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Fat biking is becoming increasingly popular each year. People who try it discovers how fun, and way easier it is that they imagined. However, before starting this new sport, like most people, I had a few misconceptions about fat biking without even knowing it. Here’s a few debunked misconceptions about fat biking I had, or I heard.

1-   Fat Bikes Are Totally Different Than Mountain Bikes

A few people around me were surprised that I was doing some fat biking. For them, fat bikes had nothing to do with mountain bikes. In turn, I was stunned they didn’t see the resemblance. In fact, fat bikes are pretty much like any other mountain bikes except for the wider fork and frame to accommodate the fat tire. But geometry, breaking and shifting setup are similar. Besides the steering which needs some getting used to, because of the big tires, everything else is pretty much the same.

Also, like with mountain bikes you mostly use them off-road. Even if you can ride them on road without any problems. Similarly, you often ride them on harsh terrains and conditions. And basic mountain biking tips also can apply to fat biking. Regardless, one thing is for sure, they’re fun to ride like any mountain bikes.

women fat biking in the woods in the summer
Photo by Heikki Sulander, Metsahallitus – Parks & Wildlife Finland

2-   Fat Bikes Are Only for Snow

This is one of the most common misconceptions about fat biking. Yes, I agree, we see a lot more people riding fat bikes on the snow during the winter. And that’s easy to explain. Riding a regular mountain bike or road bike in the snow is not quite easy. Yet, with a fat bike it even becomes fun.

However, fat bikes also work well on single tracks. Their large tires and lower pressure make it easier to roll over rocks and roots. It’s also easier to handle them on sandy trails and loose gravel as there is more surface touching the ground. Even on downhill trails, they can be quite fast, and the fat tires will act as shock absorbers. But everyone has its preference. And for me, fat bikes are still the most fun on snow.


3-   You Can Ride Anywhere

Before getting a fat bike, I really thought, like most people, that you could ride anywhere. Afterall, fat bikes are sturdy and made to be more stable and able to go over any obstacles. So, all you really need is some snow, right? Wrong. I was so wrong. It’s surely not because there’s snow or a trail that you can put your fat bike on it. This is one of the misconceptions about fat biking that is the most spread.

Actually, fat bikes are not allowed on most groomed ski trails. And so, even when there’s no signs. At best, skiers will look at you with severe judging eyes. At worst, you’ll be escorted out by the park security. Anyhow, you’d better stay on specific fat bike trails or maybe on the road or on a lake, or even in the field. At least, with the sport gaining adepts there are more trails you can ride each year. Indeed, some ski resorts are also starting to have trails for fat bikes.

fat bike fallen in the middle of icy road
Photo by Pexel on Pixabay

4-   You Can Ride Anytime in Any Conditions

False. You would think that with bigger tires, you would be able to have more traction and ride in any conditions. But this is far from the truth. Indeed, everything can become an obstacle to good riding. Snow is too wet. Snow is too powdery. Too soft. Too new. There’s too much. Weather and snow conditions are extremely important in having a good time with a fat bike.

The best condition is pack snow, dense sand, or flowing dirt trail. But don’t get me wrong, you can still ride even if the conditions are not perfect. Although be ready for a harder workout. Or even a lot of crashes. But it can still be fun. Afterall, you’re riding your bike.

5-   Fat Bikes Are Perfect for Year-Round Commuting

Another of the widely spread misconceptions about fat biking is that they are perfect for year-round commuting. Indeed, you would think they are since they can tackle any kind of obstacles. However, as we said earlier, weather and conditions will affect greatly your riding.

In the city, as conditions are often less than ideal with slush and ice, you might need to have some studded tires if you want to keep riding your fat bike to go to work. It can be dangerous to slide everywhere went there’s car traffic around you. For me, I prefer to keep my fat bike to go have fun on a trail. Anyway, I’m mostly working from home, so I don’t really have any commuting to worry about.

Trek Farley EX 9.8 full suspension fat bike

6-   All Fat Bikes Are the Same

No. This is simply not true. No more than all mountain bikes are the same. Like with any types of bikes, there can be huge differences between one and another. Of course, parts, material and geometry will play a big part. The quality of your riding can change drastically depending on the bike quality.

Exactly like with mountain bikes, you have different types of fat bikes: rigid, hardtail, or dual suspensions. You can also have different types of brakes: disc brakes and V-brakes being the most common. In the same way, the material will factor in: carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, steel. Without forgetting all the different quality of components, as well as the weight of the bike. Once again, like with any mountain bikes, your budget, style of riding and preference will influence which is the best bike for you.

fat bike on a snowy road

7-   Fat Bikes Are Super Expensive

I keep hearing this one a lot. However, this is one of the misconceptions about fat biking. Fat bikes are not more expensive than any other type of bike. Yes, you can have a fat bike for $5,000 if you wish. Likewise, you can also find a fat bike for $500 or less. All depends, of course, on your budget. One thing stays true though, is that whichever bike you’ll have, you’ll have a lot of fun. You simply need to go out there and ride!

What is the biggest fat biking misconception you heard?

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