Why ride a FatBike? In one word: Flotation. In many more words…
Winter bike riding has become just a little more mainstream in the last few years. To be very simplistic there are two riding surfaces we encounter most in the winter: Slippery pavement and hardpack, and fluffy snow. In both cases a much wider tire tread ridden at lower pressure helps keep the bike upright.
Riding over slick stuff with a wide tread and low pressure allows for more contact area between the tire and the riding surface, and the greater the contact area the less chance of slipping out, everything else remaining equal (at least in these conditions – an argument could be made that in some cases greater surface area could lead to more slippage).
Riding on lighter snow requires a wider tread in order to ‘float’ over the surface instead of sinking into it. No, FatBike tires won’t allow you to magically levitate above the flakes but they will allow you to pack down a smooth and more efficient path instead of sinking endlessly into the snow until you simply can’t carry any momentum forward.
Of course it didn’t take long for intrepid bikers to discover that flotation is also an asset when riding over sand, or even rougher technical summer terrain like the rocky and rooty Canadian Shield. As FatBike designs and components mature these bikes are becoming better and better options for almost any kind of riding, winter or summer, where more flotation or traction is desired. Whatever the application though it always comes back to the tires.
That’s it, in essence. Equipping bikes with really fat tires is more easily said than done, but at the end of the day it’s all about wider, low pressure rubber.