Electric fat bikes have big squishy tyres both front and back. Their original purpose was to allow riders to ride over soft surfaces. Their width, high volume and large contact patch with the ground allow them to “float” over snow, sand and soft mud. They are ridden by hardcore bikers who want access to new places and those who want to ride all year round. But can you commute on an electric fat bike?
What Are Electric Fat Bikes Like To Ride?
Fat bikes that do not have electric power are very inefficient to pedal. Their tyres have a high rolling resistance, which means they take more effort to pedal.
But, with an electric fat bike, the motor, battery and drivetrain combo makes the rolling resistance less of a problem. The power deals with the inefficiency of the tyres much better than your legs alone.
The motor assistance makes riding up hills and into headwinds effortless. With the increased grip you get from the rear tyre combined with the motor, you will find that you look for steeper and more technical hills to ride up. At first, you will need to get used to the technique of powering up a technical climb. But once you time your downward gear shift with a higher assistance level, you will be surprised at how capable they are.
How an electric fat bike accelerates is super fun too. The motor seamlessly engages as you pedal, and you feel an invisible wave of torque sweep you along. This feels great, especially as you blast past people on regular bikes.
The tyres make riding a fat bike very stable on rough terrain. They easily roll over rocks and roots. And, of course, they stay on top of soft surfaces rather than cutting into them. If you ride on lots of different surfaces, an electric fat bike will easily cope with any of them. You can enhance their grip by running lower tyre pressures. When the tyres are softer, the contact patch with the ground gets even larger, making the bike more sure-footed.
However, if you ride over particularly slick mud, the tyres can be a little too wide. In this case, the tyres don’t float but skid around, making riding them tricky. But, these conditions are very rare, so you will be able to feel confident in their grip pretty much anywhere.
The stability you get from fat tyres off the road also translates well on the road. The extra grip instils confidence, and you feel very secure as you ride. This feeling of security makes electric fat bikes great for nervous or inexperienced riders. When riding on smooth surfaces, you will notice that the fat tyres provide a plush ride—many people like these bikes for their increased comfort.
Commuting On An Electric Fat Bike
There are a couple of different types of an electric fat bikes. One is the kind that looks like a beefed-up mountain bike; I will come to the other type shortly.
If you live somewhere snowy and want a bike that you can commute on all year round, an electric fat mountain bike is a good option. Everything in winter normally feels just that little bit harder, but an electric fat mountain bike will remove that feeling, thanks to the extra traction. You can even fit your bike with studded tyres that will give you the ultimate grip on frozen ground.
The extra traction prevents wheelspin as you climb steep and slippery hills. Also, usually riding a regular bike on snow requires a lot of thinking ahead. You need to adjust your riding technique constantly due to the changeable surfaces; some snow is grippy, while other types of snow are skiddy. But, with an electric fat mountain bike, you don’t really need to worry about changes in the surface. You just roll over everything without a second thought. Also, you never get the feeling that the front wheel will wash out on icy corners, which can be worrying, especially in heavy traffic.
One thing you need to know about riding any electric bike in the winter is that you need to wear warmer clothes. The help you get from the motor means you are not working as hard. Also, the increased acceleration makes you experience colder winds as you ride; therefore, you don’t get as warm.
It may take some trial and error to work out what you need to wear. So for your first few winter rides, you should take a backpack with you so you can add or remove layers as needed.
Electric fat mountain bikes are primarily made for having fun on the trails. Therefore, not everyone will find them as practical commuter bikes. If you need paniers and cargo racks to carry stuff, you may have to look at an alternative bike or an electric fat bike designed for hunting.
But, if your primary reason for owning an electric bike is to have fun, and commuting is a secondary reason, an electric fat mountain bike will suit you. You will need a decent backpack for all your stuff, but you will probably already have one.
It is worth mentioning that the wide tyres can be a bit of a pain when it comes to bike racks. Whether you are loading it onto your car or parking it in a shopping centre, most bike racks are too narrow for the tyres to fit in. If this is a significant problem, you may want to choose an electric commuter bike such as the Fiido D11.
The Other Type Of Electric Fat Bike
You will see other electric fat bikes that are more suited to commuting, such as the ADO A20F. These electric bikes are great for riding on and off-road, as long as you don’t take on anything too technical. By this, I mean don’t expect to make any big Alpine descents and ride bike parks.
But, riding rough ground through forests, dirt tracks, and the beach will not phase these electric fat bikes. So if you experience a range of surfaces on your commute, an ADO A20F is a great choice. Alternatively, you can take the long and fun way home after work.
The ADO A20F has another trick up its sleeve to make it a great commuter bike. The frame is foldable, so it becomes very compact, allowing you to store it easily at home or at work. You can even carry it onto public transport without upsetting other passengers on the bus or train. If you want to use your electric fat bike for weekend fun, one with a foldable frame can easily fit in your car, caravan or boat, making it even more versatile.
The main reason you would buy an electric fat commuter bike is for its ride quality and traction. The wheels are much smaller than you would find on an electric fat mountain bike, but they still provide similar benefits. If you are a nervous rider, the extra grip will give you confidence as you ride. But the high volume tyres also smooth out the ride quality, as they soak up the bumps and vibrations in the road.
These smaller wheels not only make the bike more compact when folded but enhance its handling. The smaller diameter gives the bike nimble handling, which is useful when riding around busy streets.
Does The Fiido M1 Pro Hit The Sweet Spot?
You might want to check out the Fiido M1 Pro. This is a fat tyre electric mountain bike with a foldable frame. You can ride this bike on more challenging terrain than most electric bikes in its price range. But you also get the benefit of its compactness when folded.
The Fiido M1 Pro is pretty versatile thanks to its features, while its 500W motor is punchy enough to make your rides effortless.
This bike strikes a balance between a commuter and an off-roader. It is versatile enough for recreation and for commuting, making it a very popular choice.
So Can You Commute on An Electric Fat Bike?
Of course, you can, but you really need to look at the other options to make sure it is the right choice for you. If you need to be able to ride over any surface, an electric fat bike will do the job. However, there are some compromises with using one as an urban vehicle.
If your need to ride in any condition outweighs the compromises, go for an electric fat mountain bike. But, an electric fat commuter bike with some offroad capability may suit you better and save you some money.
Check out our selection of electric bikes in our online store.