The 5 Best Fat Bikes of 2023

Rocky Mountain Instinct Carbon 90

Are you looking for the best fat bike for riding on the snow, sand, and everything in betwee Over the past several years, we’ve ridden over 17 of the most intriguing models on the market. This review focuses on 8 of the best models available. Our testers have spent countless hours riding these fat bikes on everything from buff snowmobile trails, rocky singletrack, and ice-coated downhills. We tested these bicycles back-to-back to gain the best understanding of the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each model. After that, we rated each bike on predetermined performance metrics including downhill performance, climbing abilities, versatility, and build kit. We present our findings in this review.

Although fat bikes aren’t just for wintertime riding, it’s likely you’ll have more fun on another style of mountain bike once the weather warms and the trails dry out. We’ve purchased and ridden the best mountain bikes, from top-rated trail bikes to the best hardtail mtbs on the market. We’re constantly busy testing various new mountain bike gear, so no matter your needs, we’ve got you covered.

Giant’s entry into the fat bike market was long overdue, but it seems they did their homework when creating the excellent Yukon 1. This bicycle is our top choice for those riders looking for a fat bike solely for riding on snow. This fully rigid model features a sleek-looking aluminum frame paired with a composite fork. The moderate geometry feels just right and is spot-on for snow riding. It’s stable enough at speed yet plenty maneuverable and reasonably capable on steeper, rougher terrain with a skilled rider. It also comes with a dropper post which boosts the fun factor and takes its performance on descents to the next level. The Yukon climbs as well as it descends, with a great body position and quality component specification and massive tires with decent rolling speed and loads of climbing traction.

We had very few complaints about the Yukon 1, but some factors are still worth mentioning. While we loved it as an on-snow fat bike, it’s not the best choice for regular trail riding. And though it’s a competent descender, it is still a rigid bike and can be a bit jarring over the rough stuff. It’s also moderately heavy, and the massive tires can feel somewhat draggy outside of the typical fat bike conditions. That said, for proper fat bike riding, the Yukon 1 really impressed us with its well-rounded performance.

Fat bikes are typically used as a way to keep riding outdoors in the snowy and icy winter months. More recently, they’ve been adopted by some riders as all-around bikes for use in all conditions and all seasons, and modern models are becoming increasingly more versatile. Most fat bikes are fully rigid, meaning they have no suspension except for the cushion of the girthy fat tires. This lack of suspension is a limiting factor in the way a bike handles rough terrain and demands a more calculated approach to technical sections of trail. Many brands make models with front or even full suspension, and not surprisingly, these bikes tend to offer a plusher ride than their rigid counterparts. With or without suspension, companies have been slowly but surely tweaking the geometry of these bikes to enhance their downhill performance and to create bikes that are more comfortable and capable on the descents.

Without a doubt, the most capable and fun bike to ride on the descents was the Trek Farley 7. As the only bike in our test with a suspension fork, it had a serious advantage over the competition. The 80mm Manitou Mastodon fork takes the edge off rough sections and helps smooth out the chatter in a way that most rigid bikes simply can’t. In addition to the suspension, the Farley 7 has a dropper seatpost that gets your saddle out of the way so you can manipulate the bike better. It also has huge tires that allow you to run very low pressures which provides extra cushion/damping and tons of traction.

The Rocky Mountain Blizzard 20 is another model that brings modern geometry trends to fat biking. This bike is the longest and slackest of all the models we tested. It doesn’t flinch or hold you back when things get steep or rough, though it does sacrifice agility as a result. It’s also quite heavy.

The build of each bike plays a role in how each model performs and how comfortable it is to ride. The Trek Farley 7 has the nicest build kit. This bike runs an 80mm Manitou Mastodon suspension fork and a 130mm dropper post. The Bontrager Gnarwahl tires offer absurd traction and are stud-able. It runs a 12-speed SRAM NX derailleur with a SRAM SX shifter. Perhaps the most sneaky impressive component is the Bontrager hubs that have 108-points of engagement. This means the freehub engages extremely quickly when you start putting down the power.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Rocky Mountain Blizzard 20 has a very budget-minded component specification. This build includes a 12-speed SRAM SX drivetrain and Shimano MT200 brakes, both of which work admirably but lack the bling factor of the higher-end competitors. Rocky Mountain saved a little additional money by spec-ing house-branded wheels with old-school quick-release hubs.

The rest of the bikes fall in between the above-mentioned models with their component specifications. The Salsa Beargrease Carbon Deore came with, not surprisingly, a Shimano Deore 1×11 speed drivetrain. Like several other models in this test, it has SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes, Salsa branded cockpit components, and 80mm rims. While the build isn’t exactly flashy, Salsa did a great job keeping the price of this full carbon model fairly reasonable.
Conclusion. There’s definitely a lot to think about when searching for the perfect fat bike. It’s important to consider where, when, and how you’re most likely to use it and then narrow down the performance characteristics that will benefit you the most. Whether on trail, sand, or snow, we hope that the information presented in this detailed comparative analysis will help you find the model that best suits your needs and budget.


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