Fat Jokes

For the last few months, trending topics in cycling have included the following: cyclocross, disc brakes for cyclocross, Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong, new SRAM Red and fat bikes.

For all items except the last one, I get it (even if disc brakes on ‘cross bikes are dumb for racing). Those make sense — I can see the reasoning behind their places in the conversation.

But fat bikes? Really?

Why anyone — one lone person in the world — would want to pilot one of those things is beyond me. But to have them be popular enough have multiple websites devoted to the cause and to require manufactures to offer multiple models means there must be something to the whole trend.

Because, come on — fat bikes can’t be a dumb as they look, can they?

First, consider the cost: around $2,000. The Surly Neck Romancer Pug will run you $1,850 — or about the same as a SRAM Rival-equipped ‘cross bike. But unlike that ‘cross bike, for which you can find replacement bits pretty much everywhere, your fat bike requires special TLC. And most shops don’t have that kind of stuff.

Also, fat bikes weigh a metric ton. I saw a guy struggling to get up the slightest of rises on my neighborhood trail after the last snow. It looked like a ton of fun. And it was … for me … as I passed him on my ‘cross bike.

Next, let’s compare the utility aspect of a fat bike to a cyclocross bike. The fat bike is a very good choice for riding in the snow, due to the extra-wide tires, which create a kind of snowshoe effect. So, hey — score one for the fat bike!

Unfortunately, they’re as bad as any other bike in deeper snow. And when the snow is wet? Forget it. It’s like trying to push a car. (Photo stolen from Bike Rumor.)

A cyclocross bike, on the other hand, can cut through that same snow and probably do it faster. And since it has a tire more like a blade than, say, an oar, it can cut through wet snow too. And when you’re done with that, it can handle pavement or gravel duty with equal aplomb.

Fat bike? Well, let’s talk abut that snow some more. Maybe in places farther north — say, anywhere north of Minneapolis — they’re a solid choice. But if there’s no snow, this is not the bike you’d choose to go for a ride.

On a fat bike, 10 mph feels like warp speed. On any other bike in your stable, you’re probably doing 10 mph with one foot clipped in.

If the cyclocross bike is the Swiss Army Knife of cycling — able to handle whatever is thrown its way — the fat bike has to be the tiny knife that goes with the butter tray. It’s good for one thing only. Even triathlon bikes are more useful than fat bikes, and that’s saying something. My TT bike has been hanging in the garage untouched since July — the last time there was a time trial anywhere near here.

But clear pavement is pretty much a year-round thing, making the TT bike considerably more useful. That still doesn’t mean you’d want to ride your TT bike everywhere, but at least you wouldn’t get passed by that shaky old lady on her beach cruiser.

Though bike rides of all kinds are pretty fun, I can only hope that the industry forgets about fat bikes as the weather warms. There’s already plenty of “dumb” in cycling — I’m looking at you, long-promised-and-yet-to-be-delivered Garmin power pedals — we needn’t make it worse.

27 Comments to “Fat Jokes”

  1. SmooveP 23 February 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    Sir, you have angered the fatbike community. When your friends find you laying by the side of the trail with a 4 inch wide tire track down the back of your matchy-matchy team “kit”, they’ll know why.

    - Smoove

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  3. lamard 23 February 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    i would really love to see your cross bike in the snow skills pal, because you are clearly god-like (although more than likely delusional)

    secondly, while a cross bike has it’s place it is not able to handle whatever is thrown it’s way. Perhaps in you world of concrete, grass hills and the kids loop at you local ‘trail’ system. I’d really like to see you hit a decent jump, actual trails with boulders half the size of your wheel, or a stair set at speed with you swiss army knife…

    Ever researched fat bikes? maybe you will find that they lend well to addition of a 29er wheel set for summer riding, and that they ARE the clear choice for snow riding. I’m sure there must be a reason why a cross bike has never won the Arrowhead 135, or been the bike of choice for the Iditabike

  4. Mitch R. 24 February 2012 at 7:22 am #

    I have heard these criticisms before. They apply equally to mountain bikes.

    I suggest that you take your cyclocross bike to the Arrowhead Ultra, if you have the guts, and give it a try. After pushing that thing for 135 miles, you might have a different view.

    $20 says that you will show up the next time at the Arrowhead Ultra as a proud owner of a fat bike sporting clown shoe rims.

  5. Velo Jones 24 February 2012 at 8:23 am #

    I’ve angered the fatbike community? And I’m going to get run over by one now? So that means someone is going to get one rolling fast enough to catch me?

    I look forward to seeing that. Ha!

    lamard – As far as the events you mentioned — they’re both quite a bit north. And if you reread the post above, you’ll notice that I said a fatbike would be great in those areas.

    But anywhere else, somewhere that doesn’t have deep snow for months on end?

    Dumb.

    • AlphaZZ 12 May 2013 at 6:37 pm #

      Seriously, 10 mph is all you can get a fat bike up to? Currently a friend and myself have a competition with our Surly Moonlander fat bikes where our average mph is closing in on 18 for the course. Maybe you need to grow some legs sir.

  6. MG 24 February 2012 at 11:35 am #

    Ha… This blog is dumb. To call yourself a blog that’s associated with VeloGear, and then to disrespect cyclists is hilarious.

    You know that every single fatbike owner also owns seven other bikes, right? For example, I own a road bike, two ‘cross bikes and four mountain bikes as well. And now, I’ll guarantee you 100 percent that I will never… NEVER spend a single dollar with VeloGear.

    How’s that for fatbike love, asshole?

  7. Drew Diller 24 February 2012 at 11:48 am #

    I have a question. Why do you start off with “Why anyone — one lone person in the world — would want to pilot one of those things is beyond me”, and make a concession so quickly afterward (that fat bikes are a solid choice north of Minneapolis)?

    You can think what you want about whatever bike, that’s cool, but blanket statements don’t make for good reading …he said with a blanket statement.

    Another question is, regardless of your observations of other fat tire riders’ performance, have you ridden one?

  8. Northender 24 February 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Trolling fat bikers isn’t good for business. I hope you’re one of the proprietors of this company, if not you might unemployed in the near future.

  9. Velo Jones 24 February 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Easy, Matt. It’s a joke. It’s in the title. No need to get all name-cally. Even though I called your bike dumb.

    Drew – I have ridden one. Unimpressed.

    Northender – I get paid in old coffee, but they have a microwave in here for me. It works out.

  10. dgw2jr 24 February 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    You know what else is funny? The picture representing CX on wikipedia. A dude carrying his bike.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclo-cross

  11. iDad 24 February 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    “But anywhere else, somewhere that doesn’t have deep snow for months on end?”

    I ride my fat bike on the beach( pretty deep sand) pretty much all year round. Try that on a cross bike… And yes, I have a cross bike.

  12. Anonymous 25 February 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Yo dud, i heard your ilk in the early 80s rippin’ on mtn bikes.

    Fatbikes adds back the basic fun that cyclocross sucks free of of trail riding and fat bikes do it without suspension which is also heavy and requires way to much TLC.

    Fatbikes are the distilled soul of what mountain biking really was: fun with the feel of speed, if no real speed; and carefree simplicity

  13. BigFatLarryFlint 25 February 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    The thing dumber than this CX monkey’s blog posting is the clothing your company sells and EPO taking readers of Velonews. Good luck with Chapter 11.

  14. otb-Bob 26 February 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    I wonder what kind of bike won the cx race in Madison Wi a week ago? hmmmm

  15. Anonymous 27 February 2012 at 3:46 am #

    Haters gotta hate.

  16. big_toobs 27 February 2012 at 8:33 am #

    Fatbikes are awesome and there are plenty of places to ride them. They aren’t ideal for pavement, yet I can ride all the local single track, jump on a snowmobile or XC ski trail, or load up for a tour of the Maine coast. They aren’t a fad. They are here to stay.

  17. DrJay 28 February 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    I don’t know who Velo Jones is but he sounds like a pretentious idiot, I won’t be buying any velogear. Maybe us Fatbike riders should implement a facebook ban of any & all velogear product. We show Velo Jones just how popular fat bikes are getting.

  18. fatty 28 February 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    so, yeah, you gonna stop selling those pugsley’s and moonlanders?

    or is this some trolling for attention?

  19. Moonlandy 28 February 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    The shaky old lady on her beach cruiser is faster than Velo Jones because he has his head in his ass the whole ride. Cross bikes suck because they were invented for roadies who can’t bunny hop a mountain bike over a obstacle and they were too heavy for the chicken arms of the roadie to pick up and run over the obstacles so they invented light weight cross bikes that can’t take corners with a crud in the mud so that is why you always see those skinny anorexic roadies laying down like a pig in the hay, sometimes its on top of each other, thats the way they roll.

  20. Ryan Seacrust 28 February 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Angelina Jolie’s leg has more meat on it than those CXers have on both arms. They hate fat bikes because one actually needs a little bit of upper body strength to ride a fat bike in the snow, which they don’t possess.

  21. Boob Tube 28 February 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Pound for pound fat bikes are a better value than carpet fibre cross bikes, 4x times the traction as well.

  22. Velo Jones 29 February 2012 at 8:42 am #

    boob tube – You’re right on the value proposition. Carbon ‘cross bikes are super-fun, but pretty impractical. I have a pretty standard, reasonably priced ‘cross bike that I’m digging.

    moonlandy – Your second sentence is amazing. It went from bike characteristics to eating disorders to mud-wrestling in 87 words.

    drjay – Well that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

  23. SmooveP 29 February 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Nice try with the Lebowski quote. But you’re too late. The fatbike community has spoken. I suggest you donate your unsold fatbike inventory to these folks:

    http://www.secondlifebikes.org/

  24. Mike 19 March 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    Cyclecross bikes are well gay dude. But each to their own.

  25. VeloBike 22 March 2012 at 1:27 am #

    You’re right of course, I too have found a cx bike superior to my fatbike.

    It’s only in certain circumstances though. Like when I have to lift my bike over a 7′ deer fence or carry it over unrideable ground.

    My only problem with a cx bike is when it actually has to be ridden. The silly skinny wheels bog up to the axles on any sort of interesting terrain.

    But I have a solution – I am going to fit a rack to it, then carry a disassembled fatbike on it and use that for the bits where there is actual riding to be done.

    Procedure:
    riding – fatbike with disassembled cx bike on rack
    other – assemble cx bike, disassemble fatbike and place on rack. Now lift light cx bike over fence or carry up the mountain.

    This is a genius idea, and I would never thought of it if it hadn’t been for your inspiring article.

    Funny troll btw, I enjoyed it. :)

  26. ImmignDagma 4 July 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    I wanted to know what can workers a bee in one’s brio so that’s about it not who could not turn an literal answer.


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