Two Wheel Drive Electric Fat Bike Ride Impression.
For those that don’t know, there is a range of normal (not electric) bikes out now called Fat Bikes. I ride bikes a lot but this was my first chance to ride a fat bike, that was also an electric fat bike, on the road and on the terrain it was meant for so if you want my thoughts on what it was like, read on.
These ebikes have 4 inch extra wide x 26 inch tyres specifically for riding over sand and rocks. The tyres are kept at very low pressures compared to a road bike. For sand you can ride comfortable with the tyres at 8 psi (I don’t know the metric for that, even though I am Australian..).
Notice the big black hub in the middle of the front wheel in this picture. That is a 250 Watt brushless electric motor. You can see the release plug near the reflector and that the front wheel has quick release levers on both sides so you can take the wheel off. I had a little trouble with that with the tyre’s width hitting on the brake assembly.
The levers were independent and had a nifty spring and locking grooves internally so that the lever can be locked off to the desired (and safe tension) without worrying that the lever is pointing in the wrong direction. Once you have them turned to tension you can pull the levers out past the locking grooves and turn them to a safe position up the line of the forks so that they doesn’t catch on anything.
I started my ride of this electric fat bike on the road with the tyres set at 20psi. I thought it would feel a bit fat (pardon the pun) and heavy, but it felt like a normal mountain bike. The big 48V lithium battery and thus heaviness of the bike wasn’t noticeable at all.
I have ridden quite a few electric bikes, but if you don’t know anything about them then I’ll just mention that the bike only delivers power when you pedal and the amount of power it delivers can be set on the handlebar mounted computer/controller.
When an electric bike assists you it feels like rolling down a hill. You accelerate a lot harder than you expect to for the pressure you’ve applied to the pedals. This is most noticeable when you first start and apply power to the pedal. The bike will also assist for a little while after you stop pedalling.
I dropped the pressure of the tyres to 12 psi to start with when I hit the beach and it wasn’t until the soft sand that I realised what two motors do for you. This bike has a 350 Watt motor in the rear so combined with the 250 in the front you’ve got 600 Watts pushing you around. The controller gives you a rear wheel drive mode or all wheel drive mode. I had it in all wheel drive (press the Snow button…. How cool, a ‘snow’ button. I pressed it a few times to see if it would, but it didn’t, snow that is).
Normally when I hit soft sand I expect to bog down a bit and have to pedal hard to keep up the speed. It turns out that an electric fat bike doesn’t think about bogging down. I had to ride straight up the side of a dune to get it to bog and even then the front wheel tried to drag me up the hill. Brilliant idea.
I found I could ride on sand that would be tough to walk on without thinking about it too much. The fat tyre tracked straight so I didn’t even have to fight the handlebars. Narrower tyres would have dug in and tried to throw the handlebars around but with these tyres that just didn’t happen.
Throwing the handlebars around hard will still dig in the tyres and either throw you or at least bring you to a stop, but if you are out to go exploring then you wouldn’t be doing that.
You can see in the pictures the big and small rocks. I am not a rock jumper rider, but I was very surprised to find that I could ride over the smaller rocks. These rocks were all big enough that you’d only fit three in your hand to give you an idea of the size. I had to get off the seat and balance of course, but being able to ride at all was still a surprise.
The bike has a torque sensor built into the rear (the silver bit near the rear cluster) that measures how hard you are pedalling and applies the power proportional to that. This made riding over the rocks feel very natural. The only issue I found was that I had to go for it. Being timid and trying to start and stop was too hard. The bike will keep pushing even when you stop pedalling and that is enough to throw you off balance. It doesn’t push for long, but it definitely does.
After a while I realised that balancing on the pedals and rocking them a little was enough to tell the sensor that I was pedalling and to apply power to the motors. This meant I was able to ride over the rocks without actually pedalling which made the task a lot easier.
More about the Big Bud Electric Fat Bike
I guess you can figure out by the rear cluster that this is a 21 speed ebike. The power of the bike means that you can easily forget about the gears, but if you do that you’ll go through the battery a lot quicker.
Range wise I expect I’d get 30 to 50km based on what happened for me on the day. I had the bike’s boost set pretty low at between 20 and 40% for most of my riding. More than that was unnecessary given that the bike’s gears are there for a reason. If you don’t use the gears and leave boost at 100%, then ride tough terrain, I think you’d be lucky to get 20km, but it would be a fun tough terrain.
Big bud is a good name for a bike that with the fat wheels and battery and motors all starts to get heavy (28.7 kg). Not as heavy as you’d expect given the size of the battery, but that is because this bike uses a 48 Volt 11 Amp Hour Samsung Lithium battery and the advantage of lithium is that it weighs about a third that of the same capacity lead acid battery.
It is still fairly heavy to push up slopes you can’t ride up, which happened to me, but fortunately the designers thought to put an assist mode on the bike. Just press and hold the plus button on the computer and the motors engage and the bike rolls itself along. Very useful idea.
The batteries in the EVO E-Motion bikes are frame mounted. The black line you see in this picture is the edge of the battery. It nestles in the frame and is locked into place with a key.
Here is an example of the lock and charge port from another bike (I didn’t think to take a picture on the Big Bud on the day).
You can charge the bike with the battery still in the frame, or take it out and charge it inside. The batteries have a charge indicator so you can tell how much charge a battery has for when you decide to have spare batteries and aren’t sure which to pick up off the kitchen bench.
Summary for the E-Motion Big Bud Fat bike:
This electric bike will go where you don’t expect an electric bike to go. Up dunes, across rocks and I imagine over small fallen trees given that the front wheel pulls while the rear pushes.
It won’t go that far on the battery unless you remember to use the gears.
You will definitely need a pump with you because changing the tyre pressure is part of riding this bike if you plan to go exploring.
Even with a flat battery it still rides like a normal bike because brushless motors mean that when the batteries are flat the motors won’t stop the motion of the wheels.
(At the time of this post we have one left in the shop at $4799 and their popularity around the country has made them a struggle to get anymore any time soon).
Contact us if you want to come and check it out for yourself for a test ride.