This year in my area, I've seen a lot of people using fat tires on paved bike paths and roads, when there was no fat bikes before. I also see a lot of these bikes in grocery stores. It is summer, so there is no snow.

I'm curious of the benefits of a fat tire beyond the obvious off-roading capabilities. Is it just a weird fad or is there some benefit of a fat tire vs a hybrid or a road bike?

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    I think it is fashion more than anything else. – Willeke Jul 16 '15 at 18:53
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    None. However, the bikes can still be fun to ride even with sub-optimal mechanical performance, or that's the person's sole functioning steed. – whatsisname Jul 16 '15 at 19:06
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    Is this actually about fat bikes? Those are bikes with like 4 inch tires, not say 2 inch tires. – Batman Jul 16 '15 at 21:24
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    On pavement it's hard to imagine any advantage to a 4" tire. Now if you're talking 28, 30 or even 42mm tires then there are several advantages over skinny (23-25mm) tires on paved roads. – ChrisL Jul 16 '15 at 22:47
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    These days I'm using a fully rigid mountain bike even for XC riding (the trails need very little suspension) and the 26x2.1 tires with low pressure are enough for me. The big advantage for me is that having no suspension my bike is way lighter than some expensive single susp. bikes. I guess that the same holds true for city riding with a fully rigid fat bike if you care little for rolling resistance. After all, coping with extra weight for the sake of comfort from suspension is just another kind of sacrifice. Why not accept extra rolling resist. in exchange of comfort and lightness? – Jahaziel Jul 17 '15 at 6:13
up vote 14 down vote accepted

What you're witnessing is probably a mixture of convenience and all-around-increased popularity of fat bikes, rather than actual 'benefits'

A lot of people don't have the luxury of owning multiple bikes: one for the road, one for grocery trips, one for cross country, etc. If someone only has the resources for one bike, and they chose a fat bike because they like the versatility, you can understand why they would take that bike to the store. It's easy to argue that a fat-bike can go off-road, on the snow and sand, and of course to the store. A road bike cannot do all of that.

Also, wide tires are generally more comfortable. I could shed some weight and increase my speed a little by running ~30mm tires, but I choose to run 40mm tires most weeks because they handle bumpy roads and gravel with comfort and ease.

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    That's why I have ridden mine in the summer. I have heard the argument for more float in mud and such. However, in my case, for most of last year, my fatbike was the only "summer bike" I owned that could pull my kids in the chariot with. The other rigs I had were not compatible with the hitch. – Deleted User Jul 16 '15 at 19:58
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    Op's Q is about 4" (100mm) tires. – mattnz Jul 17 '15 at 1:22
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    In mud you usually want to dig into it to get to the hard base. Sand and snow are the only two surfaces I can think of where spreading the weight over a bigger area. – mattnz Jul 17 '15 at 1:25
  • I agree that comfort may be the only "benefit" that would make me choose a fat bike for city riding. A fat rigid bike may be lighter than a full suspension bike and provide enough cushioning for small potholes, pavement creases and the like. – Jahaziel Jul 17 '15 at 6:05
  • @mattnz as was my comment. – Deleted User Jul 17 '15 at 17:36

For most of the people who I've seen ride them it's because they're harder to push. The 4" fat tyres also have thicker walls, so flexing them takes more effort, on top of the greatly increased angular momentum. That means that commuting to work takes more effort. If you're trying to get fit, that's what you need.

It's worth noting that many of these people also ride their fat bikes off road, sometimes quite ridiculously so. Australia is well supplied with "ridiculously off road" and a lot of that can't be ridden with skinny little 2" tyres.

IME the comfort of 4" tyres is not much greater than 2" tyres, but the 4" ones are much harder to push. 4" also lose traction more easily on hard surfaces because of their (generally) harder compound and lower ground pressure.

  • Most of the fat bike tires (3.5 inch +) tires that I have ridden have thinner sidewalls than my mountain bike tires. It's a common tactic to keep weight down on the more expensive fat tires. – Deleted User Jul 17 '15 at 17:35

Since I have owned my fat bike (with 4 inch tires) I have not ridden my mountain bike.

The fat bike is a little heavier pushing - but when I add more air pressure I cannot tell the difference from my mountain bike. On the Fat Bike it's all about air pressure for different riding. On pavement add max air pressure for less rolling resistance.

The 60 tpi (120 tpi ride better for lighter riders) tires ride awesomely and with the right air pressure out-corner the mountain bike - more contact rubber on the corners - I guess.

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    Welcome to Bicycles @Tim. I edited your post to try to make it clearer, and keep it on topic. If I messed up your meaning, please feel free to undo the changes. – andy256 Aug 21 '15 at 4:43

I train a lot on my fat bike usually on rides from 50-70 km (30-45 miles), typically on a lot of hills on and off road.

The benefit is that when I get on my carbon road bike I notice an improvement in power and endurance.

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    Welcome to Bicycles @George. We recommend that new members take the tour to make best use of the site and since you're answering see How to Answer also. I edited your answer so that it explicitly answers the question. Cheers – andy256 Oct 28 '16 at 4:59
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    So the benefit is that its heavy and slow and makes riding harder, therefore more work and less fun. – Criggie Oct 28 '16 at 5:16

There isn't any advantage to riding fat tire bike on the street. 20psi is max for the tire and riding long distance is not good ideal. I built my own fat bike and it is great bike for trail ride, but for the street isn't good bike to ride. If you really want challenge put 5" tire with metal studs on your bike (snow and ice riding).

My statement focuses only on riding on the street, which is your question.

Greetings.

I have not ridden a Harley or Honda, but consider a road bicycle to be the Honda Interceptor. The Intereceptor is quick and fast, and great for short rides and trips around the corner; however, when traveling long distances with motorcycles, riders do appreciate the stability of a heavy bike, and this is fat bike.

The first time I rode a fat bike, I immediately noticed the greater stability and control of the bike, not to mention its comfortable ride. The fat tires seemed to absorb all displacements of the road I would feel on my road bike. I felt very connected to the road, which may be because there is more fat tire in contact with the road than there is with road tire in contact the road.

Just about as soon as I got on and began riding, I was turned around, and heading back to the store's showroom, inquiring whether there were variations available. I purchased the Orange on White model out of a catalog, and had to wait a few months to get it. I didn't mind because I was convinced that I would never have another flat again. To date, it has not let me down.

When it was assembled and ready for delivery, I was struck by how handsome of a bike this was. The photos in the catalog do not do this bike justice. I would get compliments, sometimes multiple compliments, every time I took the bike out.

I should add: This fat bike is a street bike, which comes with a lifetime warranty from Giant. It becomes void only when the bike is taken off road. The lifetime warranty is a tremendous value added to the purchase.

I guess the Rocker 3 was engineered to be a city cruiser, which explains to me now, the casual design for the water bottle holder with the frame, and the emphasis of the Momentum line.

On flat ground, the bike has quick momentum, quickly getting up to speed. However, you will notice even the slightest uphill incline as the extra weight of the bike immediately translates into your burden for you to push forward.

I should say a primary reason for buying the Rocker 3 remains its use as an exercise tool for improving my cardiovascular health. When making the purchase, I did not consider the extra weight to be a negative. In fact, the extra weight was considered a blessing as it increased my exertion.

Later, I did modify the power train by adding a triple chain ring system, and the bike now has 21 gears.

So in summary, the fat bike is a heavy bike, and its weight brings a smoother ride, greater stability, greater comfort, and more control over the vehicle while on flat road. Uphill sucks, and the Rocker 3 continues to turn eyes, as ever.

  • Welcome to the site! Please do take a moment to look at our tour which explains more about how the site works. There's quite a lot of text in your answer, and a lot of it doesn't really do a lot to answer the question. We're really just looking for answers to the question at the top of the page (what are the benefits of using a fat bike on paved roads?), and not general discussion of how handsome they are, the warranty your particular bike had, what upgrades you made and so on. – David Richerby Nov 30 '17 at 10:43
  • And, honestly, I'd dispute a lot of the points you make. More weight means more momentum at any given speed, which means it's harder to stop and harder to corner -- that means you have less control, not more. And, sure, the greater weight means you have to work harder but that doesn't mean you get more exercise: you could get just as much exercise on a lighter bike by putting in the same effort as you would on the heavy bike, only going faster. – David Richerby Nov 30 '17 at 10:46

You all bring up good points but I use mine for training. I ride it 40 miles on Saturdays and around 30 miles in Sunday and do a lot of hills... When I get on my road bike there is a noticeable difference.

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    Welcome to Bicycles @George. Please do take the tour and read our help center to see how this site works, since it's different to a typical chat or discussion site. This answer I use mine for training similar to the answer by Nui, so I'm afraid you haven't (yet) added anything new. I suggest expanding your post to include more information. Good to see you here – andy256 Jul 5 '16 at 23:41
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    "What is the benefit of fat tires on pavement?" Your answer only says you train on yours and there is a noticeable difference. What is the noticeable difference? – Criggie Jul 6 '16 at 5:31

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