Fat tire mountain bikes, sometimes known simply as ‘fat bikes,’ are outstanding for desert sand and riding in earth’s harshest climates. The extra-wide tires give you purchase on varied terrain from hardpacked clay roads to beach-like sandy areas.
The extra-wide tire style didn’t become popular until the 1980s, so it’s overlooked and undervalued. What is the best bicycle for desert riding?
The best bicycle for desert riding is the Malus Adult Fat Tire Mountain Bike from Mongoose. Between the rigid suspension and 7-speed, smooth shifting drivetrain, this stylish, wide tire bicycle can tackle challenging sandy desert terrain in the hottest weather. The Malus comes in tan and silver color variants that will help you and your bike frame stay cooler.
To see all of my up-to-date recommendations for bikes and cycling gear, check out this resource that I made for you!
What Is The Best Type Of Bicycle For Sand
The best type of bicycle for sand is the fat bike. Although many cyclists still default to a beach cruiser, especially in the desert, a fat tire bicycle will offer better traction than a standard wide tire on a cruiser.
The extra width works almost like a camels’ foot by spreading out where it comes in contact with the shifting strata below.
Fat bikes typically have tires from 3.7″ to 5,” and they are meant to work well with low PSI. If you need to cross dunes, you can drop as low as 4.35 PSI and still move safely, with little concern for wheel damage or deforming.
However, since dunes are only one part of the desert environment, these tires need to do more. These wide tires can readily take loose sand on roadways, mixtures of sand and rock, gravel, and more.
Big Mommas’ Bicycles says, “…despite the fact that fat tire bikes aren’t designed for pavement, most people can ride fat tire bikes on smooth surfaces without any major problems. One of the biggest selling points of fat tire bikes is the fact that they are suitable for all-terrain performance—including on paved surfaces.”
Top 4 Best Bicycles For Desert Riding
As bike styles go, the fat tire bicycles are pretty much the latest thing, which means fewer people have experience with this style.
Finding the right one is daunting if you are new to fat bikes. Fortunately, it’s hard to go wrong, but some brands and models are still better for arid, sandy environments.
Here are the top 4 best bicycles for desert riding.
1 – Best Bike For Desert Riding – (Mongoose Malus Adult Fat Tire Mountain Bike)
- Steel mountain-style fat tire frame; 26-inch wheels fit riders 64 to 74 inches tall
- 7-speed shifter provides smooth gear changes
- Front and rear disc brakes for crisp stopping and precise speed control
- Fat, knobby 4-inch wide mountain tires roll over anything in their path; 4" alloy rims are light and strong
- Alloy a-head stem and mountain handlebar keep you in complete control out on the trail
The best bike for desert riding is the Mongoose Malus Adult Fat Tire Mountain Bike from Amazon.
This excellent 7-speed fat bike is known for its smooth shifting, even on uneven and sandy terrain. The 4″ wide, knobby tread tires offer superb purchase on desert roads and trails.
Matching 4″ alloy rims hold your tires secure without adding too much weight at the base of your bike.
Finally, the alloy mountain handlebar and a-head stem keep you in control. Get the Malus when you click the link.
2 – Best Men’s Bicycle For Desert Riding – (Krusher Men’s Dynacraft Fat Tire Bike)
- Fat tire bike
- Deluxe steel frame
- Single-speed bike
- Mountain bike style handlebars
- Three-piece crank
When you’re looking for a men’s style bicycle for desert cycling, I strongly suggest you check out the Krusher Men’s Dynacraft Fat Tire Bike.
The massive 26×40 tires will easily tackle anything the desert can throw at them. This single-speed bike’s classic, nearly infallible rear coaster brake makes it the perfect leisure riding choice in arid climates.
The metallic blue details in the paint give this bike a gorgeously unique look.
Plus, you’re sure to be noticed with the decorated rims on this amazing bicycle no matter where you ride.
To learn even more about the Krusher Dynacraft, click the link.
3 – Best Women’s Bicycle For Desert Riding – (Mongoose Aztec Womens Fat Tire Bike)
- Aztec adult fat tire bicycle is designed to be ridden on a variety of terrain but is great for cruising on the beach. Supersized 26 inch tires will fit best on riders 5'3" to 6'1"
- 7-speed twist shifter provides quick, precise gear changes
- This adult bicycle has 26 inch alloy Super wide rims with front and rear disc brakes
- Featuring a thread less headset and 3 alloy piece crank
- Mountain bikes comfort saddle keeps you going even on long rides
The Mongoose Aztec comes in both Men’s and Women’s styles, but I recommend this model for the ladies.
The solid steel frame can take the punishing desert climate while still looking great and riding like a dream.
Mongoose is known for the unique and visually stunning internal wheel details, and this model is no exception. The Aztech is eye-catching, to say the least.
Of course, looks aren’t everything, and this bike has serious substance under that stunning first impression.
You’ll love the rugged alloy disc brakes, 3-piece crank, and super-wide rims.
You can add an Aztec to your garage by clicking the link.
4 – Best Mountain Bike For Desert Riding – (Mongoose Argus ST & Trail Fat Tire Hardtail Mountain Bike)
- Fat tire mountain bike features a 26-Inch wheel and large frame to fit riders 63 to 67 inches tall
- 7-speed twist shifter makes it easy to adapt to your terrain
- Mechanical disc brakes supply quick, effective braking even in slippery conditions
- 18-Inch steel fat tire hardtail frame and provides a strong, stable ride
- 26 x 4 inch knobby mountain fat tires provide excellent stopping power and tons of traction in sand and snow
Consider the Mongoose Argus ST & Trail Fat Tire Hardtail Mountain Bike when you want the best MTB for desert riding.
This classic MTB with a twist looks and feels (mostly) like a standard mountain bike, except for the tires, which have substantially better traction.
The Argus comes in a desert-sunset copper and brilliant bright sky blue.
Smaller 24 x 4″ tires put you a little lower to the ground, which shifts your center of gravity even lower, and keeps you stable even on the worst terrain.
Best of all, Mongoose offers a limited lifetime warranty so that you can ride worry-free. Click the link to order a Mongoose ST & Trail while they’re in stock.
Best Bicycle For Desert Riding Buyers Guide
Buying the best bicycle for desert riding is something relatively few people have extensive experience with.
Not only have many cyclists, even MTB enthusiasts, never ridden a fat bike, but relatively few people live in the desert.
Whether you’re moving somewhere like Arizona, or you’ve always lived in the desert, and this is your first time seeking out a purpose-built bike for cycling where you live, this guide will help.
Feel free to bookmark this page and come back anytime you’re looking at fat-tire bikes.
1 – Wider Tires
The phrase ‘bigger is better’ is a cliche, but in this case, it applies. While any tire larger than 3.5″ is considered a fat tire, pushing the limits is beneficial here.
A 4″ or larger option will give you the most bang for your buck and the most excellent traction over virtually any terrain.
2 – Textured Grips
Sand and gravel are slippery. A quality fat tire will help keep you upright and distribute the weight on your bike, but it’s useless if you can’t hold on and point the front tire where you need to go.
Look for highly textured grips to help with this. You can add these as aftermarket parts, but many high-quality fat bikes already come with the easier-to-hold grip style.
3 – Quality Paint
Desert sand is unforgiving. On a windy day, you’ll be riding in a mild sandblaster, and at its worst, you could get caught out in a haboob with your bike.
That silly-sounding word is the technical name for a sand storm, and they are no joke.
Sand will buff cheap paint right off your bike before you even notice. Always get a better quality bike and maintain your paint with regular touchups.
4 – Durable Drivetrain
Your chain and sprockets will need regular maintenance, and they will wear each other down over time.
In a sandy environment like the desert, this is even more important as minuscule grains of sand get in the chain lubricant and increase the wear.
Starting with top-quality, durable drivetrain components helps.
Additionally, Pedal Chile reminds us that “after every long or hard ride, you should perform a quick clean of your chain and drivetrain then reapply lubricant. This even applies if your mountain bike does not get dirty. After each ride (or two): Wipe down your chain with a lint-free rag.”
5 – Better Brakes
One of the nicest things about desert cycling is that you rarely have to worry about moisture, which cuts down on rust.
Furthermore, your disc brakes are less likely to suffer mechanical failure due to water between the brake and tire.
Still, you need great brakes on a fat bike. Go with a coaster brake or an upgraded version of pull brakes for the best results.
Helpful Tips To Know About The Best Bicycle For Desert Riding
Fat bikes are iconic for their incredible wheels, but the broader tires aren’t the only unique part of this style.
A wider fork and heavy body with a much lower center of gravity help you stay balanced over gravel, shifting sand, etc.
Here are a few helpful tips to know about the best bicycle for desert riding.
- Choose a light paint color for your desert bicycle. It will stay cooler to the touch. Black bikes are sleek, but they are harder to see, and darker hues absorb more heat which can burn you (literally). Desert dwellers know the feeling of sun-heated metal or plastic on the skin, and it hurts. Pro tip: Carry a couple of bandanas with you for desert riding, even on a light-colored bike that stays cooler. Your hands will thank you. Plus, you can drench the fabric in water and use it for evaporative cooling on you and your bike as needed.
- Even the best fat tire bicycle in the world will eventually get a thorn in its tire if you ride offroad in the desert. Since these big tires are durable and massive, they can hold a lot of air inside. Remember to bring a patch kit with you in case of goat heads, which are prevalent thorns, cactus spines, and other typically sharp desert tire hazards.
- Fat tire bikes existed in the 1980s and earlier, but genuinely modern 21st-century fat-tire bikes were developed at the end of the century for use on snow. According to the Adventure Cycling Association, “At the Interbike trade show in late 1999, Alaskan Mark Groneweld made plans to bring Remolino rims to Alaska. Paired with his custom Wildfire Designs frame and a 3.0”-3.5” tire like the Nokian Gazzaloddi or the elusive Specialized Big Hit (both borrowed from downhill bikes), the first modern fat bikes were born.” As anyone who has ever surfed a sand dune can tell you, there are a lot of similarities between the desert and the arctic. It turns out these snow tires also make excellent sand tires.
The desert is hot, but it is also filled with a unique beauty that you can only truly appreciate if you experience it.
Riding a fat bike down a dry wash, along a caliche clay dirt road, on a hardpacked trail, or through a sandy street is the best way to enjoy the desert on the best bicycle for the job.
Having ultra-wide bike tires and the wide, lower frame style keeps you balanced in any desert terrain and offers exceptional handling.
Make sure you choose a light paint color and opt for high-quality bakes.