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Full Suspension Bikes vs. Fat Bikes

Full Suspension Bikes vs. Fat Bikes

What is a Full Suspension Bike?

A full suspension bike possesses both a suspension fork in the front and shock absorbers in the rear. Full suspension bikes give riders the benefit of enjoying a smoother ride, even on rocky ground.

With this type of suspension, the bike will bounce around less on rougher terrains as it will remain grounded, despite hard cornering or going over bumps in the road.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Full Suspension Bike

Advantages of a Full Suspension Bike

Disadvantages of a Full Suspension Bike

  • Fairly heavy bikes
  • Usually more expensive than conventional bikes
  • Require regular maintenance
  • Costly to replace spare parts
  • Unsuitable for riding up hills – suspensions will heavily slow the bike down

We recommend watching this video to learn more about the kind of speed that full suspension bikes can offer on rocky trails (credit to Global Mountain Bike Network):

What is a Fat Bike?

Fat bikes are designed to exert low pressure on the ground and make it easier to ride on soft and unstable terrains like snow, sand, and mud.

Fat bikes feature oversized tires that are 3.8 inches or larger, rims that are 2.6 inches or wider, and a specially designed frame. They typically have a wheel size of 26 inches in diameter and can be fitted with studded tires to allow for riding on ice or frozen trails.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Fat Bike

Advantages of a Fat Bike

  • Offers low tire pressure to bikers, giving more traction on difficult terrain
  • Feature ultra-wide tires that offer bikers more grip on a slippery surface
  • Allows for riding regardless of the season
  • Require very little maintenance
  • Provides a very comfortable ride – less stress on hands and lower back

Disadvantages of a Fat Bike

  • Even heavier than mountain bikes
  • Very slow due to heavier frames and decreased tire pressure
  • Much more expensive than standard bikes
  • Very difficult to find spare parts for due to limited retailers selling them

With their bulky design, many wonder how enjoyable riding a fat bike can be. For those curious, we recommend checking out this video (credit to Global Mountain Bike Network):

Fat Tire Bike for Commuting

Would you get a fat tire bike for commuting? If you commute regularly, you probably won’t want to do that. Fat tire bikes are not ideal for commuting. Firstly, they are slow. Their pace is ideal on the snow, on the sand, or a muddy surface, but certainly not on the main road.

Also, fat tires have a flat shape; this makes cornering harder. Turning on fat tires is difficult, and their acceleration also takes time. You would also need to monitor the tire pressure closely – if it’s too low, you would experience increased resistance and find it even tougher to pedal.

Therefore, if you wish to get a bike purely for commuting, fat bikes shouldn’t be an option.

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Can You Put Fat Tires on a Regular Bike?

To some extent, it is possible to replace your regular mountain bike tires with wider “fat” tires. This would be subject to the fork clearance and bike rim’s width.

Mountain bike tires typically come in varying sizes, denoted by the numbers “26 x 2”, for instance. Such a reading means that the tire’s diameter is 26 inches, while its thickness is 2 inches.

Sometimes, there may also be an ISO reading that goes something like “50-622mm”. The first number of 50 means the tire’s inflated width is 50mm. The second, 622, is a Bead Seat Diameter (BSD). These are meant to be the same for both the rim and the tire. If the BSDs are the same for both the rim and the tire you wish to get, then they are likely to fit.

In short, after calculating the dimensions of your existing rim and fork clearance, you could look for a new tire that fits these criteria. A full-fledged fat tire may not be able to fit on your bike; however, it may still be possible to get tires that are wider and thicker than your existing ones.

Best Saddle for Fat Tire Bikes

Fat bikes are very comfortable and enjoyable to ride. But to fully feel the comfort, you must get the right saddle for your bike. Most fat tire bikes come with comfortable saddles by default. However, if you are not comfortable with your existing saddle, it is important to change it. You could also soften your bike saddle, just as we wrote in this article.

Commuter Fat Bike and Tires

That most fat bikes are terrible for a long-distance ride doesn’t mean they have to be written off for other uses, especially if your primary aim is comfort and pleasure. If you can only afford one bike and you need to ride in the snow or sand, you can go for a fat tire bike, even if it doubles up as your commuting bike.

But you must pay attention to the tire. Make sure your tires are always fully inflated. It would be best if you look for a fat bike with tougher and thicker tires. The tire pressure must also be significantly higher than the conventional tire’s pressure. This ensures that you would get the most acceleration and grip possible.

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Fat Bike Vs. 29er Snow

29er has many advantages as they can go well on both mountain and muddy surfaces. When considering grip, cushion, float, and weight, 29ers maintain a good balance between these parameters. But if you put a 29er and a fat bike on the snow, you should most certainly expect a better performance from the fat bike.

Fat Bike for Tall Riders

If you are a tall person, it is important to check the upper height limit of a fat bike before you buy one. Otherwise, your bike may not fit. However, there are many fat bikes out there are designed to fit even tall people with long legs are.

Conclusion – Which Bike is Better for you?

The decision between getting a full suspension bike or a fat bike comes down to the type of trail you will be exploring.

If you are planning to try out off-road expedition rides, a fat bike is suitable for you as it will take you to places where trail bikes can’t reach. Fat bikes are also a perfect seasonal bike, and having one won’t stop you from riding, regardless of the weather.

On the other hand, full suspension bikes are suitable for riders that want to have more control and ride more smoothly. They are the ideal bike for exploring rough and rocky terrain with ease, precision, and comfort.


Credit and Useful Reading