Having more fun in snow with the fat e-bike
Having more fun in snow with the fat e-bike
Winter is almost over, but spring conditions in certain parts of the country are a great time to get the kids out for some last minute snow adventures since it is generally warmer. Riding the fat e-bike is also a great alternative activity for families who travel to the mountains for spring break, but don’t have the legs for seven straight days of skiing.
But riding this bulky bike will inevitably encounter a lot of trouble, here are some tips I’ve collected to help you avoid various problems and get more fun riding in the snow.
1) Charge your battery to 100% before you go out
Charge everything to 100% and if it’s been sitting on the charger for more than 24 hours, unplug it, wait a minute and plug the charger back in, to top the battery off.
2) Keep your ebike & battery nice and warm before you go out
Lithium batteries can lose up to half of their capacity when they are really cold. So, push your bike inside after each ride to avoid the worst things that can happen: frozen bearings, derailleurs, brakes and chains.
3) Point the front wheel where you want to go but don’t expect to get there :
Depending on the snow conditions your front tire might go where you want or it might go somewhere else. Keep your body loose and prepare to compensate and constantly redirect the bike. If your body position is straight up and down and you turn the front wheel violently it will tend to slide straight. If you’re trapped in a deep frozen rut and try to steer out of it the bike will most likely just follow the rut.
4) Think of the whole riding experience as controlled skidding
After a while, you learn to predict where the back wheel will go (it will always slide downhill and opposite the direction the bike is leaned over in) and do appropriate leans and slides to get the bike pointed where you want it to. I never ever use the front brake and only the back.
If you want to slow down and the rear brake is not working because it is wet from all the snow and Ice just head for the fresh powder and the bike will slow down pretty fast on it’s own. If you squeeze the front brake hard then you are almost guaranteed a wipeout.
5) Speed is your friend
The rotational stability from the wheels adds dramatically to the stability of the bike as a whole. The faster you go the more the fatty will ride up on the snow and the easier it will be to get it to go where you want it to. When there are no trees , open up the throttle and slide all over the place, when the trees are tight I take it easy and try to keep everything together.
It helps to forget about pedaling and just put all your weight on one foot and use your inside foot as stability to slide around corners with like motocross guys do. Don’t look at the trees, look at the open spaces that you want to go. This is particularly important when you lose control.
6) Park your car at the lowest point
When stuff breaks (it will) or your battery dies it’s much easier to limp home when your car is at a lower elevation than you. Start low and burn up your battery getting up the hills than coast back down.
If you don’t have enough power then follow the groomed snowmobile trails or roads up then cut through the powder on the downhill. Going downhill in deep powder takes MUCH less power than going uphill in deep powder.
7) No matter how much power you have, it won’t be enough
Power is addicting and when you are pushing the limits of the motor/batteries in deep, wet snow you quickly learn that when you need it you’ll use every watt you can squeeze out of your system. In foot-deep snow when you slow down and stop your back wheel will quickly sink down to the earth.
You will have to lift your weight off the seat and slowly spin the tire to get it to climb back out again of the snow so you can get going again.
8) Want less wheelies? Keep your weight on the pedals not the seat :
High power ebikes want to wheelie all the time whenever you tap the throttle. When you keep the weight on one of the pedals the bike will tend to be more controllable and less like a bucking bronco.
9) Lube the chain before every ride
10) Transport your bike inside your car
Road salt will destroy your rotors and chain if you use an external bike rack in the winter. If you take the front wheel off and put the back seats down you can generally fit the fatty into most normal car trunks. Get a $300 winter rat so your nice car doesn’t rust out and use some rubber floor mats to collect the snow and slush.
11) Tire pressure is everything
If you’re not having a good time in the snow it’s probably because your tire pressure is too high. When in doubt let it out. You should not be running over 10psi, the optimal pressure to be between 5-8psi.
The front tire can use lower pressure because there is very little weight on it most of the time, the rear tire should have enough pressure to not get pinch flats. Analog gauges are inaccurate at low PSI, Digital gauges are the way to go.
12) Fancy pedals are just no good
Expensive aluminum or plastic pedals tend to ice up and your feet will slide right off when you least expect it. Go with the cheap, heavy metal bear claws, they are worth the chewed up shins. Forget about the clips, you’ll need to use your feet to catch the bike from sliding out from under you at almost every turn.
E fat biking takes time to learn, and it takes a hell of a lot of practice to get good, but once you get it, there really is nothing quite like it.
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