At last week’s Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, two main trends were noticeable: electric bikes and fat bikes. Which portends well for the hybrid version of these two, the electric fat bike.
Fat bike appeared in Alaska about seven years ago. Their thick tires (up to 4.8”, or 12 cm) on wide rims (up to 4” or 10 cm) were perfect for snow-covered trails. They are now also popular in California, where there are called “fat beach bikes” and used on gravel, sand and even pavement. Sales have tripled so far this year.
The first electric versions of fat bikes came to market a couple of years ago, and electrification seems to be a good fit for these heavier bikes. Prices start at around $1,200 and can reach several thousand dollars.
Among the most popular are the Canadian Surface 604 Element, a pedal-assist model with a 350W (750W peak) rear hub motor and a removable 36-volt lithium ion battery. It features a 7-speed Shimano drive train, and range is 20 miles (32 km). Prices start at $1,999.
Dozens of firms introduced new 2015 electric fat bikes, powered by hub motors or mid-drive systems like the German Felt Lebowsk-e, which features the new Bosch 350W eDrive system and is priced at $5,799.
Among American manufacturers, Pedego has been one of the first to release an electric fat bike with its Trail Tracker. It is powered by a 600W hub motor and comes with a 480Wh lithium battery good for a 15 miles (24 km) range. Price: $2,995.
Time will tell if electric fat bikes are just a fad or a new important segment of the electric bike market.