Biking Gear

10 Best Fat Tire Bikes for Women & Smaller Riders in 2022

September 27, 2022

Last Updated:

Very few bike brands make women’s fat bikes. While many mountain bike and road bike manufactures make women-specific bicycles, it’s more rare to find fat tire bikes for women – that is specifically marketed as such, for a few reasons. First, fat bikes are still a newer bike category. Second, for fat bikes it’s more about geometry of the bike, weight, and size. While many of the first fat bikes came in size medium to x-large, you can now find most fat bike brands making size x-small and small. This is a huge step to inclusivity for smaller riders in fat biking! So here’s everything you need to know about find the right fat bike for you, the best fat bikes for women, and how to find a deal.

Things to Consider When Shopping for a Women’s Fat Bike:

When it comes to fat bikes there are tons of options – from budget to high end. And once you start looking, you’ll start seeing fat bikes everywhere! But with so many options, it’s hard to know what bike to choose, and what components matter for the type of riding you’ll be doing. As a friend says, fat bikes are smile machines – and I couldn’t agree more! Here’s a peek at all the info I learned when I was searching for a fat bike. I hope it helps you make a quicker decision, when it’s time to invest in a fat bike.

The main differences between a quality fat bike and cheaper made one are – fork and frame material (aluminum, carbon, steel), brakes (hydraulic disc vs mechanical disc), components (drivetrain – gears etc), wheels/tires, tubeless compatibility, total bike weight, and sizing options. So here are a few things to consider before purchasing a fat bike. Just want to skip straight to the bikes? Jump ahead to the best bikes

bikepacking little crater lake
Fat bike bikepacking – Salsa Beargrease vs Salsa Mukluk

Fat bike vs mountain bike

A fat bike is basically a mountain bike with huge tires. I like to say a fat bike is like a mountain bike for people over 40. Yes, I’m talking about myself. In good fun, a fat bike is a great option for those of us who didn’t learn to mountain bike in our teens and twenties. The fat cushy tires are very forgiving, stable, and downright fun. It’s hard not to smile while riding a fat bike! Even on pretty rough terrain trails, on a fat bike you can feel stable and confident. And with no suspension, the squishy tires just eat up all those bumps and jolts that a regular bike tire would not.

How much do fat bikes cost?

Like all bike categories, fat bikes come in a range of price and value. You can buy a cheap fat bike for $500. It will have cheap components. You can also buy a carbon racing fat bike for $4,000. For the most enjoyable ride, I would recommend somewhere in the middle. You want to buy a bike that will last – and not have broken parts. And a higher-end bike can also have some better features that will make it more fun to ride. So my recommendation is to look both used and new – in the $1,200-$2,200 range.

Fat Bike Tires

Many fat bikes have 3.8″ to 4.6″ wide tires, with wheel size (diameters) of 26″ to 27.5″.

For example, the Salsa Mukluk runs a 26×4.6. This means 26″ wheels, and the tire width is 4.6″ (on 80mm rims). Vs the Salsa Beargrease runs 27.5×3.8. Which is a 27.5″ wheel set, and the tire width is 3.8″. In comparison, the Beargrease is a tad bit faster with the larger wheel diameter, and the Mukluk has a bit more traction and stability.

Tubeless compatibility is another consideration for fat bikes. Higher end fat bikes like the Salsa Beargrease & Mukluk will come with rims that work with a tubeless tire setup. Cheaper bikes will not. You can buy new rims and tires of course, depending on the bike, but that is also not a cheap option, so it makes sense to consider this before buying a bike. Tubeless tires are great for not getting flats all the time, and will also make your bike a little lighter. The process is essentially taking the tube out of the tire, putting tape on the rim, adding a liquid sealant, and filling the tire back up with air.

Fat Bike Weight

Fat Bikes are heavy. Most people are not looking for a fat bike to be their lightest bike they own. So any way around it, your fat bike is going to be a bit bulky. If you’re wanting the lightest fat bike, you’ll be looking for a carbon frame bike like the Salsa Beargrease. Which has a price tag to match, unless you find a used one. ;)

Fat Bike Brakes

The best fat bikes have hydraulic disc brakes. Gone are the days where you’ll find cheap fat bikes with rim brakes. Even cheap fat bikes now have at least mechanical disc brakes. But hydraulic vs mechanical. Mechanical disc brakes use a steel cable (more similar to rim brakes, but still a step up), while hydraulic disc brakes use brake fluid, inside a sealed braking system with piston and brake caliper. So hydraulic disk brakes have the best stopping power, require less maintenance (but when they do, you will need to take to a bike shop). Mechanical disk brakes are cheaper, require more maintenance and upkeep (since it’s not a closed system like hydraulic brake fluid), but when they do need work, it’s simpler for you to do yourself.

Verdict: look for a fat bike with hydraulic disc brakes.

Fat Bike Drivetrain

Most fat bikes in the $1500 price range will have decent and reliable drivetrain components. For fat bikes, the most important piece of info here is the speeds/gears. 1×10, 1×11, 1×12. You’ll notice the range of gears when you’re going up a steep hill and need that granny gear to slowly crank up the hill! And how many teeth on the cassette impacts this as well. For example, a 11-50t 12 speed drivetrain will be easier uphill than a 11-46t, 10 speed.

Translation: more teeth on the cassette = good. 11-50t is better than 11-46t. And12 speeds is better than 11 speeds which is better than 10.

Fat biking is less about speed and more about the journey. Efficiency is clearly not the biggest consideration here.

Fat Bike Sizes

While fat bikes used to come in more limited sizes (think medium and large), you can now find many fat bikes in size xs to xl. Remember when looking at fat bike sizing that while recommended rider height is usually listed as a quick reference point, rider inseam measurements are a better indication of how the bike will fit you! And some manufacturers run smaller and larger. For example, Salsa Bikes run big. A medium Salsa Beargrease recommended height is 5’8″-6′!

Fat Bike Bikepacking

If you plan to use your bike to transport gear or for bikepacking (camping via bike), then you need to consider your gear transportation options. If you’re on a larger frame size fat bike, this likely won’t be an issue. However, if you are on a small frame, the bike frames triangle size and rear tire clearance will severely limit your ability to carry gear with traditional backpacking bags (frame bags, seat bags, etc). So you’ll want to find a fat bike that has the ability to add a rack or includes mounts on the fork and/or downtube.

Note: if you’re looking for used fat bikes, and are hoping to mount a rack or use fork mounts, be sure to check what year you’re buying. As some previous years, for example the 2020 and previous Beargrease, did not have rear rack or fork mount compatibility. It is becoming more and more standard with new bikes!

Another option if your goal for fat bike is bikepacking, is to consider a “plus” tire bike. Not quite fat tires – the 2.8″ range is considered a “plus” tire, versus a fat tire. And that’s what you’ll find on many mountain bikes. Surly Bridgeclub or Surly Karate Monkey are both bikes that make great bikepacking rigs.

Best Women’s Fat Bikes

So now that you know what you’re looking for, here are the best fat bikes for women. The best fat tire bikes on the market with smaller riders in mind. I’ve included links to bikes currently in-stock, but with most bikes, stock levels are constantly coming and going, so keep an eye on it, or call your local bike shop. Note: the new bike season for fat bikes is typically in the fall, so check back in October for new releases.

Fat Bike Comparisons:

BikePriceWeightSizesDrivetrainWheels/TiresBikepacking
Salsa Mukluk Deore 11$2,14933 lb*XS-XL (5’2″-6’2″)Shimano 11–51t, 11-speed26 x 4.6 infork mounts & rack compatible
Salsa Beargrease$2,94930 lbXS-XL (5’2″-6’3″)Shimano 11–51t, 11-speed 27.5 x 4.0 infork mounts & rack compatible
Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1$1,29939 lbXS-XLSRAM SX Eagle 12-speed26 x 4.8 infork mounts & rack compatible
Trek Farley 5$1,99932.3 lbS-XL (5′-6’5″)Shimano 10-speed27.5 x 4.5 inrack compatible
Kona Wo$1,99933 lbS-XL (5′-6’5″)Shimano 11–51t, 11-speed26 x 4.8 inrack compatible
Giant Yukon 2$1,83034 lbS-XL (5’4″-6’6″)Shimano 12-speed27.5 x 4.5 infork mounts
Framed Minnesota Carbon Fork$1,89933 lb15in (5’3-5’7″)Shimano 10-speed27.5 x 4 inno
Norco Bigfoot 3**$1,749S-XL (5′-6’3″)Shimano 11-speed27.5 x 4.5 infork mounts
Surly Wednesday$1,84934.7 lbXS-XL (5′-6’6″)SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed26 x 3.8 infork mounts & rack compatible
RadRover 6 Plus [E]$1,69972.5 lbOS (5’2″-6’2″)na26 x 4 inno (range & weight!)
*all weights based on average medium frame, **only bike on this list with mechanical disc brakes instead of Hydraulic.

1. Salsa Beargrease

Salsa makes one of the lightest fat bikes on the market. The Beargrease frame and fork is made of carbon, and was first built for fat bike racing. It’s a great fat bike for smaller women, since it weighs 3-4 pounds less than the average fat bike. You’ll notice the difference on the uphill. But the Mukluk is a great alternative to save $800. The used market for Salsa Beargrease and Salsa Mukluks is also a great option to check first.

2022 Salsa Beargrease Carbon Deore 11 Fat Bike
  • 30 pounds
  • Minimum Rider Height: 5’2″
  • Carbon bike frame
  • Shimano Deore 11-speed drivetrain, 11-51t
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 27.5″ rims
  • 4″ tires
  • fork mounts and rear rack compatible for bike packing

Salsa Beargrease (REI $2,949)

2. Salsa Mukluk Deore 11

The Salsa Mukluk fat bike is one of the best value for the price ($800 less than the Beargrease). It’s a very stable bike in terms of geometry and the wide tires have great traction. Made of aluminum, this bike heavier than the Beargrease, but on average with most fat bikes. The Mukluk is also a reliable choice for bikepacking for shorter riders. With all the fork mounts and braze-ons, there are plenty of options for attaching a rear rack and bikepacking bags (without depending on a seat pack and large frame bag).

2022 Salsa Mukluk Deore 11 Fat Bike
  • 33 pounds
  • Minimum Rider Height: 5’2″
  • Aluminum bike frame
  • Shimano 11-speed drivetrain, 11-51t
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 26″ rims
  • 4.6″ tires
  • fork mounts and rear rack compatible for bikepacking

Salsa Mukluk Deore 11 (REI $2,149)

This is the bike I ultimately chose (but the 2020 Salsa Mukluk SX Eagle 12 speed drivetrain version), in my search for a fat bike! I’m on year two with my Mukluk and I still love it!

3. Framed Minnesota Carbon Fork

Framed is one of the only fat bike brands that actually sells a women’s specific bike. They’re a Minnesota based brand. And while they started with much cheaper bikes, in recent years the prices have climbed with inflation, putting them on-par price-wise with many other brands. They have some great sales going though.

Frame Minnesota Carbon Fat Bike
  • 33 pounds
  • Minimum Rider Height: 5’3″
  • Carbon bike frame and fork
  • Shimano 10-speed
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 27.5″ rims
  • 4″ tires
  • NO fork mounts or rear rack braze-ons

Framed Minnesota Carbon (Framed $1,899)

4. REI Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1 Fat Bike

REI’s house brand Co-op Cycles released a fat bike in 2020. For the price ($1,299), this is one of the best budget fat bikes on the market. That said, this bike is super heavy and does not come with tubeless ready rims. And the tires are nothing special. But if you’re looking to get out there on a fat bike and want something better than a Costco or Walmart bike, consider the REI fat bike.

REI Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1
  • 39 pounds
  • Minimum Rider Height: 5’3″
  • Aluminum bike frame
  • SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 26″ rims
  • 4.8″ tires
  • fork mounts and rear rack compatible for bikepacking
  • Rims are NOT tubeless ready

Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1 (REI $1,299)

5. Trek Farley 5

The next four bikes on this list have a lot in common. The Trek Farley 5, Giant Yukon 2, Norco Bigfoot 3, and Kona Wo. They are all in a very similar price, weight, tire/wheel size, with slightly different drivetrains and components!

Trek Farley 5
  • 32.3 pounds
  • Minimum Rider Height: 5′
  • Aluminum frame and fork
  • Shimano 10-speed
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 27.5″ rims
  • 4.5″ tires
  • NO fork mounts, YES rear rack braze-ons

Trek Farley 5 (Trek Bikes $1,999)

6. Giant Yukon 2

The 2022 Giant Yukon is just slightly heavier than average, but has 12 speeds. And worth noting that with sizing, there’s a minimum rider height of 5’4″.

Giant Yukon 2
  • 34 pounds
  • Minimum Rider Height: 5’4″
  • Aluminum frame and fork
  • Shimano 12-speed
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 27.5″ rims
  • 4.5″ tires
  • YES fork mounts, NO rear rack braze-ons

Giant Yukon 2 (Giant Bikes $1,830)

7. Norco Bigfoot 3

The Norco Bigfoot 3 is the only bike on this list with mechanical disc brakes instead of hydraulic.

Norco Bigfoot 3
  • Unknown pounds (probably around 33)
  • Minimum Rider Height: 5’1″
  • Aluminum frame and fork
  • Shimano 11-speed
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • 27.5″ rims
  • 4.5″ tires
  • YES fork mounts, NO rear rack braze-ons

Norco Bigfoot 3 (Moosejaw $1749)

8. Kona Wo

The Kona Wo is most similar in components to the Salsa Mukluk. The geometry specs are bit different though. Another fat bike in the Kona line up is the Kona Woo.

Kona Wo
  • 33 pounds
  • Minimum Rider Height: 5′
  • Aluminum frame and fork
  • Shimano 11-speed
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 26″ rims
  • 4.8″ tires
  • NO fork mounts, YES rear rack braze-ons

Kona Wo (Kona Bikes $1999)

9. Surly Wednesday

Surly is the brand behind one of the first widely released fat bikes (the Pugsley). They also make the ice cream truck fat bike. The Surly Wednesday is there more mid-range fat bike.

Surly Wednesday Fat Bike
  • 34.7 pounds
  • Minimum Rider Height: 5′
  • Chromoly steel frame and fork
  • SRAM SX Eagle 12-speedHydraulic disc brakes
  • 26″ rims
  • 3.8″ tires
  • YES fork mounts, YES rear rack braze-ons

Surly Wednesday (Moosejaw $1,849)

10. Rad Rover 6 Plus Electric Fat Bike

The only electric bike I am covering on this list is the Rad Rover 6. Electric bikes is a whole other topic for comparison, but I did want to mention it as an option. As not everyone is able to ride a regular (analog, whatever the kids are calling it these days) bike. That said, please be aware that e-bikes are not allowed on all trails and there are definite downsides to owning an ebike, as well as benefits.

Rad Rover 6 Plus Electric Fat Tire Bike
  • 72.5 pounds
  • 275 pound weight capacity
  • 25-45 mile range
  • Minimum Rider Height: 5’2″
  • Aluminum frame
  • 750W Motor, 7 speed
  • Hydraulic brakes
  • 26″ rims
  • 4″ tires

Rad Rover 6 (Rad Power Bikes $1,599)

Best fat bike alternative

Another option to investing in a fat bike is to consider your uses. If you’re looking to bikepack, consider getting a gravel bike or more sturdy touring bike or mountain bike with plus tires. The Surly Bridgeclub and Surly Karate monkey are two options with 2.8″ tires that might fit most of the boxes of what you would use a fat bike fire. Or if you’re looking for less snow, but more trails and offroad use, consider a “fat tire” mountain bike.

Surly Ice Cream Truck
Surly Ice Cream Truck Fat bike – on the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree near Mt Hood

Finding a used fat bike on Craigslist or Marketplace

After much research, I decided I wanted either a Salsa Beargrease or Salsa Mukluk. Older models of the Beargrease didn’t have the fork mounts and rear rack compatibility that I would need as a shorter rider. So I set my sights on a Mukluk. After searching the local Craigslist market, for several months, no size XS or Small Salsa fat bikes were coming up. Ultimately, my bike came up from saved searches on PinkBike’s Buy Sell pages. A bike shop in Vermont was selling some barely used XS and S fat bikes from their rental fleet. It was spring and end of season. It cost a bit more to ship to me, but was still way less than brand new, and at a time when all the bike shops were sold out anyway!

Tip: search beyond your town to find used. In the PNW, most fat bikes come up for sale on Craigslist in Bend, Spokane, and Boise (places with more snow).

Best Women’s Fat Tire Bikes in 2022:

In summary, here are the best fat tire bikes for women.

  1. Salsa Beargrease
  2. Salsa Mukluk Deore
  3. Co-op Cycles DRT
  4. Framed
  5. Norco Bigfoot 3
  6. Trek Farley 5
  7. Giant Yukon 2
  8. Kona Wo
  9. Surly Wednesday
  10. RadRover 6 Electric Bike
best women's fat bikes

I hope this gave you some ideas for finding a fat bike. Happy riding!