Specialized Fat Boy Expert Carbon fat bike review

Lightweight full composite rigid rig ready to race right out of the box

Fat Bike Winter Guide
If you're interested in this bike, now is a good time to buy. It's currently marked down to $5399 from $6000.

If you’re interested in this bike, now is a good time to buy. It’s currently marked down to $5399 from $6000 (click to enlarge).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Mtbr Ultimate Guide to winter mountain biking, fat bikes, gear, apparel, lights and trainers. We are 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.

Lowdown: Specialized Fat Boy Expert Carbon

Outside of basic price/weight variances, it can be hard to identify truly discernable differences from one fat bike to the next. At their core, they’re a bunch of 26” hardtails with giant tires. But dig deeper into the spec sheets and geo charts and you begin to discover the nuances of these big wheeled beasts. You also quickly realize that these seemingly minute variations drastically affect handling, performance and ideal use — and that means you need to carefully consider what you’re hoping to get from your fat bike experience before actually choosing one. Take for instance the Specialized Fat Boy Expert Carbon, which depending on perspective, is either the perfect bike or somewhat limited. Find out why you should (or shouldn’t) buy this bike in our full review below.

Stat Box
Frame: Fact carbon 10M, up to 5” tire clearance Bars: Specialized alloy 750mm
Fork: Fact carbon rigid Stem: Specialized alloy 75mm
Headtube angle: 70.5 degrees Wheels: HED Big Deal carbon 85mm tubeless
Wheelbase: 1135mm Rotors: Centerline 6-bolt 200mm front, 180mm rear
Standover: 77.8cm Tires: Specialized Ground Control 26×4” tubeless
Saddle: Specialized Body Geometry Henge Comp Axle spacing: 150x15mm front, 197x12mm rear
Chainstay length: 455mm Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Crankset: Race Face Next SL carbon 28t Weight: 24.23 pounds size large
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 1×11 10-42 Price: $6000 (currently marked down to $5399)
Brakes: SRAM Guide R hydraulic disc Rating: 4.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4.5 Chilis-out-of-5 (if you’re looking for a raceable snow tamer)

Pluses
Minuses
  • Lightweight, race ready out-of-box package
  • Expensive
  • Ultra stiff frame
  • Tire traction in soft snow
  • Internal cable routing
  • 5mm Allen required for wheel removal
  • Damped carbon ride feel
  • Lack of suspension limits non-winter use
  • Low standover height
  • No dropper post
  • Wide bars/short stem improves control
  • No seatpost QR
  • Stealth understated look
  • Long’ish rear end
  • Fast, light tires
  • Steering can feel twitchy
  • Superb braking performance
  • Tire clearance up to 5.0”
  • Tires measure true to size
  • Snappy front-end handling
  • Great climbing gears
  • Straight line stability at speed
  • Quick spinning lightweight carbon wheels
  • Wheels easy to set-up tubeless
  • Carbon fork adds compliance
  • Built-in chainstay protector
  • Variable bottle cage placement
  • SWAT in headset/bottle cage
  • Equipped with SWAT EMT bottle cage mount tool
  • Simple, crisp 1x shifting

Review: Specialized Fat Boy Expert Carbon

Stop and ask yourself why you want a new fat bike. Are you looking to race, rally or just explore the great outdoors? Is this strictly a purchase for snowy wintertime fun, or do you want to play on dirt, too? Do you prefer snappy (even twitchy) front end handling, or would you rather a more slack experience? And what’s more important, high-speed straight line stability, or the ability to flick your way through tight turns?

If we were only going to ride on snow, and wanted a seriously speedy machine, this bike would be near the top of the short list.

If we were only going to ride on snow, and wanted a seriously speedy machine, this bike would be near the top of the short list (click to enlarge).

How you respond to this brief questionnaire will go a long way in determining whether you should bother reading the rest of this review — and more importantly consider throwing down more than five grand for this fat bike. Indeed, Specialized’s Fat Boy Expert Carbon is an expensive precision instrument that in the right hands is the perfect tool for the job. But if you’re not looking to dominate on snow, have a limited budget, or would prefer a little more seasonal versatility, best look elsewhere. Here’s why.

Continue to page 2 for more of our Specialized Fat Boy Expert Carbon fat bike review »
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About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.


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  • Andy says:

    Nearly 6k for a rigid fatbike with no suspension? Is that a joke? LOL

  • Phil says:

    + plus awesome twitchy handling. I wonder if it self steers badly. Of all the fat bikes out there there is very little discussion that I have seen regarding optimal geometry for these beast. My Fatback is terrifying going down anything steep during the summer compared to my Turner Burner. Designed primarily to be stable loaded for long distance bush riding its anything but playful. A buddy of mine sells hell out of the Ventana El Gordo because it has such good handling characteristics.

  • Brian says:

    Would recognize that mountain anywhere, good ol Crusty Butt

  • Joe says:

    I could not plunk down almost $6000 for a rigid/rigid bike of any kind. I thought road bike prices were bad. I don’t quite understand the high cost — you can purchase precision machined carbon fiber full suspension mountain bikes for that price. Perhaps it is economy of scale? Yikes!

  • Stumpy says:

    I bought a Pro Trail on their ‘Fat Savings’ sale. It’s awesome…

    Except, the bottom bracket squeaked like a overweight rat. Turns out that the assemblers used very little grease when they stuck the bottom bracket in the frame.

    And the reviewer was totally correct, the same frame is shared between the types of Fatboys. I have the front derailleur mounts of the 2×10 lower end rides. I guess, ‘just in case’?

    But the troubling issue for me is that out of two Specialized rides, I have had two issues, rather significant issues, with them. I’m batting 100% with issues.

    The Fatboy had the bottom bracket issue, and a Stump Jumper FSR Comp had an issue with the hub falling apart. Yeah. The wheel wouldn’t spin more than two or three revs after I really gave it a try while it was on a work stand.

    They make quality frames, and actually quality bikes, but I am thinking that I have to go through each one after I buy it to see what the assemblers missed, or cut corners on.

  • kathy ellis says:

    I have a Fatboy 415 FSX from 2000 that needs some parts but I can not find anywhere to get them, Can anyone help me?

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