E-bikes, especially fat tire e-bikes, are all the rage today and now that spring and summer are upon us once again, a lot of you are considering buying these unique – and admittedly handy – bikes this year. However, before you click the “add to cart” button, there are a few things you should know.
E-bikes come in all shapes and sizes and are meant for different people. Keep reading to learn more about these critical differences and potential setbacks your e-bike might give you, keep reading the 6 points below.
They Don’t All Come With the Same Battery
E-bikes will show what kind of battery and hub motor they have in their price tag. E-bikes will have more or less powerful batteries that will carry you through various range distances. You need to pay particular attention to what battery your bike comes with because even though they are rechargeable, they will need to be replaced.
You should replace them with the same battery that the bike came with, from a reputable company, if not the same manufacturer. The reason for this is because batteries that are suspiciously cheap cause malfunctions. This is usually the problem with e-bikes that are too cheap also.
They Have Different Functions
What are you intending to purchase your bike for? Do you intend to use it to scale the rockiest trails and conquer ruts, slopes, and mud, or even cruise on the beach? Or do you intend to use it for touring through scenic roads and moving with great speed?
If you buy just any e-bike online because you believed they were all the same and work for both of these scenarios, you could end up with a very expensive disappointment.
Fat tire e-bikes aren’t really intended for touring on the road. They’re bulkier, and heavier, and although their tires will give you the most blissfully smooth ride over rough terrain, their intended psi inflation causes them to drag anywhere other than their intended terrain.
This is usually a surprise because we’re able to see other riders glide over sandy beaches and mud without dragging and getting bogged down, so we would expect them to act that way over something like a road, but I’m afraid that is not the case.
Some Places Ban Throttle E-Bikes
Fat tire e-bikes will usually come with pedal assist, throttle, or both to help you along your route so that you don’t have to work too hard in hard terrain. However, not all places accept e-bikes that come with a throttle because
Up until the summer of 2021, actually, throttle bikes weren’t allowed in National parks because they can startle or even hit wildlife and usually conflict with hikers and families walking leisurely. It can be difficult to motor past these obstacles.
California has banned them from all of their county and state parks as well as their fire roads, which is still in effect. Though they are allowed where regular and mountain bikes are unless otherwise stated through a sign.
At least in the United States, there is a resource to see e-bike laws by state but Canada has their rules too.
Hills Require at Least 500W with Mid-drive
If you know you want a fat tire e-bike, the next thing you need to consider is how much power you need. E-bikes come with a variety of batteries and hub motors that will give either more or less wattage.
If you need to ride through slopes and hilly terrain you need a battery that provides at least 500W of power to get you over those slopes with relative ease. The more power you can get from the battery, the more you can expect from your ride.
Online product descriptions and listings of e-bikes will almost always provide either the wattage of the battery or give you the volts and amp-hours. If the latter is what you are presented with you can get an idea of how much range a bike will give you by following the formula: volts x amps = watts.
E-bikes will usually come with a battery that has somewhere between 36-48 volts. The amp hour is the size of the battery and might be something like 19 amps. At the lowest scale, that would mean the bike has 684W.
They Have Either More or Less Traction
Fat tire bikes are not entirely superior on all terrains. They will give you the smoothest ride of your life over snowy, rocky, sandy, and muddy terrains. Ruts are not difficult for the fat tires, and they’re designed to assist you with steep slopes, but in spite of these clear advantages, there are some terrains the fat tires actually find difficult.
If you tried to take a quick turn on a gravel patch, you would be unpleasantly surprised to find yourself sliding too far. The bike’s fat tires have a lot of water that is designed to conform to the ground and let the bike almost float across rough ground. However, on slippery surfaces like gravel, there won’t be enough traction.
They are Often Slower to Ride
If speed was your first criteria as you were looking for a fat tire e-bike, you should know right now that was not what these bikes were designed for. If you were to race a casual beach cruiser with any number of e-bikes, the cruiser would win each time.
Fat tire bikes are supposed to be more like the SUVs of the bike world. They aren’t as fast as muscle cars, but they can take you through a variety of remote locations because they have the height, the suspension, and the tires that are wide enough and have the traction you need to crawl across natural obstacles.
These bikes are bulky, and you will have to pedal harder to go up a slope that you might have cleared in half the time with a lighter mountain bike.
Best fat tire e-bikes are absolutely worth considering, but it always helps to know what you can expect before you buy.