Trail bikes aside, no mountain machine adds more versatility to a fleet than a fat bike. The wide tires provide stability and flotation that will keep you riding through mud season and winter, and the combination of modern geometries and suspension forks has made fatties just as much fun for shredding in dry conditions, especially on rocky and sandy terrain.
Fatback Corvus ($3,565)
The Fatback Corvus is the enthusiast’s choice, with a pedigree that includes course records at the Iditarod Trail Invitational. The current version is slacker up front, for more confident descending, and shorter in the rear triangle, for sprightlier pedaling. Yet it remains one of the most stable-riding fatties we’ve tried, which is important in snow, where too quick handling can leave you spinning angels in a drift. With the RockShox Bluto fork, we smashed through rubbly descents as quick as friends on full-suspension rigs. Clearly designed for big adventure, the Corvus has a trio of bottle cages and bomber rack mounts out back for all your gear-carrying needs. Fatback even makes its own hubs, which are rated to withstand temperatures down to minus 40 degrees.
Salsa Blackborow ($2,799)
If anything can handle more adventure than the Corvus, it’s the Salsa Blackborow, the alloy overlander of fat bikes. Built for utility, not speed, it accommodates four bottle-cage mounts and three Anything mounts—two on the carbon fork and one between the down tube and rear wheel, a perfect spot for a skinny, ultralight tent. The custom rack is rated to 110 pounds, meaning it carries more than you probably can, and Salsa’s decision to spec the new SRAM GX1 Eagle, with a 50-tooth granny gear, makes hauling serious loads possible. Despite the long wheelbase and 36-pound weight, the Blackborow is surprisingly deft; not only did it carve up the backcountry for us, but with all those mounts, it doubled as a killer city hauler.
Canyon Dude CF 8.0 ($1,999)
Based on the price, it’s tempting to call the Canyon Dude CF 8.0 entry level, but the full-carbon frame and fork, DT Swiss rims and hubs, and extra-wide four-inch tires are high-quality features you’d expect to find on pricier rigs. There’s even a nifty chip at the rear dropouts that grows and widens the stay length and spacing to fit up to 4.8-inch rubber, further adding to the bike’s all-terrain chops. Canyon wisely chose a SRAM NX drivetrain, which gets you affordable 1x11 simplicity, though we’d have preferred a bigger granny gear than the 42-tooth ring that comes on this Dude.