Fat-bike 101 Intro

With the availability of ready-to-ride fat-bikes, thousands of new fat-bike riders have joined the fat-bike scene over the past couple of years. New fat-bike riders are joining the fray daily and many of them have questions with few experienced local riders to help them out. This Holiday Season is sure to add even more fat-bikers to the mix! This series is designed to answer a few of the basic questions but, more importantly, it is an opportunity for our fat-bike community as a whole to step up and help a brother (or sister) out. Join in the conversation, add value and keep it civilized, make a contribution!

Some of the topics we will address include:

  • Frame Types
  • Rims
  • Tires
  • Forks
  • Cranks
  • Clothing
  • Footwear
  • Winter Riding
  • Beach Riding
  • Sand Riding
  • Drivetrain Care
  • Internally-Geared Hubs

Our goal with the project is to build a repository of information, not only for first-time fat-bike owners but, with the participation of the more experienced among us, a useful, ongoing conversation about fat-bikes and the passion we have for them.

If you have a topic you’d like for us to open up a dialog on, please send us a note to fatbike101@fat-bike.com and we will do our best to cover it.

Here is a conversation starter! We’ve all heard the question from the uninitiated “What’s up with those big tires?” How do you answer that question? Discuss in the comments below!

About Greg Smith 1127 Articles
Greg Smith, known to many site visitors as Sven Hammer, founded Fat-bike.com in 2011 and the site quickly became the #1 online community for all things Fat. You can currently find Greg outfitting Everyday Cycles; a Milwaukee, WI retailer of gear for fatbikers, adventure cyclists and urban assault riders.


  1. “What’s up with those big tires?” people always ask. I usually tell them I am compensating for something, that I have a really small seat post. Gets a laugh about half the time, strange looks the other half ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. As a shop w/ a window fulla fatties and a huge commitment in inventory and floor space we get that exact question about 5 times a day. (For real)

    Our answers vary, but generally follow this pattern: “They were originally designed in Alaska for snow, they’re also great on beaches or sand trails (2 things we have a lot of here along the Lake Michigan shoreline) but they’ve become an alternative mountain bike. They’ll go where regular off-road bikes fear to tread and alwyas put a smile on your face!”

    (Gotta admit that I like Rob’s answer better…just not sure it’d be as effective in the shop!)

  3. I usually say it’s the bike I ride all the time. I’ve always known it’s made for snow but what got me was that it’s a blast in the sand. So now I can enjoy it all year round!

    What I really try to outline is that, to me, it’s the most practical bike to have because it can do all the things I want/need in a bike. It’s my touring bike, my mountain bike, my snow mountain bike, my commuter, my winter commuter, my road bike, my gravel grinder, and my beach bike. I probably missed another form of bike in there.

  4. I say… If you get an allergic reaction to fun, outrageous amounts of traction, and a nice cushy and stable ride, you’ll need to step back. Now.

  5. I was walking in the woods behind my house when an Angle of God appeared to me and told me that the “True Mountain Bike would have big ass tires for traction”. Well, how do you argue with a “vision” in the woods? As I translate the sacred tablets (using a SPECIAL helmet) I will continue to spread the Good News! I say un to you “The Fat Bikers will inherit the Earth!”

  6. Once, my ten year boy was riding my Pugs and we stopped near a crowd. Someone asked what the big tires were for? I replied, to ride on the snow. They then asked, do they have studs? I quickly said, just the one sitting on the seat. That was good for a laugh.

  7. I tell my high school students and non-cyclists, “It’s my smile bike!” the response I get is “OH? But what do you use it for?” I tell them “Lay down I’ll show you!”

  8. I’m a new fat bike owner, and am looking forward to this series.

    I’d be interested in hearing how people transport their fat bikes – that is, what kind of racks they use, and the tradeoffs involved in various approaches.

    • Oooh good question JS. I’m fortunate to own a van as my sole transport, so I just chuck the bad boy in the back but am interested as to how other fare too.

    • I have a Astro van with a front mount hitch style bike rack and I can squeeze 3 fatties onto. 2 fit great. I also have a rear hitch so I can pack the van up with bikes and peeps.
      Most of the time it’s family bikes up front and my pop-up trailer in the rear…

  9. The other question that often gets asked when I’m out on my Pugsley: where do you ride on that?

    The correct answer is, of course: wherever the hell I feel like riding ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Just got a Pugsley Neck Romancer by Surley, was riding the Baird’s Creek trail in Green Bay. When I passed a couple walking on the trail all I heard was “that awesome”.

    It is fun to ride, but also would like to discuss ways of hauling it in winter conditions (road salt). I currently just lay it in my truck bed. In the summer I will use my receiver hitch rack.

  11. I rode it during the entirety of our local, 7 week (summer) race series. So the logical answer was “training weight.” However, fewer questions were asked when i passed racers (on the downhill, of course โ€” i’ve never passed anyone going uphill on any bike! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I just recently received the “OK” from my old lady to proceed with a fat bike build. Really not 100% sure where to start. It will be my first bike build, and I am very mechanically inclined. I have been reading here, and other forums non stop gathering ideas, what to do’s and what not to do’s. Any input from a seasoned fat biker would be greatly appreciated!

  13. I swear my mukluk is the only bike which, when I ride it offroad, gets approving comments off old ladies ๐Ÿ™‚ I have formally gone down the “snow riding in alaska” route but “compensating” will now be my stock answer ๐Ÿ™‚

    Currently drilling out my GFS rims and about to go ghetto tubeless (hopefully).

  14. New thread: Drivetrain Maintenance. I’ve been on a salsa Mukluk 2 built up from bike man and some local club buds. I recently had a blast on the beach and dunes in NC OBX. I had to do complete driveline maintenance every night. Any recommendos for lube. I’ve been trying everything from wd-40 to pedros synlube. ANy thoughts on WHite lightning or waxing. My local Mechanics say th wax will shed and take some of the grime with it. TOns of fun at the beach but lots of mis-shifts, jumps, skipping around. Took to stopping every 15-20 minutes and hosing things off with my camelback.

  15. Saturday, March 29, 2014
    Why the fat tires?
    I bought the first fat-bike sold in Toronto this morning. As an avid extreme cyclist for the last 55 years (I am 60), I recognized the potential of those tires the second I saw them.
    The journey home left a huge grin on my face. I shared an elevator with a young couple and their two children. The extremely attractive and tall woman flirted shamelessly with me and commented longingly on my big tires. She kept the conversation up across the lobby and into the street. By the time we parted at the light, I knew I had just purchased a chick magnet. The ladies like big rubber.

    All the way home, car drivers rubbernecked and passengers gave me the thumbs up. Jaws dropped on adults and kids. Even a biker at the local scrapyard stopped in his tracks and did a double take.

    Gotta find some fenders, though. That real wheel is going to put a nasty stripe up my back before we get enough sun to dry the mud.
    It’s late afternoon and I’m still grinning like an idiot.

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