When I started mountain biking, front suspension was the craze back then. The outdoor bikes or “mountain bikes” started having front suspension to ease the vibration on the handlebar, so you can go much faster when doing down hills.
Then the mountain bike, as a tool and as a sport grew and transformed into how it is right now… Full suspension, dropper posts, hydraulic brakes, and loads of different suspension configurations and geometry later, we are now here.
We are now transitioning to riding Electric Mountain Bikes. Riding the trails are now becoming such a lifestyle choice, as long as you have the proper full sus bike, you are good to go.
But some people have chosen to ride the old school way of discovering the back roads, and the unpaved routes. Back in the day, we used to enter any rough path and bike through the mud, gravel and rocks. We rode cross country bikes, with or without suspension, with knobby balloon tires.
My favorite tires back then were the Nokian Gazzalodi.
Before, we almost didn’t care about our bikes and the brands, as long as they work, that’s good to go. Of course, there were friends who got addicted in upgrading their bikes, that they easily got burned out with the whole culture of biking. But if you are really into the whole genre of cycling, your love for pedaling will always burn deep within your heart.
Right now, road bikes with knobby tires are slowly morphing into mutated cross country bikes. In the past, if you had a road bike with straight handle bars, you had a “hybrid” bike. Now, if you have a road bike-frame-geometry, matched with drop bars, STI levers, packed with disc brakes and slightly knobby tires, they would categorize your ride as a gravel.
Hardtail bikes with dropbars are dubbed as Monstercross.
Cyclocross is a category for bike racing…
I really do not know how you classify your bike. As long as it brings you joy and satisfaction, I believe it serves its purpose well. Whatever your handlebar preference, or how fat your tires are, its all up to you. There is a reason for that. The frame or fork’s limitation or capabilities may be different per bicycle, yet those same limitations and clearances have a reason as well.
Bottom line: names are merely labels which we assign to certain things. You can call your 700c x 23 bike a “fat bike” for all we care. It is yours anyway. What is really important —- go out and ride. Enjoy your bicycle for all its worth… whatever you call it.