All of these questions will be answered in this guide to shopping for a fat tire ebike.
That’s a great question, thanks for asking. A fat tire electric bike is an ebike that has wider-than-normal tires. Most bicycle tires, including those found on electric bikes, range in width from about 1.95” for racing bikes, to 3” or more for beach cruisers. Fat tires are any tire with a width of 4” or more.
There are a number of benefits that come from riding on fat tires, but also some drawbacks that you should be aware of before making a purchase.
The wider tire provides more surface area contact with the ground, which improves stability and traction while riding. They also typically have rugged knobby treads, which further improves grip. These characteristics make fat tires ideal for off-road riding, where the riding surface has loose gravel or dirt, is heavily rutted, or strewn with roots and branches.
Fat tire ebikes are a favorite of hunters, not only for their ability to traverse rugged terrain, but also for their stealthiness. When a hunter is moving slowly across the landscape on a quiet electric bike, they are not perceived as a threat in the way that a walking adult would be. Premium fat tire electric mountain bikes also feature high-torque, high-wattage mid-drive motors, giving the bike exceptional towing ability.
Fat tire electric bikes can also be ridden in an urban environment. The wider tires will provide greater cushion when rolling over curb cuts or potholes, and greater traction if you encounter gravel on a paved surface. They also look sort of badass, which can increase your overall riding experience.
Another advantage of having a fat tire ebike is the ability to ride on sandy beaches, snowy paths, or other locations where a paved asphalt surface is not present. Most fat tires can be deflated down to about 5 psi, which creates an even wider footprint, allowing the bike to “float” over loose materials in a way that narrower tires cannot do.
There are a few disadvantages to having a fat tire ebike, and it’s important to know these before making an expensive buying decision. Fat tire ebikes tend to be heavier than conventional electric bikes, in part because the wider tires and rims are bigger and weigh more. This could be an issue if you need to lift your bike onto a rack or the back of a pickup truck. This weight gain can be offset if the rim has circular cutouts between the spokes. Another disadvantage of fat tire ebikes is that they can feel sluggish or harder to pedal if you are not using motor power.
You might assume that all fat tire ebikes have a mountain bike frame geometry. While many of them do, fat tires are not exclusive to mountain bikes. In fact, there are several styles of fat tire ebikes on the market today, including folders, cruisers, and step-thru designs.
There are several models of folding fat tire ebikes available today. As the name suggests, a folding ebike has a folding mechanism in the center of the frame, allowing you to fold the bike in half. Sometimes the tiller (the part holding the handlebar) is also foldable. The benefit of being able to fold your bike is that it makes it more portable. Instead of using a rack to haul your bike, you can fold it up and put it in the trunk of your car or the backseat.
Folding fat tire electric bikes are very popular with Recreational Vehicle users (RVers), since they are easy to stow, and great for riding on off-road trails. Most folding fat tire ebikes have 20” x 4” tires, which are smaller than the 26” x 4” conventional fat tire. This makes the bike more compact in design.
Another popular fat tire ebike style is the comfort cruiser. Unlike fat tire electric mountain bikes, which have an aggressive forward-leaning riding posture, the comfort cruiser is more laid back, with a longer wheelbase, forward bottom bracket, and often curved cruiser-style handlebars. One of the most popular fat tire cruisers is the Revi Cheetah, which has the retro stylings of a 1960s cafe racer motorcycle. This model is so much fun to ride, and it’s a real head turner.
Finally, there are now step-thru fat tire ebikes. These models do not have a top tube in the frame design, allowing you to “step through” the bike frame to get on and off the bike. These used to be referred to as girl’s or lady’s bikes, but have grown out of that dated description. We now have fat tire ebikes with step-thru frames, giving you the best of both worlds. You get the added stability and fun of the fat tire, while enjoying the ease of mounting and dismounting without having to throw your leg over the bike every time.
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