View Poll Results: Fat-vs-29er MTB's?

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  • Fat Bike (26x3.7+)

    12 63.16%
  • 29er MTB

    7 36.84%
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Thread: Better Bicycle for AK: 29er or fat-tire

  1. #1
    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    Default Better Bicycle for AK: 29er or fat-tire

    I want to build an all-purpose bicycle for accessing the maximum amount of the Alaskan outdoors.
    This will NOT be a specialized sport bike for racing, stunt-riding, thrills, or riding on pavement.
    It will be for transportation into the bush for me & my gear, guns, rods, sleeping bags, food, etc.
    and then carry back out all of the above, plus fish, meat, and horns. It WILL pull a BOB type trailer.

    Considering the various types of terrain that Alaska offers, from low & soggy, to high & rocky:
    and without getting into brand loyalty, which type of bike would be the better basis for an AK bike?

    29er MTB or Fat (26x3.7+)

  2. #2
    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    It really depends on the terrain but on any type of trail that even remotely solid I like the 29er. I have a Specialized 29er with a Bob and it amazes me where I can go.

    The fat bikes I've played with where outstanding in snow but on atv trails I prefer my 29er. With more experience on a fat bike I might change my mind but first impression is as above.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

  3. #3
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    You're asking for an apples to oranges comparison. "29er" refers to the wheel diameter; 29 inches vs the traditional 26 inches. There are pro's and cons to both, but in my opinion it's splitting hairs. Regardless of rim diameter, it's the width of the rim and tire that determines flotation. If I had to choose only one rim to ride year round, or in varying conditions, I would choose a wide SnowCat type rim. Tires could be changed out seasonally, or you could simply mount up your wide studded winter Nokian's and ride them year round, adjusting tire pressure to suit the conditions. You can inflate your wide winter tires to be very firm in the summer, for use on hard trails and roads, and not lose too much to rolling resistance, and you can run them down at 5 PSI for winter snow and softer summer conditions such as muddy trails/roads when maximum flotation is called for. But there's nothing you can do with a narrower summer rim to make it perform in softer conditions such as mud or winter snow; skinny tires are skinny tires, regardless of tire pressure. If you have to choose a one size fits all seasons/conditions mtn bike, certainly the most versatile choice is a bike set up with SnowCat rims. Wheel diameter is of lesser importance.
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  4. #4
    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Wheel diameter is of lesser importance.
    The thing I've noticed with the 29" wheels is that it changes the approach angle....for a trail that has obstacles- logs, roots, rocks and to a lesser degree tussocky type terrain- the shallow approach angle makes rolling over stuff quite a bit easier. The width doesn't float like a dedicated snow rim (what does?) but may be easier to maneuver short of deep powder or relentless mud.

    My vote is to just get one of each and you're set!
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

  5. #5

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    Fat bikes typically are using a 29" diameter wheel. Many people who are looking for an all-purpose bike are going with a fat bike frame and two sets of wheels, fat wheels for winter/beach type riding and 29-er mountain bike wheels for summer/hard surface trails. If I were looking for a one size fits all setup, I would go with the fat bike frame and two wheel sets.

  6. #6
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anchskier View Post
    Fat bikes typically are using a 29" diameter wheel.
    And just for clarity's sake for folks unfamiliar: SnowCat's are 26" rims, about 2"wide, fitted with a tire running about 3" wide and are mounted on a traditional mtn bike type frame. The result is NOT the same animal as the now popular, so called "Fat" tired bikes modeled after the beach cruiser bike. In my opinion, that beach cruiser style bike is not appropriate to the applications being discussed.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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  7. #7
    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    Just to clarify my thread:

    29er's and Fat bikes are both Mountain Bikes and the overall tire diameter is about the same.
    The 29er's use a 29" rim with a medium amount of rubber wrapped around it,
    while the Fat bikes use a wider 26" rim with substantially larger tire, which is both wider and taller.
    Side-by-side, the tires are about the same overall height/diameter.

    Taiga - you keep comparing modern fat-tire bikes to beach cruisers. There may be beach cruisers that also happen to have fat tires, but the fat bikes I'm talking about, like the Surly Pugsley or Salsa Mukluk are definitely not cruisers. In one of my other threads you also tied fat-bikes to "yuppie city commuters", so maybe there are other issues involved?

    Skier - While I like your idea of getting two sets of wheels, that would be the most expensive option. A 29er can be had for quite a bit less than a fat-frame bike. But, since a 29er can't be fitted with really "fat" tires later-on, I would have to start with an expensive fat-bike, and then buy 29er wheels on top of that. Sounds like a great set-up though.

    One other thing: I'm 6' and 225#, then add hunting clothes & boots, a backpack, bike-racks, panniers full of gear & game, plus a trailer. Are there any tire or frame issues that might be limiting?

    Thanx for all the replies guys and keep 'em commin'!

  8. #8
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluNosDav View Post
    ...Taiga - you keep comparing modern fat-tire bikes to beach cruisers. There may be beach cruisers that also happen to have fat tires, but the fat bikes I'm talking about, like the Surly Pugsley or Salsa Mukluk are definitely not cruisers. In one of my other threads you also tied fat-bikes to "yuppie city commuters", so maybe there are other issues involved?...
    No, Dav, there's no other issues involved. Certainly no offense meant to you or anyone else. If I remember the "other thread" correctly (it's entirely possible that I don't), and if we're thinking of the same one, the picture posted as an example looked to me very much like a beach cruiser type bike (that is to say these type bikes have their origins in and evolved from "beach cruisers"), with frame geometry reflective of its origins, and very large balloon tires; and that type bike with those type tires is not to be confused with a mountain bike frame configured with SnowCat rims and applicable tires. That's the only distinction I am trying to make clear. Most people I have crossed paths with recently, are referring to the beach cruiser type bike and it's variants when they say "fat tire bike", and have no concept of the wide rimmed mtn bike which has origins in a completely different evolutionary path, and is suited to a very different use. For the record, I think the former type bike is very cool, and I'd like to have one for cruising around town if I lived in a more urban setting. For everything else off road, I prefer the mountain bike/SnowCat combo. That's all. Bikes like the Surly Pugsley and Salsa Mukluk have their origins in the beach cruiser frame and balloon tires, and in recent years are evolving toward mountain bike frame configuration and adopting more mtn bike features while retaining the huge tires, thus the distinction is becoming blurred....Choose what you like and run with it.
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  9. #9
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm just "old school". Or maybe just old. The bike and rims I ride are the predecessors (by a decade) to, and different from, both variants being discussed by the OP. While I think my bike is a great tool for the job as described in the OP, I still ski on 1980's vintage metal edge, wood core boards too, and think they're better than anything you can buy today.... I'll butt out and let you kids discuss the merits of the new toys as you see fit.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
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  10. #10
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    I voted the "29er" route. My academic adviser, who has done many mountain bike expeditions across Alaska since the very inception of the mountain bike.........personally loves his 29er and hasn't found a reason to go the fat bike route.

  11. #11
    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluNosDav;10759\
    add hunting clothes & boots, a backpack, bike-racks, panniers full of gear & game, plus a trailer. Are there any tire or frame issues that might be limiting?
    When you ride with a heavy trailer, the trailer will tend to push you around quite a bit when you corner...in slick conditions it can be pretty significant. Certainly do some shakedowns prior to your hunt with it.

    I've never seen a fat bike used with a trailer- looking at how the Bob hooks up- a wider frame to accommodate the wider tire may not work with the Bob hitch. It'd be worth checking out prior to buying anything.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    No, Dav, there's no other issues involved. Certainly no offense meant to you or anyone else. If I remember the "other thread" correctly (it's entirely possible that I don't), and if we're thinking of the same one, the picture posted as an example looked to me very much like a beach cruiser type bike (that is to say these type bikes have their origins in and evolved from "beach cruisers"), with frame geometry reflective of its origins, and very large balloon tires; and that type bike with those type tires is not to be confused with a mountain bike frame configured with SnowCat rims and applicable tires. That's the only distinction I am trying to make clear. Most people I have crossed paths with recently, are referring to the beach cruiser type bike and it's variants when they say "fat tire bike", and have no concept of the wide rimmed mtn bike which has origins in a completely different evolutionary path, and is suited to a very different use. For the record, I think the former type bike is very cool, and I'd like to have one for cruising around town if I lived in a more urban setting. For everything else off road, I prefer the mountain bike/SnowCat combo. That's all. Bikes like the Surly Pugsley and Salsa Mukluk have their origins in the beach cruiser frame and balloon tires, and in recent years are evolving toward mountain bike frame configuration and adopting more mtn bike features while retaining the huge tires, thus the distinction is becoming blurred....Choose what you like and run with it.
    While there may be some background in the "beach cruiser" realm, the fat bikes being made now are designed specifically for winter, soft surface riding, especially the two brands designed by local bike shops up here in Anchorage (9-zero-7 by Chain Reaction Cycles and the Fatback by Speedway Cycles). The frame geometry looks like the old stereotype of a "girls bike" with the top tube dipping low. Don't confuse this with it being just a cruiser type setup. Once you ride in soft snow and have to step down without getting off the bike, you will be very happy that there isn't a bar at what used to be crotch level as your feet sink a few inches deeper than your tires. Also, getting back onto the bike is made much easier with heavier clothing, be it just winter gear for colder weather or even hunting gear.

  13. #13
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    I vote fatty! I have a very nice specalized 29er that I quit riding after I got my 9zero7, my wife has stopped riding her mountain bike after she got a pugsley,then she got a mukluk because it fit her better. I recently put a fat front on one of my sons Trek, and the other son is riding my 29er but is saving his money for a 9zero7. We ride quite a bit summer and winter,and for AK the bike to have is the fatty. It rolls over stumps,roots,rocks, creeks and marshy areas with ease. And has a pretty smooth ride to boot. I mount my rifle on the handle bars, and have pulled a BOB through Resurection and Russian lakes trail. The only problem with them is having to stop everytime you meet someone on the trail and let them ride it!

  14. #14
    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    I looked into the Snow Cat rims that were referenced earlier in this thread. They are 44mm (1.75") wide and carry a 2.3" wide tire. This is about as wide as possible in a traditional MTB frame. Back-in-the-day, these provided better flotation than "regular sized" wheels on soft terrain. But, now the manufacturer recommends them as merely an extra set of wheels for fat-bike owners to put on when the trails are firm enough.

    Fat bike rims start at 65mm (2.56") then go up to 80mm (3.15"), 90mm (3.54"), and even 100mm (3.94") and their tires range from 3.7" to almost 5" wide. Reviews give the widest of the wide, high marks in deep snow and sand, but lesser grades for quick handling.

    So, the obvious question is: How wide is wide enough for all-around hunting in AK?

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    I just bought a Surly Pugsley and the **** thing works way better than I thought it would on snow, mud and pavement. Can't see using me regular mountain bike as much anymore. The big, low pressure tires really smooth out rough stuff. Can picture going on tundra for caribou this summer. Like a Rokon without the motor! Cool!

    Looked at the moon-lander two but it seemed like too much of a good thing.

  16. #16
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    I'm a little late to the discussion, but Fatbacks have xc mountain bike geometry and handle very well off road with 29er tires or fat tires. The fat tires will be heavier and slower climbing, and will have a tendency to bounce off of bumps if running high enough pressure for low rolling resistance on dirt trails. Fat bike with a second set of 29er wheels is a viable option.

    Except for one or two recent introductions that actually are beach cruisers, fat bikes as a whole do not have anything even slightly resembling beach cruiser geometry and the tires are much, much bigger than traditional beach cruisers and much, much bigger than anything fitting in a normal 26" mtb frame on Snowcats. Unless you're running Gazzalodis, it's unlikely(though not impossible) that a tire on a 44mm(?) Snowcat is going to actually measure out to 3". 70mm rims are where tires start to spread out into the 3" range.

  17. #17
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    I have both and can truly say the FatBack is ablolutely SLAMM'N for soft snow.
    Can't recommend it enough if you want to winter rider around these parts.

    That being said, depending on your location a fellow can get along with
    a "29er" on winter days but you'll be looking for the hardest snow
    and sometimes that means riding neighborhoods and sidewalks and stuff.

    Two different beasts. Speedway has a new Aluminum model that's going
    to be around 2k.

  18. #18
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    The perfect all around bike? for an area the size of 20% of the US?....

    Im on a felt 29er in the summer, ride the inlaws 9-zero-7 in the snow...

  19. #19
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    I voted for fat bike. If you're just riding trails or doing simple trips, then the 29er would be awesome. But for off trail, snow, mud, meat hauling, expeditions, it's the fatty

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