Whether you’re a real cycling enthusiast, training every weekend for your local county’s version of the Tour de France; a mountain biking trail blaster; or just the average guy or gal who uses a bicycle as an eco-friendly commute to work – you may have only just started to notice the rise in the popularity of ‘fat bikes’. While some folks see them as a passing trend, the truth is that these are highly dynamic machines that can be used year-round and are here to stay.
What Is a Fat Bike?
A fat bike is considered a mountain or off-road bike with many applications. Compared to regular bicycles the most prominent feature is the oversized tires which can range in width from as low as 1.4” in some cases to 5” or more. Generally, the tires are more on the larger size and can be inflated at very low pressures (i.e. 5 psi) which makes them both incredibly stable on soft terrains such as snow, sand and mud.
Those who make the transition are often incredibly surprised at how easy they are to ride where mountain bikes will flail or get stuck. You’ll also find they bring the excitement back into riding which may have escaped you ever since you got your first bike. Many have appreciated the feeling of a good, stable ride with a fat bike.
The low tire pressures means that they are comfortable to ride while providing less strain on your joints and back. There is often little need for suspension, which is a requirement on regular mountain bikes, but some models will contain suspension as well. In general, fat bikes can be a little on the heavy size due to having sturdy frames, but there are lightweight models available too, such as Trek. It just depends on your preferences and budget. Regardless, even the heavier models won’t hamper your maneuverability or ability to traverse snowy peaks, sand dunes or even the ever so arduous treks to work. Fat bikes have even been used to make trips through Antarctica to the south pole, among other herculean treks.
A Brief History of Fat Bikes
The history of how fat bikes came to be is quite interesting and could be an article in and of itself (the first examples date back to the early 1900s). However, below is a brief timeline:
- In 1980 French cyclist Jean Naud used fat tires on a tricycle which he rode from Niger to Algeria, and later across the Sahara.
- In the late 1980’s Alaskan based Steve Baker started welding together two or three rims to be fitted on bikes with special frames to be used in snow conditions.
- Around the same time Ray Molina in New Mexico started using commissioned fat tires and frames for his guided tours through the soft sands and dunes of Southwest Arroyos and Mexico.
- In 1999 Alaskan based Mark Gronewald met Ray Molina at an Interbike Convention, and after riding one of his demo bikes, decided to collaborate and design several bikes with John Evingson. Gronewald was the first person to coin the trademark ‘fat bike’.
- After that there were countless renditions by various companies, including competitions that helped shape the fat bike as we know it today – eventually allowing it to become mainstream between 2005 and 2007.
Introducing the Range of Trek Farley Fat Bikes
Originally founded in 1975, Trek (or the Trek Bicycle Corporation) is widely regarded as a quality bicycle manufacturer that sports enthusiasts can rely upon. For those who love fat bikes, or are considering their first purchase, their range of Farley fat bikes are very well received by people around the world. While many people use them as their sole ‘green’ mode of adventurous transport, some also use them to keep fit during the winter months when their lighter road racing models are hibernating in their garages and waiting for the snow to melt. Users often are blown away by the versatility for year-round sporting fun.
There are a number of Farley fat bikes which range in price from the more affordable and introductory Farley 5 model at $1,799 which features a lightweight alpha platinum aluminum frame and Bontrager Haru carbon fork (weighing a total 32.1lbs), combined with a 1×10 drivetrain; to the higher end 1×12 drivetrain Farley 9.8 at $5,149 which is almost entirely carbon, featuring an ultra-lightweight OCLV mountain carbon frame, Bontrager Haru rigid carbon fork, and even carbon Bontrager Wampa wheels (weighing a total 27.1lbs). There are several models in between so it’s possible to choose one for your budget and preference.
One feature that makes Trek Farley fast bikes so popular is that they’re all available in assorted sizes for your height, weight and reach. There are four frame options which differ in size from 15.5”, 17.5”, 19.5” and 21.5” – ensuring that when you invest in this all-purpose bike that will last you a potential lifetime (Trek offers a lifetime warranty), you won’t be disappointed.