About 10 years ago I discovered Bike Island when shopping for a decent road bike. My best friend went to a bike shop and bought a $900 road bike. I ended up spending about $400 and got a really nice carbon fiber front fork roadbike from Bike Island. The bike was normally $600 on http://www.bikesdirect.com but the dropouts had been broken off in shipping. The box came with a replacement fork, it took me about 10 minutes to put it on and I had a brand new bike with high-end components for about 1/2 of what my friend paid at the bike shop. He even ended up paying me an extra $30 for the Aerobars off my bike that I didn’t want but were still high quality.
I think it’s very important to support your local bike shops, but when it comes to buying bikes I just want the cheapest frame I can get and I want to upgrade the components as they fail or as I choose. I often take my bike to the local bike shop for service that I don’t want to do on it, but the price difference between the bikes they sell and what I can get at Bikes-direct or bikeisland is just too great to justify the added expense.
I’ve now bought a total of 4 bikes from Bike Island and I’ve had no issues at all. The bikes arrive with exactly the damage that is shown in the drop down menu. There is never any surprises and I’m happy to save an average of $100-150 on the already discounted bike for one that is already scratched up. I destroy my equipment like no one I’ve ever met. It is a relief to have something arrive that is already messed up so I don’t have to feel bad the first time I dump it and the frame gets banged up.
There are always several Fatbikes for sale there. Go to www.bikeisland.com click on BIKES then MOUNTAIN and look through the list for anything that says “Fat Tire bike” on the description. The most common problem is scratches on the downtube (from the front tire moving around during shipping), however there are several without front forks that are usually an extra $100 or $200.
If you want pictures and more descriptions of what you are actually buying go over to their sister site www.bikesdirect.com and click on the MTB tab at the top then under SHOP BY CATEGORY -> NEW FAT BIKES. Scroll down to find the model and then click on it, then click on GALLERY PICS. Some models don’t have gallery pics (like the Boris x9) just click on the cheaper component spec (like the Boris X7) and look at the bike pics there.
If you’re planning on buying these bikes and grinding off the bottom bracket to squeeze an unconverted to 100mm BBS02 should take note. 2 of the bikes I have bought from Bikes Direct with the express purpose for doing this arrived with a Bottombracket/chainstay intersections that looked NOTHING LIKE the photos at all. I could not install an unconverted BBS02 on these bikes.
The Bottom Bracket bearing cup on the cheaper <$500 models can be exceedingly difficult to remove without putting the tool in a vise and using the entire bike as a lever. Remember that the Drive side is reverse threaded (clockwise to loosen).
Although Bikes Direct does not list the weight, I’ve had the weights of these bikes be very reasonable. I ordered a singlespeed fatbike that was about 31lbs and my Boris X9 was closer to 35lbs. This was before I took off stuff I didn’t need and replaced the tubes to get the weight a few pounds lighter.
I’ve bought 4 bikes from Bike Island and I’ve not had any complaints. My advice is to buy the best bike you can afford. The items to focus on is the wheelset as that is much more expensive to replace than brakes, a cassette or derailer. Expect on the Sub $500 bikes to have to replace all three.