The fat bike movement has largely settled into its niche within the mountain bike market. Some riders will continue to be dedicated fat bike riders, others will only ride fat during the winter, and still others will never ride anything wider than a 2.5″ tire. While the dedicated fat bike brands continue to push for improvement, not much has changed in fat bike tech over the past year. Providing further evidence of this stagnation (or is it stabilization?) in the fat bike market is our readers’ choice survey data for 2017, related here, which reads remarkably like the 2016 list.
One interesting takeaway from our survey data this year is that many readers apparently don’t know what a fat bike is–or at least, how it differs from a plus bike. The definition of this niche is only obfuscated by Specialized obstinately referring to their 27.5+ bikes as “6Fattie” — the only brand in the industry to use that confusing naming convention. For the purposes of this list, we’re defining fat bikes as any bike with a tire measuring 3.8″ or wider.
10. (tie) Framed Minnesota
The Framed Minnesota is new to this readers’ choice list for 2017. Framed has made a name for themselves by selling affordable fat and plus bikes, mostly direct to consumer (although they are available in some shops). They’re a staple on our Budget Buyer’s Guide lists–both for fat bikes and hardtails in general–due to the high value per dollar ratio that they offer.
The Minnesota line is a dedicated alloy fat bike line. The Alaskan serves as Framed’s carbon fat bike line–also at great prices. The lowest end of the Minnesota line is a fully rigid aluminum bike with a basic SRAM X4 1×9 drivetrain, Avid BB5 disc brakes, and 26″x4″ tires. Prices start at just $600, which is a very low barrier to entry.
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While many intermediate models exist, the top-tier Minnesotas offer either a RockShox Bluto suspension fork, RST suspension fork, or a rigid carbon fork, with a SRAM X7 2×10 drivetrain and Avid BB7 disc brakes. The tires (and axles) also get a bump up in size, to 26″x4.8″
- Travel: 100mm or 0mm front / 0mm rear
- Tire Size: 26″x4″ or 26″x4.8″
- Headtube Angle: 70°
- Chainstay Length: 466mm
- Frame Material: Aluminum
- Pricing: $599-$1,149
Framed Minnesota 1.0 Fat Bike
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10. (tie) Trek Farley EX
The integration of front and rear suspension with full-fat tires is one bright spot of innovation in the fat bike market over the past two years, but it still isn’t widespread by any means. That said, the Farley EX made this list of its own accord this year, without having to be included as a subset of Trek’s standard Farley like it did in 2016.
The top-tier Trek Farley EX 9.8 now sports the new Manitou Mastodon fork for 2018 and a Fox Float Evol shock in the rear, providing 120mm of suspension travel front and rear. The carbon frame holds 27.5″x4.0″ fat bike tires. A new SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed group covers the drivetrain, with SRAM Guide RS Hydraulic disc brakes providing the stopping power. Despite the carbon frame and relatively high-end components, the complete bike weight is 35 pounds–full suspension + fat tires = heavy!
- Travel: 120mm front / 120mm rear
- Tire Size: 27.5″x4.0″
- Headtube Angle: 68.8°
- Chainstay Length: 443mm
- Frame Material: Aluminum or Carbon
- Pricing: $3,499-$5,499