• Country

Riding a Fatbike – What Is It Like?

By Jiri Kaloc

Have you ever seen a fatbike out in the wild and wondered what it would feel like to ride one? In this article, we will take a look at the differences between a fat-tyre bike and a conventional bike to try and paint a picture for you.

It’s like swapping your sneakers for snowshoes

Riding a fatbike compared to a normal bike is like wearing snowshoes instead of your regular sneakers. In snow, snowshoes distribute your weight over a larger area, preventing you from sinking. Similarly, a fatbike with its fat tyres provides a broader surface area to float atop soft terrains, such as deep snow or loose sand, where regular bike tyres would dig in and come to a stop.

Some cyclists describe riding a fatbike as floaty, soft or extra comfy. But as you can imagine, where you ride your fatbike will have a big impact on how good it will feel. Let’s take a closer look at the differences to help you imagine.

How are fatbikes different from mountain bikes?

It’s clear that a fatbike is worlds apart from a road bike. But how different is it from a mountain bike? Here are the key differences side by side.

Tire width

  • Fatbike: Tyres are typically about 97 to 127 mm, with rims around 65 mm.
  • Mountain bike: Tyres usually range from 53 to 61 mm, with rims from 25 to 30 mm.

Tyre pressure

  • Fatbike: As low as 5 PSI up to around 14 PSI, for better traction on soft surfaces.
  • Mountain bike: Much higher pressures, from 25 to 50 PSI, for efficiency and puncture resistance.

Frame and fork

  • Fatbike: A robust frame with wider forks and stays to accommodate larger tyres.
  • Mountain bike: Standard frames and forks, designed for narrower tyres.


  • Fatbike: Only 1 chainring with a 10-12 speed cassette for low-speed control and torque when navigating challenging terrains.
  • Mountain bike: Often has 2-3 chainrings, offering a broader range of gears suitable for various trail conditions and riding styles.


  • Fatbike: Typically, around 15 to 20 kg.
  • Mountain bike: Usually, around 10 to 15 kg.

When is riding a fatbike going to feel the best?

Riding on these oversized tyres offers a unique experience. Fatbikes have fantastic grip, traction, and stability, making it easier and more comfortable to roll over obstacles and varied terrain. That’s exactly why fatbikes are great in the following scenarios.

  • They excel on difficult terrain such as a lot of snow, sand or mud.
  • They are much easier to ride uphill in harsh terrain due to the extra traction and grip.
  • The extra comfort and stability make them a good option for beginners and kids.
  • They are popular among adventure riders, bikepackers, and expedition riders where speed is secondary to comfort.

Where do fatbikes struggle?

All of the above-mentioned advantages also have downsides. The extra weight, rotating mass and rolling resistance add up. Here is a list of situations where fatbikes may not be so great.

  • They feel slow on nice roads. The extra bulk works against you while riding on a smooth surface.
  • Technical descents are more challenging than on mountain bikes because fatbikes are less agile and manoeuverable.
  • Riding a fatbike for very long distances can be more tiring due to the extra weight and friction.
  • They are expensive. You can get a comparable mountain bike cheaper and still have a great time cycling in a variety of places.

Now that you have an idea about what to expect from a fatbike, it’s time for a beginner’s guide. The next article will cover the basics you should know before your first fat ride.