Fat Bikes in the Bush – Your ultimate guide

Racing a Scott Fat Bike on the First Turkey MTB trails, Rockhampton 2018.
Fattie finds air at an XC race in Rockhampton 2018. Photo by kind permission Steve Roduner

If fat bikes aren’t something that normally hit your radar, chances are the mere mention of them conjures images of a burly American lumberjack-type dude belting through the snow with a can of craft beer in his bottle cage.

Here in Australia’s north, we don’t get a lot of snow. Well, except back in 1946, when according to my late mother, half an inch fell at Eidsvold.

In our part of the world, fat bikes are mainly seen as novelty bikes for the beach, but increasingly you’ll spot one on your local trails. Why?

Why would anyone choose a fat bike for XC when no Australian company actively markets them, let alone for that purpose? Indeed, you’ll rarely see a fattie on the floor of your local bike shop.

The reason is simple. It happens organically. You’ll ride with a group and someone will have a fat bike. They’re keeping up with the pack on climbs and nailing it on the descents, the sound of those big tyres rumbling.

You hear them laughing. A lot. That’s because fatties are fun. And the child inside you stirs. You want one. That’s how it happened for me.

So, the purpose of this article is to unveil the mystery of fat bikes, to explain them for those of us who live here in the sometimes-drenched but usually hot and dusty climes of Central Queensland.

I’ll discuss the pros and cons of riding a fat bike for XC, and if you already own one, I’ll provide some tips and tweaks to make your rig perform well on any terrain.


Fresh in my memory was how a couple of Gladstone guys on fat bikes blitzed our mainstream rigs at the 3 hour XC race that year.

I have a big stable of bikes but none turn more heads on the trails than the fat bike. Kids and rookies love it on sight. Weight weenies, not so much.

At XC races, there are always a few ‘pros’ having a good laugh as the fattie rocks up on the start line resplendent with chunky enduro tyres. Responses range from friendly jibes to snarls to stay out of the way.

It doesn’t phase me. Peer pressure and logic would suggest I race my carbon 29er but I rarely do. I love my fattie and I know that anyone who hates it on sight is making a judgement without having actually ridden one.

I was guilty of that myself once. I only bought the bike on impulse when the bike shop knocked a few hundred dollars off. It just looked so ridiculously different. A bit like me. I felt sorry for it. I had to give it a home.

Also fresh in my memory was how a couple of Gladstone guys on fat bikes – you know who you are – blitzed our mainstream rigs at the 3 hour XC race earlier that year. I wanted to get my head around the fat bike concept so I bit the bullet and dropped two grand on the counter. I’ve never looked back.

My weapon of choice is a heavily modified alloy 2016 Scott ‘Big Jon’ – you can’t get a more lumberjack name than that.

Pre-mods, the bike weighed 14.9 kg but after, it tipped the scales at 16.9 kg. At that weight and with huge 4.8 inch wide tyres, it should be a tortoise on the climb, but that isn’t the reality at all.

Modified Scott Big Jon fat bike
Modded 2016 Scott Big Jon: 11-50 Sunrace MX80, XT long cage, Manitou fork, Brand X dropper, Maxxis tyres.

Why Fat Bikes work

Whether climbing, descending, or cornering, fat bikes seem to defy logic but there is a bit of science – and psychology – involved.


There’s a popular climb called Finley’s that I ride a lot at the First Turkey MTB Reserve in Rockhampton.

It’s a pretty typical XC green trail – 2.3 kms long with a 4 degree gradient and lots of switchbacks. The terrain is dry hard-pack with loose gravel on the corners and there are plenty of rock rollovers to negotiate.

It’s a great climb on my carbon Giant XTC hardtail. That bike is a bit over 10 kg and has skinny tyres so I can take the best line between rocks. Oddly though, my monolithic fattie loves the ascent as well. Only 20 seconds separate the two bikes on that climb.

Let’s dissect that revelation a bit.

First, the tyres. A 26 x 4.8 tyre is roughly the same diameter as a 29 x 2.2, so in effect you’re riding a fat 29er. You have all the rolling advantages of a 29 inch tyre.

True, those advantages are partly negated by the heavier tyre weight, but in turn, you gain an extra advantage from not having to be so fussy about choosing the best line.

Where you might lose a few seconds due to the weight variance, you make up for it by taking straighter lines. Throw a few roots and rollovers into the equation and the fat bike is actually faster. There’s no need to slow down or panic about a potential OTB – you just plough through.

Fatties also like uphill switchbacks. On tight corners, the flick turn becomes second nature. At the crest of the switchback where you’d normally slow, you pump the front while still under speed. The tyre’s volume lifts the front off the ground and you flick the bike around the turn. With a bit of practice, this becomes an automatic process that saves you time and energy getting back up to speed.

Rock rollovers are another place where bouncing the front helps you clear obstacles. Yes, you can do that on a normal bike too, but on a fattie you bounce bigger – often clearing a series of obstacles – and the landing is more forgiving.

Finally, the fat bike maintains its momentum quite well. On the stretches of trail where the grade is only 1 or 2 degrees, the bike’s weight is a plus, helping to carry it along with surprisingly little effort.



And here’s where the psychology kicks in. With that much grip and gravity at your disposal, you become heroic.

For XC races, the fattie has made my hardtail obsolete. After lagging a touch on the previously mentioned climb, the fattie destroys the hardtail’s times – and we’re talking minutes, not seconds – on the rocky ridge traverses and gnarly forest descents that inevitably follow.

While a fat bike’s weight and bulk can be a disadvantage on the climb, that same weight and bulk makes it descend like a rocket. Once these rigs start rolling, they really start rolling. At least half of my fastest descents on Strava have been on the fattie. On blue enduro descents, it even matches – and sometimes beats – my duallie Scott Genius.

The wonders of gravity aside, the other advantage on descents is cornering. The Maxxis Minion FBF/FBR tyres on my fattie are based on the fabulous DHF/DHR enduro tyres but twice the width. If you’ve every ridden on a DHR, imagine that traction.

Add to that, you’re only running 10 psi. No matter how sharp the turn or how loose the surface, I have never had the front tyre threaten to slip out from under me.

And here’s where the psychology kicks in. With that much grip and gravity at your disposal, you become heroic – and I’m usually a coward on enduro trails.

Mates make fun of me because I’m fast up hills and slow going down, but on the fattie I’ll descend at speeds I wouldn’t dare try on my hardtail. I can’t overstate the amount of confidence these bikes instil in a rider.

The saying goes that XC races are won on the climbs, not the descents. The fattie laughs at that theory. There is nothing more soul-destroying to those scoffing weight weenies than to hear that big mongrel thing hammering down the hill behind them, shredding the precious seconds they gained on the climb. When they have to pull over to let you past, you know it’s game over. There’s no coming back from that.

HOWEVER (in bold capital letters for effect), I’m not remotely suggesting that you should ride fat bikes on black enduro trails. No matter how much you tweak your fattie, it’s not going to cope with massive impacts any more than an XC bike would.

Fat bikes are limited by fork travel, which on the Mastodon Pro is 120 mm, and I believe that’s the longest travel fat bike fork around. Most are 80 to 100 mm travel. Also, on a big drop, the rounded tyre sidewalls will be prone to pinch flats if you’re running tubes, or burping out all their sealant if you’re set up tubeless.

Suspension, Steering & Tyre Pressure

Without a suspension fork, it’s virtually impossible to find a balance between steering and suspension.

I’ve clustered these three subjects together because they are inter-related. You can’t get one aspect right without influencing another.

As with standard mountain bikes, fat bikes come in a variety of suspension setups – fully-rigid like the Specialized Fatboy, hardtail like the Cannondale Fat CAAD 1, or dual suspension like the Framed Montana.

Obviously, fully-rigid bikes will be the least expensive. They’re targeted at the snow and sand market, which is fine. The frame however is usually the same one used on a particular brand’s higher-end bikes as well. The Canyon Dude range is a good example of this and it’s a practice that is typical of mountain bikes and road bikes as well.

You might decide to buy a top end bike ready to hit the trails and that’s fine. I chose the fully-rigid option because I wanted a good platform with decent level components that I could upgrade later if I wanted to.

Regardless of which way you go, one simple reality is true. A rigid fork is fine for sand and the occasional fire trail, but if you want the bike to steer exactly where you point it, e.g. on single track, you will need a suspension fork.

Why? Because fat bike tyres run at low pressure. Depending on the terrain, you will usually run between 4 to 12 psi in the front, and 6 to 15 psi in the rear.

If you try to run your front tyre too high, your steering will bounce. If you try to run it too low, your tyre will squish around corners and can even roll off the rim.

Without a suspension fork, it’s virtually impossible to find a balance between steering and suspension. I found this out the hard way during a race.

The Fork is Everything

Fat bike at Mackay Mountain Marathon 2017
The fattie hits the creek at the Mackay Mountain Marathon 2017

I rode my fully-rigid Scott for about a month then decided to use it in the Mackay Mountain Marathon. It was stock standard; the only mod was a dropper post. I ran 5 psi in the front and 8 psi in the back. For the most part – on climbs and straight fire roads, it performed admirably.

However, when it came to mud or downhill descents, its performance swung from riding a space hopper to steering a sponge. And downhill on bitumen with 5 psi? It was so terrifying I got off and walked. I actually walked down a paved hill!

Somehow, I still finished 86th out of 120 riders and that surprised me. It proved that the fat bike had potential but that it needed work. I realised that low tyre pressure had caused the steering and handling problems. I needed more air in the front and I could only achieve that with a suspension fork.

Fork choices were few at the time – and still are. The 32 mm stanchion RockShox Bluto seemed to have the market cornered but the internet was filled with terrible reviews. On top of that I really wanted 34 mm stanchions. I’ve bent my fair share of 32s.

I eventually stumbled onto an obscure review for the just-released 34 mm stanchion Manitou Mastodon. Manitou isn’t a brand you hear of much nowadays but I remember it well from about 20 years ago. The Manitou forks on my old Haro hardtail were awesome, so based on sentiment alone, I purchased their latest offering.

In the intervening year or two, the Manitou Mastodon Pro has gone on to become regarded as the best fat bike fork on the market, so that worked out well 🙂

I fitted my new fork, hopeful that it would improve my slag of a bike to a reasonable extent, but I never imagined just how huge the difference would be.

That single modification changed the bike from wimp to wicked. I could now ride super-aggressive and within a single day I destroyed both Schwalbe tyres. I switched to Maxxis and that second mod turned her into a war-horse. I felt immortal.

On trail or sand, I now run 10 psi front and back. Just watch the back tyre pressure if you’re doing a lot of jumps on hard-pack or riding down stairs – if it’s too high, the rear can bounce up and threaten to flip you. On lumpy descents, always ride out of the seat on a fattie and keep your weight back – These things like to get airborne (which is awesome fun).

If I’m riding a lot of bitumen, I’ll run 15 rear with 12 in the front, but 10 and 10 is ample.

Tyre Size

4.0 or 4.8 – is there really that big a difference? Yes.

When you increase or decrease the width of a bike tyre, the overall diameter also changes. This is because bike tyre manufacturers still use the circa-1950s cross-ply car tyre standard, which dictates that the sidewall height is (theoretically) 100% of the width. Therefore, a 4.8″ wide tyre will be 1.6″ taller than a 4.0″ tyre.

As a general guide, a 26 x 4.0 tyre is about the same diameter as a standard 27.5 x 2.2 XC tyre, while a 26 x 4.8 is roughly the same as a 29 x 2.2.

It follows that you can make similar comparisons about the merits of each in regard to rolling over objects, cornering, and acceleration, as you can when comparing 27.5 vs 29 tyres on conventional mountain bikes. The only difference is that in the case of fat bikes, the rim size remains the same.

Also, the higher sidewall of the 4.8″ tyre will mean more ‘sponginess’ in corners but this can be overcome by experimenting with tyre pressures.

Finally, the 4.8″ will be heavier than the 4.0″, which on paper should make climbing more of a chore. My personal experience however, is that the heavier weight of the 4.8″ is offset by rolling over obstacles easier due to the greater rolling circumference.

Are 3.5″ tyres worth a mention? No. You’re half way between a plus bike and a fat bike and a 3.5″ won’t do either job well. Commit to one or the other, and hey, it’s a great excuse to own two bikes 🙂

Some fat bikes run 27.5 rims. The sidewall profile (I believe) is 80% instead of 100% (based on the newer radial car tyre standard) but everything else is the same as 26ers.

Fat bike heaven, Curtis Island 2019
50 kilometres of gravel, dust, rocks, and sand. Fat bike heaven ~ Curtis Island 2019

Tubeless or Tubes

I write this as a tubeless convert. I like tubeless on all my bikes, even my road bikes, because it means a lot less punctures. A tiny thorn hole goes unnoticed while the sealant does its magic as opposed to changing a tube on the side of the trail.

That said, I always carry a tube. Sealant has a habit of drying out (yes, including the Finish Line brand that claims otherwise), and a tube is just a bit of backup to save me a long walk home.

This is especially true for fat bikes. If you’ve ever done a tubeless conversion on a fat bike, you know it’s a MASSIVELY HUGE job. You learn a few tricks on the first one, and with the right tools in your nice clean workshop – and a couple of glasses of scotch – the second one isn’t so bad.

On the side of the trail though, when a half inch root has ripped through the tread, unseating your bead, and all your magic goo is laying wasted in the dirt, you’ll be glad you carried a spare tube.

Even if you plug the hole, no amount of CO2 cartridges, let alone your mate’s dinky little bike pump are going to re-seat that big chunk of rubber.

Go tubeless but carry a tube. When you get home, rip it out, wash it off for next time, and go tubeless again.

Tyre options

The most common off-road tyres you’ll see on fat bikes in our part of the world are the lightweight Schwalbe Jumbo Jims and the tough-as-nails Maxxis Minion FBF/FBR.

I haven’t included the Maxxis Mammoth and Colossus tyres here. While they are available in Australia, they’re designed for bitumen and snow, and we’re talking XC.

Schwalbe Jumbo Jim

Schwalbe Jumbo Jim 26 x 4.8

The Schwalbe Jumbo Jim comes standard on a lot of new bikes. This is because a) fat-bikes are predominantly aimed at the US market for use on sand and snow, b) they are lightweight to suit that purpose, and c) they use less material so they’re cheaper to produce.

Here in the snow-less northern climes of Australia, they’re fine for the beach and if you take care choosing your line, they’ll hold up OK on gravel and green XC trails. Inflated to the max, they’ll even go OK on bitumen.

However, when you hit a downhill XC trail on your Jumbo-clad fat bike, you’ll be horrified. Unless your pressures are spot on, you’ll bounce like a wallaby.

On corners, the baggy Lite Skin case flexes like marshmallow while the uninspiring open tread pattern – which would be more at home on a golf cart – will have you fearing a puncture from every rock and root on the trail. And you should fear them. Jumbo Jims puncture very easily.

Assuming you survive your first downhill charge, you’ll go home and mess around with tyre pressures and suspension in an effort to correct the terrible handling, but all your tweaks will make little difference.

There’s nothing wrong with your bike – it’s just the tyres. Take them off, dissolve them in acid, and bury their remnants in a hole so you never have to see them again.

Maxxis Minion FBF & FBR

Maxxis Minion FBR 26 x 4.80

At this point, I’ll declare my bias towards the Maxxis Minion FBF and FBR. They are basically fat versions of the excellent Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR enduro tyre, which I also totally love. With a 120 TPI case and Kevlar protection, they flex well on impact but are tough-as-nails.

Due to the stronger case and more aggressive tread design, the Maxxis is significantly heavier than the Schwalbe, but their traction and reliability are worth every gram.

They are just as much at home on sand and hard-pack, and they particularly excel over gravel, dust, rocks, and roots.

Fat bikes at Emu Park - 2016 Scott Big Jon and 2018 Canyon Dude
Riding from Emu Park to Kinka via the beach on fat bikes. The Scott is running Maxxis Minion FBR/FBF while the Canyon runs Schwalbe Jumbo Jims – but not any more 🙂

Buying a Fat Bike – good vs bad

As with standard mountain bikes, fat bikes range from the cheap recreational bike variety through to top-end carbon machines with all the bells and whistles.

With fat bikes though, the low-end stuff is particularly terrible even on smooth pathways. Here are some tell-tale signs of a cheapie. If you intend to go off-road, avoid these at all cost.

  • nut and bolt axles as opposed to quick release;
  • straight steerer tubes as opposed to tapered;
  • mechanical (cable) disk brakes instead of hydraulic;
  • ‘Shimano’ brand components without a model name e.g. Deore, SLX, XT etc;
  • skinny handle bars;
  • grip shift gear controllers;
  • triple chain-ring front derailleur (some quality bikes still run 2x setups);
  • rear cassettes with 6, 7, 8, or 9 rings.
  • coil front suspension instead of air/air and coil;
  • street tyre tread pattern;
  • cost less than $1500 AUD.

So, what constitutes a good bike then? Quality. A trail-worthy fat bike will have good components from a reputable brand.

In the section below, I’m going to focus on two bikes, the Scott and the Canyon, simply because they’re the ones I’ve had most exposure to.

However, before I do, I’ll list a few other bikes that are worthy of a mention. I’ve filtered out the rubbish by applying two prerequisites for inclusion.

  • components must be at least mid range spec, i.e. Shimano SLX or SRAM NX;
  • brakes must be hydraulic, not mechanical.

I’ve really made an effort to see which brands actually carry stock in Australia but it seems to change on a weekly basis so in most cases I’ve linked to the manufacturer’s website so you can do your own research.

Cannondale Fat Caad – three models, some with lefty fork – alloy frame – mid spec;
Norco Bigfoot – alloy frame – rigid fork – mid spec – hydraulic brakes on Bigfoot 1;
Pivot Les Fat – carbon frame – rigid or Manitou – Maxxis tyres;
Salsa Beargrease – carbon frame – rigid fork – X01 spec – 27.5 rims;
Salsa Mukluk – carbon frame – rigid fork – GX Eagle spec – Maxxis tyres;
Specialized Fatboy – three models, wouldn’t touch the low spec one;
Trek Farley – three models in both alloy and carbon, spec mid range to good.

Scott Big Jon

I love my Scott fat bike but I would definitely look around before buying a new one. While other brands have made advances in regard to weight reduction, Scott haven’t made any spec changes to the Big Jon since 2015, which remains only available in alloy.

In fact, they’ve even dropped their Bluto-equipped model, the ‘Big Ed’ from the range.

That said, the lack of ongoing R&D is probably why the Scott Big Jon remains one of the most affordable quality fat bikes on the market. Although it’s a fully-rigid bike, the alloy frame is bulletproof and the parts catalogue is very good. Shimano SLX components are standard and the Race Face crank will survive a nuclear war. It’s clearly kitted for sand and snow, however this is a quality platform to upgrade for XC.

The Big Jon costs around $2000 AUD. If you want to ride it a lot on single track, add another $850 for a Manitou Mastodon fork and $150 for a Brand X dropper post.

Canyon Dude

The Canyon Dude comes in 3 specs. Like Scott, the Canyon Dude range is fitted standard with the truly awful Jumbo Jim tyres by Schwalbe.

2019 Canyon Dude CF 8.0 fat bike

Canyon’s entry-level Dude CF 8.0 is a fully-rigid fat bike with 4.8″ tyres. This combination marks it as intended for sand and snow use. It features a carbon frame but the trade-off is lower spec components. Scott went the other way, with an alloy frame and higher spec components. Cost is $2650 AUD, but given the other offerings from Canyon, I wouldn’t touch this model.

2019 Canyon Dude CF 8.0 fat bike

The mid-range spec is the Dude CF 8.0 Trail . It costs $3200 AUD and comes with SRAM NX components and a RockShox Bluto fork. A friend owns this model and is happy with it – at least until the Bluto died after only a few hundred kilometres.

I really can’t overstate how terrible the RockShox Bluto is. If I bought this bike, I’d swap it out for a Manitou Mastodon which would add $850 to the cost.

2019 Canyon Dude CF 9.0 fat bike

With all the above in mind, if I were going to buy a Canyon Dude, I’d definitely go the extra dollars and purchase the premium Dude CF 9.0 Trail for $4350.

The top-of-the-line Manitou Mastodon Pro comes standard. You’ll also get a component upgrade to SRAM GX.


Righto, that’s it. Yet again, a short article has blown out to an epic tale.

I hope that you found something of value in the above read. Feel free to leave any comments you might have.

Andrew Thompson
Cycle CQ

Andrew Thompson, Cycle CQ

40 responses to “Fat Bikes in the Bush – Your ultimate guide”

  1. Hi Andrew
    Loved the article, we are around 6 Fat bike riders in Vic enjoying our bikes all over the country. It is a great alternative for real off road exploration. Just been to the Flinders Rangers, Broken Hill, Sturt NP, White Cliffs and the Daring river. I have been testing a Borialis Crestone carbon fiber and what a delight. The plan is to become a representative for Borialis Fat bikes USA in Australia. The Apollo Fat bikes are also a great alternative if price is important, I had a up specked one for a few years with carbon wheels, suspension fork and SRAM xx1 and it was a ripper.

    • Hi Erik. I’m glad you liked the article. That’s great news that you’re trying to import a line of fat bikes, especially higher end stuff. Good luck with it mate.

  2. I have a modified Merida E160 with 27.5 x3.0 front and 4.8 or 4.0 x26 rear tyre with a Rohloff hub and twin 500wh batteries for West Coast Tasmania beach exploring.Also works brilliantly on full on Mtb tracks at Derby . I am trying to find 27.5 x 3.5 tyres to fit our two 2018 Specialized Levo’s without swing arm mods. Found some 3.25 Duro Crux and Maxxis 3.8 but not sure if they will fit into 3.6in wide swinging arm. Do you know exact width of maxxis 3.8 .Regards E=Mtb²

  3. Good article. I’ve rescued a tip shop Reid Boss and ebike’d it into a monster. It’s solid to ride and great fun. But where do people buy parts for fat bikes? I need tuff liners, tubes, a new tyre (rear one is slick now). Is it ebay for everyone?

  4. Hello Andrew,
    So here’s the short of my situation, I have a German wife who pinches the pennies. I’m allowed to save up for a fat bike. Never ridden anything except my 26inch cube analog bought from bike point in Dresden Germany and is now 11 plus years old complete with v brakes lol.
    I’m hooked on the surly Wednesday and ice cream truck. I’m 47 years old and probably going to be very tame when riding. I love hill climbs and the idea of bike packing and camping. My wife paled at the mention of how much we pay for a surly bike here in Australia. And there seems to be availability issues here in Australia with, well…..everything. So considering Norco Bigfoot or Trek Farley. I like a relaxed geometry, more weight over rear than front. I’m more single track oriented than anything else and more than likely you’d find me just cruising along until my next campsite, family in tow. Plain vanilla I am, but prone to outbursts of childish enthusiasm until a body part brings me back to reality. Please help me by pointing me in the right direction for what’s available here in Brisbane Queensland Australia. It’s very disheartening to see all the candy available overseas but can’t afford it here even it’s available. My budget would be pushing the married bliss if it went beyond $2500. But I’ll take the risk if it’s the best option at a little more.
    I appreciate you time.
    Thankyou Andrew
    Looking foreword to hearing from you.

    • Hi Clay. If you can get your hands on a new Norco Bigfoot or Trek Farley at a reasonable price, I’m certain you’d be happy with either. You’re right, there isn’t much about of anything at present, but a few are starting to pop up second hand on Facebook and Gumtree so maybe the drought is about to end. I’m afraid I can’t provide any more positivity to your situation. Good luck with your search, A

  5. Hey Andrew..

    I’m looking for a specialized fatboy in Perth Australia.. donyou know if they sell them anywhere??? I can’t seem to find any fat bikes at all in Perth!


  6. Hi Andrew! Great post. Really informative.

    I love fat biking and off-road riding, but I don’t do any racing, only against myself. My fat bike is pretty much everything you said to avoid, but none of that has been a problem so far and doesn’t stop me from riding hundreds of kilometres on bikepacking adventures. It doesn’t stop me from riding in places that most people tell me that I can’t. I might get a new bike eventually, but at the moment I can’t really justify spending several thousand dollars on stuff that doesn’t really seem to matter that much, well, to me anyway. Maybe other people have a different view of what’s important, I don’t know. I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s really not necessary to spend a hunk of money on a fat bike and that having a cheap bike is not in anyway a barrier that needs to be overcome before you can be a “proper” off-roader. Lots of people think that you need the right gear to get outdoors and get active, but it’s more about having the right attitude.

    • Hi Jennifer, thanks for a refreshingly different take on it. And of course you’re right too. The article is more aimed at using a fat bike for XC competition which might make some of what I said seem snobbish, however XC racing is a particular discipline that does require quality components and I’d hate to see anyone get hurt due to me providing lesser advice. Regarding fat bikes in general though, the main thing is that the bike suits your needs, and the measure of that is whether you’re constantly fixing it or not. In your case, your bike is clearly filling that need. Thanks for your comments and enjoy your bikepacking adventures. Andrew

  7. Great article, thanks for posting it. Question regarding the Canyon CF 9 with suspension fork AND BEACH RIDING. Do you find the suspension fork leads to a loss of power/momentum on sand vs a rigid fork?

    looking to buy a fat bike, but just not sure whether to go rigid fork or not


    • Hi Tony. You won’t find any power loss etc using a suspension fork. With the Manitou, you can simply lock it out if you find you have any excessive bobbing, but I’ve never worried about locking out unless I’m on bitumen.

  8. G’day Andrew, I’m new to all this, looking to purchase a Fat Bike to take away when I go camping so main use with be dirt tracks and trails. I’m 183cm and 140kg so needs something to support my weight which hopefully will come down with more biking… I read an article suggesting the Mongoose “Dolomite” and “Malus” were well suited to heavier individuals, but these seem sold out wherever I look. I’ve also looked at Salted Bikes and sent them an enquiry, however they only have smaller frames so not suited. Hoping you might be able assist with a recommendation please?

    • Hi Mark, maybe the Norco Bigfoot? I’ve got a few larger size mates who have bought the Norco in recent months as there isn’t much else around, and they’re happy with it. There’s a shortage of bikes of any type at present (since Covid started) so unfortunately your choices will be limited until things get back to normal. Also try the Fat Bikes Downunder group on Facebook as the members there post some second-hand ones regularly.

  9. Thank you so much Andrew.
    I followed your advice and bought a Canyon Dude CF 9.0 trail, 3 weeks ago.
    It was a great choice. I will replace sooner or later the Jumbo Jim tyres (probably at the first puncture).
    Surprisingly the CF 9.0 trail disappeared from the Canyon website last week. Presently only the Dude CF 8.0 Trail is available. It’s worrying because recently many brands discontinued their fatbikes models.

    • Hi Luca. Yes that is interesting. Canyon had their annual ‘old stock’ sale last month and the full fat bike range was included. It might just be that they are updating the models or perhaps your suspicions are right and they may be discontinuing. I hope not. The CF 9.0 is arguably the best off-the-shelf fat bike on the market.

  10. Hi Trevor. I’m not sure what e-bike fatties are available at present but if you find one that has sand tyres fitted standard, that would be a good indicator it will be ok for the beach. Decent e-bikes will come out with a Bosch, Shimano, or other name brand battery. That would be the other thing to look for.

      • Hi Trevor, the Progear/Bafang is reasonably low end but for the purpose you mentioned, it should suit your needs OK. Shimano Alivio gears are cheapish but never fail. Tektro make an average hydraulic brake and these ones are cable, so no real opinion there. Your other choice is to buy a top-end bike and maybe not use it as much as you thought which is probably a dumber thing to do. Facebook Marketplace is full of never-ridden high end bikes and you won’t even get half your money back. My suggestion is if the Bafang gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, bite the bullet and go for it. $2500 for an e-bike, even a low end one is pretty good money. Bafang do make solid frames so you shouldn’t have any problem with overall quality.

  11. Would you recommend an available brand electric fat tyre bike for NQ? I’d like to get one to ride to/from and on the beach with the dogs.
    On one hand entry level is tempting but if I enjoy it as much as I suspect I will, I don’t want to have to upgrade too quickly.

  12. Hey ANDREW, I’m really consentient with your words. Very simple and steady but full of information. I look forward to seeing more articles from you. Keep this up.

  13. Excellent article. I want a Trek Farley Frame and fork ,but Trek Australian dont have em. So Will look at Canyon and others.
    Have you tried 29″ 2.2 wheel set ? (would be custom build)
    I could see having 2 wheelsets (26x 4.0+ and 29″x 2.2 ) as a great feature .
    A fat bike for hardcore and a 29″ for gravel and firetrail rides?
    ( I can only afford 1 decent bike at the moment)

    • Thanks Brendan, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Re the Canyon, I think that’s the way I’d go if I were buying a new fat bike at present. Re the 29er idea, it would probably feel a bit awkward on that narrow a tyre with so much mass over it. I’d probably shop around for a cheap but decent second hand 29er XC bike if you want that option as well. Might be around the same price as a custom wheel set.

      • Thanks for the great article. I have been riding a norco sasquatch for a number of years. great ride and like you say confidence inspiring. When I miss a turn on single track it doesn’t matter as the bike is able to ride its own path back to the track. I have also been using my fatbike more recently on rail trails and overnight bike packing.

  14. G’ day Andrew
    Really enjoyed the article mate – very well written with insightful content and a sprinkle of humour. I’ve been riding my fattie (Specialized Fat Boy Carbon Comp) for three years and still grin stupidly every pedal stroke. It’s the fun factor that never fades with fat bikes – and they’re very forgiving of my appalling line selection.

    • Thanks Simon and great to hear from you. Spot on about the fun factor. I see you’re tied up with the Gibb Challenge. I watched a video of it on YouTube and thought hmmmm … one year I’ve gotta do that 🙂

  15. Hi ANDREW, thanks for a comprehensive article.

    I am interested in the Norco and on mostly sand use. I am therefore aiming at the 4.8 width tyre. How do these bikes go in soft sand?

    How hard will it be to pedal for more than 10 mins??

    Thanks Geoff

    • Hi Geoff, glad you enjoyed the article. The Norco should do the job you’re hoping for quite well, and if you’re in soft sand, yes definitely go the 4.8 tyre for floatation. Re pedalling, if the going gets really boggy in soft, just slip it back to the lowest granny gear and you should be fine. If you find that isn’t enough, you can always upgrade to a smaller cog on front or bigger low cog on the rear. Regs, Andrew

  16. Hey Andrew, thanks for a great article, it was very helpful. I am 198cm and finding it very difficult to find a fat bike suitable for me available in Perth. What are your thoughts on the Kona Wo? I noticed it’s not on your list.

    • Hi Jack, thanks for your words and for making contact. I’ve done a bit of research on the 2020 Kona Wo as you probably have as well. The standout point would be its frame which looks like a nice sturdy and well laid out unit. The downside is its componentry, which of course could be upgraded if you chose to. Kona has no doubt opted for a lower-than-usual spec to match a certain price point and we’re seeing a lot of this in Australia with all types of bikes at present due to the low AU dollar vs the US. The Sram SX sits below the NX so it’s getting pretty low end in that department. Same for the Sun Ringle rims and Vee tyres. Again, all upgradeable but you need to factor those costs into the price. I’m not sure how much the Kona Wo is selling for but I would compare it as slightly lower than the base model Canyon Dude which comes in a carbon frame. You probably won’t find anything on the floor of your local bike shops, so either would be an import. I hope this helps a bit. Good luck with your search 🙂

      • Annoying that Canyon don’t make the Dude in anything bigger than a large or it would have been a great option. I will keep searching but looks like I am going to have to stick with the 29er for a while!

  17. Been looking to buy a Big Jon SCOTT in Australia and it seems SCOTT no longer import them here. But I have not given up as yet. Excellent article.

    • Thanks Scott, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Re availability, yes and not just Scott bikes either. Constantly amazes me the bike stuff that isn’t stocked in Australia. Definitely recommend the Canyon as an alternative.

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