Why Cycles Big Iron ($7,489 as tested)
Think all fat bikes are ponderous and slow? Think again. Why Cycles’ Big Iron makes it clear that oversize tires aren’t just for snow anymore. Taking cues from more aggressive geometries in the trail-bike realm, the Big Iron gets a slack-for-the-category head tube (68.7 degrees), a slightly lower bottom bracket, and a long top tube paired to a short 35-millimeter stem. Add in a dropper post, a rarity on snow machines because of their tendency to lock out in the cold, and you’ve got the shreddiest fat bike you’ve ever piloted. Our Big Iron was spendy, owing to a lightweight SRAM X0 drivetrain and Enve M685 wheels, but we wouldn’t trade those hoops for anything; the combination of wide carbon rims and titanium frame and bars made for a silky ride. However, you can get a lower-tier model for under $4,000, fulfilling Why’s goal of making titanium accessible to more riders. Livery notwithstanding, this bike was so deft and versatile—tearing up everything from foot-deep freshies to rubbled desert singletrack—that we were plenty excited to keep riding it even after the spring thaw.
Fatback Rhino FLT ($2,999 as tested)
The Fatback Rhino FLT proves you don’t have to spend a fortune for a great winter ride. Because the frame is aluminum, it won’t break the budget. Still, the geometry feels tight and responsive, and the spec (SRAM GX Eagle, carbon bars, and Fatback’s surprisingly light and sturdy Big Su wheels) is high value. With the 100-millimeter Manitou Mastodon suspension fork, it even holds its own on dry trails.
Salsa Mukluk Carbon NX Eagle ($3,149 as tested)
Already boasting stable handling, with clearance for some of the widest tires on the market, the Salsa Mukluk Carbon NX Eagle gets sweet new 4.6-inch 45Nrth Dillinger Five tires, a 1x12 drivetrain with 11-50-tooth cassette, and sick graphics. Our only niggle: the NX Eagle gears and SRAM Guide T brakes felt a little cheap.