The Best Fat Bike Tires of 2018
Outdoor enthusiasts are more and more to adopt strange looking off-road bicycles with oversized tires.
Creatively called a Fat Bike (also known as fatbike or fat-tire bike) they allow you to explore a variety of terrain types including snow, sand, desert, bogs, mud, and of course asphalt !
With fat bikes becoming popular various needs are emerging and bike tire companies are now welcomely offering tires designed for specific terrains and purposes. They are necessary for a good riding experience and performance, but with so many to choose from it is hard to be decisive.
Being long-time fat bike users ourselves, cycling on all possible types of terrains and having to determine which tire is the best for our purpose is no secret.
We tested over a dozen of the best fat bike tires on hard and soft terrain, evaluating usage purpose, durability, TPI, weight, and rolling resistance. This review will provide valuable analysis on how to choose the best all-around fat bike tire, the best fat bike tire for snow, the best fat bike tire for sand, the best fat bike tire for hard-pack terrain, and the best value.
Here's the list of the selected products, you can scroll down further to check the complete review:
These are all great products, depending on your profile and budget you might choose one or another, this is why we added an "award" column to help you choose.
How fat-bike tires work ?
While some people see fat bikes as a trend, we and other enthusiasts firmly believe the opposite. After all, why limit yourself to only a city or mountain bike when you can have one that rolls on every imaginable terrain ?
With a fatbike, standard bikes become obsolete as they are designed for a specific usage. Sure you can use your mountain bike in the city, but can you use it on the snow ? or on sand ?
Fat tire bike owners only need one bike to do it all, saving space, money and having more fun cycling.
Now if you are here, you probably don't need to be convinced, but you may be curious about how those fat tires work ?
Fat bike tires are generally around 4 inches in width instead of the typical 2 inch mountain bike tires. This allows for greater air volume which in turn offers greater comfort, increased contact area and better tire pressure management.
The difference in tire pressure for example has a huge impact on how you interact with the ground. Indeed, thanks to the greater air volume you will be able to feel even the slightest difference of pound-force per square inch (PSI).
This means you can configure your tire to your comfort and performance preferences !
By the way, we recommend you to get your hands on a good tire pressure gauge. This way you will be able to fully experience what your fat-bike can do !
Here are general ranges for your tire pressure depending on the terrain, start from there and then customize to your preferences:
- Soft terrain: 8 PSI
- Trail: 12-15 PSI
- City: 20-30 PSI
If you want to learn more we highly recommend you to read this Fatbike introduction guide.
If you want to get into the heart of the matter and see the best fat bike tires scroll down below !
Best Fat Bike Tires of 2018
We wrote down a list that contains the best fatbike tires in the market, that have been selected for their usage purpose, durability, TPI, weight, and rolling resistance.
Now, let’s get into the heart of the matter of the best fat bike tire of 2018.
1. Schwalbe Jumbo Jim – The Best All Around Fat Tire
The Jumbo Jim fat tires are super light (one of the lightest fat tires in the market) allowing you to reach greater speeds than any other fatbike tire under the same conditions !
We tested these tires on all types of terrains and were amazed to find out how versatile they are. Indeed, the Jumbo Jim big tires are able to handle a variety of conditions thanks to right-sized and distant center knobs.
Its big shoulder knobs also allow for excellent cornering grip.
Concretely, they allow you to ride with ease on every type of terrain, even on ice thanks to the tread pattern that gives you an excellent grip.
Of course, with the high quality and low weight of the tires, you'll also be able to have fun in dirt or softer terrains.
The Schwalbe Jumbo Jim could be just a bit more puncture resistant to destroy it's competitors everywhere but you would loose in lightness and speed.
Plus they are still very far from being easily puncturable thanks to their 0.03 inches (0.85 mm) thick sidewalls and their well known PaceStar triple compound.
When you compare the Schwalbe Jumbo Jim to its big competitors, the Maxxis Mammoth and the Vee 8, you clearly see that it is a superior product:
*Keep in mind these measurements were taken with the Jumbo Jim Lite Skin, the one we recommend here is the Jumbo Jim SnakeSkin, that is a little bit thicker (more durable) and still offers similar performances.
2. Vee Bulldozer – Best Hardpack Terrain Fat Tire
Vee Rubber is also a family owned company that was founded in Thailand in 1977. Their tires are made from their own rubber tree plantations which allows them to offer high quality products at a fair price.
The Bulldozer tire is offered in white or black, the difference is not only aesthetic as the white version is made from Pure Silica Compound (PSC), which we felt is more "sticky", which is good on ice but not so much for the rest. Indeed, for the best hardpack terrain fat tire we recommend and the black Vee Bulldozer. If you want to learn about the best fat bike tire on snow click here.
The black Bulldozers, and Vee tires in general, are the toughest tires in the market, which makes them perfect for rocky environments.
You'll quickly notice the unusual tread pattern of the Bulldozer.
The alternating paddle blades on each side of the centre line interspersed with a chamfered edge centre block allows you to adhere on the ground while, at the same time, provide for a smooth, low resistance, riding experience.
While you can still use the Bulldozer tires on snow, where they really excel is on dirt and gravels thanks to their traction and robust qualities.
Another rather interesting factor, is that they are light, and going from standard quality 5 lbs. tires to 3.1 makes a huge different in both comfort and performance.
3. Vee Apache Fatty Slick – The Best City Fatbike Tire
Ok, i'll admit it, I could buy this tire for the looks only. Seriously, with the minimalist and slick look of the Apache Fatty Slick people will envy you. These will turn fatbike haters into adepts.
And it's not just about insane looks, these tires are actually great for everyday use if you live in the city.
Indeed, when riding a fat bike on road, it is usually slow because of the increased rolling resistance, but with the slick design of these tires it seems just like you are floating away and is way more comfortable than a standard bike.
Those tires are also really fun to play with: drifting, burnouts, you name it, and what better place to show-off than a city full of curious people ?
Surprisingly, the Apache Fatty Slick also performs really well on sand thanks to the low rolling resistance. Plus, you don't get sand thrown on to you like you would with other tires because of the knobs !
The Apache Fatty Slick is a must buy if you live in a beach town or use your bike primarily for road use. If you use your bike only in the mountains then this tire is not for you. Gravel and dirt are okay but in snow or even wet environments they can be dangerous since they don't have knobs and adherence will be put to difficulty and you will easily slip.
4. Vee Studded Snowshoe XL – The Best Fatbike Tire for Snow (& Ice)
The Studded Snowshoe XL are actually great all-around 4 season tires, they are available in both non studded or studded versions, with the latter being particularly awesome, as it's name implies, on snowy terrains. Indeed they give you that much needed consistency on slippery terrains allowing for better performances (and less frustration).
The tread pattern has alternating single and double slightly ramped center knobs, evenly set transitional knobs of two different sizes that are all studded and unstudded shoulder knobs that allow for safer cornerings.
What is also interesting to note, because it should be seen more often on tires, are the dimplings between the knobs that provide even more traction.
The studs are well planted and smartly set for good traction and climbing.
And since this tire is made from silica compound you won't have to worry too much about the snow buildup in the tread.
The Studded Snowshoe XL is an excellent performer on snow and with the added studs it can't get any better. But forget about using them as a commuter, they have a high rolling resistance and will really grip on asphalt.
5. Origin8 Supercell – The Best Budget Fatbike Tire
Origin8 is an american company that focuses on selling products with three basic principles: innovation, performance and value.
There is nothing really "innovating" about the Supercell tires but they definitely offer great on-road performance and come at a very affordable price compared to the competition.
The Origin8 Supercell will make you forget you had a standard bike as there is no point in using it anymore: these have a low rolling resistance allowing for a very smooth and comfortable ride.
You obviously don't want to use these off-road (we didn't even try) but on asphalt, even on rainy days these are the perfect budget tires and will make all the difference compared to your previous pair.
The compound it's made of allows for good gripping, even when leaning on the side and combined with the low tread pattern are one of the quietest tires on the market.
This is why we believe it is the best road / city fatbike tire as you can use it under any condition as long as it's on asphalt and it comes at an excellent price for great quality.
The Fatbike Tire Buyers Guide
Before choosing the best tire for your fatbike, either from the list above or somewhere else, we recommend you to still read our Buyers Guide, that will help you understand the main differences between each type of tire.
So without further ado, let’s follow with our fatbike tire buying guide.
TPI - What does it even mean ?
TPI stands for Threads Per Inch. The higher the number the better it will be performance wise, but conversely, the lower the number the better it will be cut and flat resistant.
As a general rule of thumb, fatbike tires are around 120 TPI, which is a good intermediary number (it can go up to 320 TPI).
Offroad vs Onroad - Which one should I choose ?
You might think that the best is to buy an offroad tire because you'll also be able to use it on the pavement, which is true to some degree, but keep in mind it will be a lot harder to ride and a lot slower.
Because fat bike tires have more surface contact area, the type of tire and the pressure are important parameters to consider.
If you do not want things to get complicated, just choose our number 1 tire as it's a great all terrain solution.
But if you want specific tires for specific terrains check out the other tires, that were designed with these conditions in mind.
You have questions and you need answers ?
Comment below, and we'll do everything to help you choose the right tire for your needs.