Fat tire bikes, also known as fat bikes, have been growing in popularity in recent years. With their oversized tires, fat bikes allow riders to take on terrain that regular mountain bikes can’t handle, like sand, snow and mud. Snap On is one brand producing high-quality fat tire bikes for every type of rider and skill level.
What Are Fat Tire Bikes?
Fat bikes get their name from their super wide tires that can measure up to 5 inches across. These oversized tires enable fat bikes to “float” on top of loose, soft terrain that would cause standard mountain bike tires to sink in. The ultra-wide tires also provide exceptional traction and control.
Some key features of fat tire bikes:
- Oversized tires – up to 5 inches wide to aid flotation and traction
- Wide rims – 100-150mm wide to provide stability and support the wide tires
- Lower tire pressure – fat bike tires are generally run between 5-15 PSI for traction
- Rigid frame – most fat bikes use a solid, rigid fork and frame which also improves handling
Fat bikes originally emerged as a way to continue riding during the snowy winter months but their abilities and usage have expanded. Now fat bikes allow riders to explore sandy beaches, ride over rocky terrain and power through mud and swamps. Their growing popularity has made fat biking both a recreational activity and a competitive sport.
Benefits of Riding a Fat Bike
Fat bikes provide a number of advantages over standard mountain bikes:
Traction and Control
The ultra-wide tires offer phenomenal traction, gripping surfaces from loose sand to snow-covered trails. This makes riding them very stable and controlled. The massive contact patch of the tire allows fat bike tires to be run at lower pressures without risk of pinch flats.
Versatility and Year-Round Use
Fat bikes can be ridden on a wide variety of terrain and surfaces beyond just snow. Their flotation and traction opens up beaches, deserts and other areas not rideable on regular mountain bikes. Fat bikes can be used year-round.
Comfort and Shock Absorption
The fat, lower pressure tires provide plenty of built-in suspension and shock absorption. Many fat bikes use a rigid frame and fork which further improves the comfort and handling compared to a hardtail MTB.
Strength and Durability
Fat bike wheels and frames are overbuilt to handle the demanding riding conditions. High spoke counts on the wheels and robust frame tubing ensure the bikes can stand up to rocks, roots and other obstacles.
Types of Snap On Fat Bikes
Snap On produces a range of fat tire bikes covering everything from recreational trail riding to intense racing and winter use.
Recreational Fat Bikes
Recreational fat bikes like the Snap On Buzzsaw are designed for casual trails, beach riding and exploring. These feature characteristics like:
- Steel or aluminum frames for durability
- 1x drivetrains for simplicity and lower maintenance
- Large 4-5″ wide tires for flotation and control
- Front suspension to smooth out bumps and trail obstacles
- Wide, upright handlebars for a comfortable riding position
- Rack and bottle cage mounts for carrying gear and water
These well-equipped fat bikes are great for beginners looking to get started in fat biking. The recreational models strike a balance between affordability and quality components.
Trail/All-Mountain Fat Bikes
For hitting singletrack trails, bikepacking routes and all-mountain terrain, models like the Snap On Timberwolf are ideal choices. The specs are dialed towards off-road performance:
- Lightweight aluminum frames with aggressive geometry
- High quality 100mm suspension forks
- SRAM/Shimano 1×10/1×11 drivetrains
- Tubeless compatible fat bike rims and tires
- Hydraulic disc brakes for stopping power
- Multiple mounting points for bottles and bags
These are versatile trail-tackling and bikepacking fat bikes ready for technical terrain. They allow riders to push their limits and take on rugged landscapes.
Race-Ready Fat Bikes
Snap On produces carbon fiber fat bikes built for racing like the Nightwolf. Key features include:
- Carbon fiber frames and rigid carbon forks for weight savings
- XTR/XT/SLX groupsets for quick, crisp shifting
- Race-inspired geometry for quick handling and acceleration
- Switchable dropper seatposts that can be raised/lowered on the fly
- High-end tubeless wheelsets to cut weight
- Large 4.8-5″ tires for traction and float
Everything about these premium fat bikes is engineered for speed and efficiency on the race course. The lightweight frames combined with top-tier components make them perfect for competing or setting new PRs on Strava.
Electric Fat Bikes
Snap On manufactures electric-assist fat bikes called Snap On E-Fatties. They combine pedal power with electric motors for an extra boost of speed and power. The E-Fattie features include:
- Lightweight aluminum frames and forks
- 250-750W motors with 40-80Nm of torque
- 36V/48V lithium ion battery packs
- Hydraulic brakes and wide 4-5″ tires
- Battery range from 30-100 miles
- Throttle control and pedal assist modes
Electric fat bikes open up longer rides and new terrain for any skill level. The electric power makes climbing, riding in sand, or covering distance much easier.
Ideal Uses for Fat Bikes
While designed for snow originally, fat bikes can now take riders into a variety of conditions far from home:
Fat bikes reign supreme for winter cycling. The oversized tires allow fatbikes to cruise over snow-covered roads and trails. Lower pressures provide traction on ice. Handling is stable thanks to the wide footprint.
Fat bikes are a blast for riding sandy beaches and coastlines. The massive tire contact patch prevents sinking in soft sand. Floating over dunes and carving trails in the sand becomes possible.
Bikepacking and Touring
With ample frame space and mounting options, fat bikes make excellent bikepacking rigs. Their durability suits them for carrying heavy gear loads over rugged backcountry. The extra traction aids in climbing.
Desert and Rocky Terrain
In rocky or dry desert landscapes, fat bikes can navigate terrain other mountain bikes can’t. The suspension effect smooths out rocks and ledges. Sand and loose over hardpack are no issue either.
The ability to traverse swamps, thick forests, or snowy backcountry makes fat bikes perfect for accessing hunting and fishing spots. Their quietness compared to dirtbikes is a bonus too.
Sand Dunes and Beaches
Beyond just beaches, sand dunes and other deep sand areas become far more rideable thanks to fat bike floatation and traction. Surfing down sand dunes becomes a real possibility.
Buying Considerations for Fat Bikes
Those looking to purchase a Snap On fat bike will want to factor in a few key considerations:
The ultra-wide tires come in different diameters. Common options are:
- 26 x 4.0-5.0” – best for shorter riders, maximum float
- 27.5 x 3.8-4.5” – fast rolling, improved traction
- 29 x 3.5-5.0” – great momentum, rolls over objects
Wider tires provide more flotation. Narrower tires may be faster rolling.
Consider how much off-road use versus pavement or groomed snow paths. Race fat bikes differ from recreational trail models. Identify your riding style.
Steel frames are durable but heavy. Aluminum or carbon cuts weight but may compromise toughness. Carbon is ideal for racing, aluminum for most riding.
Most fat bikes utilize either mechanical disc brakes or hydraulic discs. Hydraulic discs provide noticeably improved modulation and braking power.
Look for 1x drivetrains with a wide 11-speed or 12-speed cassette range for simplicity and gearing options. Quality derailleurs and clutched rear derailleurs improve performance.
Rigid forks are common but many fat bikes also come equipped with suspension forks, typically 80-150mm of travel. This greatly improves control over rough terrain.
Quality fat bike wheelsets have high spoke counts (32-36 spokes) for durability. Tubeless compatible rims allow running lower tire pressures. Look for sealed cartridge bearing hubs.
Fat bike prices range from $600 into the $5000+ range. Identify how much you are willing to spend to narrow down options. Expect to spend $1800+ for a quality mid-range fat bike.
Top 5 Snap On Fat Bike Models
1. Snap On Buzzsaw
The Buzzsaw is Snap On’s top selling recreational fat bike. It features an aluminum frame, 1×10 Shimano drivetrain, mechanical disc brakes, and 26 x 4″ tires. It comes in under $1500, making it a nicely equipped starter fat bike.
Best For: Beginners, casual trails, groomed snow riding
2. Snap On Timberwolf
A versatile trail and bikepacking fat bike, the Timberwolf has an SRAM 1×11 drivetrain, RockShox Bluto fork, tubeless wheelset, and 27.5 x 4.5″ tires. It balances performance and affordability.
Best For: All-mountain trails, bikepacking trips, winter trail riding
3. Snap On Mule Deer
The Mule Deer uses a top-end SRAM XX1 Eagle 1×12 drivetrain with a 10-50t cassette coupled to Race Face cranks. Handling tight, twisty singletrack comes easily thanks to the agile alloy frame and 27.5 x 4.25” tires.
Best For: Cross country trails, singletrack, gravel and dirt road riding
4. Snap On Pronghorn
Built on a carbon fiber frame with a Manitou Mastodon 120mm fork, the Pronghorn tackles the most rugged terrain. 29 x 4.5″ tires provide unmatched traction and control. It races as hard as it rides.
Best For: Bikepacking, aggressive trail riding, winter endurance races
5. Snap On Nightwolf
No compromise race performance makes the Nightwolf Snap On’s premier racing fat bike. A lightweight carbon frame, XTR drivetrain, and 29 x 4.0″ tires make it speedy and responsive on any race course.
Best For: Fat bike racing, snow race events, winter triathlons
Q&A About Fat Tire Bikes
Still have some questions about fat bikes? Here are answers to some commonly asked fat bike questions:
Q: Can you ride fat bikes on pavement or roads?
A: Yes, fat bikes work fine on paved roads, bike paths, etc. Many riders use them as winter commuters too. Just expect a little more rolling resistance, though wide tires at 8-10psi mitigate this well.
Q: How much do fat bikes weigh?
A: Weights range from 26-35 lbs depending on components. Steel frames, inexpensive parts, and heavy 5″ tires make the heavier setups. Premium carbon fat bikes with 29×4.0″ tires can be sub-25 lbs.
Q: Can fat bikes use rear racks and panniers?
A: Most fat bikes have rack mounts allowing use of rear racks and panniers for bikepacking and commuting. Ensure racks are fat bike compatible and stretched for the wider rear axles.
Q: Do you need special cycling shoes for fat bikes?
A: Not necessarily. Regular mountain biking shoes work fine. Some riders prefer winter-specific boots for snow and cold conditions. Look for shoes with aggressive tread for walking through snow.
Q: What maintenance do fat bikes need?
A: Overall fat bikes require minimal extra maintenance compared to regular mountain bikes. One exception – the lower pressures make rim and tire inspections more critical before each ride to spot any damage.
Take Your Riding to New Terrain on a Snap On Fat Bike
With massive traction, unmatched flotation and go-anywhere abilities, Snap On fat bikes open up a whole new world of riding possibilities. From snow-covered trails in winter to sandy beaches and desert singletrack in summer, a quality fat bike like those made by Snap On allows conquering new terrain all year long. With models spanning from recreational to race designs, and capabilities from winter commuting to backcountry adventures, Snap On produces a fat bike appropriate for every rider. Consider where and how you want to ride when selecting the ideal model from the Snap On lineup of fat tire bikes.
Mahin Abrar is a passionate writer and outdoor enthusiast. As a regular contributor to Bikepics.net, Mahin shares his knowledge and experiences in the fields of biking, cycling, hiking, and camping. With a deep understanding of these activities and a keen eye for detail, he offers valuable insights and practical advice to help readers get the most out of their adventures. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, Mahin's writing is sure to inspire you and guide you on your journey.