E-bikes with fat tires fascinate every one of us for all the right reasons – but they’re more than just looks. Fat tires allow an e-bike to do everything a regular e-bike can’t. If you want to understand why e-bikes and fat tires are a match made in heaven, just read on.
Here’s what this blog will cover.
- What are Fat Bike Tires?
- Advantages of Fat Tires
- Disadvantages of Fat Tires
- Do I Need Fat Bike Tires?
- Fat Tire Buying Guide
- Fat E-bike Tire Pressure
What are Fat Bike Tires?
Fat tires are ultra-wide tires with a width usually ranging from four to five inches. They are used in personal mobility vehicles meant for off-roading, hill climbing, and riding on snow, sand, dirt, or any other slippery terrain.
Even though fat tires appear a recent thing, they are not so new.
Fat tires have been used in regular bicycles for a long time. They were first used by bicyclists tackling sandy and snowy terrains during the 1980s. Adding fat tires to e-bikes, however, is a recent innovation – one that turned out quite useful for e-bikers.
Advantages of Fat Tires
Here are the major advantages of using fat tires on e-bikes, along with the reasons that make them a better choice than their not-so-fat counterparts.
Fat Tires are Meant for Thrill-seekers
Fat bike tires allow riders to explore everything that had been previously inaccessible to them.
Be it a rugged hill, a steep mountain, or just a rough city road, having fat tires on your e-bike means you cannot only access it safely but can also have a relaxed and carefree ride.
Fat tires also allow you to sail through sandy paths, slippery marshes, or snow-covered surfaces, thanks to the significantly greater traction offered by them. It’s due to their wider tire profile, which distributes your weight over a larger area.
If the conditions are more challenging, you can further enhance the traction by simply lowering the tire pressure and increasing the contact area of your tires. This characteristic, unique to fat tires, makes them perfect for all kinds of thrill-seekers out there.
E-bikes with fat tires also show better resilience in the face of harsh weather conditions, such as severe winds, than all other alternatives including eMTBs, thanks to their additional weight.
Fat Tires Ensure Better Ride Control & Balance
Fat tires offer better balance and ride control due to their wider profile, more tread, and additional weight. In simple words, the better grip offered by these tires translates to greater stability and more safety.
Off-roaders, in particular, can benefit from the enhanced traction offered by fat tires while riding on rough patches or while undertaking difficult bends and turns. It’s one of the reasons why fat tires are the perfect choice for those beginner cyclists whose commute involves off-roading.
Another reason behind the greater stability is the fact that e-bike frames used with fat tires are way sturdier than the ones used with thin tires.
Fat Tires Combine Fun & Comfort With Safety
Fat tires make your ride comfortable by cushioning the impact of the bumpy roads, jagged hills, rugged terrains, or any other kind of undulated surface you might encounter in your path.
In simple words, no disruption is significant enough to disrupt your ride while you’re using fat tires. They double down as shock absorbers and complement your suspension system to make sure you have a fun, comfortable, and, most importantly, safe ride.
The wider tire profile, greater contact area, and additional weight also mean that your tires won’t slip on snow, mud, marshes, or wet surfaces.
Fat Tires are Perfect for Beach Riding
Since fat tires provide a better grip and traction on loose surfaces due to the reason mentioned above, they’re ideal for beach riding.
They work fantastically well when you lower your tire pressure, as it further flattens out your tire profile and the tire doesn’t sink in the sand. This is why most cruiser e-bikes on the market have fat tires on them.
However, though fat tires are perfect for riding on sandy terrain, keep in mind that riding them can be difficult when you don’t want to rely too much on motor power.
To counter the additional rolling resistance created due to the enhanced contact area, you would have to pedal harder while riding on the beach – which takes us to the next advantage offered by these tires.
Fat Tires Keep You Healthy and Fit
All kinds of e-bikes make you healthy when you pedal frequently and don’t use the motor power too often. However, with fat tires, this is just another story.
Due to their enhanced rolling resistance, e-bikes with fat tires engage more muscles and require a lot of exertion whenever you pedal them. So whatever health benefit you get with ordinary e-bikes, you get much more when you use the ones with fat tires.
Disadvantages of Fat Tires
Although there are a lot of benefits of fat tires, they are not flawless. Here are the areas where fat tires are not-so-perfect when compared to thin tires.
- Fat tires use more rubber and are therefore more expensive than thin tires
- Being heavier, fat tires add to the overall weight of the e-bike, warranting the need for a sturdier suspension – one that’s powerful enough to bear the additional weight on rough terrains
- Much like suspension systems, larger and heavier brakes are required to stop the e-bikes that use fat tires. And since these brakes work a lot, they also require consistent and thorough maintenance
- Fat tires experience more rolling resistance and, therefore, the e-bikes that use them require more power to operate and accelerate
Do I Need Fat Bike Tires?
It depends on where you’ll be using your e-bike.
If you’re planning to buy an electric bike for pure urban use, you don’t need fat bike tires. Though you can still buy one in case you hate those awful street bumps and you’d like to have some extra cushioning for a comfortable ride.
However, if you live in a remote area and your commute involves hills, off-roading, or even rough urban roads, you’ll have to go for an e-bike that has fat tires. Likewise, if you experience sandy, snowy, or slippery terrains, fat bike tires would again be a better choice.
Not to forget, if you’re an adrenaline junkie looking to explore the city outskirts that have always been out of bounds for you, then again, an e-bike with fat tires would allow you to explore anything you want without any constraints of any kind.
An e-bike with fat tires is comfortable, safe, and way more fun than the one with thin tires can ever be!
Fat Tire Buying Guide
Here are some of the things related to fat tires that you should look out for when buying a fat tire e-bike.
While it may seem that the fatter a tire is, the better it is, that’s not always the case. The biggest tires (such as 5” wide) are most capable in snow and sand, but they weigh a lot and create a lot of drag/ resistance.
Four-inch fat tires provide the optimum balance between traction and resistance – which explains why 4” is the most common fat tire width out there.
The width of the rim also impacts the performance of fat tires. Narrower rims are nimbler but wider rims work better in soft conditions. The width of the rims ranges from 50-100mm, but the one with 80mm width usually works in most cases.
The next thing to consider while selecting the right fat tire is to evaluate its dia.
Fat tires with a larger dia (such as 27.5 or 26×4 fat tires) can better handle surface undulations, especially the rugged off-road terrains than the ones with a smaller dia (such as 20×4 fat bike tires) – but they weigh more.
The 26×4 fat tire, however, provides the best compromise.
Just like the tires on regular bikes, fat tires come with a lot of tread patterns. The most common ones are; slick, semi-slick, and knobby.
Slick and semi-slick tread patterns are suitable for urban use and mild off-roading respectively. But if you plan to use your fat bike on rough and rugged terrains or as a general-purpose all-terrain e-bike, a knobby tread is a better choice.
Weight & Build
You might also want to consider the weight and build of the casing during your selection.
Heavier tires have better traction but they also create more drag and need more pedaling effort to get going. Tires with a higher aspect ratio and stiffer sidewalls are more durable than the ones with a low profile and loose sidewalls.
Sivrock CJ500 – 26×4 Fat Tire E-Bike
If you want to get an all-purpose fat tire e-bike, the Sivrock CJ500 can be a good option to consider.
It’s an all-terrain fat bike with exceptional off-road capability. The gigantic 26 x 4 fat tires used on this e-bike have an anti-slip knobby texture for maximum traction and a wear-resistant build with a puncture-resistant liner for long service life.
Even though the 26×4 fat tire is sufficient to kill all bumps and undulations that you may experience, the CJ500 also has a sturdy front fork suspension which makes it the ultimate fat bike for hill climbing and off-roading.
Fat E-bike Tire Pressure
In order to make the most out of your fat tires and experience a fun, safe, and convenient ride, your tire pressure needs to be accurate and in perfect accordance with your terrain. Here’s a brief summary of what air pressure to maintain in your fat tires.
|Fat Tire Pressure Guide for E-bikes|
|Type of Terrain||Tire Pressure|
|Urban Roads||12+ psi|
|Rocky trails||8-12 psi|
|Wet packed sand||6-8 psi|
|Loose sand||4-6 psi|
|Soft packed snow||4-5 psi|
The fact is, there are too many variables to get a definitive air pressure for fat bike tires. Besides terrain, the optimum pressure depends on the following factors:
- Net Weight: Heavier e-bikes, riders, or payload need more tire pressure
- Tire Quality: Tires with lower profile need more pressure
- Tire Sidewall: Tires with looser sidewalls need more pressure than the stiffer ones
- Ride speed: Higher cruising speeds need more tire pressure
You have to be really precise about your fat tire pressure. While lowering it increases the rolling resistance which reduces your battery life, increasing it beyond the optimum amount results in a bouncy ride.
Traction vs protection tradeoff is another thing you should keep in mind.
The lower tire pressure increases traction but it makes your tires prone to pinch flats (as they compress more upon hitting any hard object) and may even cause severe damage to your rims. Likewise, the higher tire pressure keeps your tire and rim safe, but you lose traction.
So, it is a very fine line that you have to find for your particular case. The best way to do that is to pack a pump and start an experimental spree!
Can I put fat tires on any e-bike?
No, you cannot put any fat tires on any e-bike. You have to make sure that your wheel size is perfectly compatible with the tire and that the frame of your e-bike has enough clearance. Even if the tires are perfectly compatible with your bike frame, you shouldn’t do so because the e-bikes with fat tires are specifically designed with a higher standard of quality and strength.
What are the common fat bike tire sizes?
Generally, fat tires range from 3.7″ to 5.2″ in width and are mounted to rims with widths ranging from 50mm to 100mm. As far as the diameter of the wheel is concerned, the fat tires can be anywhere from 16 to 27.5 inches in the inner dia, though there can be exceptions. The most common fat tire sizes used today are 27.5×4, 26×4, and 20×4 fat bike tires.
Can I replace a 20×4 inch fat tire with a 26 x 4 fat tire?
Replacing a smaller sized tire (say 20×4 fat bake tire) with a larger sized tire (say 26 x 4-inch fat tire) will leave adequate ground clearance for the bottom bracket, but it will remove the clearance between your tires and the front fork as well as the fenders. So, it’s simply not possible without modifications to your frame.
Can I replace a 26×4 fat tire with a 20×4 fat bike tire?
If you replace a larger-sized tire (say 26×4 fat tire) with a smaller-sized tire (say 20×4 fat bike tire), your front fork and fender as well as the rear fender would have adequate clearance from the tires, but your bottom bracket will lose its ground clearance – which would make your e-bike extremely unsafe for off-roading.