The Chainlink

Fat Bikes of Interbike

By Brett Ratner

Fat bikes can no longer be considered a trend anymore. Fat bikes are hot and based on this year's Interbike, continue to get hotter.

As they grow in popularity, bike manufacturers continually expand their fat bike product ranges, allowing you to choose from an array of functional models capable of hauling cargo on rough terrain...or (no joke) purchase race-oriented fat bike models weighing as little as 18.5 pounds.

We here are the Chainlink were slow to get on the fat bike band wagon, but after getting some saddle time on a couple, we can say we understand the appeal.

So, as we work on writing up our Interbike recaps, we thought we'd treat you to some photos of choice fat bikes we spotted over the course of the week. Think of them as the bicycle version of cat photos!

The Wednesday is Surly's newest fat bike offering. According to the guys at the Surly demo booth, it strikes a balance between the utility of the Pugsley and the playful, trail-shredding nature of the Ice Cream Truck: http://surlybikes.com/bikes/wednesday

Litespeed, a longtime maker of upscale frames for cycling connoisseurs, has thrown their titanium hat in the fat bike arena: http://litespeed.com/our-bikes/titanium/adventure/2016-nome

9:Zero:7, based in Anchorage, Alaska is one of the original fat bike builders. This carbon model, which weighs a scant 18.5 pounds, shows they still strive to push the fat bike envelope: http://907bikes.com/

This Borealis Flume features a Rock Shox "Bluto" suspension fork (designed by Rock Shox specifically for fat bikes). The Flume in the background features a rigid (and light) carbon fork: http://www.fatbike.com/

Fatback is another Alaska-based purveyor of premium-quality fat bikes. Considering guys up in Alaska ride the Iditarod route on fat bikes, my guess is Alaskans know better than anyone what makes for a great fat bike: http://fatbackbikes.com/

We neglected to obtain a snap of the beast, but the prototype Santana tandem fat bike featured in Bike Rumor last winter was a fun site to see lumbering around Bootleg Canyon's trails: http://www.santanatandem.com/

If you have an opinion on the fat bike phenomenon, we'd love to hear it in the comments below!

About the Author
Brett Ratner (brett@thechainlink.org) began commuting by bike in 2005. Shortly thereafter, his interest in cycling expanded to century rides, bike camping and trail riding. The competition bug bit in 2012 and nowadays he races cyclocross, track, mountain bikes, criteriums and gravel for The Bonebell.

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Comment by John Durham on September 30, 2015 at 10:39am

mainly due to lower-end, lower-cost models that have been flooding the market during the past 5+ years or so

Are you referring to the Mongoose (Wal-Mart) models and those similarly priced? If so, then those are definitely "fad" bikes; and they're terrible. Geometry is all wrong, heavy as hell and are generally just not fun. 

A "real" fatbike, like the Pugsley or Ice Cream Truck is an entirely different ride. A quality frame, designed purposefully to ride smoothly, track straight and true and not feel like you're trying to manhandle a cow down a dirt track. 

If you haven't test ridden a proper fatbike do yourself a favor and try it out. You may be surprised at how easy they are to ride, and how much fun they can be in an urban environment. 

Comment by Brett Ratner on September 23, 2015 at 8:14pm

Thank you for the feedback, George! I do think they are certainly overkill for crushed limestone and pavement, but were surprisingly fast, agile and fun on singletrack. And I came in expecting to hate riding them.

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