Fat bike forks, rigid or suspension


I am looking to buy a fat bike. I tried one with a suspension fork, and a couple without, and it’s a dilemma. With, more complicated, heavier, but more plush. Without, still pretty damn plush. Any advice?

  • Chef


Really depends on where, and when you’re riding. I also have ridden both and I remember making the decision that if I was to buy a fatbike for regular trail use, throughout the summer and winter riding season then I would buy one with a suspension fork. My home trails here in BC are quite technical and the suspension still helps quite a lot when descending. If I was going to mainly use it in winter months then I would only buy a rigid one. Or if your home trails aren’t all that technical, then theres no need for the fork either.

With that being said, theres nothing stopping you from buying one with a fork, then swapping it out for a rigid one come winter. My other advice for buying a fatbike is make sure you get one that has normal trail bike geometry, Like the Rocky Mountain Blizzard. Some fat bikes come with more recreation, or commuter geometry and this makes them difficult to ride.



Thanks Josh. Just had a crash course in bike geometry, think I know what you mean now. Going to go suspension, this will be a year-round rig. So, mind another question? 170mm or 190mm spacing? Or something else?


I would personally go 170mm. It’s a spacing standard specifically built for fat bikes. If you find yourself riding on a lot of snow then you may want to consider going wider, but from my experience 170mm spacing gives you plenty of wide tire options. Plus anything on 190mm will ride a lot slower than 170mm, might not be so fun in the summer time on regular trails.

Also get a bike that has a reliable, serviceable suspension fork. Riding in winter is tough on fork seals and you want to be riding a product that can be serviced as quickly as possible. Just ask the salesperson if they can service the fork in house, or if it needs to be shipped out. If it does need to be shipped, how far away is it going? you don’t want to be waiting 3 weeks for your fork to come back from a simple service.



170 it is. Won’t be an exclusively snow bike. Thanks Josh.

Currently, just considering bikes with the RockShox. There is a lot of talk about the Wren, but I don’t know them.


I’ve used the RockShox Bluto extensively and I like it. It’s essentially a widened Revelation I believe, so repair parts and all that should be in good supply at most shops.



Hi Josh, having some trouble finding models with 170mm spacing. Specialized, Salsa, Trek, Kona, etc. all are 190+. Wyatt has one, and espouses the same reasons as you; Reeb has two, one also available with 190; any thoughts on the brands? Or other brand suggestions.


It looks like for 2016 they all settled on 190 mm. This has inspired me, I will get to the bottom of this. Expect an article soon.



Thanks Josh. Looking forward to it.



I spoke with Eric Sovern at Surly Bikes about the widening of fat bike rear ends and he helped shed some light on the topic. Surly made the Pugsley as the worlds first production fat bike over 10 years ago and they used a 135mm rear hub and off set it 17.5mm so you could get a full range of gears. As the math works 17.5 x 2 + 135 = 170mm, they were eventually able to have 170mm hubs made and this became the standard.

170mm works quite well for an all around hub standard but it lacks a little if you want to run a 5" wide tire. They increased the hubs to 190 mm with the thought that you could always put a 4" tire on a 190mm but would struggle to put a 5" tire on a 170mm. This is why most companies have switched to 190mm. This is all so new that it is happening in real time with changes being made every year, hence why everything was 170mm and now is 190mm after just a couple years.

Eric said not to be afraid to run a 190mm fat bike as your 4 season ride as thats where the standard is seeming to stay, he just recommended that you double check that it has as close to regular trail bike geometry as possible. You could always run 4" tires in the summer and 5" in the winter. He suggested their Wednesday fat bike with an added Bluto from RockShox as your 170mm option.

I am going to continue to speak to a few industry people and try to ride a few more fat bikes before releasing an article on the issue, but because you asked a good question you got to know first!




Hi Josh, thanks! Started reading about the Wednesday, then wandered around a little bit and started getting tempted by the Moonlander. It may never be fast, but man, the things people have ridden over on 5" treads. The Wednesday + Bluto is definitely on the list though. A few rides in I will probably want a little more zing. Looking forward to the article!