Fat Bike Reviews

2016’s Hottest Fat Bikes – Part 1

Race bikes, do-it-all rigs, and budget-friendly buys
From lightweight racers, to budget friendly cruisers, to do-it-all rigs, these are the fat bikes you need to know about.

From lightweight racers, to budget friendly cruisers, to do-it-all rigs, these are the fat bikes you need to know about (click to enlarge).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Mtbr Ultimate Guide to winter mountain biking, fat bikes, gear, apparel and trainers. In the first two months of 2016, 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 and be sure to check out part 2 and part 3 of our Hottest Fat Bikes Round-Up.

Specialized Fat Boy Expert Carbon

Specialized Fat Boy Expert Carbon

You don’t have to race Specialized’s Fat Boy Carbon Expert to appreciate its go-fast capabilities. But you’ll certainly be happy if you do end up at a start line. This no holds barred competition machine blends a lightweight carbon frame and fork with composite HED wheels that are a snap to set up tubeless. The end result is a 24.2-pound (actual weight, size Large) fat bike that also happens to be on sale right now. Specialized MTB product manager Todd Cannatelli says the design goal was to replicate the fit and feel of the company’s Crave 29er hard tail. That means instead of following the crowd with a more slack front end, this Fat Boy has a 70.5-degree head angle that maintains the bike’s nimble handling. Chainstays are a middle of the road 455mm for added stability and less chance of packing up the frame with snow or mud. The lean to speed theme is continued with fast rolling Specialized 4.0 Ground Control tires and a quick shifting SRAM XO1 drivetrain. Look for a full review soon as part of Mtbr’s 2016 Ultimate Guide to Winter Mountain Biking. | Price: $5399 (marked down from $6000) | More info at www.specialized.com



Though billed as a relatively basic fat bike, we’ve been impressed with the Big Ed’s bang for buck. As the name implies, this is no uber svelte race machine, but even at 32.3 pounds (actual weight, size Large) this big wheeled beast has a playful side thanks to its 69-degree head angle and 450mm chainstays. Spec highlights include snow munching 4.8” Schwalbe Jumbo Jim tires, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, a blended SRAM 2x drivetrain, and 100mm travel RockShox Bluto fork with remote lock-out. And like the Specialized Fat Boy, the alloy frame SCOTT Big Ed is on sale right now at 20% off, which drops the price roughly $600 below MSRP. Look for a full review soon as part of Mtbr’s 2016 Ultimate Guide to Winter Mountain Biking. | Price: $2799, but currently on sale | More info at www.scott-sports.com

Borealis Crestone

Borealis Crestone

Blending a slack 70-degree head angle with long’ish 459mm chainstays, the new-for-2016 carbon frame Borealis Crestone is stable, relaxed and reasonably light. Our size XL tester came in at 30.5 pounds, but that’s with beefy 4.8” Maxxis Minion FBF trail tires wrapped around alloy 80mm Turnagain wheels, a RockShox Bluto fork, and a RockShox Reverb dropper post (which is not a stock option). If we were building this bike ourselves for winter use, we’d ditch the Bluto to save weight and cash, and use the extra money to upgrade the wheels. The frame’s tall’ish standover isn’t post-hole friendly, but frame bag aficionados will love the extra storage space. Look for a full review soon as part of Mtbr’s 2016 Ultimate Guide to Winter Mountain Biking. | Price: from $5150 with Bluto | More info at www.fatbike.com

Felt DD 10

Felt DD 10

Felt’s top-end DD 10 (as in double dare) blends the top line functionality of a RockShox Bluto suspension fork and Shimano XT drivetrain with an alloy frame and house brand cockpit. The end result is a high performing fat bike that wont cost you the proverbial arm and leg. Schwalbe’s light and fast rolling 4.0 Jumbo Jim tires are wrapped around 80mm house brand alloy single-wall rims with machined cutouts. Head angle is a playful 70 degrees, while 455mm chainstays help you keep your line even in the softest snow. Actual weight for our size L tester is a reasonable 31.8 pounds. Look for a full review soon as part of Mtbr’s 2016 Ultimate Guide to Winter Mountain Biking. | Price: $3000 | More info at www.feltbicycles.com

Lynskey Fatskey

Lynskey Fatskey

Titanium gurus Lynskey call their Fatskey the most fun riding bike they make, fat or otherwise. Frame highlights include geometry optimized for 100mm front suspension, write style dropouts with replaceable derailleur hanger, 197mm rear spacing with 12mm thru axle, a 100mm 1.375 x 24 UNC threaded bottom bracket shell, slider dropouts that can accommodate a standard quick release skewer, tapered integrated headtube, and clearance for up to 4.8” rear tire. Lynskey also increased rear-end stiffness with beefed up chainstays and seatstays, and all of it is made from helix’d 3/2.5 titanium tubing that’s available in three unique finishes: brushed, industrial mill, or satin. Lynskey sells complete bikes, or you can build it up yourself starting with the $2000 frame. | Price: complete 2016 bikes TBD | More info at lynskeyperformance.com

Continue to page 2 for more of 2016’s Hottest Fat Bikes »
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 Olympics, Tour de France, MTB world champs, 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 Mtbr 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 life with his wife Lisa and kids Cora and Tommy in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.

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  • Bikerjosh says:

    Suspension on a fat bike with those massive low pressure tires; really? No, really?

  • Michael Banks says:

    Jim, would it be possible to see your data? I am very interested in this not only as a cyclist but as a researcher having worked with very precise measuring instruments in wheelchair push-force requirements for different tire/caster configurations. As you know, friction and rolling resistance are so interesting because of the multifactorial nature that produces them. It would be nice to see some hard data on this well worn topic within wheeled mobility circles. Thanks.

    • Jim says:

      Here are some professional results… but they only went up to 4.0″ tires. His data matched ours exactly.

      We came to the conclusion that on snow… tubeless 120 tpi tires with just enough air pressure to “Leave a Flat Track” was the lowest rolling resistance possible for a given rider with any given conditions. “Leave a Flat Track” is the principle we have been working with the USFS to gain access to winter trails. It is a win-win for all nordic users… The hard part was getting nordic bikers to let the air out of their tires. Conventional wisdom says more air = lower rolling resistance and that is simply not true when riding on snow.

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