Unlike many of my counterparts, I’m not a lifelong biker. I’ve been serious only for a few years. I haven’t had the chance to live through a ton of bike trends, and see the product life cycles develop. It’s with a keen sense of interest that I watch developments in the fatbike world.
I’m not at NAHBS, so I don’t have any new or original reporting from there. I’ll send you over to Bikeradar to see some of the pretty bikes coming out, or over to Bike Rumor for talk of new carbon rims or similar news. I see two really interesting trends coming out of this.
First, I continue to think that the most important fatbike breakthrough will be a hard tail fatbike with a commercially viable, mass-market suspension fork. Yes, I know there are some forks out there–both commercial products and adaptations. I don’t think any of the current offerings are true, mass-market parts. I do think we will have a mass market fork this calendar year. I do think that will be a game changer for getting even more people to look at fat bikes as another all-purpose mountain bike option.
Second, I’m struck by how little “newness” there is. There are pretty tubing designs. There are some new tires coming out. There are peripheral products coming out (fatbike racks, etc.). That said, the vast majority of bikes I’m seeing are very narrowly clustered around a few different geometries. I don’t see anything coming out that makes me think, “Wow…I’d look at that instead of a Beargrease.” I’m waiting to see what the next real innovation will be. Given the amount of unsprung weight at issue, I’m not sure that full-suspension fat bikes are necessarily a great idea. We’ll see, I suppose. On my end, my fatbike aspirations are more incremental…lighter rims, etc. I want to see what’s holding up before I plunk down an investment in upgrades, though.
Just about every issue of Mountain Bike Action has a shootout between 26, 27.5 and 29er bikes. How will we know when fat bikes have jumped the shark? I’m waiting for the Fat versus Skinny cover story. It’s coming. It’s coming.