10 best fat bike tires

Choosing the right rubber is critical to fat biking fun

Fat Bike Tires Winter Guide

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

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 26x3.8”

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 26x4.5

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 26x4.8”

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 26x4.0”

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

Schwalbe Jumbo Jim 26x4.0/4.8”

Schwalbe Jumbo Jim 26×4.0”/4.8”

Fat biking isn’t necessarily slow biking. Many are looking for a quick-spinning tire for their fat bike. Schwalbe’s Jumbo Jim is a lightweight, fast-rolling fat tire. Two casings are offered, with the LiteSkin putting a 26×4.0” Jumbo Jim under 1000 grams. Schwalbe’s SnakeSkin casing beefs up the flat protection for more aggressive riding. Both casings are produced in 4.0” and 4.8” widths. | Price: $110-$135 | More info at www.schwalbetires.com

Surly Nate Tan Sidewall 26x3.8”

Surly Nate Tan Sidewall 26×3.8”

If you’re looking to class up your fat bike a touch, look to Surly’s tan sidewall Nate. Surly’s efforts to popularize fat bikes are widely known and it’s due to a thorough offering of bikes, rims, wheels and tires. The Nate features a 60 tpi casing and weighs 1395 grams for each 3.8” tire. With aggressive knobs, the Nate is ready for winter and trail duty. Not into the tan sidewall? The Nate is also offered in an all-black version. | Price: $90 | More info at surlybikes.com

Vee Tire Bulldozer 26x4.7”

Vee Tire Bulldozer 26×4.7”

If you are looking for maximum flotation the latest 4.7” and 4.8” tires are a good start. You’ll need to ensure that your bike can cram them in, but tires like Vee Tire’s Bulldozer provide excellent traction in loose snow conditions. With a single silica compound tread, aggressive center and side knobs provide great straight line and corner grip. The larger size does increase weight a bit with the Bulldozer tipping the scales at 1555 grams each. The folding bead version features 120 tpi casing, while a less expensive, $100 option has a wire bead. Vee Tire offers the Bulldozer in black or white tread. | Price: $130 | More info at veetireco.com

Vittoria Bomboloni 26x4.0”

Vittoria Bomboloni 26×4.0”

Vittoria produces its Bomboloni (Italian for doughnut) in 26×4.0” for fat bikes as well as 3.0” for 27.5+ and 29+. With a 120 tpi casing, a dual compound tread and automotive inspired tire knobs, the Bomboloni offers a great year round fat tire. It rolls well while still offering good traction in snowy conditions. At 1350 grams and tubeless compatible, the Bomboloni is a nice fast-rolling tire for off-road riding. | Price: $110 | More info at www.vittoria.com

Specialized Ground Control Fat

Specialized Ground Control Fat 26×4.0”/4.6”

The Specialized Ground Control Fat uses a snow-specific tread pattern to offer solid climbing, braking, and cornering traction on the fluffy stuff. Casing is a reasonably supple 120 tpi and these tires are tubeless ready so you can ditch the heavy tubes. Approximate weight for the 26×4.6” version is 1450 grams. | Price: $40-$130 | More info at www.specialized.com

About the author: Nick Legan

Nick Legan is happiest with some grease under his nails and a long dirt climb ahead. As a former WorldTour team mechanic, Legan plied his trade at all the Grand Tours, Spring Classics, World Championships and even the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In recent years, gravel and ultra-distance racing has a firm grip on Legan’s attention, but his love of mountain biking and long road rides hasn’t diminished. Originally a Hoosier, Legan settled in Boulder, Colorado, 14 years ago after finishing his time at Indiana University studying French and journalism. He served as the technical editor at VeloNews for two years and now contributes to Adventure Cyclist, Mtbr and RoadBikeReview. To follow along on Legan’s cycling adventures, find him on Instagram at @nlegan and be sure to check out his new book Gravel Cycling: The Complete Guide to Gravel Racing and Adventure Bikepacking.

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  • Michael Harris says:

    Kinda curious that Bud/Lou were omitted from your list. Maybe you didn’t want to have two Surly tires? Round here, Bud/Lou are widely regarded as some of the best snow tires.

    • Don says:

      Haven’t you heard? No one rides fat bikes in soft snow anymore. It’s all groomed or trail specific tires now. The fat bike market has been steered in an odd direction.

  • RF/Zig says:

    Its gone mainstream. If you only sell tires for the snow, yo miss out on 9 months of selling tires for dirt.

  • Joe Scheneck says:

    The On-One Floater ought to be up there! That is a great tire and it can be had at a low cost!

  • Ben says:

    Maybe On One didn’t want to pay the entry fee?

    I ride Floaters, they are great tires, also made by Vee Rubber, and arguably as good or better than what the Big Guys sell, with a price that makes all the others look overpriced.

    Woops, cats out of the bag now.

  • Tony says:

    I find these MTBR lists a little click bate-ish. The lists don’t seem to be really based on any evaluation criteria, just a list of some of the cool products out right now. i wish I could afford to ride all these tires, but I can’t. The reality is that what constitutes a good tire is highly dependent on where you are, your weight and the conditions you are riding. For example the Bulldozer is a crap tire in the far north, the lug are way too short. Likewise the jumbo jim, the lugs are way too small, that makes them fast rolling and great if you super hard packed snow or are riding dirty but if your trails are a little soft and you frequently get little dustings of snow, these tires suck.

    I agree Bud and Lou are probably the most popular and best snow tire in decent quantity out there and they didn’t even make the list. makes me take this with a grain of salt or snow.

    • Hunter says:

      Have you been able to make them tubeless. I liked them as well thought they rolled great also. I switched to Maxis Minons but they roll really slow.

    • marquis parent says:

      i so agree with you about the bud/lou. i believe they should be number 2 on the list at the least. for my first 3 seasons, i rode bud/lou. i love them. unfortunatly, they do not fit on my new Itaqua, on 90mm carbon wheel. so i got flowb/dunderbeist. they are really great tyres as well.

  • Pete Kameka says:

    BUD and LOU are the best.look big too. ;0

  • fat all year says:

    The list is OK. Not great but OK. Some good tires on there. I loved my Bulldozers for a year in snow/mud/sand/packed trails. But wanted less rolling resistance. Recently switched to Jumbo Jims. Also great on all terrains but much lighter and faster. I think any quality tire is great for what you want. In NJ the weather/terrain varies so much that you need a quality all around tire. The JJ’s deliver. My two cents.

  • fat all year says:

    unless your rich and can afford all of them. hahahahaha

  • wrgh says:

    The absolute best year round tire for everything from racing to just riding any terrain…… especially dirt – was the original Husker du. I rode that tire all year all over the country for many years…. and it was by far the best. Then about 2 years ago, 45 North changes the tread pattern and destroyed my confidence in that tire. I made multiple pleas to 45 North to return to the old tread pattern. They declined to give a shit.
    I would give anything to find a cache of those tires in 120 tip

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  • Jerry says:

    If you all read the opening statement,,,it says here are some but CERTAINLY “”NOT”” ALL of tge best tires. So zip it. And go ride already. Bahaahaahaaa

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