Most adults either love fat bikes or hate fat bikes, but kids don’t care what adults think. Kids also don’t seem to care if the bike is fast, slow, heavy, or light. There is something about the Specialized Fatboy 20 that makes children happy, even if it doesn’t make sense to adults.

 Specialized Fatboy 20
The Specialized Fatboy 20 weighs in at a healthy 13.4 kg and a similarly robust € 999 price tag. We will go ahead and say that it is both heavy AND expensive. It sure is fun though.

There have been loads of stories written about the merits of fat bikes and the extra places they can go, but they seem to elicit an emotional response from adults. People tend to be firmly in the “for” or “against” camps and do not waver. We won’t try to convince you why you should buy one for yourself, but we will explain what happens when a kid gets on one.

Specialized Fatboy 20 shredding down stairs in winter

We got our hands on a Specialized Fatboy 20 bike last summer as part of our kids bike group test. When compared to the other bikes in the test, it wasn’t the lightest, it wasn’t the fastest, it didn’t have the best components, it didn’t handle the best – but still the kids were drawn to it. Surprisingly, they weren’t attracted to it like it was a monstrosity, but rather like it was the season’s hottest toy. They wanted to get on it and they wanted to ride it places that bikes aren’t supposed to go. Maybe it was the bright colors or just those big tires, but it immediately said “FUN” to the kids.

TEKTRO disc brakes on the Specialized Fatboy 20
The mechanical TEKTRO disc brakes do a great job of stopping the bike, but they can be a challenge to set up so that there is no brake rub or drag.
Drivetrain on the Specialized Fatboy 20
The drivetrain of the Specialized Fatboy 20 is a very simple setup with a SRAM X4 six speed derailleur and chain guide. Though it is quite basic, the shifting stayed crisp and the chain never dropped.
Die Specialized Ground Control 20 x 4,0"-Reifen sind der Hammer. Sie machen alles mit, was Kinder wollen, und bieten hervorragende Traktion auf allen erdenklichen Böden.
The Specialized Ground Control 20×4.0 tires are the real thing. These tires are ready to go anywhere that a kid wants to take them. They provide great traction on every surface we tried them.

Part of the beauty of this Specialized Fatboy 20 is the simplicity. The rigid fork works well in this case because it is paired with the 4-inch fat tire. The large volume of the tire takes the sting out of impacts but do not confuse it with proper suspension. When the bike is inevitably launched skyward, it will land and rebound quite aggressively since there is no way to slow down the rebound of these tires.

Specialized Fatboy 20 action shot 1 Specialized Fatboy 20 action shot 2

We did most of the bike testing during the warm and dry seasons while we waited for winter to finally start. Surprisingly, is it fun to just play around with the Fatboy on sand and normal trails. We didn’t hear any complaining about discomfort or fatigue while we were out cruising around in the woods and local playgrounds. We didn’t take it out for epic climbs or interval training, so it was always lighthearted goofing-around. When it did finally snow though it was a blast. The bike climbs packed snow trails like it is a tank and plows through a fair amount or fresh snow with ease. Ice and deep powder would clearly be a problem but we were able to find plenty of places to ride that were perfect.

Specialized Fatboy 20 on the trail


The practical part of us questions the price and weight of the bike and the unexceptional components. The parents in us love that the Specialized Fatboy 20 is so much fun for kids. We think that if you are actually considering buying a fat bike for your kid, then you are not focused solely on the practical aspects and you are already leaning towards the fun anyway. In that case, the bike succeeds in opening up a whole new world. We also believe that anything that encourages kids to put down their iPad and Xbox is a justifiable expense even if it is clearly a luxury. Go ahead and enjoy the smile on your kid’s face and the fun that comes from a simply playing around on a well-made bike.

You would love to ride more with your kids? Don’t miss our article Parental Guidance: How to enjoy mountain biking with your kids.

Words & Photos: Evan Phillips

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