The shifters and the derailleurs, which move the drivechain across the sprockets, are especially important in how your bike performs shift changes. High-quality components let you easily negotiate hills, shift gears while you are in motion and navigate unpredictable surfaces.
Most fat tire bikes will have 7 or more gears. This number of gears allows for effective navigation in natural environments, such as back roads and wooded areas, without creating an excessively-complex shifting mechanism.
Bicycles can have a rim or disc brakes. Rim brakes, also known as V-brakes, provide stopping power by clamping on the rim of the wheel. They give very little control of sudden stops and may not be the safest option for off-roading.
Disc brakes, on the other hand, use calipers on a disc in much the same way as an automobile utilizes its brakes. Disc brakes provide the safest and most thorough type of stopping, making them the ideal choice for your fat bike.
Brakes can be hydraulic or mechanical. Hydraulic brakes require less work on your part, but the mechanical version offers better control of stopping.
The most common bike frames are steel, carbon, aluminum, or titanium.
Less expensive bikes may have a frame of a lower-grade aluminum.
Although it is not as strong as steel, aluminum is lightweight and inexpensive, making it an accessible and affordable choice for bike frames.
Carbon fiber is much more expensive than aluminum, but it is also the least heavy of all the choices. Stronger than aluminum and far lighter than steel, carbon fiber is the material of choice for some high-end bikes.
Steel is the most durable material of all, and its durability makes steel a popular material for fat bike frames. The weight of a steel bike, however, might make it challenging to tackle hills and long commutes.
Titanium combines the features of the other three materials but is very expensive. This expensive frame may not be the most practical choice for your fat tire bike, which is likely to withstand considerable abuse on muddy trails and bogs.
Proper sizing is essential, and you should do this before making your purchase. If you can stand astride the bicycle with both feet flat on the ground, you have correctly sized your bike.
To confirm your decision, use the manufacturer’s sizing charts to match your height to the corresponding size entry.
If your height spans two different sizes, you can choose the larger size and make adjustments as needed. You can also try both sizes and select the one that feels more comfortable and easier to operate.
Are there precautions I should take when riding a fat tire bike?
A Fat tire MTB can take you to locations that may be replete with obstacles, such as fallen trees, hedges, and terrain that changes unpredictably.
It is essential to have the right safety equipment, and I have compiled a list of some of the basics to help you get started.
Personal safety apparel
A good pair of riding gloves will keep your hands dry and will improve your grip on the handlebars for added safety. Gloves made of leather with a breathable mesh lining are likely to be the most comfortable and durable.
An adequately fitted cycling helmet protects you in the event of a fall or impact. (2)
Mirrors could be installed and adjusted to the correct viewing angle for your height. You should be able to see behind you without craning your neck easily.
Don’t forget your blind spot and turn to see the places where a glance in the mirror will not help you.
Reflectors make it easy for other cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians to see you. It is a good idea to have reflectors on the front and rear tires.
You may also want to place some on the handlebars and fenders so that others can spot from any angle.
Properly inflated your tires, as recommended by the manufacturer. Under and over-inflating will both eventually cause damage to tires, but they each affect your riding experience in different ways.
Under-inflating your tires increase rolling resistance and make your bike harder to ride. Under-inflated tires can be a nightmare on hilly ground and wet terrain.
Over-inflating your tires cause excessive hardening of the sidewalls and tread, which reduces traction and overall performance. Over-inflating tires can cause your bike to vibrate and reduces your grip on the riding surface, which can make it challenging to come to a sudden stop.
Extreme road and weather conditions will usually require adjustments to your pace, speed, and riding style.
Lights improve visibility, making it much easier to see in front of you, and making it safer to ride in low-light conditions.
Following the manufacturer’s safety instructions, paying close attention to road signs, and being mindful of existing weather advisories will maximize your safety and enjoyment of this wonderful outdoor sport.
The Best Fat Bike For The Money – My Conclusion
After reviewing all these great bikes, I have to say that my personal favorite is the Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Bike. For me, it’s a real men’s fat tire bike.
The Dolomite is lightweight, easy to shift while I am in motion and has excellent stopping power. I really like the wide knobby tires that give me exceptional traction on any kind of terrain.
The Mongoose Dolomite bike features a number of high-end components that add performance without breaking the budget. This affordable bike is sturdy, durable and great for all of my back road excursions.
I hope you have enjoyed this fat bike reviews and that I have provided the information you need before you purchase your fat tire bicycle.
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1. Iditarod – The Last Great Race, retrieved from https://iditarod.com
2. Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, retrieved from https://helmets.org/index.htm