Whether you’re new to mountain biking and have decided that a fat bike is the best one-quiver bike you can buy on a budget, or you’ve been mountain biking for decades and have finally decided to add a fat bike to your stable, choosing to purchase an affordable fat bike initially instead of a high-dollar rig makes a ton of sense. It makes sense to test the waters with a reasonable investment, and if you decide you absolutely love the sport of mountain biking–and fat biking more specifically–you can easily upgrade in a few years.
To help you decide which fat bike is right for you, I’ve taken our popular budget fat bike buyer’s guide back to the drawing board, taking into account the latest changes and prices in the market in early 2017. The list is organized in ascending price order, and is grouped on two different pages. This first page includes fat bikes under $1,000, and page two holds fat bikes under $1,500. If you want to spend more than $1,500, check out the brief bulleted list at the end of page two, which goes up to $2,000. Prices have also been rounded to the closest $50 level whenever possible, and when MSRPs are the same, the listings have been alphabetized.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this list is not comprehensive, comprising every single fat bike from every minuscule and foreign manufacturer that retails for under $2,000. Yet hopefully it comes close: I’ve scoured the internet, checked all the big brands, delved into all the direct-to-consumer sites, and surveyed our forum users–all in an attempt to discover the best deals and prices.
If you have a maximum price in mind that you can afford, read until you reach that point, stop, and then make your decision based on what you’ve read so far. If you have some flexibility in your budget, be sure to read the entire guide to determine what benefits a higher expenditure will get you.
Fat Bikes Under $1,000
While you can purchase a fat bike at Walmart for just over a hundred bucks, I don’t recommend it: it will be extremely heavy and cumbersome, and likely won’t stand the test of time.
That said, I don’t necessarily claim that the least expensive bikes that I’ve included on this list will last, either, but these will still be a much better investment of your dollars than going to Walmart.
Gravity Deadeye Monster – $400
With a singlespeed drivetrain and an aluminum 6061 frame, the Gravity Deadeye Monster is about as basic of an entry into fat biking as you can find. Be forewarned: pedaling this beast around with one gear may prove to be a real challenge.
The fork is made of chromoly steel and the Deadeye Monster is spec’ed with Tektro Novela disc brakes, Vee Rubber Mission 26×4″ tires with a wire bead, and a WTB Speed V Sport saddle.
Gravity Bullseye Monster – $500
Stepping up another notch is yet another Bikes Direct special: the Gravity Bullseye Monster. With an aluminum 6061 frame and a chromoly steel fork, the main difference between the Bullseye and the Deadeye is the addition of a SRAM X4 2×8 drivetrain.
The Bullseye Monster is spec’ed with the same Tektro Novela disc brakes, Vee Rubber Mission 26×4″ tires with a wire bead, and WTB Speed V Sport saddle as the Deadeye above.
Framed Minnesota 1.0 – $600
Get used to seeing the name “Framed” on this list, as they dominate the high quality/low cost fat bike market. The Framed Minnesota 1.0 is the bottom of their barrel, yet with a high quality aluminum frame and fork and a decent parts build, it offers great quality on the dollar.
The Minnesota 1.0 is spec’ed with a SRAM X4 1×9 drivetrain, Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes, 80mm-wide Framed Aluminum rims with cut-outs, Framed Minnesota 26×4″ tires, and Frame-branded cockpit components. Claimed weight for the complete bike is 35lbs, 3oz.
Gravity Bullseye Monster LTD – $600
The Gravity Bullseye Monster LTD is Bluto-ready with a tapered steerer tube in its aluminum frame. However, the stock fork is made of chromoly steel.
This bike is spec’ed with a SRAM X4 2×8 drivetrain, Tektro Novela disc brakes, “26×4.25″ Vee Rubber BK Hillbille” tires, and P-80 rims with cutouts.
Kawasaki Sumo 4.0 – $600
Actually, a Walmart fat bike did make it on this list: the Kawasaki Sumo. Don’t expect to see this $600 fat bike on the sales floor at your local Wally World, but you can order it on their website. With an 18.5″ aluminum frame and fork plus components that sound awfully familiar to other bikes on this list, the Sumo is a contender.
The Sumo is spec’ed with a 3×7 Shimano Altus drivetrain, Promax disc brakes, 26×4″ Hard Pack tires, “aluminum fat black rims,” a WTB Rocket V saddle, and Promax-branded cockpit bits. While I applaud Walmart’s effort on this front, comparing the component specs to those found on the Framed Minnesota 1.0 and some of the Motbecane bikes at this same price point, the Kawasaki still isn’t a great choice.
Motobecane Boris X5 – $600
The Motobecane Boris X5 features a hydroformed aluminum frame and a chromoly steel fork. It comes spec’ed with a SRAM X5 2×9 drivetrain, Tektro Novela disc brakes, 26×4″ BigAdventures tires, and Weinmann HL-80 rims with cutouts.
Framed Minnesota 2.0 – $650
The Framed Minnesota 2.0 rings up at just $50 more than the 1.0 model. The main difference from the 1.0? An improvement in the drivetrain, bumping it up to a SRAM X5/X7 2×9 combination. Claimed weight is 34lbs 4oz–almost a full pound lighter than the 1.0 above.
The Minnesota 2.0 is also spec’ed with Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes, 80mm-wide Framed Aluminum rims with cut outs, Framed Minnesota 26×4″ tires, and Frame-branded cockpit components. Be sure to read Jeff’s test ride review.
Motobecane Boris X7 – $700
The Motobecane Boris X7 model features an aluminum 6061 frame with a chromoly steel fork. The bike comes spec’ed with a SRAM X7 2×10 drivetrain (the first 10-speed drivetrain on this list), Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes, 26×4″ Vee 8 tires, 26x32H Weinmann HL-80 rims with cutouts, a WTB Saddle, and Kalloy cockpit bits.
With a 4130 chromoly steel frame and fork, the State Bicycle Co Megalith Singlespeed is the first fully-steel fat bike that we’ve seen on this list. While this bike is billed as a singlespeed, essentially it is a stripped-down version of the standard Megalith (see below) with a tensioner device used to turn it into a singlespeed. While undoubtedly many of the specs are better than the $400 Gravity Deadeye Monster singlespeed above, the Deadeye Monster’s sliding dropout tensioner design is much more elegant than the bolt on chain tensioner that the Megalith uses.
The Megalith Singlespeed is spec’ed with Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes, a rear freehub system that is “easily [convertible] to geared riding” (i.e. this is a stripped-down version of the standard Megalith), 26×4″ tires (no word on the brand), 100mm rims with drilled cutouts (no word on the brand), and a bottle opener mounted to the seat tube.
Framed Minnesota 3.0 – $750
$100 more than the Minnesota 2.0, the 3.0 features 150mm front hub spacing and 190mm rear hub spacing in order to fit up to 4.7″ tires in this frame. Finally, we have reached the first 5-inch-compatible fat bike on this list! But unfortunately, while the 3.0 is 5-inch compatible, it still comes stock with 4″ tires. While the stock 3.0 comes with an aluminum frame and rigid aluminum fork, the tapered head tube allows the ability to upgrade the Minnesota 3.0 to a suspension fork.
The Minnesota 3.0 is spec’ed with a SRAM X7 2×10 drivetrain; Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes (the nicest on this list so far); Framed Minnesota Fat 26×4″ tires; and Framed Aluminum Alloy 80mm Single Wall Rims with cutouts. Total claimed weight is 32lbs.
Mongoose Argus Comp – $750
While Mongoose is now mostly known as a big box store brand, in recent years they’ve produced many solid entry-level and mid-range mountain bikes, including the Argus line of fat bikes. At $750 the Argus Comp is the most affordable, offering an aluminum frame and fork.
The Argus Comp is spec’ed with a low-end Shimano drivetrain with a 9-speed Sunrace cassette, Mongoose hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm rotors (the first hydraulic brakes on this list), Kenda Juggernaut 26×4″ tires, and 100mm wide rims with cutouts (no word on the brand).
KHS 4 Season 300 – $770
The KHS 4 Season 300 features an aluminum frame with a chromoly steel fork. It comes spec’ed with a Shimano Alivio/RD-TX800 drivetrain with an 8-speed cassette, Bengal MB606 mechanical disc brakes, Knobby 26×4″ tires, alloy 80mm rims “w/triangle holes,” and KHS-branded cockpit bits.
Raleigh Pardner – $800
With a steel frame, fork, and a multi-speed drivetrain, the Raleigh Pardner is the first fully-steel fat bike with a multi-gear drivetrain on this list.
The Pardner is spec’ed with a Shimano Alivio 9-speed drivetrain; Tektro Mira mechanical disc brakes; CY 26×4.0″ tires; and “Raleigh Prospect 80, 26X32h, 73mm wide” rims with cutouts.
State Bicycle Co Megalith – $830
The fully-built version of the State Bicycle Co Megalith features a 1×8 SRAM X4 drivetrain in addition to its steel frame and fork.
The Megalith is also spec’ed with Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes, 26×4″ tires (no word on the brand), 100mm rims with drilled cutouts (no word on the brand), and a bottle opener mounted to the seat tube.
KHS 4 Season 500 – $900
The KHS 4 Season 500 features the same alloy frame and steel fork as the 300, but with an upgraded parts kit. The 500 is spec’ed with a Shimano M3000/661 SLX drivetrain with a 9-speed cassette, Shimano BR-M355 hydraulic disc brakes, Knobby 26×4″ tires, alloy 80mm rims “w/triangle holes,” and KHS-branded cockpit bits.
Norco Bigfoot 6.3 – $900
The Norco Bigfoot 6.3 comes with an alloy frame and rigid alloy fork. It’s also spec’ed with a Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain with a shadow plus rear derailleur (the first clutch-style rear derailleur on this list), Tektro MD-280 disc brakes, CY 26×4″ tires, Alloy SW 80mm 26″ Fat rims, and lots of Norco-branded cockpit bits.
Diamondback El Oso de Acero – $950
Diamondback’s El Oso de Acero sports a steel frame and fork and is spec’ed with a Shimano Alivio 3×9 drivetrain, Tektro Mira mechanical disc brakes, Chaoyang Cruiser 26×4″ tires, DB75mm Wide w/28mm cutout rims, and plenty of Diamondback-branded cockpit bits.
Framed Minnesota 3.0 w/RST Fork – $1,000
Add an RST Renegade suspension fork to the Framed Minnesota 3.0, and you can score the first fat bike with suspension on this list for just $1,000!
Like the standard 3.0, the 3.0 w/RST is spec’ed with a SRAM X7 2×10 drivetrain; Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes; Framed Minnesota Fat 26×4″ tires; and Framed Aluminum Alloy 80mm Single Wall Rim with cutouts. Total claimed weight is 32lbs.
Fuji Wendigo 26 2.3 – $1,000
The Fuji Wendigo 26 2.3 is notable as the first fat bike on our list to come stock with 5-inch tires! However, depending on how you define a 5-inch fat bike tire, you could consider the Rocky Mountain Blizzard -10, also ringing in at $1,000, to be tied in this respect. But the stock 4.7″ tires on the Fuji edge out the 4.5″ tires on the Rocky.
This rig also comes with an aluminum frame and fork with a tapered steerer tube, and it’s spec’ed with a Shimano SLX/Acera 3×9 drivetrain, Tektro M285 hydraulic disc brakes, Vee Bulldozer 26×4.7″ tires, 93mm-wide alloy rims with modern 197mm rear spacing, and Oval Concepts cockpit bits. Claimed weight is 37.73lbs.
Nashbar Fat Bike – $1,000
The latest rendition of Nashbar’s Fat Bike features an aluminum frame and an aluminum fork–a significant departure from their previous full-steel Big Ol’ Fat Bike.
This bike is spec’ed with a SRAM X5 2×10 drivetrain, Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes, Duro Big D 26×4″ tires, and alloy rims with cutouts.
Rocky Mountain Blizzard -10 – $1,000
The Rocky Mountain Blizzard -10 model comes in just below $1,000 with an aluminum frame and fork. Most riders tend to define a 5-inch fat bike as any fatty with tires over the 4-inch mark (it’s relatively rare to find a full 5-inch tire), but the Blizzard splits the difference at 4.5″. The clearance is likely plenty wide to accommodate a fatter 4.8″ tread as an after market upgrade.
The Blizzard -10 is spec’ed with a Shimano Altus 1x drivetrain, a 12-36T Shimano cassette, Tektro M280 mechanical disc brakes, Kenda Juggernaut 26×4.5″ tires, Rocky Mountain Speedhole 95mm rims, and Rocky Mountain-branded cockpit bits.
Click to page two for fat bikes between $1,000 and $1,500.