The first time I saw a fat bike in a magazine, I remember thinking there was no way I would ever have fun on a bike like that. Oh man, was I wrong.
Then a few months ago, into the office rolled the prototype Nashbar Big Ol’ Fat Bike, where a small gaggle of geeks flocked…what can you say? The bike is a looker.
But all hyperbole aside, how does The Big Ol’ Fat Bike perform? Nashbar’s team of trail junkies put this bike through the ringer, and here’s what we found:
Firstly, the Big Ol’ Fatbike‘s custom-butted 4130 chromoly frame and fork make an ideal foundation for a bike that’s all about fun. It’s very tough, very rideable, and the geometry is slightly laid back making it comfortable, keeping the front end really responsive for a bike with such wide tires. A SRAM X5/X7 3×9 drivetrain gives you plenty of crank on rolling terrain and keeps the climbing fun. You certainly won’t be making an investment in pro-level components with the Big Ol’ Fat Bike, but the drivetrain is some of SRAM’s best technology–these components shift when you say so, and don’t go out of adjustment. The Hayes MX5 Mechanical disc brakes certainly do the job, but some of us would have liked a bigger rotor up front.
Especially at the price point, you get a lot of performance and durability.
Are fat bikes are only for sand or snow or really muddy conditions? It’s true that fat bikes easily outperform in these areas, but countless fat bikers out there are saying these make great everyday bikes. There’s a lot of blog chatter on the subject…check it out.
Many of us wondered about the rolling resistance disadvantage that comes with 4″ of rubber at about 10 PSI. The verdict comes in pretty quickly after you hit the trail…this thing is fun. If it’s not as fast as your other bike, it doesn’t matter. You’d probably never win any XC races on a fat bike, unless you’re a total animal.
At first, the huge centrifugal pull from the greater wheel/tire mass takes some getting used to; but once you learn that you can lean lower, dig in deeper, and corner harder, aggressive riding comes easy. Not one of us felt bogged down – “fun” seemed to be the operative word.
People noted the surprising ease of climbing, the full-suspension-like trail absorbing, and of course the absolutely superior cornering. Plus, the longer wheel base, stiff fork, extra weight, and fat tires make landing big air a breeze if that’s your thing.
You’re wondering about weight?
It’s a good idea to check your inner weight weenie at the door when assessing any fat bike. Not that weight is irrelevant, but these are big bikes. At 35 lbs and change, the Big Ol’ Fat Bike is right there with the Surly Pugsley.
As a tip, since Big Ol’s rear drop outs are horizontal, keep that rear skewer nice and tight to keep the wheel centered perfectly. Quick release skewers don’t dig into chromoly the way they do aluminum or carbon, and between cranking and braking with a wheel of that size, there’s plenty of torque on the skewer.
The Big Ol’ Fat Bike‘s components are solid across the board, but if you had a mind to drop some grammage, there’s plenty of Nashbar carbon that could get you there for less than you think. The platform pedals that come on this bike are great, but if you like a lot of riders, you’ll be switching out for your preferred brand of clipless pedals.
And of course, throw your favorite saddle on there and become the rear admiral of your fat bike.
Take it all around:
The bottom line is that the fun factor and the value are the key draws to this bike. The frame, fork, and all the components are designed for the rigors of real mountain biking, so you get a bike that’s ready for serious riding right out-of-the-box. Getting a chromo fat bike with a SRAM X-5/X7 3×9 drivetrain and all alloy components and quality rubber for a grand is not bad at all.
For some riders, their fat bike has become their go-to bike; for others, it’s nice to switch up because the fat bike is just so easy and fun to ride. For me, I choose it often, and never regret it.
Oh, and many will be wondering about sizes: