Fat Tire Bike vs Mountain Bike

Learn the difference between a fat tire bike and a mountain bike. We've laid out their pros and cons so you can easily choose which of the two models fit you best.

Cyclist rides a fat tire bike through the snow mountains.

Fat tire bikes are increasingly becoming popular among the new generation of bikers. This model has become favored for off-road riding and bike-packing against the traditional mountain bike. Fat bikes are designed to add fun and uniqueness to your biking adventures.

These bikes are a good choice when traversing rugged terrains, snow, or sand. To make an informed decision on which of the two models is your best choice, you need to look at what sets the two apart.

Here are a few comparisons.

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Difference between the mountain bike and fat bike

The most visible difference between these two models is the width and size of their tires. Most fat bikes have tires measuring 3.8′- 5.2” wide, while a standard mountain bike has tires measuring 1.9”-2.6” wide.

To improve functionality and boost performance, fat bikes are designed with wider rims compared to mountain bikes. They are mostly fitted with rims measuring 55mm to 65 mm. Standard mountain bikes are fitted with a 30mm wide rim. Fat bike rims generally have a diameter of 26” to 27.7”, which is similar to the 29” wheels common on most mountain bikes today.

Fat bikes are also designed with extra clearance to accommodate the wide tires. To create more space, designers made extra-wide seat stays, chainstays, and fork arms. These adjustments also create more hub space in fat bikes compared to that in mountain bikes. Fat bi9kes have an extra-wide hub measuring 170-190mm against 142mm in standard mountain bikes.

Due to the wide nature of the hub in fat bikes, the bottom bracket and crank spindle are also made wider in fat bikes. This moves the chaining further from the frame to prevent it from running at an extreme angle. Most fat bikes are designed with 100mm bottom brackets and 100mm spindle cranksets. On the other hand, mountain bikes are built with 68-73mm bottom brackets and spindle cranksets.

Another difference presents itself when it comes to the amount of pressure these two run on. Fat bikes generally run at record low pressures of 5-14psi, while most mountain bikes run at 22-25psi. This is mainly because fat bikes have voluminous tires that don’t bottom out easily when they hit an obstacle.

With the differences ironed out between these models, it’s time to focus on the individual designs, looking at the pros and cons of each.

Fat tire bikes

Man riding a fat bike.

Fat bikes are one of the most popular bike options in the modern era of today. To define this bike, you only need to its name twice. These are bikes with extremely wide tires. These bikes are the best choice when biking over uneven road surfaces or inclement weather, specifically snow. Fat bikes offer better traction and can be compared to car tires. Before buying a fat tire bike, here are a few pros and cons you can consider.

Pros

These bikes provide a smooth transition between varied terrains easily compared to other bike types.

These bikes are best suited to handle inclement weather such as snow and offer better performance on sand than other types of bikes.

Fat bikes generally undergo several adjustments to accommodate the fat tires. This, in turn, increases its overall weight. This added weight provides a better workout for riders with a shorter recovery period since no weight is exerted on your joints.

Fat tire bikes are designed with the better suspension to boost comfort and ease your ride through rugged terrain. You can also deflate the tires to boost comfort when on rocky terrain without hurting the rims.

Less maintenance. These bikes are generally straightforward; they don’t feature multiple speeds or any other fancy additions. They basically have a bike frame and fat tires.

These bikes are comfortable enough to be ridden through different terrains and weather seasons.

Cons

Being heavier than other bikes, fat bikes are generally slower. However, when you decide to load it onto your vehicle, be sure to use a bike hitch that can support its weight.

You need to take time to get used to them since they require more effort to pedal. They are muscle-powered; you can only move as fast as you can pedal.

They are relatively pricey compared to other bikes, with the average price costing a thousand dollars.

Mountain Bikes

Cyclist riding a mountain bike during sunset.

This is a bicycle designed explicitly for off-road biking. Despite having the same features as other bikes, these bicycles have been upgraded to boost durability and performance in rugged terrains. Some common features on this bicycle include;

• A suspension fork

• Large knobby tires, durable wheels

• Lower-gear ratios for climbing steep terrains

• Rear suspension, powerful brakes, and straight

• Extra-wide handlebars to increase balance and comfort when riding off-road

To be sure before making a purchase, you need to weigh the pros and cons of this model before finalizing your deal.

Pros

These bikes are more versatile compared to other bicycle types. They are built with average-sized wheels, light statures and fitted with features that can be used for various applications. For example, you can use it for bike-packing and, at the same time, use it for your workout routine.

They are built with full suspensions averaging 170mm. The improved suspension makes this bike one of the best options for riding on varied terrains.

Mountain bikes are good for dirt climbing, jumping, and ascending mountains. They can act as a suitable substitute if you are unable to afford a specialized bike.

Their light frames make them easy to maneuver when riding through steep mounts, hills, and forests. This light structure also makes the agile enough to rife through forested tracks and curvy paths.

Cons

Due to their light and agile build, th3ese bikes are highly susceptible to accidents. This also reduces the general durability of these bikes.

Compared to other road bikes, mountain bikes are a little heavier, requiring more effort during your climb.

They are equipped with a smaller 26” wheel which in turn increases the rolling resistance.

The extra suspension fitted to these bikes reduces efficiency in the pedal strokes.

Frequently asked questions on Fat bikes and Mountain bikes

Fat Bike

How are they different from mountain bikes?

The main difference between this two is the size of the tires. Fat bikes have a wider tire compared to mountain bikes.

In what conditions can I ride my fat bike?

These bikes can literary be ridden in any terrain and weather condition. They perform well in dirt, sand, and even snow roads.

Should I use clip-less or flat pedals for my fat bike?

This is solely based on your decision. You can either go for the flat pedals that can help with wearing warmer footwear or go with clip-less boots for the cold weather.

Mountain Bike

Cyclist riding a mountain bike.

What is the best speed when biking up a hill?

This ranges from 3.5mph and 12.3mph depending on your speed.

What cause wear and tear in the front and rear suspension?

The wear and tear of your bike generally depend on how you handle it. Other factors can include rough riding, weather extremities, and the weight of the rider.

What is used to make the shock absorber on mountain bikes?

Various manufacturers use different materials, with spring and damper being the popular options.

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