5 of the Best, Affordable Fat Tire Bikes | Ride Reviews

Fat Bike on Beach
Photo Credit: 
Greg Smith

Five Fat Bike Reviews: Cheap options for riding snow & sand

Nothing on two wheels draws looks like a fat bike! They are truly compelling.

With their oversized tires and impressive traction, these bicycles can ride virtually anywhere. And they look incredible.

Since you’re probably reading this for the fat bike reviews, I don’t really need to spend too much time explaining the appeal.

Why ride a fat bike? I think the real question is why not!

Whether you’re riding on snow, mud, slick rock, sand or even ice, these monster rides give you unprecedented traction. And they’re more responsive and fun than you might think.

Unfortunately, they also tend to be expensive. So for this article, I want to focus on five cheap fat bikes that review nicely and will serve you well.

For each bicycle, I’ll go over the features, capabilities, pros and cons, along with a short verdict on what it’s best suited for. Hopefully this info will get you rolling in no time.

Ready for some reviews of inexpensive fat tire bikes? Let’s get started!

Updated! Bike models come and go. Thanks for your patience!

What To Expect

Fat Bike in Snow

Photo Credit: Citizen 4474. You can reduce your tire air pressure to increase traction in slippery conditions.

If you’ve done any shopping around, or read any reviews, you’ll know one thing: fat bikes are expensive!

There is a pretty good reason why: the frames are atypical, and as such they need to be custom made in low quantities.

They also physically have more raw materials in them, and the frames need to be beefier for the type of riding, so that pushes up the price tag.

The bicycle pictured at the top of this article is a Schlick, and while they’re amazing, beautiful bikes, they’re not exactly inexpensive. If you want a cheaper fat bike with fairly good reviews, you’re going to want to focus on the bigger brand manufacturers.

A lower budget will have some obvious detriments: due to mass production, the components aren’t going to be as nice as a custom Schlick (or similar high end brand). Instead, you’re usually looking at basic Shimano gear.

That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, it just might necessitate an upgrade down the road. Honestly, that’s half the fun.

A cheap fat bike will probably also have a heavier frame, usually steel. Again, not the end of the world, it’s just a little added weight to an already heavy bike.

On the whole, however, you can get a great quality fat tire bike for a lot less than you’d think.

Let’s check out some specific reviews now.


Raleigh Pardner: An inexpensive fat bike with great reviews

New From: $749.99 USD In Stock

Raleigh is a worthwhile company to consider if you’re hoping to find the most bike for your money, and their Pardner is built to withstand the rigours of intense riding.

You’re probably familiar with Raleigh, it’s a big brand. Their presence in this market creates a most welcome downward pressure on everyone’s price tag.

This isn’t just a standard mountain frame with some oversized rubber on it. This is a specifically designed, fully equipped, cheap fat tire bike worth your time to consider. It’s monstrous, it’s beefy, and it’s eye catching. A total beast.

This is not only a beautiful bicycle, it’s also one of the best, cheap fat tire bikes you can find today. And here’s why.

The Pardner is priced between $800 and $900; it fluctuates and can dip lower during a sale. For that affordable price, you get a lot of bike.

Frame:

The frame of this monster is made from strong and light doubled butted steel, same with the fork. Beautiful in its simplicity, no wasted steel. This ensures that the bike is tough yet lighter than you’d expect.

The frame is hard tail in style and has an aggressive, clean, modern look to it. Any fans of current mountain or BMX geometry should absolutely love how it looks.

Drivetrain:

The bottom bracket is sealed, and the crankset is a Shimano alloy with 40/30/22 gearing. The drivetrain should survive an atomic blast. The whole ride feels very dialed in, and the Shimano Alivio setup is quite versatile. It shifts nicely through its 27 speeds, and you can pretty much ride through any conditions.

The rims are identical alloy Raleigh Prospects. This bicycle rolls on 4 inch wide Chaoyang tires. They have an excellent standard tread, well suited to a wide variety of riding. For severely snowy weather I’d probably upgrade to something with more grip, but give it a whirl first, these tires may surprise you.

The ride stance is fairly aggressive, with low mountain handlebars. It’s a still a comfortable ride and you’ll appreciate the heads-up, controlled feel, especially when riding through muck. It comes in four frame sizes ranging from 15″ – 21″.

And as an added bonus, it is light! It tips the scales at 37.8 pounds, which is practically featherlight as inexpensive fat bikes go. Overall the Raleigh Pardner reviews well, among the best fat tire bikes in this price range.


Diamondback El Oso de Acero: A reasonably priced fat tire beast

Never one to be left out of the party, Diamondback has recently debuted their entry-level fat bike, and it’s a stunning offering.

Meaning “steel bear”, this appropriately named monster is capable of rolling over almost any type of terrain you’ll come across. It’s particularly well-suited to winter conditions, but it’ll crush sand too.

Frame:

The custom, butted steel frame and the steel fork are built to withstand a beating (and come with a lifetime warranty.) But don’t worry, it’s a refined beast; with sealed cartridge bearings and an included rust-resistant chain, it’ll keep on trucking in harsh conditions.

The single walled wheels host huge, toothy, 26-inch Chaoyang tires, which are 4 inches in width. The rims feature cutouts to save on weight. The large (160mm) Tektro mechanical disc brakes are well-suited to mucky terrain, and they’ll stop you nicely.

Drivetrain:

For shifting, you’ve got Shimano Alivio derailleurs and shifters, and the 27 gears should keep even the pickiest cyclist happy. The 150mm rear hub spacing is a bit atypical for the genre, but shouldn’t cause you any troubles.

The lines are simple, brutal and gorgeous. The white paint on the huge black tires makes it really pop.

It comes in at just a hair over 40 pounds (around 18kg) which is certainly heavy, but not as unwieldy as many others in this neck of the woods.

Diamondback has more in this line too, El Oso and El Oso Grande, each of which carry a bigger price tag but better componentry. But their entry level option is competent in its own right. It’s a great fat tire mountain bike worth every penny of the cost.


Framed Minnesota 2.0: A good, cheap fat tire bike with “fattitude”

New From: $689.90 USD In Stock

I think it makes perfect sense that one of the funnest fat tire bikes comes from a company known for their line of BMX bikes. With the Minnesota 2, Framed has created a fat bike with the soul of a BMX.

Not only is this a good looking ride, it’s also a lot of fun, and it is built with a shorter top tube to give you tons of control.

Frame:

The frame on the Minnesota 2.0 is made from 6061 aluminum alloy, as well as the fork. The weight saved by eschewing steel is noticeable. The tubing is oversized with a classic shape. The only modern touch is the slight bend in the downtube where it meets the head. Wide flat handlebars complete the look: no nonsense and rugged.

The wheels are huge and pronounced. Framed decided to go with a 29’er wheelset for this model, and these wheels absolutely rip over debris and terrain.

The wheels are 26 inches, with single walled alloy rims and well-balanced Vee Rubber tires (4″ in width). The rims feature extensive cutouts in order to cut down on weight, and I think they look fantastic.

Framed has clearly saved money with lower end KT Quando hubs, but the quick release skewers are a nice touch.

Drivetrain:

For gearing, the Minnesota 2.0 is well equipped, with a Truvativ double crank (38/28T) paired to a SRAM X7 front and X5 rear derailleur. The shifters are X5 as well, with rapid fire trigger shifting. The X5 group offers great value as an entry level setup goes, and I wasn’t expecting to see it on any of the fat bikes reviewed today.

For stopping power, the bike relies on Avid mechanical disc brakes. I’m actually fairly high on Avid, and they certainly seem to do the trick. Hydraulics would have been preferable, but the price point is excellent so it’s hard to complain.

One of the most interesting facets of the Minnesota is the frame geometry. With a seat tube angle of 73.5°, and a shorter top tube, the riding feel is a lot more upright than either of the two other bikes listed here. And the whole ride comes in at roughly 37 pounds for a medium frame.

The BMX heritage is clear. You have excellent control, and it definitely has the free ride feel claimed by Framed. The responsive, snappy bicycle is a perfect match for trails.

For anyone who is ‘fat curious’, I’d definitely give this ride a long look. For well under a thousand bucks, it’s one of the more impressive cheap fat tire bikes available today. The Minnesota 1.0 is a good option as well.


Louis Garneau Gros Louis 4: A well-equipped, affordable fat tire bike



The Gros Louis, by Louis Garneau (which means “fat Louis” in French), has a number of advantages, and only one real disadvantage.

It’s a pretty well respected company known for quality (read “expensive”) cycling equipment; fortunately for you their fat bike is one of the cheapest offerings.

Don’t let the low price dissuade you, it’s worth a look. This particular model is one of the best fat tire bikes on the market for a few reasons.

Frame:

Let’s start with the frame. It’s a tough, classic welded aluminum frame paired to an oversized front fork. The use of S6 aluminum alloy means the bike is lighter than it would be with steel, and any excess vibrations are countered by the huge tires.

It gets top marks for weight too. Assembled, it comes to 35 pounds for a medium frame. That is heavy as bikes go, but for low cost fat bikes it’s not bad at all.

Speaking of the wheels, they’re also aluminum alloy (26 inch) with square cutouts to reduce weight, and they run on Maxxis Mammoth tires with 4 inch wide tread.

Drivetrain:

The drivetrain is simple but effective: you have 27 speeds, using Shimano Acera / Altus derailleurs and EZ-Fire shifters. Basic stuff, but for the price tag it’s totally fine.

There is an added bonus not found on the other bikes: this affordable fat tire bike is equipped with hydraulic disc brakes. The Promax Deciphers are certainly low end hydraulics, but they indisputably do a better job than mechanicals.

The frame is beautiful, and the geometry is upright and planted, a good stance for mixed riding. It reminds me of a classic hardtail mountain frame, one of the vintage types from the 80s.

The bike features an alloy riser handlebar, and large composite platform pedals. It comes in a small (15″) and medium (17″) frame, which is a bit limiting, but a long seatpost ensures you have some room to adjust.

It stops with a set of mechanical disc brakes. Again,

The Fat Louis lives up to its name, and it is an enjoyable ride which rolls a lot easier than you might think. This bike handles itself well in sand, snow and muck. Its upright stance, great looks, huge tires and low price tag make this one of the better fat tire bikes around.


Dolomite: A good quality fat tire bike under $400? Believe it!

What if your budget is much lower? In the bike world, like many others, you get what you pay for. Still, that doesn’t mean you’re out of options.

Mongoose saw the opportunity, and they have somehow produced a decent quality fat bike for under $400.

The Dolomite doesn’t have the best components, and it won’t compete with any of the above models. Still, you can experience the fun and versatility of a fat tire bicycle on a tiny budget. Let’s get into it.

Frame:

The Dolomite features a standard steel frame and fork with slightly oversized tubing. Riding position is neutral. It’s a 17″ frame, and unfortunately that’s your only option.

The wheels are alloy, but heavy. They’re host to unbranded 4″ tires that have a very mild tread to them. They’re best suited to light snow, sand, gravel and pavement. The whole bike is 48 pounds. Heavy? Absolutely, but still rideable. And at less than half the cost of every other bike on this list, that’s the trade-off.

I was surprised to see dual disc brakes at this price point. They’re brandless, mechanical discs that can be tuned up for decent stopping power (I do recommend a professional tune here).

Drivetrain:

For shifting and gears, you’ve got a basic Shimano Altus rear derailleur paired up to a twist grip shifter. Seven speeds should be more than enough to work with, though be prepared for some routine adjustments.

Despite its low price, this cheap fat tire bike reviews extremely well. Most people who buy it realize that it won’t compare with higher end models. It does exactly what it should: it provides fun and exercise whether on the beach or in the drifts.

If you don’t have a ton of cash, consider the Dolomite by Mongoose. It’s a good, affordable fat bike that you can easily upgrade over time.


Fat & Happy

These five are just a handful of the great, cheap fat tire bikes you can find these days. Aficionados and snobs might tell you that these budgets are too low, but I’d disagree.

The five models reviewed above are a great way for anyone who is curious about the ride quality of a fat bike to get into the category. They’re inexpensive enough that you won’t need a second mortgage to afford, but capable all the same.

They seem to have great resale value too, due to their relative rarity. So what are you waiting for? Get fat, get happy!

Will Henry

Will Henry

Having built and repaired bikes for the last 4 years — in both a professional and a hobby capacity — Will is enthusiastic about cycling in all its forms, but particularly fixies and urban bikes. Living in beautiful Vancouver BC, Will gets out and cycles whenever he can. Current ride: a Norco XFR. You can check out Will Henry's Google+ profile here.

22 Comments

Dave Burian

about 2 months ago

Thanks for the informative review. My wife wants to explore what the fat bikes are all about. We have been riding mountain bikes for many years but don't do any serious terrain. I have seen many fat bikes in the trails of New England where we live. If we purchased fat bikes, they would most likely become our primary bikes. We also ride hard roads and paved trails on occasion. Our intent is to take the new bikes with us in our RV when we retire next year. We expect to be in a wide variety of terrain all over the country. With all of that said, would you recommend fat bikes as our primary, or should we stick with a more traditional mountain bike with + size tires?

Reply
Will Henry

Will Henry

about 2 months ago

Hi Dave! Fat bikes excel riding on snow, sand, gravel, grass, stuff like that. Trails too, though they're not suited to serious downhill. You definitely could replace your mountain bikes with them, but you'll sacrifice having suspension parts and a bit of agility. Do you have a bike shop nearby where you could do a test ride?

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Larry Borshard

about 4 months ago

Thank you for a much needed set of reviews on these less expensive models. Please include the weight of the Minnesota, the Louis Garneau (what is "well under 40 lbs?") and the Mongoose Dolomite.

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Will Henry

Will Henry

about 4 months ago

Hi Larry, you're very welcome. The Minnesota is listed at 34 pounds 8oz. but that'll be for the smallest frame. Medium is roughly 37 pounds. The Louis Garneau is 35lbs for a medium frame, and the Mongoose Dolomite is 48lbs.

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Charles

about 7 months ago

Another thing to look for is a used bike. I searched for about 7 months and finally found one for $400 The seller mistakenly advertised it as 24" wheels and size Small. I looked closely at the pictures and enailed him to confirm. He wrote back and I could tell he had no clue about bike sizes. Turned out to be 26x4.6 rims/tires....a 17.5" frame or Medium. 2017 Specialized Fatboy SE in charcoal/black It rides like new but is speckled in scratches all over. I took a jiffy marker and colored them in haha So i got my fat bike and for less than i figured. He was asking $400 and i offered him $380 and he was not having it. So, $400 it was! Cant beat that. And, no it is not stolen. I ran the serial number thru my local police. I also checked all bike forums locally to see if anyone had messaged about 1 being stoled. Its clean and clear. The buyer ran into a wad of money and when it was dissapearing he sold the bike to recoupe some funds. Iike a lottery winner after 10 years haha

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Slump

about 8 months ago

Check out these 26" fat tire mags - https://www.ebay.com/i/142459539365

Reply
Will Henry

Will Henry

about 5 months ago

Wow, those are wild!

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Stacey

about 2 years ago

I recently saw a fat bike on a TV show riden by a very heavy girl.i am 5' and 250lbs. I live in North east Ohio so the weather for a fat bike is perfect. However to get back on a bike is scary for me. Would this bike benefit me as far as my size and height? I don't want to throw down a ton of money on something I can't ride. Also what about that little seat? Thank you

Reply
Will Henry

Will Henry

about 2 years ago

Hi Stacey, your weight won't be a problem, but at your height even a small bike is gonna be tricky. My wife is around your height, it's tough to find something that fits. I'd suggest going with something like the SE F@E in the small frame size, dropping the seatpost as low as it will go, and seeing how it goes. If you find it too big, I reckon you can easily re-sell it in Ohio! :)

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Rob

about 2 years ago

Check out the sikk ufo , They are the Original Custom Fat Cruiser

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Rob

about 2 years ago

Check out the SIKK UFO, They are the Original Custom Fat Cruiser , I looked at the sooul and the frames are poor design, The front tubes are fat and the rear are skimpy not to mention that are way overpriced , The Sikk 3 speed was in the $400 range with the Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub ,

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Chris McLelland

about 9 months ago

Fat tire bikes are cool! I own a Sikk UFO 7 speed with the cut out wheels, it's hot rod satin black with red wheels! I added some goodies to it and it's a great bike! I got it for 475.00 shipped, not a bad price! I want to add a jockey rat rod style shifter on it for side shifting, lots of cool ideas! I added some soma polished billet bullet led lights out back and a leather bag on the ape hanger bars along with a red skull mounted to the neck where the reflector once was! I also changed the pedals to Bike Nashbar black pedals and some ODI Rogue locking grips!

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stephen brown

about 2 years ago

hi i have seen a few cheaper fat bikes on ebay for £99 i was wondering what you think about these as they are from china and do you think they are worth buying?

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Will Henry

Will Henry

about 2 years ago

Hi Stephen, no I wouldn't do it. They're £99 for a reason!

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Charlie

about 3 years ago

I am also looking at Motobecame ie. Bullseye monster and Boris X-9. How do they stack up with aforementioned Fat Bikes?

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Will Henry

Will Henry

about 2 years ago

BikesDirect? Yeah their stuff is usually pretty great too! The Motobecane is the better of the two, IMO. :)

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Aquielis

about 3 years ago

I chose the Raw Black Soul Stomper from Soul Beach Cruisers. The Stomper has one heck of an attitude and still manages to be graceful in its designs. With its teardrop? shaped top and down tubes, mean stiff front forks(throw the traditional oval top part of the fork out the window) and just everything the bike's design offers I was stopped in my tracks when I saw my bike. It's a perfect financial compromise between something like a Surly and a Mongoose. At $699 for the single speed Raw Black Stomper I couldn't be more satisfied.

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Alex

about 3 years ago

Hi, thanks for the review. I've been looking at the kawasaki sumo... I've seen mixed reviews on amazon for it. And, found the gmc Yukon... Any thoughts on that one? Appreciate your help.

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Will Henry

Will Henry

about 2 years ago

Hi Alex, they're similar. I haven't been super impressed with GMC's other models in the past. I wouldn't be too deterred by the mixed reviews. Really the only major deterrent (and complaint in the reviews) is the weight, and the GMC actually weighs more.

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Izzy

about 3 years ago

The Framed Minnesota has 29er wheels? I don't think that's correct. Please verify.

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Will Henry

Will Henry

about 2 years ago

My mistake, typo! Thanks for the catch.

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Thomas Nguyen

about 3 years ago

I appreciate your list of affordable fat bikes. I am currently in the market and in addition to those mentioned, I am also considering the motobecane and the charge cooker maxi.

Reply

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