Yes We Said "Fat", Not "Fast". It's The New Cyclocross, Probably.
This isn’t, strictly speaking, a Fatbike, but we won’t let that get in the way.
Of course you’ve heard of Fatbikes.
They’ve been relatively popular among a particular breed of cycling masochist for about a quarter of a century. Originally built in the mid-80s to facilitate the traversing of snow-covered Alaskan plains, they simultaneously happened to catch on among riders equally keen to traverse the sand-covered deserts of New-Mexico.
Their rims are ridiculously wide so they can receive a pair of outrageously huge tyres, which provide the stability a masochist needs if he wants to stay upright while cycling through the Sahara, or to the North Pole.
The thinking, quite correctly, is that more tyre equals more surface contact, which equals fewer instances of grinding to a sandy/snowy halt and tipping over. All fairly straightforward, right?
Anyway, over recent years, they have become the subject of more widespread interest. In 2005, Surly introduced their first mass produced Fatframe model, the Pugsley. And it’s begun to reach the point where you can also see them frequently getting ridden on non-snowy, non-sandy, decidedly urban terrains. Why is this?
Well, they do look kind of cool, for one thing. Sound good, too. Tooling around town with your tyres humming has been anecdotally proven to raise all-round rider spirits by an average of 14%.
And much like the resurgent popularity of cargo bikes, the Fatbike trade is benefitting enormously from e-bike technology. Fitting out your extra-wide with a BionX, Bosch, or Swiss Drive, for example, can take a lot of the hard work out of an otherwise labour intensive slog through the slop.
So if you certainly lose the high moral ground to analog Fatbikers, you at least retain the composure to fully appreciate your glorious surroundings, and a sufficiently low heart rate to hold the camera steady.
And need we even mention in all of this that it would be a clear crime against both Aesthetics and Common Sense to consider throwing a leg over one of these things if it wasn’t also equipped with one of these? Or these? Or these?
If you’re curious to learn more, here’s a great thread on the history and development of the Fatbike as we know it, replete with contributions from some of the earliest rim- and framebuilders.
And if you fancy your chances, or simply want to get an idea of the already impressive reach of this new discipline, here’s an event calendar of notable Fatbike races taking place worldwide in the near future. Mostly snow, unsurprisingly…