The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Specialized Fatboy SE 2018 Review

Solid performance without being particuarly impressive in any area.
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Price:  $1,400 List
Pros:  Nice price point, 4.6-inch tires, decent climber
Cons:  Harsh on rough trails, quick release frame and fork
Manufacturer:   Specialized
By Ian Butler  ⋅  Apr 26, 2018
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 6
  • Fun Factor - 30% 6
  • Downhill - 30% 7
  • Climbing - 30% 7
  • Ease of Maintenance - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Specialized Fatboy SE is an affordable, trail-worthy fat bike. This bike prefers charging down fast and flowy trails. Small bump compliance is solid if you run 6-7 psi. Larger hits can provide the undamped bouncy effect. Seated climbing was effective and although the Fatboy had a distinct big bike feel handling was solid. At $1400, the Fatboy SE is a solid entry into the fat bike market and offers serviceable components.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Should I Buy This Bike?


The Fatboy is a solid option for the budget conscious buyer. This would be an excellent choice for a newer rider who doesn't need super high-end components or top-end performance. The Specialized is decent on the trail and will get you out shredding through the winter.

The Trek Farley offers better on-trail performance compared to the Fatboy, and operates with serious momentum. These monster truck wheels help keep the bike out of bomb holes and are less disturbed by roots and rocks.

Design Highlights


   square bullet Aluminum frame
   square bullet 26 x 4.6-inch tires
   square bullet Quick release frame and fork
   square bullet Suspension corrected for use of a suspension fork

   square bullet Press Fit Bottom Bracket

The rear end of the Fatboy features some serviceble  if underwhelming  parts.
The rear end of the Fatboy features some serviceble, if underwhelming, parts.

Downhill Performance


The Fatboy crushes high-speed flow trails. It remains composed as the speedometer cranks. The big tires eat up the small bumps and chatter. Rider position is a bit stretched out thanks to a long feeling top tube. The Specialized Ground Control tires hook up well and offer excellent cornering abilities. A poor brake specification could prove problematic for aggressive riders.

The long top-tube and reach on our test bike had testers feeling a bit stretched out. One tester described feeling like he was being forced into the speed tuck position. The steep, 70.5-degree head tube angle forced riders to get far into the back seat on steep sections of trail. This shuffling of weight requires a fair bit of movement given the long top tube. The steep geometry didn't lead to any twitchy or skittish steering.

The Fatboy offered solid cornering skills. The Specialized Ground Control 4.6-inch tires had a fair bit of shoulder knobs for predictable braking bite. Slow speed corners were easy to steer through and didn't require tons of strength or body language. High-speed cornering abilities were solid so long as the corner is absent of bomb holes or roots.

This bike really shines on fast and smooth sections of trail. Motoring through berms and rolls in the trail are a blast. Charging snowy and smooth trails was calm and confident. Even with the 4.6-inch tires, the Fatboy can get bounced around on rougher trails. Lower tire pressures can help combat the jarring ride, but only to a certain extent.

The Specialized Ground Control tires were better on dirt than snow.
The Specialized Ground Control tires were better on dirt than snow.

Climbing Performance


The Fatboy is an effective and comfortable climber. The wide rubber hooks up well in mixed conditions but suffers on icy trails. The steep geometry makes for impressive uphill steering and handling. In addition to the excellent handling, this steep geometry puts riders in an excellent position to put the power down. The 2x10 drivetrain offered a solid gear ratio for working uphill.

The conservative/steep geometry is beneficial to grinding uphill. The 70.5-degree head tube angle is helpful to working uphill. A steeper head tube angle puts more weight onto the front wheel. This keeps the front wheel planted and keeps it from wandering. The Fatboy offers precise steering and pedaling up tight switchbacks is easy.

The Fatboy puts riders in an efficient pedaling position. It is easy to transmit power to the cranks. Rider's hips are right on top of the crank and the upper body is fairly upright.

The 2x10 drivetrain is a nice touch. Riding in the snow and slop calls for easier gearing as there is more resistance when compared to riding on firm dirt. While we generally don't care for front derailleurs, they do make a bit of sense on a fat bike. The Specialized Ground Control 4.6-inch tires hooked up well on dirt and dry surfaces. The traction on snow and ice was not great. In icy/snowy conditions, we would heavily recommend studded tires.

Value


The Fatboy is an average value. It is a serviceable fat bike that has decent components. It is certainly not the most refined frame or geometry. That said, it can still be a solid option for the rider looking to simply get out on the trails in the winter. Riders seeking high-end performance should look elsewhere.

Conclusion


The Specialized Fatboy SE is a fat bike with a preference for fast and flowy trails. This bike is equipped with meaty 26x4.6-inch tires and hooks up well on all trail surfaces aside from ice. The Fatboy is a comfortable climber and a fun descender so long as you stick to mellow terrain.


Ian Butler