A while back I had the desire to test ride a FAT Bike. I heard so much about them and just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I went to the local shop near our trails and rented a Salsa MUKLUK. Nice bike, equipped well and looks pretty sharp. But it was a fully rigid mountain bike, and not at all what I was used to. I suppose the tires were to act as the suspension or at least soften the bumps out a bit. Still, it seemed quite a departure.
And it was.
As soon as I got on the bike, I could feel a complete change in how I was supposed to ride it. I was going to have to think about my movements. I wasn’t going to be able to go along, business-as-usual, and just ride. I needed to consider the handling characteristics on the turns, the straights, the climbs and just about all aspects of the terrain.
Handling: I’m not sure where to begin this section? Cornering this beast was a hot mess. There is such a thing as too little air. While the shop set the “proper” air pressure in the tires, I was still left unconvinced that it was enough. At low speeds the steering fought you. At high speeds the cornering was loose and sloppy. I never felt like I could take a corner, any corner, with the same speed I would normally.
Jumping was fun. I’ll give it that much. Pretty stable in the air. Landing was a bit more tricky if you’re the type that needs corrective landings after a mid-flight maneuver.
Climbing: For as much as people talked up the capability of fat tires for grip, I was a bit disappointed.
Descending: Descending wasn’t so bad. For a fully rigid bike. It handled the rocks and roots fairly well. At speed, it just kinda bounced its way down the trail. It didn’t bone-rattle you to death, but it never felt truly connected either.
In conclusion I’ll leave it where I left the descending. In all aspects of the test; I never felt a good connection to trail. Riding on marshmallows is not what I would consider a good riding bike. To be completely honest, I felt like the bike was a joke. Some sort of clown prank, that somebody, somewhere thought would be funny as hell if they got this trend started. It didn’t ride well, it couldn’t corner worth a shit, and at no point did I ride a section of trail and think… “Ahhh, that’s why.” I just couldn’t get there. I wanted to, but never did.
I know these bikes have their place in the world, like the north pole… But I’m guessing Florida trails aren’t it.