Fat Bike vs 29er – Which is Better?

A bike may look great but the size of wheels and tires is where the rubber meets the road. Fat bikes and 29ers are popular in the cycling world but which one is better than the other? 

29ers have long been a part of bike designs managing to capture the attraction of many cyclists both on a pro and regular level.

However, in recent years, fat bikes have come in to stake their claim on the cycling turf and have steadily gained and grown their fan base.

I was a college coach for cycling enthusiasts and I was one of the skeptical majorities when the fat bikes were first introduced.

The college administration added fat bikes to their collection and I got the first-hand experience of riding one.

It was then that I discovered a different ride from my norm and he began paying more attention to the new entry.

What is the difference between a Fat Bike and a 29er?

Model
Fat Bike – Mongoose Malus
29er – Trek Slash
Frame
Steel
OCLV carbon fiber
Brakes
Hydraulic Dual Disc
SRAM Guide RSC
Wheel Size
26”
29”
Tire Size
4.25”
2.4/ 2.6”
Weight
42 lbs.
32.98 lbs.
Availability

Fat Bike vs 29er – How do they compare?

Traction 

On a fat bike a rider is guaranteed stability based on the wider fatter tires while on a 29er’s slimmer tires, the rider can access better speeds.

Fat tires have low-pressure that maximizes their hold on varied terrain. Whether riding on sand, cobblestones, rocks, or even snow, these bike tires can get you through it all.

This is made possible by the bigger footprints that fat bikes create concerning the ample distribution of load over a wider surface which makes for great traction.

Compared to 29ers that are known as fast and good climbers, the fat bikes provide slower, more exhausting, and challenging uphill climbs.

When maneuvering corners, traction and balance is a huge deal for cyclists and this is something fat bikes are specially designed to cater to.

As compared to 29ers which are smooth rolling, fat bikes will have you riding at a slower pace. This makes them perfect for beginners and those in training.

Frame 

Fat bikes have flexible frames that can easily accommodate 29er’s tires and wheels which is preferable over the 29er bikes that cannot be switched to fit fat tires.  

Geometries found on fat bikes are unique and are made especially for XC riding and plowing. These frames have distinct angles and dimensions that create an advanced capacity in handling.

Fat bikes come with 26-inch wheels fitted with tires measuring 26”x 4” which give them the fat look and stability they boast of.

29ers sport super slack angles that are stiff to make the ride faster and more precise in descents and when getting through narrow tracks.

These bikes’ wheels have a 30-inch wide rim which is designed to fit 29”x 2.4” or 2.6” tires. These tires are slimmer thus offering the resistance-free ride they are known for.

Comfort

Fat bikes are outrightly more comfortable to ride on when compared to 29ers because they are thicker making for better cushioning against the vibration and shock of rugged terrains. 

As previously pointed out above, fat bikes have low-pressure tires which makes them denser and more resilient to the effects of the rough road and the bike’s responses to hits.

With grippy tires, fat bikes give riders peace of mind in riding because they eliminate any thought of slipping or sliding regardless of the weather.

Tire pressure adjustment is also possible which can be done to fit the exact riding conditions and your preferences.

29ers are built with speed and agility in mind. They are very responsive and sensitive to the terrain you ride on.

This means that you will be able to feel the impact of hits and will get shaken when riding in very uneven territories.

The ride

Riding the fat bike will require you to use more energy and muscle power to get over one revolution which is more exhausting as compared to the smooth-rolling 29er. 

As is to be expected, fat bikes will add to the weight and resistance of your bike. So, they will work great for anyone who has chosen to take up cycling as a form of fitness and workout.

Their rolling resistance is meant for riders who appreciate a challenge and are planning on burning some stubborn fat to achieve a leaner, more toned body.

However, if you are in for a race and if you are a cyclist who rides for the exhilaration and adrenaline rush, the 29er is the bike for you.

Keep in mind that unlike with fat bikes, you won’t be riding all year round with your 29er. You will have to go for some months without your favorite hobby: especially in winter.

Fat Bike vs 29er – A Comparison Overview 

Fat Bike Review 

Mongoose Malus Adult Fat Tire Mountain Bike, 26-Inch Wheels, 7-Speed, Twist Shifters, Steel Frame, Mechanical Disc Brakes, Multiple Colors
  • Steel mountain-style fat tire frame
  • Rear derailleur for smooth gear changes
  • Front and rear disc brakes for crisp stopping and precise speed control
  • Fat, knobby 4-inch wide mountain tires roll over anything in their path; 4-inch alloy rims are light and strong
  • Alloy a-head stem and mountain handlebar keep you in complete control out on the trail

These bikes are suitable for riding all year round whether in snow, dust, or rocks. Their wide tires make for a comfortable and plush ride with great stability.

Fat bikes sports 26-inch by 4-inch tires to not only provide the desired look but also for cushioning against shocks and vibrations.

It has a heavy steel build which is suitable for accommodating heavy riders and the brakes are quick-response, all-weather, and easy to use.

The bike allows you to reach up to 7-speeds using the Shimano drivetrain to conveniently shift between gears.

Designed with ow-riding handlebars and padded saddle, your comfort is enhanced for longer rides.

Pros

  • All-terrain, All-weather bike
  • Easy handling
  • Stability

Cons 

  • Bulky bike

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29er Review 

Features a shorter reach to allow you more wiggle room in terms of bending or extending your arms while riding.

The 29er sports 29” by 2.4 or 2.6-inch tires to cater to the preferences of a large market. These wheels and tires provide a faster and more accurate ride for races and sharp descents.

Thinner tires manifest more vivid feelings of the terrain and allow you to pedal easily and faster through tricky and brutal tracks.

29ers are known as great climbers and they perform this function swiftly and efficiently. On descents, they are nimble and agile with the ability to open up track lines hitting them with utmost precision.

Pros 

  • Fast and easy ride
  • Precise
  • Smooth-rolling

Cons

  • Not all-weather

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Conclusion 

While fat bikes are designed to conquer any terrain throughout the seasons, some riders may consider them to be painfully slow and exhausting to ride.

29ers, on the other hand, are built for the race. They help to satisfy the needs of adventure cyclists both in speed and comfort.

Verdict: So, which is better – Fat Bike or 29er?

Fat bikes are considerably better than the 29er. This is because they are eligible for use in all weather, across all terrain types. Also, fat bikes accommodate all other wheel sizes as compared to the 29er which is limited in all these aspects.

FAQ

What is the weight limit for the fat bike?

A fat bike can comfortably accommodate anyone weighing up to 300 lbs. or 136kg. 

Do I need specific tools to assemble my 29er?

No. Assembly is easy and you will not need any extra tools to do that other than a wrench.