For those of us in snowy climates, fat biking extends the mountain biking season to year-round. It provides good exercise, allows you to explore favorite trails in winter, and is a heck of a lot of fun. And now, more and more bike manufacturers are making fat bikes for kids as well.
My 4-year-old is sad that there isn’t a fat bike small enough for him, but there are plenty of options in the 20 inch and 24 inch fat bikes (ages 6+). (If you’re not sure what that sizing means, keep reading).
This is a list of my five favorite kids fat bikes, as well as some runners-up. The honorable mentions include several mid-fat and plus-sized kids bikes that work well on snow and sand as well.
But First, What Is A Fat Bike?
Fat bikes are mountain bikes with wide-rimmed wheels and “fat” approximately 4-inch tires. Because the tires are so wide, they can be run with very low air pressure. As a result, they can be ridden on snow or sand.
They can also be ridden like a regular mountain bike on singletrack. Because many kids bikes don’t have suspension, the fat tires can also be nice because they provide a little extra cushioning.
What About Mid-Fat And Plus-Sized Kids Bikes?
While a true “fat bike” has 4″ tires, kids can easily get away with running mid-fat (3″) tires or even plus-sized (2.6″+) tires on snow. Their bikes are smaller and they simply don’t weigh enough to require true fat tires to roll over snow and sand.
Unless you are riding in some deep serious snow (which isn’t something kids generally like to do anyway), you can probably get away with one of the mid-sized or plus-sized bikes listed below.
The bonus to a plus-sized bike is that you can ride it on dirt or trail as well as on snow/sand. (You probably wouldn’t want to do that with a true fat-tire bike). The one caveat to that is that plus-sized bikes are heavier. If you are a serious mountain bike family doing long rides, you might want to choose a fat bike for winter and a regular mountain bike for summer riding.
Best Kids Fat Bikes – 4″ Tires
These bikes are true fat bikes with 4 inch wide tires. They are great for families doing serious riding in the snow.
|1||Diamondback El Oso Nino||20″||$650|
|2||9:Zero:7 NX Squall||24″||$2,199|
|3||Mongoose Argus Trail 24||24″||$710|
|4||Framed Mini Sota||24″||$1,300|
Diamondback El Oso Nino
The Diamondback El Oso Nino is a mini version of the El Oso Grande, so parent and kiddo can be twins. The Nino is a pretty snazzy 20 inch fat bike at a decent pricepoint. The bike is decked out with mechanical disk brakes and Shimano drivetrain.
9:Zero:7 NX Squall
The 9:Zero:7 NX Squall ain’t cheap but it is fantastic. If your family takes winter fat-biking seriously, this is the bike you want.
To help offset the investment, the bike will also accept smaller tires for summertime riding. The bike comes with a carbon fork, Avid disc brakes, and SRAM NX 11 speed drivetrain.
Price (MSRP): $2,199
Mongoose Argus Trail 24
Generally, we steer people away from Mongoose kids bikes, but the Mongoose Argus Trail 24 is actually pretty decent–especially if you’re just looking for a bike to tool around in the snow now and again. It has an 8-speed Shimano drivetrain, mechanical disc brakes, and nice wide 4″ tires.
Framed Mini Sota
The Framed Mini Sota is back after a hiatus. The name is a play on the adult sized Framed Minnesota (which I happen to own and love).
The bike is built up with high quality components including a SRAM X5 drivetrain and Avid BB5 disc brakes. The only thing we don’t love is the weight–but that’s true of all kids fat bikes.
Best Mid-Fat + Plus Sized Bikes
Because kids don’t weigh very much, mid-fat (2.8″-3″) tires can work just as well in the snow, and may weigh a little less than a true fat bike. Plus-sized tires (2.6″+) can also work pretty well, but will be best suited to hard-packed groomers.
|2||Cannondale Cujo Plus||20″/24″||$450 / $525|
|3||Trek Roscoe 24||24″||$530|
|4||Vitus 20+/24+||20″/24″||$399 / $449|
|5||Co-Op Cycles REV 20 Plus||20″||$339|
The Salsa Timberjack comes in two versions–the Timberjack 20 and Timberjack 24. It has plus-sized tires (3″) that are fat-enough for use both on dirt and hard-pack snow. The bike is marketed as an “adventure” bike and has mounts for gear (should your family want to do some bikepacking or touring).
Tire Size: 3″
Cannondale Cujo Plus
The Cannondale Cujo Plus comes in both a 20 and 24 inch version. It’s surprisingly light for a plus bike and has a lifetime warranty. Score. The components are top-notch including Tektro brakes and a Shimano 7-speed drivetrain.
Tire Size: 2.6″
MSRP: $550 / $580
Trek Roscoe 24
The Trek Roscoe is a mid-fat (2.8″ tire) mountain bike for kids. We like the low standover height, simple 1×8 Shimano drivetrain, and flush-mount rear brake caliper. It can double as both a trail bike in the summer and a snow bike in the winter.
Tire Size: 2.8″
Both the Vitus 20+ and the Vitus 24+ are awesome plus-size tire options out of the UK. These bikes provide superior value for the price. Components include Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and 2.6″ Kenda tires.
Tire Size: 2.6″
MSRP: $420 / $479
Co-Op Cycles REV 20 Plus*
If you’re an REI member with a dividend burning a hole in your pocket, the Co-Op Cycles REV 20 Plus might be a super attractive option. They’ve kept the price low with “off brand” components, but overall it’s a decent little bike for rolling around in the snow.
Tire Size: 2.6″
How to Choose a Fat Bike for Your Child
Because of the wide wheels and big tires, kids fat bikes usually have a weight problem-ha! The weights of many of the bikes on this list are comparable with an adult-sized fat bike, but the riders are usually much, much smaller and lighter.
This causes a definite body weight to bike weight ratio issue. For this reason, I would recommend choosing a bike based on weight first and components/price second.
Assuming you are buying a fat bike for use in snow rather than sand, disc brakes are definitely the way to go. Riding in snow makes for wet riding, and brake pads quickly get saturated.
Of course, there are different levels of quality when it comes to disc brakes. Many of the bikes on this list have either Tektro or Avid brakes–both solid choices.
While it’s always best to measure your child AND compare to the manufacturer’s guidelines before buying a bike (read this article for tips on doing so), here are some very general guidelines for choosing the right sized bike.
Components and Price
Generally speaking, the more you pay for a kids fat bike, the higher quality the components will be. Better quality components make for a more enjoyable ride, lighter bike weight, and longer life of the bike. I always urge parents to spend as much as they comfortably can.
Comparison Chart: 20 Inch and 24 Inch Fat Tire Bikes
Looking for specs on all these bikes? Here’s a quick look at wheel size, weight, frame material, and brakes.
|Bike||Wheel Size||Weight (lbs)||Tire Width||Frame|
|Specialized Kids Fatboy 20||20″||28||4.0"||Aluminum|
|Salsa Timberjack 20*||20″||25||3.0"||Aluminum|
|Diamondback El Oso Nino*||20″||35||4.0"||Steel|
|Specialized Kids Fatboy 24||24″||29||4.0"||Aluminum|
|Salsa Timberjack 24||24″||25||3.0"||Aluminum|
|9:Zero:7 NX Squall||24"||4.0"||Aluminum|
|Cannondale Cujo Plus 20||20"||21.7||2.6"||Aluminum|
|Cannondale Cujo Plus 24*||24"||24.4||2.6"||Aluminum|
|Vitus 20 Plus*||20"||21.8||2.6"||Aluminum|
|Vitus 24 Plus*||24"||2.6"||Aluminum|
|Mongoose Argus Trail 24||24"||4"||Aluminum|
|Co-Op Cycles REV 20 Plus||20"||24||2.6"||Aluminum|