10 Best Fat Bikes for 2018
December 13th, 2017
December 13th, 2017
Anna is a jack-of-all-bikes, and has been riding and racing in a myriad of genres for over seven years; from World Cup level cross-country, to grass roots coaching kids on the road.
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If you're not quite sure about fat bikes just yet, then head on over to our previous Buyers' Guide, which comes with a bit more chat about pros and cons. 2018 has seen a bit of a slump on new fat bikes, with many major brands severely cutting their range, or stopping them altogether, so for for a more extensive list of brands, checkout our 2017 line-up, which may give you further ideas on potential out of season bargains. Alternatively, here's 10 of our favourites already on offer for 2018:
We had the pleasure of testing this in 2016 (see here) and found it to be pretty lively for a fat lad. Available in three models; all with aluminium frames, internal cable routing, Bluto 100mm front suspension forks and a wide range of sizes. Starting at £1,599, we think this will be a popular choice among the budget-conscious trail riders. The top spec comes in stealth black with Bluto 100mm front suspension, Magura hydraulic disc brakes, a mix of Shimano XT and Deore, and weighs in at 14.7kg, which is probably one of the best spec’d bikes on the planet for under £2k.
Trek have minimised their range this year, offering only one full-suspension fat bike in the Farley EX for £4,500 and two hardtail options; one carbon - the Farley 9.8 for £3,500 - and the aluminium Farley 5 for a respectable £1,400. The frame-sets can also be purchased individually and built to order in stores.
Salsa are hard to come by in the UK, but they do have quite the global fat bike following. Although they do have a full-suspension bike, the Bucksaw, retailing from £1,999, you're more likely to find a Beargrease in store; which is their hardtail. The carbon Beargrease retails from £1,300 for the frame only, but an aluminium version (retailing at £649 for a frame-set and rigid forks) can be built up from £1,195.
Canyon have managed to put together a carbon fat bike range starting at £1,749, with a frame weight of only 1550g, which is borderline unbelievable when most competitors are offering steel and aluminium options at this price point. The Dude range is now made up of four models; two with rigid forks and two with the Bluto suspension fork. Pricing starts with the rigid carbon Dude CF 8.0, which is an impressive 12.2kg, and ranges up to £2,699 for the top spec Dude CF 9.0 EX with Bluto and SRAM X01, which weighs similarly, at 12.5kg, but with front suspension. Some interesting design features of the Dude frames include a dual position rear dropout, so that you can play with different tyre sizes, and a removable front mech mount for clean lines on a ‘one-by’ setup.
Scott Big Jon
After dropping the two varieties of fat bikes last year, it looks like Scott have further slashed the range by offering only one fat option for 2018; the aluminium Big Jon, with rigid aluminium forks, a mix of Shimano Deore and SLX in the groupset, and a basic Synchros finishing kit. It looks to take rear racks, but there's only one bottle cage boss, so I'm guessing this is more of a fun bike than a race or adventure bike. It is a hefty 32.5lb (14.7kg) bike, but the price tag reflects the simplicity with a purse-pleasing £1,399.
Kona WO & WOZO
2018's model hasn't changed much since its revamp from a fat-tyres cruiser in 2015, but now we have a split between the WO, with rigid forks and SRAM NX 1x 11-speed, and the WOZO, with SRAM GX 1x 11-speed, plus RockShox Bluto RL Solo Air 100mm forks, at £2,299. Kona says that the WOZO also benefits from borrowing geometry from the Honzo trail bike to make it a more fun and playful riding experience.
Haibike xDuro Fatsix
For something a little speedier, Haibike are an e-bike company that are fast becoming popular in the UK after sponsoring a few events, and they haven't held back with releasing an e-fat bike either. This xDuro Fatsix 9.0 retails at £3,899 for an aluminium frame with a SRAM NX groupset, Bosch Performance CX 250W drive, capable of up to 25km/h, and Magura brakes with large 180mm rotors for added stopping power at high speeds.
Surly Ice Cream Truck
The Ice Cream Truck is the steel "trail bike", but with 4.8” tires on 100mm rims it will tackle some serious terrain. It has a stiff rear end and a suspension corrected front fork. Prices and spec for 2018 isn't confirmed at the time of this article going live, but you can expect around £2,000 for a fully built rigid bike. Also, check out the Wednesday if you need more bottle bosses and adventure in your life.
KTM Fat Flea
KTM have a long history of producing high quality off-road adventure bikes, but most of them have an engine sitting snugly inside the frame. The Fat Flea is the aluminium rigid model with SRAM GX 2x 10-speed and weighing in at 14.5kg. The Fat Rat comes with the same spec, but with Bluto 80mm front suspension, weighing in at 15.1kg. Surprisingly, the new models are almost a kilo heavier than the 2016 models, presumably from added gears, suspension lock-out lever and budget cuts on extras. It all adds up. We're not sure on pricing yet, and UK residents will need to contact a dealer for more information, but to give you an idea, the Fat Flea was £1,699 in 2016. For the e-freaks out there, there’s the Macina Freeze, which is available in 10 or 11 speed.
The Genesis Caribou comes to the fat bike table from a slightly different angle with the intention of offering the rider a more year-round riding experience that could probably ride all year, and around the world too. We like the 20 degree sweep of the handlebars and bolt-on straps on the forks, ready for dry-bags and sleeping bag to be slotted in. The external cable routing, and the TRP Spyke mechanical disc brakes should provide easier servicing in remote locations if something does go wrong, and steel is much easier to weld and repair than anything else if you get really badly stuck in the middle of a nowhere in a strange country. So what appears to be a budget rigid is actually a well considered adventure tourer. Racers and local trail riders will find lighter bikes elsewhere for £1,299.99, but it should definitely be on your list if you're planning trips rather than races.
Specialized have seemingly stopped distributing the Fatboy here in the UK, although some 2017 models are still available online, as well as the Helga, their women’s specific fat bike. Equally, Cannondale aren't advertising their fat bike in the UK either, focusing more on 650b+ bikes, though you may be able to find a 2017 Fat CAAD in a sale.
For my American friends reading this, you'll probably have even more choice than what is listed in this guide. Consider Fatback Bikes, who have been around since the dawn of fat bikes, as well as 9-Zero-7 and Wild Fire Fat Bikes. Back here in the UK, if you want something unusual, you'll need to find your nearest fat bike dealer and have a good old chin wag with them. Places like Charlie the Bikemonger and Slam69 have been backing these big bikes in the UK since they were considered a fad for beardy weirdos (I'm sure the fact that they're both beardy is a coincidence).