A little while ago I posted Top 5 Fatbikes You Have Never Seen and I was really surprised with the anti-love towards the Fat Six e-bike by Haibike.
I have a bit of a soft spot for e-bikes as I own a 36v SX by GV Global, a now defunct e-bike company founded by Lee Iaccoca. It now sits comfortably in the corner of my bike shed envious of my fatbike.
E-bikes have been on the scene for quite a number of years and in the majority of cases the bikes have not been aimed at the off-road sector. There are three distinct forms of e-motivation: friction drive; hub mounted and mid drive.
Friction drives propel the bike with a spinning rotor that grabs the top or sides of the tire. Hub mounted (front and\or rear) puts the motor in the wheel, while the mid drive places the motor in the crank. Motors vary in size, are powered by a 24v, 36v or 48v battery and are controlled by electronics through an automatic pedal assist or manual system such as a thumb throttle.
There are many kits available that can covert your current fatbike into an e-fatbike. Companies such as Lectric Cycles and BionX supply kits (motor, battery and electronics) that will allow you or your LBS to amp up your fatbike. NYCEWheels actually use the BionX system to electrify Moonlanders.
|D 500 DV Source - BionX|
|Photo by : Michael Seymour|
Companies such as IZIP (E3 Sumo), Motive Electric Bikes (Stout), OHM (Sport XS750), Pedego (Trail Tracker), and Rad Power Bikes (Radrover) all have added fat options to their e-bike lineups. Surface 604 (Boar), Defiant and iGo (with carbon option) are a little more specialized having only e-fatbikes in their lineup.
|E3 Sumo Source - IZIP|
|Boar Source - Surface 604|
|iGO Carbon Source - iGO|
This is where the majority of growth seems to be happening, with European companies plugging into the e-fatbike idea more readily. Examples of such efforts include: Norco and their Bigfoot 6.1 E; Haibike with two options for their XDURO FatSix; Felt throwing their hat in the ring with the LEBOWSKe and KTM offering up their Macina. This list is ever expanding as evident from what's showing up on the floor in the bike shows.
|Bigfoot E Source - Norco|
|LEBOWSKe Source - Felt|
|Macina Source - KTM|
The reviews I have seen on our electric cousins have been completed by e-bikers. These folks who primarily ride skinny tired e-bicycles are normally amazed with the e-fatbike's wide tires while riding on gravel roads, pavement and maybe a dusting of snow. Not the typical fatbike terrain.
In my opinion an e-fatbike should be a fatbike first and foremost.
Take away the motor, battery and electronic wizardry and you should be left with a capable fatbike, with relatively decent components and tires, that can take the rider in and out of typical fatbike terrain. None of this groomed trail fluff . . . I'm talking sand, mud, rocks and the white stuff.
Having ridden an e-bike I can say they they are indeed fun, although a tad on the heavy side. I was always a little dubious of riding in rain and muddy conditions, and snow was not an option on the narrow tires.
The "e" in e-fatbike should enhance not erode the fatbiking experience.
Until we see an honest test of e-fatbike capabilities we will never know if they are truly capable fatbikes with a boost, or as some people see them - an electric moped with fat tires.