Do you need a fat bike to ride in the winter? It depends on what area you live in and how much you’d be out when the trails aren’t perfectly packed. In Halifax 90% of the winter you don’t really need a fat bike, but if you want to go out after a fresh snow and be the first to put tracks down and have fun doing it, then you need a fat bike with decent knobby tires.
In the Halifax area, studded tires are pretty much a neccesity if you want to be out on the usual single track trails. A fat bike is not needed, but good (expensive) studded fat bike tires work amazing on the ice and snow. I’m blown away how good my 45nrth Wrathchilds work, but they certainly aren’t cheap. I’ve heard the VeeRubber Snow Shoes have a lot of downfalls, and have seen first hand people struggling with them while I just breezed over icy sections, so saving some money on studded tires may not be a good option.
In the Valley or Truro area, a fatbike would be very helpful to have, as there’s generally much more snow in those areas and that’s when a fat bike will really shine.
I have an RSD Mayor and I absolutely love it. I built mine up from parts I had and parts I bought, but the complete bikes they have seem to be very good bang for the buck. Giant has a fat bike now as well, which also seems to be very good bang for the buck. It is a 27.5 fat bike though, so at the moment tire selection may be limited until the market catches up.
One last point, a suspension fork is certainly not necessary but you will completely appreciate it if you have one, especially if you plan to ride on more than just smooth packed snow.