This should come as no surprise but here it is: Fat biking is addictive.

We received nearly 1,000 survey responses from dozens of countries and 49 of the 50 US states on the topic of fat bikes. We covered a lot of ground, so here’s the executive summary.

There is a ton of interest in fat biking, even in places where snow and sand are scarce. Survey respondents skewed toward riders who already own fat bikes or are considering buying fat bikes but even among those with no intention of buying a fat bike, 71% at least want to give it a try.

Fat biking is addictive. Sixteen percent of fat bike owners own more than one and, on average, fat bike owners ride their fat bikes 76 times a year. Potential fat bike buyers estimate they’ll only ride 37 times a year, so there must be something about getting a fat bike.

First mover advantage is huge in this market. We’ve seen this play out to a degree with other mountain bike trends (29ers, for example), but in fat bikes, the most popular brands are those who got the wheel rolling in the first place. Surly and Salsa are still big favorites among consumers, and smaller brands are still holding onto some of the top spots despite inroads by megaliths like Trek and Specialized.

Fat bike fanbois. I say this in the most respectful way, but it really does seem the fat bike’s capabilities have been oversold to a degree. Consider this series of responses to the survey (not included in the infographic):

About 60% of the respondents say fat bikes provide excellent handling on everything from rocks to hardpack to mud. At worst, 5% say their fat bikes handle poorly in rocky conditions. It’s actually hard to draw a conclusion about which conditions fat bikes are optimized for from these charts–it looks like fat bikes are great at everything!

Ok, now it’s your turn. What jumps out at you from these numbers? For those who want to dive even deeper, we’ve also made much of the raw survey data available here.

Convinced you’re ready to take the plunge? Read fat bike reviews here.

# Comments

  • delphinide

    Fat bikes pretty much ARE good at everything…but all bikes have their limitations. They suck in deep poweder. They slide in mud. They get pinch flats if your ride them hard on really technical trails. But, set them up right, build ’em light, and they can handle almost anything you throw at them. As rims become stronger, as tubeless is perfected, tires become lighter, suspension is developed, and chainline issues honed, they will conquer any terrain. We may see them in the 2018 Olympics. We may see DH races. We may see them zooming down ski resorts. The sky’s the limit…

  • jkldouglas

    So, I got a few things from this. The first is QBP, the parent company of both Salsa and Surly, has got to be loving this growth in the fatbike market since they own the two companies that produce the most popular models of fatbikes.

    Second is, why would someone own two fatbikes? This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I currently have a trail bike and am building a fully rigid singlespeed. If I wanted another bike, I wouldn’t buy another trail bike or singlespeed since I already have one of them. I would love to hear from someone who owns two to see why.

    • Jeff Barber

      Good points. I think a lot of folks in the bike industry are loving the growth of fat biking because it extends the MTB season. QBP definitely seems to know what their doing in terms of acquisitions and product mix.

      You also raise a good question: why would someone own more than one fatbike, especially since 96% of fat bikes owned are rigid? Would love to hear from someone who owns more than one…

    • Greg Heil

      I might be going out on a limb here (as I don’t personally own a fat bike… yet), but I would think that most people who own more than 1 fat bike see some differentiation between them. Maybe their first was a 4″ tire, and then they bought a 5″? Maybe their first was a budget-minded aluminum or steel frame, and then they loved it so much that they stepped up to carbon or Ti? Or maybe they’re denoting a 29+ as a fat bike as well, which really falls in this weird no man’s land between standard mountain bike and fat bike?

      I’ve observed all of these things happening to one friend or another of mine… and sometimes both at once! I just saw that a friend who owned a pretty standard Mukluk just purchased a blinged-out Ti 29+, which is a VERY different bike, and yet is classified as a “fat bike” by most.

    • The Prodigal Cyclist

      I got a Moonlander last fall. Chose that because I wanted the most versatile fat bike. There have been situations where my buds with 3.8″ tires have a harder time keeping rolling than I do. But I would also like to have a light 3.8″ tired fat bike that might work better for racing, especially if the trails are already groomed and fast.

    • delphinide

      I agree with Greg below. I think maybe someone buys a lower end steel Pugs, likes it, then gets a carbon Beargrease…but keeps the first bike for whatever reason: ‘wife’ rides it, or the riders likes to ride steel, different tires, one has suspension and the other is a race bike, can’t sell it for what it’s worth, etc.. I could certainly see owning more than one fatty in a place like Alaska. And yes, since the 29+ is considered a fatbike, owning something like a Lenz Sport Fat Moth and a Borealis Yampa are two very different bikes. Plus, some people just like to collect a stable of bikes. I wouldn’t know anything about that…

    • Brian Erickson

      I’m taking a wild guess as the second fat-bike being one for someone else in the household or to simply have one for other people to ride. It is FUN. They may not be the most practical on all trails.. but they’re fun as hell on most trails. Even got to ride Galbraith a few weeks ago with riders much more talented than I and it was still fun even if I was playing catch up the whole time. I’ve ridden beaches, snow and a multitude of trail difficulties with my Moonlander and they just bring joy. To who ever is riding it, riding with or just plain watching. I can see having a second fat-bike around if you can afford it simply for others to ride to bring joy and happiness. My housemate and I even had a couple of those shitty wal-mart fatties laying around for hitting the bars or rolling down the beach (in Hawaii). However, having two for personal use might be a bit overkill.. I’m only a SS rider, whether road or MTB, but the nice thing about my Moony is I have the option to run gears when I want since I’ve got a SS hub and a cassette hub to swap from front to back =) But to get to the bottom line, I think that their stats come from multiple fat-bikes in the home for multiple riders, not necessarily multiple fat bikes for one rider.

  • cpinkdot

    No data for South Dakota? You forget, most of us were riding those days and didn’t have time to jump online.

  • Daniel Burton

    No data for Antarctica either. Three of us were down there riding this “summer” (Dec/Jan) 🙂

  • williedillon

    I don’t really see the appeal of it, but then again I haven’t ridden one either. 😛

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