W. Ritchie, Balloon Tyres (1924)

Fat tires

In the recent years, fat tire bikes are getting quite popular. Before 2006, They were made only by custom frame-builders who liked to pedal in snow (or sand, like beaches). Then, in 2006, a Minnesota based bike manufacturer, Surly Bikes, which mass-produced the first notable bike in the “fat” genre with its Pugsley frame. They still build a lot of fat-tire bicycle models.

Surly Wednesday
Surly Wednesday – in the full-forward, short chainstay position you can run 26 x 3.8˝ tires on 80mm rims and in the full-rearward, longer chainstay position you get the option of 26 x 4.6˝ tires on an 80mm rim. Wednesday is made out of our own proprietary 4130 CroMoly steel and is ED coated. ED coating is a process that leaves a coating that, externally, provides a solid foundation for paint while also providing an added layer of corrosion protection internally. Photo: Surly Bikes

So, many people think it is a new invention, but it’s not. W. Ritchie, a track rider was the first who built a bicycle fitted with balloon tires many years ago. The photo below is from November 1924 issue of the magazine “Cycling”.

W. Ritchie, Balloon Tyres (1924)
W. Ritchie
Cycling, November 1924
November 1924 issue of magazine “Cycling”. It mentions W. Ritchie, a “famous” track rider who built a balloon tire bike.