Fat bikes are fertile ground for terrible puns: “a growing trend,” “fat bikes gaining traction,” “the inflated fat bike market.” We could go on, but we won’t.
It’s clear that 2013 has been a breakout year for fat bikes. Salsa gave us a preview of its carbon Beargrease prototype and we’ve seen large players such as Specialized, Trek and Norco jump on the big tire bandwagon as well. At Interbike, this year's Outdoor Demo was filled with bikes shod in massive tires rumbling though the Nevada desert.
Felt took attendees by surprise with its “Fat-E” electric-assist fat bike prototype. A trend we saw from this year’s Eurobike tradeshow was the incorporation of pedal assist technology into off-road capable models. Lapierre’s Overvolt and Cube’s Stereo Hybrid are two such bikes. Like these companies, Felt is incorporating electric assist technology from Bosch into several of its 2014 models, including the Fat-E prototype shown here. The bike has yet to be officially named and is slated for release in late 2014 or early.
Felt's Fat-E prototype stopped attendees in their tracks
Fatback, 9:ZERO:7 and Borealis all had new carbon fat bike frames on display in various stages of development. Borealis is venturing into new territory by developing double-walled carbon fat bike rims that, when set up tubeless, can shave as much as two pounds of rotating weight off the wheels — though there’s a significant sting to one’s wallet.
It appears that frame standards within the fat bike market are beginning to take hold: front axle spacing on many of the new models is set at 135mm, bottom bracket width is generally 100mm, and rear axle spacing appears to be settling on 190mm. Thru-axles are becoming more common, as are tapered forks. Several fat bike manufactures mentioned that they expect RockShox and X-Fusion to bring fat bike suspension forks to market in the near future, though neither company would comment on the possibility.
Click through the gallery at above right for a detailed look at these new fat bikes and components.