From anything between black ice to 4 inches of snow (paved roads only, no offroad), how will fat bike tires compare to mountain bike tires traction-wise?

Please note since the bike has to be ridden on paved roads without any snow too, extreme forms of spikes or chains on the tires are not an option.

  • better provably. More surface = traction that is the idea right ?
    – kifli
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 6:31
  • Studded bicycle tires are on bicycles which are too light to do significant damage to the roads unlike car tires, and higher quality ones work fine on dry pavement so long as you're not riding like a hooligan. Your question title and and body have different things -- studs give you grip on ice. Regular tires, not so much. If you're riding on a decent amount of ice, you want studs (fatbike or not). Ice is different from snow in what you need to ride.
    – Batman
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 6:50
  • That's exactly the question. In winter we get anything from dry pavement to thin layers of ice to 4 inches of snow if you consider that I have to descent 300m to the nearest city or ascent 500m to the highest local mountain pass. What is the ideal tyre for these chaotic conditions? First of all I have to start with a bike, I only have a road bike, so, Fat Bike or MTB?
    – AzulShiva
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 7:01
  • It's all over the map. In some cases it's better to have high-pressure tires, in others low-pressure. Depends on the temperature, the texture of the road surface, and the texture of the ice/snow. Studded tires are generally the best choice, if riding on actual ice (or highly compacted snow) is being considered. Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 11:26
  • The best thing to do would be to ask other riders in your area who ride in the winter. My area is flat, typically icy with snow being a secondary concern, so I have a rigid mountain bike with studded tires. Note that a fat bike is significantly more expensive than a hardtail mountain bike. There are studded fat bike tires, but they ain't cheap.
    – Batman
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 11:32

1 Answer 1


Having ridden both on a lot of ice for years, I'll answer that most of the fatbikes I have ridden tend to be more stable on ice than a MTB. The wider your tires are (and at lower pressure) the less likely that the wheel will slip (side to side) easily. Riding on snow and ice are very separate things.

Snow is actually very easy to ride provided it is either (semi)packed or not deep. Fatbikes were to some extend perfected by snow riders since the main advantage they provide is not "punching through" packed snow on trails as easily as a narrower tired bike.

Ice can be very difficult to nearly impossible to ride on. Flat ice (like a skating rink) can be ridden across in shorter sections with only good technique. By maintaining balance and not turning or pedaling in a sloppy manner, flat ice can be travelled. Sloped ice (like overflow or an icy hill) requires studs; pretty much end of story. There are many companies out there producing high quality (and some low quality) studded bicycle tires. I have a narrower set (3.8 inches) I use on my fatbike for commuting or riding trails with longer overflow sections.

  • I was hoping someone from Alaska would comment and boom here you are. Have you ever tried an actual chain compared to studs? s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/48/5e/cd/…
    – AzulShiva
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 6:26
  • 1
    I haven't. My fat binges have often had tight clearances. It wasn't ever something I wanted to chance. Plus, I am not sure the flexibility of a chain system warrants the extra weight and hassle. Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 3:15
  • @AzulShiva how did you guess he's from Alaska?
    – user171453
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 14:30
  • I think, at the time, it may have been in my profile. Or still might be, who knows. Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 17:18
  • Nah it's cos this post will stick with me for the rest of my life: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/36648/…
    – AzulShiva
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 5:13

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