Buyers' Guide: The Best 20 Fat Bikes for 2017
January 4th, 2017
January 4th, 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 2016 Buyers' Guide, which comes with a bit more chat about pros and cons and will give you an idea of some out-of-season bikes that may still be on offer now that 2016 is over. Chances are, if you're here, you've probably already decided you want one, so lets save the chat and get straight to a bit of fat bike porn! Here's our pick of 21 fat bikes on offer for 2017:
1. Sarma Shaman
The USP of the Sarma Shaman is it’s featherweight. We’ve seen this in the flesh at the UK’s Fat Bike Championships and it’s a real head-turner. Check out our Photo Gallery for a closer look. The rigid fork with XX1 groupset tickles the scales at 22.8 lbs, that just over 10kgs!! We think $5,900 is pretty reasonable for SRAM XX1 and carbon rigid forks. For UK readers you’ll need to build up a frame and forks set at £1,499 or find a local dealer for the blingy model.
2. Cube Nutrail
We had the pleasure of testing this in 2016 and found it to be a lot livelier than we expected. Check out our Review for more feedback on the ride. Available in three models, all aluminium with internal cable routing, Bluto 100mm front suspension forks and a wide range of sizes, we think this will be a popular choice for the trail riders who want to go fat. The Nutrail hasn't changed much from 2016 to 2017, starting at £1,549. 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 the best spec’d bike for under £2k.
3.1. Salsa Mukluk, Beargrease & Bucksaw
Salsa, have a hardtail in the Mukluk and the Beargrease, the latter being a more endurance-oriented machine, and the Salsa Bucksaw is their full-suspension fat bike. Though the Beargrease does start the range with an aluminium frame for sub-$2k, the rest are carbon and start from $1,999, all with rigid carbon forks. The Mukluk is a self-professed "bushwhacker" aiming at all sorts of fat biking possibilities, where the Beargrease is most definitely racey. The Mukluk is also available in carbon and aluminum, 197mm rear spacing accommodates 5” tires, and a 100mm threaded bottom bracket allows a wide range of crank (q-factor) choices, but is ultimately a single-ring up front for single speed or for 1x (one front chainring) gearing options. Though both hardtails can take front suspension, it's the Mukluk that is most likely to be ready-built with forks. It is a tad more expensive, but that is presumably because of the extra features, including plenty of bottle cage bosses and rear pannier rack mounts. For all-over bounce, the Bucksaw will be your friend from $3,499. You'll need to consult a local dealer to get prices in the UK, but Charlie The Bikemonger has a good stock starting from £899 and we've seen a 2016 Beargrease Carbon with Bluto forks for £1,350.
4. Pivot Les Fat
The Pivot Les Fat is a beautifully crafted and engineered bike with technical elements and features that are really well thought out. The newly patented Swinger II dropout system, enables you to run almost any available plus or fat bike wheel size (that's 26 X 3.8, 26 X 4.8, 27.5+, 29+ and anything in between), as well as easily switch between singlespeed and geared drivetrains and even choose your chainstay length based on conditions and desired handling characteristics. The 150mm carbon fork allows you to switch between a Bluto suspension fork and a rigid setup with just one wheelset. There is a lot more to say about the Les Fat, so read more about it on the Pivot Cycles website. Price wise, the Les Fat Bike with X01 builds up for around £4,500 ($4699) and the Les Fat Frameset alone is £2,300 ($2600), so it's not the cheapest in the list, but it depends if you are willing to pay extra for the compatibility with different wheel and tyre sizes.
5. Scott Big Jon
Well, unless my eyes deceive me, it looks like Scott are no longer doing Big Ed (The Fat Ed's replacement in 2016), so Big Jon stands alone for 2017. Big Jon now comes in rigid aluminium (both frame and forks) only, and there is only one spec; a Shimano Deore and SLX mix with some 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 £1,299.
6. Specialized Fatboy
Specialized say that the Fatboy is_ "a bike for every occasion"_ available in three models starting at £1,000 for the aluminium base model, which comes with SRAM X5 2x 10-speed and a whole heap of bottle cage bosses, and creeping up to £5,500 for the S-Works carbon model with SRAM XX1. For the ladies there is also the option of the Hellga with a much lower top-tube for good stand-over clearance, especially for shorter riders. And speaking of short riders, Specialized are one of few (if not the only) brand doing a proper kids' fat bike too, the Fatboy 24 with 24" wheels at £800.
7. Singular Puffin
The Singular Puffin was launched through Kickstarter with early adopters receiving a frameset at a discounted price. The crowdfunding project was so successful that it allowed the Puffin to enter full production shortly after. Their design was based on sharp handling, a lively feel and perfect balance, but they’ve seemingly created one of the most affordable fat bikes on the market while they were at it. Selling for £595, but on sale for £400, you get a double butted 4130 cro-moly steel frame in 3 sizes with the "...world’s first 100mm eccentric bottom bracket shell". The price includes frame, fork, eccentric insert, cable guides, seat post clamp, two derailleur hangers, direct mount front derailleur adapter and all fixing bolts.
8. Genesis Caribou
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.
9. Kona WO & WOZO
The Kona WO has dropped 4lbs (2kg) in weight and looks a lot more, well, normal than the 2o14 model with swept back bars and a complex top tube design. 2017's model hasn't changed much since 2015, other than the paint job, but now we have a split between the WO (rigid) with SRAM NX 1x 11-speed and the WOZO (front suspension hardtail) with SRAM GX 1x 11-speed and RockShox Bluto RL Solo Air 100mm forks. The Wo is still the same aluminium frame, but the spec update, including tapered head tubing, bolt-through axels and more gears, is a welcome update. The WOZO isn't just an additionally spec'd upgrade with forks, it has been combined with Kona's Honzo geometry to make it a more fun for trail riding experiences, and it certainly looks more slick and playful.
10. Norco Sasquatch, Bigfoot & Ithaqua
Norco only supply a hardtail, but they now have three versions of it; the Sasquatch is the front suspended hardtail, the Bigfoot is the rigid hardtail (including the Bigfoot E as their electric fat bike) and the new Ithaqua, a carbon frame with stiff power delivery and size-specific tubing. Starting the range from around £1,900 ($2,475CAD), they’re not the cheapest, but keep your eye out for 2015 models as not much has changed other than colours and spec. As for the new carbon Ithaqua, prices start from $3,599 CAD, but they may be a bit hard to come by in the UK.
11. KTM Fat Rat and 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, pictured, which is available in 10 or 11 speed.
12. Canyon Dude CF
Canyon have managed to put together a carbon fat bike starting at £1,799, with a frame that weighs only 1550g, which is borderline amazing when most competitors are offering steel and aluminium options at a similar price point. The Dude range is made up fo five models, two with rigid forks and three with the Bluto suspension fork. Pricing ranges from £1,799 for the rigid carbon Dude CF 8.0, which is an impressive 12.2kg, to £2,699 for the top spec Dude CF 9.0 EX with Bluto and SRAM X01, which weighs 12.5kg. 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.
13. Foes Mutz
Foes Racing have gone for one option with a full suspension bike as their fat bike offering, and it looks like the Mutz to us. This year the curvy Foes-esq aluminium frame allows adjustment from 5″ to 5.5" of rear travel. It is compatible with 5" of front suspension too (120mm), making it a much harder-hitting bike than most in this Guide. Not much else has changed this year, as it remains an aggressive ride with the ability to run multiple wheelsets; fitting 26″ wheels with 4.0″ tyres (fattie style), 27.5″ x 3.0 (or 650b Plus), or 29″ x 2.35″ with tonnes of clearance. At $4,000 just for the frame and shock, it won’t be the most affordable fattie in this line-up, but it could be a saving for anyone wanting three different bikes rolled into one. Plus, the frame and shock weighs a very trail-respectable 3.74kg (8 lb. 4 oz) with hardware, in a size medium. 2017 comes in a new stealth black paint job, but we haven't received pictures yet, so follow the link and google last year's orange model.
14. Rocky Mountain Blizzard
The Blizzard has been about since the late 1980’s, primarily being a steel fun bike, but in order to live up to the legendary name in a modern format, their goal was to create a true “mountain-bike-feeling” fat bike. The reincarnation lives on in the Blizzard 10 (rigid fork, Shimano Altus, mechanical brakes and Quick Release front and rear), the Blizzard 30 (rigid fork, Deore, hydraulic brakes and bolt-through front and rear for £1,599) and the top spec Blizzard 50 with Bluto 120mm front suspension, Shimano XT 1x 11-speed, and a Rocky Mountain classic paint job (see pictured) at sub-15kg for £2,199. The Blizzard frames are hydroformed with a fat bike standard 100mm bottom bracket that can take 4.7″ tyres. There’s plumbing for a Reverb Stealth dropper post, and the gear cables are externally routed, which makes for simple on-the-trail maintenance, something you’ll be thankful for if you’re taking this into the outback. New for this year is Suzy-Q, not a ladies' bike as I first thought, but more of a racing fat bike with a lightweight frame (a carbon and an alloy option) and narrow Q-factor. Rocky Mountain claim it's more comfortable as well as racey, but there are bolt bosses all over the frame and forks, so, knowing Rocky Mountain, this is will be a proper adventure racers dream.
15. Felt Double Dee (previously El Nino)
The previous El Nino looked more like an old-school cruiser with fat road tyres, which looked like an awful lot of fun at £599 ($899), but being a relaxed road cruiser doesn't serve much of a purpose, so Felt introduced the Double Dee (or DD) instead. The DD is offered in three great specs and a recently reduced price. The DD 70, the base model with 3x 9-speed Shimano gearing and rigid forks, now comes in two colour ways too; stealth black or grey and pink. The top spec DD 10 looks great in army green, and comes with Shimano 1x 11-speed and 100mm front suspension from Rock Shox. With the DD 10 weighing a claimed 14.72kg (32.45lb) with pedals, it's about average. Prices are yet to be defined, but the DD 70 is now £1,299 where it was £899 (and can still be found for £775) for the 2016 model, which isn't much different. The DD10 2016 was good value at £1,439, but I suspect that has risen as well, which brings it in line with everyone else.
16. Ritchey Commando
Ritchey don’t make a complete fat bike, so you’ll have the pleasure of building up the Commando frame and forks (£825) with whatever you want. And being Ritchey, ‘steel is real’, so the frame is made from triple-butted Ritchey Logic II tubing. Spacing up front is a modest 135mm, so unless you’re going to upgrade the fork to a carbon or RockShox Bluto, tyre width is capped at four inches. Rear spacing is 170mm, braze on’s for bottles and rack mounts, 100mm bottom bracket, hydraulic disc brakes only, and four sizes to choose from. They haven't changed anything since 2015, so we think it’s going to be a fattie classic, but it will only a appeal to a small niche of you.
17. Turner King Khan
It looks like Turner are focusing down their range for 2017, with only three full suspension bikes and a cyclocross bike. This is a shame, as the prior King Khan was an incredible piece of kit. Being the masters of suspension bikes, Turner made the King Khan a full-bounce fattie that weighed a stunning 14.5kg (32lbs), which is as light as most of rigid rides in this guide, and keeps its weight on par with most reasonably-priced enduro bikes too. However, at $5,999 (£2,995 frame only) with difficulty sourcing it in the UK, it’s no budget fattie, and presumably that's why it's now died out. If you want a full-suss fat bike, then you can't do wrong with this if you can find one.
18. Mondraker Panzer
If you’re looking for an affordable entry point into the world of fat bikes, you could do a lot worse than consider the Mondraker Panzer. Now available in three options; the Panzer (a rigid), the Panzer R (with SRAM groupset and Bluto front suspension) and the Panzer RR (with Shimano XT groupset and Bluto). The frames are 6061 grade aluminium with internal cable routing and a tapered headset. The paint jobs are a lot more shouty this year, starting from £1,499, which makes the Panzer a pricey rigid, but the front suspended versions are good value for money. There are also a couple of kids' options now too; a 20" wheel size, a 24" and an electric option.
19. Trek Farley
Like the other big guns of cycling, Trek couldn’t miss the rise in popularity of fat bikes. Enter the Farley family. It’s probably not a bike that you will fall in love with (prove us wrong!) but it’s at an affordable price point (as the Farley 5 retails at £1,400), which hasn't risen much after the 2017 post-Brexit price rises. There are seven hardtail specs to choose from, including the Farley 24 (24" wheels with dropped top-tube) for junior fattie riders at £800. New for 2017 we'll be getting our UK hands on the new full suspension fat bikes, starting with an exceptionally 'normal' looking Farley EX 8 at £2,800 weighing in at a hefty (but reasonably considering what's hanging off of it) 15.92 kg / 35.10 lbs. The weight conscious will need to consider the carbon hardtail or the top spec Farley EX 9.8.
20. Surly Ice Cream Truck
The Surley Ice Cream Truck is the orginal, but now we have the Wednesday as well. 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. The Wednesday also boasts trail-ability, but with an instinct for exploration thanks to the front and rear rack mounts, fenders mounts, triple bottle bosses on both fork legs and the down tube, and two sets of standard mounts on the main triangle. Expect around £1,700 for an Ice Cream Truck with Shimano SLX 2x 10-speed, or order a frame through a dealer and build your own spec.
21. LaMere Cycles
These guys apparently offer the world’s lightest and most affordable carbon fat bike. They build all bikes one at a time in Minneapolis, working with each customer to create the ultimate build for their budget and riding style. Expect a custom LaMere frame with SRAM XX1 and LaMere carbon wheelset to cost you around $5,500 and weigh under 10kg (22lbs), which is cross-country race weight. Save yourself a grand on build kit with Shimano XT and you only gain a kilo in weight, which is very impressive for a sub $5k bike, regardless of it being a fat bike.
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, and also, 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 have good knowledge and a big fat bike following for advice on Facebook too.