6 Best Fat Bike Tires in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Many bike riders gravitate towards purchasing a fat bike for its versatility. You see, fat bikes enable you to ride even in snowy and wet conditions—situations that are deemed quite unfavorable for your standard road and regular mountain bikes.

This is because such bikes are fitted with a special kind of tires: fat bike tires.

The general rule of thumb implies that any tire with a width of 3.8” is a fat bicycle tire, and these extra-wide tires can go all the way up to 5” wide.

Understandably, tires with more width ride slower and are heavier than those with less width. On the upside, they’ll get through soft and loose surfaces such as soft sand and slush with relative ease.

Now, why should you get fat bike tires?

Riders go gaga over fat bikes for a variety of reasons. Fat bike tires can operate at lower tire pressure and therefore facilitate a supple, comfortable ride. These tires can run through soft surfaces without getting stuck.

Plus, fat bike tires come with an abundance of traction and grip because of their larger surface area.

Now, tire choice is critical for fat bikes to operate smoothly. When selecting a suitable tire for fat bikes, many factors must be taken into consideration—its intended use, stability, tread pattern, weight, tire width, rim widths, and durability.

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At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Fat Bike Tires

If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the fat bike tires that most people buy).

  • Maxxis Minion FBR 26” Top Pick
  • Schwalbe Jumbo Jim Runner-up
  • Specialized Ground Control Fat Runner-up

Top 6 Best Fat Bike Tires – Our Reviews:

Finding the right tires is easier said than done; after all, there are countless options to choose from, with each claiming to be better than the next. For your convenience, I’ve tried and tested a handful of positively reviewed fat bike tires to compile a list of only the best fat bike tires money can buy.

1. Maxxis Minion FBR 26”

The Maxxis Minion FBR 26” is as capable as it looks and excels on any loose surface. With a width of 4.8”, this fat bike tire is quite possibly the fattest bike tire I’ve come across.

With its humongous surface area and equally impressive chunky knobs, you can expect the Maxxis FBR to provide you with outstanding traction, grip, and comfort.

It also helps that the studded tire comes with a tread pattern that prioritizes cornering grip, allowing you to breeze past corners as safely as possible. Also, with the knob shaped and directed to promote speed, the tire rolls fast as well. 

I also like the fact that the Maxxis Minion tires are extremely easy to fit.

Other notable features of the tire include a portable bead, 120 tpi casing, dual compound folding bead, and solid walls that ensure the tire maintains its composure even when ridden on rough terrains.

If you’re looking for studded fat bike tires that offer unmatched corner grip and rolling speed, the Maxxis Minion FBF will do the trick for you.

Pros

  • The Maxxis bike tires are versatile enough for all types of loose surfaces
  • Tire width of a whopping 4.8”
  • Chunky tread for traction
  • Dual compound rubber promotes speed
  • Phenomenal cornering grip
  • One of the best fat bike tires for trail riding

Cons

  • May not excel in muddy conditions
  • Only available in one width size

2. Schwalbe Jumbo Jim

Are you looking for a fat bike tire that is fast-rolling and capable of providing a fantastic trail-experience? If so, look no further than the Schwalbe Jumbo Jim.

Relatively lightweight for a fat bicycle tire and with a slim tread pattern that promotes agility, the Schwalbe Jumbo will have you zooming past surfaces in record time.

In a bid to keep the rolling resistance to a minimum, the makers have incorporated the brand’s trademarked “Speedgrip” compound onto the tire, enabling the tire to offer max rolling speed without sacrificing grip. The tire evokes calmness and comfort through and through.

However, there are disadvantages to the tire having a slim construction and low weight.

The Schwalbe Jumbo mountain bike fat tire isn’t the most durable fat bicycle tire out there. So, aggressive riders looking to tackle chunky terrain may not get their money’s worth with this tire.

However, for those who prioritize speed over everything else, the Schwalbe Jumbo mountain bike fat tire will have you smiling from ear to ear.

Pros

  • The Schwalbe Jumbo tires offer the perfect mix of speed and grip, making them great for fat biking
  • Offers a fantastic overall tire feel
  • Can be converted to tubeless by using a liquid sealant
  • One of the best fat bike tires for trail riding
  • Tire bead lies securely on the wheels with minimum fuss
  • Tubeless-ready fat bike tires
  • Minimum rolling resistance

Cons

  • Features a low-profile tread and can, thus, struggle in snow and muddle conditions
  • Aggressive riders will not prefer the tire’s lightweight construction

3. Specialized Ground Control Fat

You can expect the Specialized brand to only manufacture high-quality products. Thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint with its offering of the Specialized Ground Control Tires.

Available in two tire width size options, 4” and 4.6”, the Specialized Ground Control Tire comes equipped with a snow-specific tread pattern, making the tire ideal for slippery, soft surfaces. I’m also a big fan of the tire’s chunky, strategically-placed side knobs as they offer the rider an unmatched cornering grip.

Plus, the fact that the center tread digs in well during brakes also adds to the charm of the tire. 

The casing of the tire is a reasonably supple 120 tpi and, like all other high-quality tires, the Specialized Ground Control tire is also tubeless-ready. Since it’s quite heavy, it may be in your best interest to go tubeless with this tire.

In a nutshell, the Specialized fat tires aren’t exactly the quickest around, but they do offer outstanding stability in the roughest of conditions.

Pros

  • The Specialized fat bike tires are available in a couple of tire width size options
  • Tread pattern performs admirably on almost all types of surfaces
  • Outstanding cornering grip
  • Fat bike tires can be used with or without tubes
  • Fat biking tire is known for its durability
  • Fat tires have been specifically designed for packed snow or sand

Cons

  • Not one for the budget-conscious
  • Not the quickest tire around

4. Vee Tire Co. Rail Tracker

The Vee Tire Co. Rail Tracker comes second to none in terms of maneuverability and speed. How does the tire manage to perform so well in those two departments? Well, it has a low tread profile in the center whereas the sides are filled with aggressive knobs. And, to further magnify the feeling, Vee has indulged in a bit of overkill by using a dual rubber compound. This means that the side knobs are softer for outstanding cornering grip whereas the center knobs are harder for increased durability.

Want to know where the Vee Tire Rail Tracker tire is at its quickest? Try it on a hardpack terrain.

Unfortunately, the Vee Tire Rail Tracker does come with its fair share of flaws. Since it boasts a fast-rolling slim profile, it doesn´t offer proper braking traction on slippery surfaces. The tiny center knobs are pretty useless at helping the bike stop. 

Leaving its drawbacks aside, the Vee Tire Co. Rail Tracker is still worth the investment.

Pros

  • This set of tires come tubeless-ready and feature a 120 tpi casing
  • Fast-rolling speed with smooth, stable cornering
  • Dual rubber compound provides the tire with grip and extends its lifespan
  • Can operate at extremely low tire pressure
  • Tire bead sits on the wheels easily

Cons

  • Not the most suitable option for muddy mountain biking terrain
  • Doesn’t offer proper braking traction on slippery surfaces

5. Bontrager Barbegazi Folding Team

Looking for a tire that excels in snowy environments? If so, go for the Bontrager Barbegazi Folding Team without hesitation.

With the Barbegazi tires on your bike, you’ll feel in total control even when riding the rougher sections of a trail. The Barbegazi tires come equipped with a generously spaced low-profile tread pattern; therefore, the tires truly come alive when you’re in need of some traction.

Despite excelling in snowy conditions, it surprised me to learn that the Bontrager Barbegazi mountain bike tire doesn’t have any type of ice spikes. This tells me that the tire, though an excellent performer in the snow, is versatile enough for other types of tracks too.

In essence, this tire would be great all year round.

It should also pique your interest to know that the tire’s 120 tpi casing is more than capable of providing sufficient puncture protection.

Conclusively, I would recommend the Bontrager Barbegazi Folding Team to those who are looking for a multi-use do-everything type of tire.

Pros

  • Low-profile tread pattern makes the tire an excellent choice for snowy and icy conditions
  • Versatile enough for use all year round
  • Durable 120 tpi casing
  • Can operate at extremely low tire pressure

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer much grip on hard surfaces
  • Not the quickest tire around

6. Specialized Fast Trak 26”

The second Specialized tire on the list, the Specialized Fast Trak 26”, is best suited for fast and loose riding on snow and sand terrains.

The tire features a low tread pattern to encourage fast riding and has a supple rubber compound to ensure rides are as comfortable as possible.

Of course, like all high-quality fat bike tires, the Specialized Fast Trak 26” also offers outstanding grip on the trails. The gripping and traction on the Specialized Fast Trak 26” are possible because of the higher, more aggressive outer knobs on the tire.

Also, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to state that the Fast Trak tires conform well to all types of trail obstacles. 

In a nutshell, this tire is lively, light, grippy, fast, and easy to control, making it suitable for most conditions.

Pros

  • Low tread pattern to facilitate fast rolling action
  • Offers outstanding grip on trails
  • One for the budget-conscious
  • Tire bead sits on the wheels easily
  • Conforms well to mountain biking trail obstacles

Cons

  • Weighs heavier than expected and is narrower than claimed
  • Not the most suitable option for wet conditions
  • Sidewall isn’t as robust as I would have liked

Factors to consider when purchasing a fat bicycle tire

Intended Use

Not all fat bike studded tires are created equal. While some are ideal for soft and loose terrain, there are others that have been specifically created for deep snow, icy conditions, and hard-packed surfaces. Make sure you consider the terrain you intend to ride on most and shop for a tire accordingly.

Width

Only tires that are over 3.8” wide are considered as fat bike tires. Fat bike tires can go all the way to the 5” width mark.

However, understand that tires with more width ride slower and are heavier than those with smaller width. On the upside, they get through soft and loose surfaces such as soft sand and slush much easier.

So, make sure you choose the width of a tire according to your riding style and the terrain you intend to ride on most.

Tread Pattern

Tires that feature slim and small tread patterns have a fast-rolling action. Though they’re efficient for long distance riding, they don’t offer the best traction.

Meanwhile, aggressive tires provide outstanding grip even on loose and slippery terrains. Therefore, before selecting a fat bicycle tire, assess your common riding locations first.

Weight

Since lighter tires roll easier, you can cover twice the distance with half the effort. However, lighter tires are more susceptible to punctures than heavier ones.

Casing

You should also focus on the case of a fat bicycle tire.

Tires with thick, heavy-duty sidewalls are more protected against pinch flats and rock slashers. However, if a tire is too thick, it can lose its grip and feel numb.

On the other hand, lighter and thinner casing on a tire is beneficial only in terms of speed, not durability.

Conclusion

I hope you now have the technical know-how to distinguish a good fat bike tire from the rest in the fat bike market. As long as you assess your common riding locations and riding style, you should be able to pick a suitable fat bike tire.

If you don’t like the bike gear recommendations I’ve presented you with, feel free to conduct your own research using the price rating or comparison table. However, do remember the “Factors to consider…” section of the article to make an informed purchase.

Also, if you’d like to pick my brain and have me suggest a “bang for your buck” fat bike tire, I’d be happy to oblige. My recommendation would be the Specialized Ground Control Fat Bike Tire.

Available in two width size options, 4 and 4.6 inches wide, this tire features a tread pattern suitable for all types of surfaces including snow, offers outstanding cornering grip, can be used with or without tubes, and has been built to stand the test of time. The casing of the tire is a reasonably supple 120 tpi, too.