Which fat bike is best for me?
February 20, 2018
What is a fat bike?
A fat bike is a mountain bike that has tires at least 3.75" wide with rims at least 2.6" wide that excel in loose soft conditions like snow, sand, or mud. They are also the bike of choice for many who go on bike expeditions or bikepacking trips because there is some terrain that you can only ride on a fat bike. Originally designed and built for riding in harsh Alaskan winters they've grown in capability to ride in so many different conditions. Fat bikes go by a number of different names: fat bikes, fat tire bikes, and even fat tire mountain bikes.
Fatback Bikes has pushed the limits of what a fat tire mountain bike can do and where it can ride with our unmatched versatility. To us versatile means accepting 26", 27.5" and 29" tires so you can ride your fat bike all year. It also means offering a ton of mounts so that you can carry the gear you need for your next trek.
We also think that this versatility shouldn't come at a huge cost: we think fat bikes should steer and handle like your favorite mountain bike and not like a cargo bike and after you ride a Fatback you'll be convinced too. Find a Fatback Dealer.
How to Choose the Right Fat Bike
Picking a fat bike gets to be a lot easier if you start with how you ride, where you ride, and how you want your fat bike to handle.
If you want a bike that excels on snow, like many fat bike racers, think about the Corvus. At 26 pounds it is really light and super stable.
If you want a light fat bike, that is super fast in the dirt and will also do well in the snow think about the Skookum. This bike will make you cackle all day as you rip through berms and whatever else you find on your favorite singletrack.
Want to have your cake and eat it too? Go with the Rhino. It can be set up as a snow specialist and when set up with a suspension fork for summer you'll love how it gobbles up the trail.
Here is a quick description of each fat bike model for ride characteristics and “best uses”, then more specifics for things you may be looking for.
The best fat bike for snow, sand, anything loose or slow and technical loaded or unloaded.
The Corvus has longer chain stays, a slightly longer top tube, and a slightly steeper head tube angle. These in combination make the bike very balanced in softer conditions or when loaded. It creates a better weight distribution so floatation is even from front to rear, allowing the bike to plane on the surface easier. The steeper head tube angle keeps it agile and responsive, but a little less stable at higher speeds (compared to the others).
This is the best fat bike for any kind of fat bike ultra distance race. It is perfectly balanced for riding with winter boots on flat pedals with all the gear you'd need to complete a race like the Iditarod Trail Invitational.
Best use: riding/racing in the snow, bike packing, exploring off the beaten path.
The feeling I get when I ride this bike: I can go anywhere, and I want to keep going there.
Built with a suspension fork: If you changed from the rigid fork on the Corvus to 100mm travel suspension, it would be more similar to the Rhino description.
Awards + Reviews: This bike was awarded a fat bike of the year 2018 from Outside in 2018, and was the first bike in the list of Bicycling Magazine's List of the 20 Best Fatbikes of 2018. You can also check out the recent review from Singletracks, When Fat is Fast.
Best on the trail, great in any condition.
Agile, playful and stable at any speed. The Skookum has short chain stays and a slacker head tube angle. These two make it much easier to get the front end off the ground and makes the bike more playful and agile, as well as extremely stable at high speeds. The short chain stays put more weight on the rear of the bike, so in softer snow, the rear tends to sink a little more than the Corvus. Sand and other loose conditions are denser, so they are not an issue. Crazy easy to move through tight corners, yet so capable over smothering rocks and roots. Fun in the technical terrain, with the janky, tight and rocky corners.
Your hips will love the potential to run narrower (for a fat tire bike) Q factor cranks on the Skookum. Your hips and knees will be more comfortable because your feet spin closer together than on many other fat bikes. Learn more about Q Factor.
Best uses: Trail riding, groomed single track.
The feeling I get when I ride this bike: I’m a kid again on a BMX bike with an ear to ear grin. I dig that it opens up a whole range of riding that I would otherwise be incapable of doing.
The all-around fat bike. Great in the snow, sand, rocks or on the trail, rides perfectly with rigid or suspension fork.
The Rhino FLT has the same chain stay length as the Corvus, and a very similar head tube angle to the Skookum. You get the balanced flotation of the Corvus with the stability of the Skookum. We spec a 100mm fork on the Rhino, instead of a 120 on the Skookum so it's not quite as capable in the rougher terrain, but comes close. The drawback to the longer chain stays and slacker head tube angle, is it can feel a little "slower" in turning at slow speeds. But it's really not that different.
Best use: It’s a 9/10 anywhere you ride.
The feeling I get when I ride this bike: It just feels right, no matter where I’m riding.
Built with a Rigid fork: With a rigid fork on the Rhino it would be more similar to the Corvus.
What are you looking for in a fat bike?
Which Fatback Bike is better for a more aggressive rider that likes technical trails and/or likes to jump?
Skookum/Skookum FLT, Rhino FLT with suspension are your best choices as they have slacker head tubes that make it much easier to get the front end off the ground and will shred technical and singletrack trails.
Which Fatback fat bike is better for longer rides and/or just out for a cruise?
Corvus/Corvus FLT, Rhino FLT with rigid fork are fantastic for this purpose as the have longer chain stays and a really balanced weight distribution (which you will love in the snow or anything soft where you want to float on top).
What frame material is used for each of the fatback models?
What are the max tire sizes for each model?
|Fatback Bike Model||26"||27.5"||29"|
|Corvus, Corvus FLT||5"||4.6"||3"|
|Skookum, Skookum FLT||4.8"||4.25"||3"|
Which Fatback bikes come with rack and anything cage mounts?
Corvus, Corvus FLT, Rhino FLT all come with a rack and anything cage mounts which you will really dig when you need to go bikepacking, adventuring or ultra distance racing or on a longer ride where you need to carry anywhere loaded.
Which Fatback is best for extended bikepacking?
Corvus, Corvus FLT, Rhino FLT excel at longer bikepacking trips because of their more stable geometry (longer chain stays) for loaded expeditions and also their extensive mounting options (anything cage mounts on the forks as well as a plethora of water bottle cage mounts), as well as the simplicity
Which Fatback is best for shorter bikepacking trips where less gear is needed and for trips with a bigger percentage of single track?
Skookum, Skookum FLT, Rhino FLT all excel when you are more concerned with having fun on the trail than how much stuff can you carry to get to tonight's camp. The slacker head tube will give a much snappier more fun ride that will give you ear to ear grins.
What Wheel/tires fit each Fatback fat tire bike model?
Corvus/Corvus FLT - up to 26x5.05(with 80mm rim)” or 27.5x4.5”
Skookum/Skookum FLT - up to 26x5” or 27.5x4.5”
Rhino FLT - up to 26x5” or 27.5x4.0”
Which Fatback model can be built with a Rigid fork?
Rhino FLT, Corvus/Corvus FLT can both be built with a rigid fork. You'll love going rigid on longer bikepacking trips.
Which Fatback fat bike can be built with a Suspension Fork?
Skookum/Skookum FLT, Corvus/Corvus FLT, Rhino FLT can all be built with a suspension fork. We recommend the suspension setup anytime you are looking for a ride that is more capable on technical terrain or for tearing up singletrack.
* Follow the links onto each bike to see geometry, available sizes/colors, build options and more.