Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Mtbr Ultimate Guide to winter mountain biking, fat bikes, gear, apparel and trainers. We’re taking a deep dive into all manner of cold weather mountain bike gear, with round-ups and reviews of fat bikes, tires, wheels, apparel, trainers and more. To see all the articles, head over to our Winter Guide Hub Page.
For any wheeled vehicle, tire choice is critical. Intended use, durability, and weight all factor in to what kind of rubber you want on the road (or snowy trail). Indeed, when it comes to fat bikes, tires are arguably the most important component decision you’ll make. Width, tread pattern, budget, and the ability to set-up tubeless are all hugely important factors when making a buying decision — and having fun. Here then are some (but certainly not all) of the top fat bike tires on the market today.
45NRTH Flowbeist 26×4.6”
45NRTH’s suite of fat bike tires and accessories are much loved in the fat bike world. The newest tires from the Minnesota company are front and rear specific, Flowbeist and Dunderbeist respectively. Both use a tubeless-ready, 120 tpi casing, siped lugs, and dual compound rubber. The wide 4.6” footprint is designed to work with rims from 65 to 102mm wide. 45NRTH includes a geometry link that shows how rim widths will affect the tire’s dimensions on its website. | Price: $140 | More info at 45nrth.com
Bontrager Gnarwhal Studded 26×3.8”
For the ultimate traction in icy conditions, look to studded tires. Bontrager offers its tubeless ready Gnarwhal with 160 Tungsten carbide studs for great grip on hard snow and ice. While certainly expensive at $450 a pair, combining a studded tire with tubeless capability takes some doing. Looking for a bit less bite? The Gnarwhal is also offered without studs for a substantially cheaper $120. Both feature Bontrager’s Inner Strength casing for lightweight sidewall protection. | Price: $225 per tire | More info at www.trekbikes.com
Kenda Juggernaut Pro 26×4.5”
Kenda’s Juggernaut is a relative featherweight at sub-900 grams for a 26×4.0”. The 4.5” version is little heavier at 1403 grams (+/- 70 grams). Both are inspired by Kenda’s work in motorcycle tires, with the Millville 2 in particular as a reference point. While the 120 tpi folding version is the lighter option, those on a budget should consider the $80, 60 tpi wire bead version. The tread is a fast-rolling variety with very open lugs and a chevron pattern. | Price: $120 | More info at bicycle.kendatire.com
Maxxis Minion FBF 26×4.8”
Maxxis claims its Minion FBF is the grippiest fat bike tire on the market. Derived from the legendary all-mountain tire of the same name, the 4.8” offering features EXO flat protection and a tubeless-ready construction. This front specific trail (rather than snow) tire pairs with Maxxis’ Minion FBR tire for great trail traction. The EXO model features dual compound tread, a foldable bead, a 120 tpi casing and tips the scales at 1645 grams. This puts it firmly in the rugged category of fat bike tires, exactly what you’d expect from a Minion fat bike tire. And if you’re looking for a more snow-friendly option, the Maxxis Colossus is the pick. | Price: $130 | More info at www.maxxis.com
Panaracer Fat B Nimble 26×4.0”
Panaracer’s Fat B Nimble offers a light fat bike tire at a very respectable price point. With 120 tpi casing, Kevlar folding bead and a four-season tread pattern, its only shortcoming is that it isn’t tubeless ready. At 1180 grams, the 4.0” Fat B Nimble strikes a nice middle ground of weight and affordability. | Price: $90 | More info at panaracer.com