More and more bike riders, old and new, are getting on board with fat bikes. Though they’ve been around for a while, there has been a surge in their presence in the world of biking, and it’s not hard to see why. From greater stability to unlocking new places to go, fat bikes seem to be a great opportunity to get into some new and exciting biking experiences.
You may be wondering, what makes a fat bike ‘fat’? How do you find the right fat bike for you? And is it possible to get into this sport without spending a ton of money? We answer all of these questions below, and I’m happy to report, the answer is yes! Here’s what to look for when finding the best fat bike for under $2,000.
What Makes a Fat Bike Fat?
The short answer is the tires. Most street and mountain bikes have tire widths that fall within the range of one to two inches wide. Some can be a little larger or thinner, but this is a very common range. Fat Bikes, however, can have tires that are almost five inches wide! Why do they do this? Because those wider tires give you much greater stability on loose terrain such as sand and snow.
The wider tires affect the design of the whole bike as well. Wider tires mean wider forks to accommodate them. Shocks and suspension are more important considerations with these bikes, as well as brakes. Depending on the model you buy, the wider frame may require a slightly wider stance, which can take some getting used to. Still, if you want the range fat bikes to provide, it’s worth it.
What Makes a Good Fat Bike Good?
For the most part, good fat bikes have a lot of the same characteristics of any good bike: Was it made with quality materials and parts? Are the important components for the intended activity the right type? Does it have the right added features?
Quality Materials and Parts for Fat Bikes
Steel is the most common material used for bikes on the cheaper end, moving into lighter aluminum frames as you move up the price range, and breaking into materials like carbon fiber at the higher end. Luckily, for under $2,000, there are models available in all three of these areas, so you don’t have to break the bank getting a lighter bike.
Quality parts to focus on with a fat bike are the brakes, shocks, and suspension. As mentioned, fat bikes were designed to ride on looser terrain. If you are coasting down a snow-covered hill and need to come to a sudden stop, or if a sand dune suddenly drops out under you, you want to know you can come to a safe stop quickly.
Overall, look for larger brakes, because they enable faster stopping. For shocks and suspension, try to test them out, or ask a salesman knowledgeable about that model about how well they do. You will have no problem finding good parts in the sub $2,000 price range, so just ask!
What Parts do I Need for My Fat Bike?
Keep in mind, however, that the components you need for your bike depending on your plans. If you are indeed looking for a bike to ride through lots of snow and sand, then you will want a fat bike with the biggest tires and probably larger brakes. If, however, you are looking more for a mountain bike that can handle a little loose terrain here and there, than a leaner fat bike may fit your needs better.
What added Features Does a Fat Bike Need?
The answer to this question partially depends on your comfort level with bikes. A basic feature is attachment points for racks and cages. These attachment points allow you to create a fat bike that can get way into the wilderness and back out safely. If you are looking into bikepacking or exploring new areas, look for options like this.
Some fat bikes allow you to swap out larger components depending on your plans, like even switching out the front fork to accommodate larger tires. If you are comfortable enough to make these sorts of changes on a bike, it’s worth exploring models that allow this.
The best news is, no matter what you need, the price range will work out just right. Even better, because there are so many great fat bike options under $2,000, you can buy the bike and outfit it with the right gear and still stay on budget!
Fat Bikes are Fun, Interesting, and Affordable
Fat bikes have several amazing features and strengths that make them an excellent purchase for any avid biker. By understanding what makes a good fat bike, and keeping in mind your plans, you are off to a great start. Finding a fat bike for under $2,000 still leaves you with lots of great options for getting on the road. Have fun on the trails out there!