Both Fat Bike and Mountain Bikes have their strengths and weaknesses. With the rise in popularity of fat bikes, there has been a corresponding increase in riders looking for advice on which bike is better. As a result, the fat bike vs mountain bike debate has been raging for years with no victor.
The truth is that it’s difficult to say which bike is best overall because both types are good at different things. The right decision depends on what you want to do with your bike.
To help you make a decision, I’ve compiled everything you need to know, including detailed pros and cons, so you can see what each type of bike has to offer.
Fat Bike vs Mountain Bike – Which is Better and Why
In this section, we’ll first look at a brief overview of each type of bicycle.
Fat Bike Overview
A fat bike is a bicycle that has oversized tires, usually 3 or 4.5 inches. They were originally designed for use on soft terrains like snow and sand and in areas with limited traction, such as beaches and bogs.
The wider the tire, the more stable the bike feels on top of softer surfaces such as snow, sand, and mud so riders can use them without having to worry about sinking. Nowadays, people are using them more for mountain biking and even commuting because they can handle a variety of terrains just as well as a mountain bike.
Fat bikes are not the fastest bicycles out there, but they’re great for more relaxed rides in flatter areas. They feel stable with their wider tires and make it easy to ride over all terrains — even if there is a lack of traction!
Pros of a Fat Bike
- A fat bike is a more affordable bicycle option.
- Great for more relaxed rides.
- They are versatile, great for commuting and mountain biking.
- Fat bikes can be ridden in all conditions, including surface areas with limited traction.
- Fat Bikes are excellent for bike touring.
- They offer a very comfortable ride through bad terrain.
- The weight limit of fat bikes is generally higher on average.
Cons of a Fat Bike
- Fat bikes are slower than mountain bikes in general.
- They are heavier than MTBs.
- The tires make them have more rolling resistance on smooth pavements.
- They’re not as stylish.
- You might not ride them as much since they are big and bulky.
- Fat bikes are harder to ride over hills.
Mountain Bike Overview
Mountain bikes were developed to handle off-road riding conditions such as rocky terrain or single-track trails, hence its name. These bicycles tend to have a lighter frame which makes them lighter overall while still being sturdy enough to handle the extra weight that comes with 2.5 inch wide knobby designs. The knobby or ‘studded’ tires attached to these frames are designed for off-road use and can provide grip when needed as you navigate corners, hills, and obstacles.
Mountain bikes are also more expensive than fat bikes because they’re better quality and have many specialized parts that make them ideal for off-road rides.
You can go on long mountain bike rides with less stress on your body corners, thanks to their suspension systems. The frames are built very sturdily, so you can take on any terrain type at high speeds without worrying about being uncomfortable or getting injured.
Pros of a Mountain Bike
- Mountain bikes are well-built, which means they will last longer.
- Mountain bikes are good for off-road use.
- Quality frames make it safe to ride on any terrain at high speeds.
- They are comfortable to ride and allow you to ride longer distances with less stress on your body parts.
- Mountain bikes can be used for various situations from bike touring, commuting, XC, downhill, etc.
- They feature Better suspension systems and quality than fat bikes overall.
Cons of Mountain Bikes
- Because mountain bikes allow you to take on rough terrain faster, they can be considered more dangerous for some riders.
- They’ll be more likely to get stolen
- Mountain bikes are extremely expensive in some instances.
- They aren’t the best for commuting.
Comparing By Feature
To give you a clearer picture of the differences between mountain bikes and fat bikes, I’ve compared them by the Key features of durability, price, weight capacity, design, and drivetrain.
Mountain bikes are designed to take on rugged terrain that is difficult for other types of bikes. The mountain bike has a tougher frame which is designed to withstand impacts from the trail. There are many different frame designs for mountain bikes, and they are suitable for different activities. For example, XC MTBs are good for touring or commuting. Downhill bikes seemingly have a more dirt-bike-like geometry, and hardtails do not have suspension as a full-suspension bike does.
On the other hand, Fat Bikes tend to have a hardtail style frame design, with the only difference between the types of fat bikes being the drivetrain.
Both the mountain bike and fat bike features a variety of different drivetrain configurations. The fat bike comes with an electric, single-speed, or multiple-speed drivetrain. Similarly, a mountain bike can feature an electric-powered motor or multiple-speed drivetrain. However, mountain bikes don’t come with a single-speed variant unless it is custom-built.
Mountain bikes and Fat bikes offer the highest weight limit of most normal bicycles. They both have an average weight limit of 265 pounds to 300 pounds.
The durability of either type is subject to the type of components the manufacturers used to design them. With that in mind, you can expect that you can have either option around and in operation for the entire lifespan.
The Fat Bike is cheaper than a Mountain Bike when compared to the features offered. Most fat tire bikes will fall within the $200 – $3000 range, while Mountain bikes can be found for as cheap as $300 up to $19,000.
What are the main differences between a Fat Bike and Mountain Bike?
The main difference between a fat bike and a mountain bike is the tires. A fat bike has larger tires which make it better on softer surfaces like sand, snow, and mud. On the other hand, a mountain bike has smaller tires, giving it more speed and agility when biking on various terrains. Of course, mountain bikes are also good for riding in many types of terrains, but fat bikes are better for mud, snow, and sand.
Why should you get a fat bike if you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional mountain bike?
The main reason to get a fat bike instead of a traditional mountain bike is that they are less expensive than most mountain bikes. Another reason to get a fat bike is that they’re fairly easy to ride in any weather condition, allowing you to enjoy biking all year round. In addition, they’re versatile and can be used for commuting or for going on long off-road rides. Lastly, fat bikes can handle terrain with limited traction better than traditional mountain bikes.
Who would benefit from owning a fat bike?
If you live in an area of the world with a lot of soft ground or commute through these types of terrains regularly, you may benefit from owning a fat bike. Also, owning a fat bike might be a good idea for people who don’t need to ride very far. They are not fast, but they can ride over any obstacles while being more comfortable.
What are the best brands and models of fat bikes that offer great quality bikes at affordable prices?
Mongoose makes the most affordable fat bikes with their Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire bike. The quality of these bikes is enough for the average rider, and they provide a comfortable ride. However, if you have somewhat deep pockets, you might want to buy something from one of the more premium brands such as Trek, Surly, Canyon, or DiamondBack.
Why should you get a mountain bike over a fat bike?
It would help if you got a mountain bike instead of a fat tire bike because they are designed for different purposes. Here are the top 7 reasons to go with a mountain bike over a fat bike.
- A mountain bike provides a riding experience that is much more fun and enjoyable.
- The fat bike is better in soft terrain and snow that don’t require lots of speed, but the mountain bike can handle steeper, rougher terrain with ease.
- They are designed for different purposes.
- Mountain bikes have higher ground clearance, wider ranges of gears, and are designed to tackle rough terrain.
- Fat bikes have huge tires that can easily roll over snow or sand but don’t offer much stability on tougher terrain.
- Mountain Bikes are often more durable than fat-tire bikes.
- Mountain bikes might have a higher resale value and sell faster than a fat tire bike once you are done with it.
Who would benefit from owning a Mountain Bike?
Mountain bikes are great for people who want to ride on both hard and soft terrain. They have wide ranges of gears, which allows riders to take on any trail. Furthermore, since they have smaller tires, they are much lighter than a fat tire bike, making them easier to ride.
Mountain bikes are also great for people of all riding skills because of their design, making it easier for them to get on and off the bike. Getting a mountain bike would also benefit those who want a single bike to ride, mostly in the warm seasons.
What are the best brands and models of fat bikes that offer great quality bikes at affordable prices?
The best mountain bike brands to choose from are Santa Cruz, GT, Kona, Trek, Specialized if you want a more detailed list of check out this guide on mountain bike brands to avoid and ones to buy from.
Are fat bikes good for mountain biking?
Fat bikes are good for mountain biking since they are designed to handle snow, sand, and hard-packed ground. Fat bikes give you the ability to ride in places that mountain bikes cannot go. The tires on fat bikes also allow you to go over obstacles with more ease than a mountain bike tire.
Fat Bikes have several advantages over conventional mountain bikes, especially for riders who like exploring unknown terrains.
Are fat bikes harder to ride?
No, fat bikes are just as easy to ride as traditional mountain bikes. However, they do have an increased weight that may make them slightly harder to pedal uphill.
Are fat bikes good for beginners?
Fat bikes are a great choice for beginners because they have such a larger tire that it makes it easier to ride overall. They’re also easier to maneuver off-road than mountain bikes since the wider tires can go over obstacles easier. However, since the tires are larger, they may require a bit more of your fitness level.
Are fat tire bikes better for heavy riders?
A heavier rider is going to have a tougher time with fat tire bikes for several reasons. First, they will need more strength to get the bike moving and maintain their speed. Second, the increased width of the tires on the bike will also make it harder to turn sharply or corner a mountain.
However, fat bikes are better equipped to handle the weight of heavier riders. So they might be a great choice if you don’t mind putting in a bit more effort to ride them.
Is a fat bike good for trail riding?
It really depends on the type of trail you will be riding on. A fat bike is good for trails with snow, sand, mud, and loose rocks. On the other hand, if you’re going on a long-distance ride, then a fat bike might not be the best option.
Why are fat tire bikes popular?
Fat bikes are popular for a lot of reasons. For one, they are capable of handling more extreme terrain. Fat bikes can go up and down steep hills, through sand, over snow, and other types of terrain that other types of bikes have a tough time with. Along with the ability to handle difficult terrain, fat bikes also have an increased weight capacity, allowing you to carry more supplies when backpacking.
All these reasons make bikes with fat tires the go-to option for a lot of cyclists.
Are fat bikes fast?
Fat bikes are not fast. In addition, the fat tires make it harder to pedal up a hill and increases resistance on paved surfaces.
Fat bikes are an excellent choice for adventurous riders who love to explore new places. They can take you up and down steep hills, over snow, through sand, and other types of terrain that other bicycles have a hard time with. The increased weight capacity on fat tires also makes them the go-to option for many cyclists when backpacking around town or exploring remote areas.
Mountain bikes, on the other hand, are better suited for people seeking the thrill of tackling fast trails. A mountain bike also makes for a great everyday bike since its design allows them to tackle unpaved surfaces while still delivering a smooth ride. Mountain bikes are also easier to handle and turn than fat tires, making them great for new riders looking to build their confidence on two wheels.