This post contains affiliate links.
Way back when the fat tire bike would have never made it into the conversation with the top mountain bikes. However, these bikes have grown so much in popularity lately that more people are taking them seriously, and they are often used as a mountain bike alternative. So, we should look at the fat tire bike vs. mountain bike.
Fat tire bike vs. mountain bike: Which one is better for you? It is not hard for even someone with no bike knowledge to know the difference between the fat tire bike and the mountain bike. Both these bikes have incredible features, but the fat tire bike has fat tires, which are often 3.8-5.3 inches wide. This is often double the size of mountain bike tires.
The tires are the main difference, but there are a few additional differences that we should stress as well. Since these bikes are very similar and used for the same thing, you might find that the fat tire bike could offer you more benefits for your goals. Let’s find out if the fat tire bike is possibly the bike for you!
You might also enjoy reading: What to Look For When Buying a Used Mountain Bike?
Fat Tire Bike Vs. Mountain Bike Purposes
Before diving into some of the differences, we must look at why each bike was designed in the first place.
This would give you an idea of what you should be aiming for when it comes to finding the right bike for your needs.
1- Fat Tire Bike
Fat bike tires (AKA snow bikes) are generally designed to provide traction in snow and ice, making them for winter riding. With most fat tire bikes, you can ride over snow and sand, giving access to trails that might otherwise be inaccessible thanks to their giant wheels.
In other words, the fat tire bike is designed with wider tires, which often feature a more durable design. The extra thickness of these tires would offer you more traction and contact with the road while ensuring that you don’t feel obstacles as much.
They work on all surfaces and often feature a bigger weight limit for heavier riders.
2- Mountain Bike
On the other hand, we have the mountain bike, which features the traditional tire width. By now, the best mountain bikes have been fully explained, and they make it possible for riders to overcome certain obstacles more efficiently.
A mountain bike would often allow you to clear certain obstacles and ensure that you can easily maneuver the bike through various terrains.
Differences Between The Fat Tire Bike And Mountain Bike
Now that you understand why you would need either of these bikes, we should also look at some of the key differences that these bikes bring to the table.
We must show you how they differ from one another, which should make it that much easier for someone to choose which of these bikes would serve them the best:
The most pronounced difference between these bikes often stems from the tires. The word “fat tire bike” would suggest that the tires are much larger than traditional bikes. A fat tire bike often features tires that range from 3.8 to 5.2 inches in width and would make the tires on the bike look a bit bulkier.
On the other hand, the mountain bike features standard tires. These tires range from 1.9 to 2.6 inches, meaning even the largest mountain bike tire is still thinner than the smallest tire on a fat bike.
2- Rim Design
As you might expect, the tires on the fat tire bike mean that they need much wider rims to accommodate these tires. For most fat tire bikes, the rim size would range from 55mm to 65mm. These rims would offer additional durability and ensure that you have all the durability you could need.
On the other hand, mountain bike rims are slightly slimmer and are about 30mm in width. The width can be more or less depending on the width of the tire, but they do not come anywhere near the width you would find on many fat tire bikes.
Once again, we have to look at the size of the tires, which dictate the width of the hubs on these bikes. The fat tire bike needs more clearance, which prevents the tires from rubbing. This means that the chainstays and fork arms would be a bit wider to accommodate these abnormally large tires on your bike.
To give you an idea, the hubs on your fat tire bike would measure between 170 and 190mm in total width. On the other hand, we have the mountain bike, and the hubs are more common at around 142mm in total size. Keep in mind that this could vary depending on the specifics of certain mountain bike designs.
4- Tire Pressure
You might not think that tire pressure would have such a dramatic effect. However, the tire pressure on fat tire bikes tends to be much lower than those on mountain bikes. From my experience, I have noticed that a fat tire bike prefers tire pressures in the range of 5-14 PSI to work at an optimal range and keep the bike elevated correctly.
Alternatively, mountain bike needs higher pressures for their tires. The mountain bike tires would be around 22-25 PSI in most cases, which helps elevate the bike and provides additional durability.
Remember that the tire pressures will not affect your bike’s resiliency to overcome some challenges like resisting punctures.
5- Frame Design
Another feature that we often see on fat tire bikes has to do with the frame design. The frames on these bikes tend to be much wider than those on mountain bikes. If you have all the other features in order, you don’t need to worry that much about the extra width of the frame, but it helps with durability.
Mountain bikes do not need as much durability or such a wide frame to keep the bike going. You will find that a mountain bike is much more suited for turning and speed riding than the heavier weight of the fat tire bike would allow.
One feature that people often forget about is the weight of these bikes; the fat tire bikes are much larger than their mountain bike counterparts.
Due to the wider components and added sizing features, the fat tire bike would often be far heavier than the mountain bike.
Those looking for a lightweight bike might not want to use the fat tire bike and find that it could potentially slow them down. The fat tire bike can also make it harder to maneuver while sapping more energy from the rider because they need to pedal harder to generate the same speeds.
6- Handlebars And Seating
One of the similarities between the fat tire bike and the mountain bike stems from the handlebars and seating designs.
These designs are very similar because if we neglect the additional sizing of the bike, they look similar. Handlebars and seating issues are never a problem, and this can be easily adjusted for each rider.
Which Bike Should You Buy?
One of the common questions that many people might have stems from which of these they should buy, and it would ultimately come down to what you are doing with the bike.
Both these bikes would offer value for their respective owners, but here is where we suggest you use each.
- Off-Road: If you are riding plenty of off-road trails, you can choose either one of these bikes to help you. However, those who need more speed to navigate through obstacles might need a mountain bike.
- Downhill: Maneuverability is one of the main features you need when riding your bike downhill. While the fat tire bike offers durability, the traditional mountain bike would make navigation easier.
- Climbing: Climbing requires persistence and consistent effort. One of the last things you would want to do is struggle with weight issues. The traditional mountain bike tends to be the better option for climbing.
- Flat Riding: If you are doing trail riding and want something consistent but don’t care about speed, we suggest considering the fat tire bike. It should be comfortable and easy to ride over these obstacles.
- Urban Environments: If your main goal for purchasing a bike is to have fun and cruise around town, the commuter bike is the best option. However, you can choose either one of these bikes, and they should provide you with the value you need.
Essentially, your choice of bike would come down to your purpose for the bike and what you will do with it. The traditional mountain bike is often the best option if you want something versatile that can overcome most challenges.
What to read next:
- Hybrid Bike Vs. Mountain Bike: Differences And Which One Is Better?
- Bike Cassette Vs. Freewheel: How do they differ, and which one is better?
- Mountain Bike Brakes Explained (Disc Brakes vs. V-brakes vs. Caliper Brakes)
The mountain bike and fat tire bikes are very similar, and both of them have great features that you can use. However, the mountain bike is more popular and offers slightly more uses for us.
We would love to read your comments and find out which of these bikes you prefer and why.