What Is A Fat Tire Electric bike?

What Is A Fat Tire Electric bike?

June 29, 2022

There is an electric bike for pretty much everyone's needs. But one of the more unusual versions is the fat tire e-bike. These unusual-looking bikes raise a few questions from people new to the e-bike world, so we will go back to basics to answer the question of "what is a fat tire ebike?"

Fat Tire Bike History

The first fat bikes were made in 1986 non-electric using prototype Michelin tires to ride over the Sahara Desert. But they really started gaining in popularity for the Iditarod Race in Alaska, a thousand miles over frozen lakes and ice. So, the biggest, most obvious difference in a fat bike and a normal bike is the size of the tires. They're designed to give you big flotation, so you can ride everything like snow and sand that a normal bike would sink into and actually might be impossible to ride. Fat bike tires are between four and five inches wide. Compare that to a regular mountain bike tire, that's a 2.4, look at the difference. Fat bikes are one of the few remaining bikes that actually still use 26-inch wheels. Compare that to 27.5 or 29-inch wheels. You can still see that the outside diameter of the tire is actually still pretty big. 

The Main Characteristics Of A Fat Tire E-bike

As the name suggests, the standout characteristic of these bikes is their massive tires. The tires are wide and squishy, giving the bike some unique capabilities over regular ebikes. These bikes also have chunky wheels to accommodate the tires and have specially designed frames. The frames are designed to ensure the tires have enough clearance and that they can take the punishment of riding on rugged terrain.

There are a few variations regarding the sizes of fat tires. Most fat tire ebikes have tires measuring 4.5", 4.8", and even 5" wide. The diameter of the wheels is generally 20", 24", and 26". 

Just like a regular e-bike, a fat tire e-bike has a motor and battery system to assist your pedaling. The motor can be mounted in the rear wheel hub (hub-mounted motor) or between the cranks (mid-mounted motor). Each has its own characteristics that affect how the bike rides and what it's like to own. For example, a fat tire ebike with a hub-mounted motor requires little to no maintenance, but a mid-mounted motor provides more balanced handling and pedaling efficiency. So it's worth considering what is important to you before buying.

The battery can be mounted inside the frame or externally. An internally mounted battery is protected from the weather and damage. But an externally mounted battery is easier to remove for charging. However, it can make the bike look a little more cumbersome.


What's The Point Of Fat Tires?

Ride Any Terrain

Fat tires have a few advantages over regular bike tires. The original purpose of fat tire bikes was so you could ride over soft surfaces such as snow, sand, and wet mud. This ability comes from the wide tires that are almost twice the width of regular mountain bike tires. Also, they run at a much lower tire pressure creating a large contact patch with the ground. This means tires stay on top of soft surfaces rather than cutting into them like narrower tires.

The other advantage of the larger contact patch is that you get more traction. So these bikes are excellent for anyone lacking confidence on the bike. This traction also means that riding over rocks, roots, and other obstacles is much easier.

Fat Tire Ebikes Are Comfortable To Ride

The large volume of air inside the tires combined with the extra squish from the low pressure acts like suspension. Therefore, electric fat tire bikes are very comfortable to ride. This has its advantages when riding off-road, but you will see fat tires on ebikes that are often used for city riding. You feel fewer vibrations when you ride a fat tire ebike on the road, creating a more plush riding experience.

Ride Your Ebike All Year Round

Some people may not have the luxury or don't want to put their electric bike away during winter. If you live somewhere that gets lots of snow and ice, an ebike with regular-sized tires may not be suitable for the terrain and conditions.

However, you can ride a fat tire e-bike all year round, as slippery surfaces won't trouble you too much. In fact, riding in snow on a fat tire e-bike is lots of fun, especially when you perfect your drifting skills!

This is also good news if you like to use your e-bike for fitness. You can maintain your fitness regime throughout winter to reach your fitness goals.

Fat Tire E-bikes Are Easy To Ride

You don't have to worry about learning a whole new skill set when you first get on a fat tire ebike. If you're familiar with a regular bike, you will have no trouble getting used to a fat tire ebike.

It's best to start your first ride in a safe place, such as a field, where there is very little to crash into. Also, set off with the bike switched off or in the lowest assistance mode. This will allow you to get a feel for the acceleration before you start to experiment with more assistance from the motor.

Fat Tire Ebikes Are Lots Of Fun

As fat tire e-bikes are so easy to control and pedal, you can start to enjoy them quickly. The fun increases when you realize where they can take you, especially when you get to grips with efficiently operating the assistance modes and gears. When you approach a sandy hill, select a high assistance level and a low gear, and pedal hard. You cannot help but be impressed how a fat tire electric mountain bike scales hills like a 4x4. It becomes addictive too.


The Bad Side Of Fat Tire E-bikes

Even though fat tire e-bikes are great and very capable, there are a few other characteristics you need to be aware of.

Higher Rolling Resistance

The extra width of fat tires means they have a much higher rolling resistance than regular bike tires. This is because there is more friction, which slows you down and makes your pedaling less efficient. This isn't such a problem regarding the effort you need to put into the pedals, but it does affect your fat tire electric bike's range. Therefore, you must carefully consider what range is suitable for you before buying a fat tire electric bike.

Fat Tire Ebikes Are Pretty Heavy

As fat tire ebikes are overengineered to accommodate the wheels and to cope with the riding style, they are heavier than regular electric bikes.

This isn't much of a problem when riding in a straight line, as the motor does an excellent job of hauling the extra weight. You may need to adjust your riding style slightly when it comes to cornering, but they are so easy to ride you will adapt within a few minutes.

Weight is another thing that will affect the fat tire electric bike's range, so you need to ensure that the battery will take you as far as you need to go before recharging.

The main issue with weight is if you need to carry your fat tire e-bike upstairs or load it onto bike racks. You may benefit from a foldable fat tire e-bike with a smaller battery and motor if you're not very strong. These are more portable and lighter, but you should always check how heavy an electric bike is before buying if you need to carry it.

There's one last disadvantage of riding an ebike with fat tires. When the surface you're riding on is very muddy, the extra-large contact patch can give you less traction. Narrower tires have more grip in these situations, so you must be ready to react when the surface is excessively muddy.

Who Should Ride A Fat Tire Ebike?

Fat tire electric bikes can be broken down into a few subcategories. Therefore, many people can enjoy the benefits of these wonderful machines. However, you need to choose the right kind of fat tire ebike for your needs.

For example, if you are an adventurous person, you should opt for a fat tire electric mountain bike. These will take you to previously inaccessible terrain, especially if you choose one with a powerful motor and a large capacity battery.

You don't have to be an adventurous person to enjoy a fat tire e-bike. As we've already mentioned, fat tire e-bikes make riding more comfortable. Depending on where you ride, your commute may consist of smooth roads, dirt tracks, cobbled streets, or broken pavement, which can be tiresome on a regular e-bike. Therefore, riding a fat tire electric bike will make your commute more comfortable. Its versatility makes riding on variable surfaces more pleasant.

If you like to take it easy and want lots of comfort, you can buy fat tire electric cruisers. These are more of a lifestyle vehicle with a relaxed riding position and an almost vintage motorcycle aesthetic. These e-bikes are perfect for riding to the beach. They work well on sand and light off-road terrain while feeling plush. Some electric cruisers have options for carrying stuff. You can get them with cargo racks for everything you need for a day out or even with surfboard carriers.

Many of these cruiser-type fat tire electric bikes have a throttle mode. This means you can ride them like a moped and not need to pedal at all, giving you an even more relaxed riding experience.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, fat tire ebikes are excellent ways to get around and have fun. We're likely to see many more fat tire ebikes on the streets, beach, and mountain bike trails in the near future when people start to see their benefits.

Check out the fat tire ebike in our online store to find the best one for you