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E-bike fatbike for winter commuting?

Old 08-15-19, 04:30 PM
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Steely Dan
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E-bike fatbike for winter commuting?

i find myself with some extra money.

i've never been all that enamored with my current winter commuter bike.

then i see this monster on bikesdirect for $1,600 and my mind starts pondering.

an E-bike fatbike would be able to conquer just about anything a chicago winter could throw at it.

except perhaps the 18 billion tons of road salt chicago dumps on its streets every winter. that gives me great pause.

anyone here have any experience of riding an E-bike in highly saline winter environment? $1,600 is a fair bit of coin to me, i'd need the bike to last more than a couple seasons before salt eats the electronics.

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Old 08-15-19, 05:54 PM
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My main two concerns are: how well is the electric hub motor sealed against slush/salt water intrusion ??... and you would need some extra wide fenders as those big tires would be throwing a lot of road crud all over...Other than that I am sure it would be a lot of fun and easier to ride than a regular fat bike.
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Old 08-15-19, 07:38 PM
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That's very cheap for an e-bike. You'd be getting the bottom of the line. How picky are you about quality in general?
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Old 08-16-19, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
an E-bike fatbike would be able to conquer just about anything a chicago winter could throw at it.

except perhaps the 18 billion tons of road salt chicago dumps on its streets every winter. that gives me great pause.
I doubt that any E-bike will help a bicyclist conquer Chicago sub-zero weather without the heat generated by an active physically engaged rider. There is a reason why motorcycle riders are scarce in cold weather even when the roads are clear of snow and ice.
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Old 08-16-19, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
I doubt that any E-bike will help a bicyclist conquer Chicago sub-zero weather without the heat generated by an active physically engaged rider. There is a reason why motorcycle riders are scarce in cold weather even when the roads are clear of snow and ice.
Though I don't own an e-bike, from what others tell me pedal assist is nothing like a motorcycle. you still get your blood moving; you just go a little faster and farther. My bike mechanic happily commutes on an e fat bike year round. he puts it on minimal assist so it basically offsets the sluggishness due to the fat tires but not much more, but you can also increase the assist if you have more snow to get through or if you have a headwind. he recommends studded tires if you have icy conditions.
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Old 08-16-19, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
I doubt that any E-bike will help a bicyclist conquer Chicago sub-zero weather without the heat generated by an active physically engaged rider. There is a reason why motorcycle riders are scarce in cold weather even when the roads are clear of snow and ice.
It all depends on the rider... "If" the rider wants some assist and leaves the assist level at 1, I can almost guarantee a sweaty ride, BUT, also a more enjoyable and faster ride... NOW, there are other levels... all the way up to no sweat, and do the ride in 1/2 the time, to the before mentioned, level 1 ride...
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Old 08-16-19, 06:54 PM
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I do it with studded 26" tires. The tire resistance doesn't matter much to the motor, so I can keep my summer pace even with heavy slow studded tires.

E-fat bikes are great - but keep in mind, they work best on rough terrain (snow that has been walked, driven, biked on). They don't help you much on ice - unless you spring big $$$ for studded fat bike tires. E-bikes tend to chew through tires pretty fast, unless you get a high milage tire.
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Old 08-19-19, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
That's very cheap for an e-bike. You'd be getting the bottom of the line. How picky are you about quality in general?
i've purchased two other bikes from BD.com in the past, both at seemingly impossible discounts, and i have been very satisfied with the quality of both bikes.



Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
I do it with studded 26" tires. The tire resistance doesn't matter much to the motor, so I can keep my summer pace even with heavy slow studded tires.
so how have the elctronics of your system held up in salty, slushy winter commuting conditions? that's the biggest unknown variable for me that gives me the greatest concern.

i do not want to shell out a couple thousand on an e-bike only to have winter conditions destroy the electronics after a couple of seasons.



Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
They don't help you much on ice - unless you spring big $$$ for studded fat bike tires.
oh, i'd for sure spring for some studded fat tires. one of the reasons an e-bike intrigues me so much is that can help overcome the time penalty of riding on studs in the first place.

a fat bike might be overkill, but i was just thinking that if i'm going the e-bike route anyway, why not get one that could theoretically tackle just about anything a chicago winter can throw at it.
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Old 08-19-19, 02:29 PM
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Main issue with fat bikes is the limited fender options, which are a must for winter commuting. I rode my fat bike in fresh snow last winter, and it was a blast, but the few wet and muddy areas made a mess of things. Bought some Mudhugger fenders, which are still waiting to go on the bike this winter. Not sure about this, but batteries may not perform very well in extreme cold conditions.
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Old 08-20-19, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Not sure about this, but batteries may not perform very well in extreme cold conditions.
hmmmm......... i hadn't considered that potential pitfall.

can anyone with e-bike winter experience speak to the issue of battery performance/life riding in extreme cold?
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Old 08-20-19, 07:08 PM
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Here in Montreal with also a few snow storms during our 4 months of winter it is kind of general knowledge in the winter bike commuting community that narrower tyres cut well through the snow to the ground, wide tyres just swim on top. Our bike lanes are cleared after a day, so there is never that much snow you can't cut through. Most use either thin spike tyres (Schwalbe (Marathon) Winter) or thin studded tyres (Schwalbe CX Pro, the classical winter tyre here!). I often saw MTBs struggling while I past stable with my 30mm studded tyres, in 20-30cm snow.

So, fat bikes are not really for commuting, more for having fun in deep snow. But maybe you have a half meter of snow where you need to pass, then a fat bike probably makes sense... And if you need an engine, your decision. For me 10 km one way every day year round are fine without.

Last edited by antdd; 08-24-19 at 07:53 PM. Reason: typo: cm, not mm
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Old 08-20-19, 11:57 PM
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Old 08-23-19, 07:12 PM
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Batteries don't do well in freezing temps. So you might be pedaling heavy tires and a heavy battery.
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Old 08-23-19, 07:30 PM
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This battery problem in the cold is a red-herring as far as E-Bikes go... IMO. Why...??? Because you can take the battery inside and charge it over night, and when you get to where you want to get to you can take the battery inside and charge it, before you go home... Thus, in general the battery is at room temps and will perform like normal... Now, if you leave the battery outside all day and all night, there will be some loss of power/performance/penalties for doing that, how much depends on the temps and the size of the battery.... It is the way it is...
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Old 08-26-19, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
This battery problem in the cold is a red-herring as far as E-Bikes go... IMO. Why...??? Because you can take the battery inside and charge it over night, and when you get to where you want to get to you can take the battery inside and charge it, before you go home... Thus, in general the battery is at room temps and will perform like normal... Now, if you leave the battery outside all day and all night, there will be some loss of power/performance/penalties for doing that, how much depends on the temps and the size of the battery.... It is the way it is...
What he said.

I haven't noticed a difference. There may be lower range, but I haven't gone for that long of a ride. Power doesn't seem to be much different.

I charge in my garage. Not warm but not as bad as outside. Batteries generate heat when they run, so I haven't had any issues in the cold.

Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
hmmmm......... i hadn't considered that potential pitfall.

can anyone with e-bike winter experience speak to the issue of battery performance/life riding in extreme cold?
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Old 08-26-19, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
i've purchased two other bikes from BD.com in the past, both at seemingly impossible discounts, and i have been very satisfied with the quality of both bikes.




so how have the elctronics of your system held up in salty, slushy winter commuting conditions? that's the biggest unknown variable for me that gives me the greatest concern.

i do not want to shell out a couple thousand on an e-bike only to have winter conditions destroy the electronics after a couple of seasons.




oh, i'd for sure spring for some studded fat tires. one of the reasons an e-bike intrigues me so much is that can help overcome the time penalty of riding on studs in the first place.

a fat bike might be overkill, but i was just thinking that if i'm going the e-bike route anyway, why not get one that could theoretically tackle just about anything a chicago winter can throw at it.
yah, BD is fine. Not the latest and greatest TdF technology, but who wants to pay for that.

I dont' really ride in "slush" much. We use a ton of salt, so either it is snowy, or salted, or black ice. Black ice (mostly a problem in March with cold nights and above freezing days) can put you out of commission for many weeks (or months). My hub motor seems to be sealed fine. Everythhing else I have is in a frame bag, so it is fine. The biggest problem is having snow all over the bike that melts when the bike is parked. Its mostly a problem for high iron content bike parts (like the chain, and some of the bolts).

But yeah, ebikes don't care too much what kind of tire you use. I expect the range is lower with higher rolling resistance tires but speed and power don't change much.
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Old 08-29-19, 01:38 PM
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my winter ebike experience

Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
hmmmm......... i hadn't considered that potential pitfall.

can anyone with e-bike winter experience speak to the issue of battery performance/life riding in extreme cold?
I ride a Stromer ST-1. I've put on a bit over 13K miles over the last few years.
  1. Fenders: Not a big fan. I prefer to ride without. But here in Greater Denver, there's not usually much water, but a lot of debris. Taste varies.
  2. Cold impact on battery/range. Yes, it's a real issue. I make sure I keep the battery *inside* except when riding. There's still a range reduction.
    1. I've ridden down to 10 df. My commute is about an hour ... I keep a charger at work ... during the summer I could easily do without. During the winter, it's a must have.
  3. Studded tires, an absolute must have. The normal Stromer tires are about 2.1" (not fat, but certainly not classic road ;>). My studded tires are 1.75" ... normal width would be better, but black ice happens ... so stud up sooner rather than later.
The BD site makes some interesting claims about motors. Stromer doesn't use Bafang, but does use a hub motor. Stromer provides spare parts and warranty ... just one counter example. The cited bike seems like it ONLY has a throttle ... which can certainly work, but it's the very cheapest sort of ebike ... not very satisfying to ride (torque sensing, so assist goes up as you put in more effort) is (IMNSHO) best.

You can do better at that price point, either used (many options) or something like a Radrover (throttle+cadence assist). For just a bit more, a previous year (or two) model Haibike perhaps (my wife's steed, torque sensing, mid-drive).

I can't speak to subzero riding, perhaps this winter ... or perhaps I'll wimp out below 10df again ;>
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Old 08-30-19, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
I dont' really ride in "slush" much. We use a ton of salt, so either it is snowy, or salted, or black ice. Black ice (mostly a problem in March with cold nights and above freezing days) can put you out of commission for many weeks (or months). My hub motor seems to be sealed fine. Everythhing else I have is in a frame bag, so it is fine. The biggest problem is having snow all over the bike that melts when the bike is parked. Its mostly a problem for high iron content bike parts (like the chain, and some of the bolts).
that's good to hear, thanks for your input.

i've been a winter commuter in chicago for over 10 years now, so i'm familiar with what winter bike commuting does to a regular bike, i was just curious if the salty mess of winter riding attacks the electronics of the battery/motor specifically.

from a salt perspective, i'm thinking that a hub motor might be better than a mid-drive system (my hubs don't get nearly as much salty abuse as my bottom bracket does), but that could just be a faulty assumption on my part.


like i said before, i don't want to shell out roughly 2G's on an e-bike only to have the motor destroyed by salt after a year or two.

i have indoor heated bike storage at both ends of my commute, so the battery would only be exposed to the cold while i'm riding, which sounds like the most ideal situation for battery life/performance during winter.

and my one-way distance is only 8 miles, so i don't think range will be a big issue for me, especially considering that i'll be able to charge at both ends if need be.
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Old 08-30-19, 03:10 PM
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I have a DIY hub kit, but you're right, a mid-drive is going to get soaked in the winter time.
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Old 08-30-19, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Khb View Post
I ride a Stromer ST-1. I've put on a bit over 13K miles over the last few years.
  1. Fenders: Not a big fan. I prefer to ride without. But here in Greater Denver, there's not usually much water, but a lot of debris. Taste varies.
  2. Cold impact on battery/range. Yes, it's a real issue. I make sure I keep the battery *inside* except when riding. There's still a range reduction.
    1. I've ridden down to 10 df. My commute is about an hour ... I keep a charger at work ... during the summer I could easily do without. During the winter, it's a must have.
  3. Studded tires, an absolute must have. The normal Stromer tires are about 2.1" (not fat, but certainly not classic road ;>). My studded tires are 1.75" ... normal width would be better, but black ice happens ... so stud up sooner rather than later.
The BD site makes some interesting claims about motors. Stromer doesn't use Bafang, but does use a hub motor. Stromer provides spare parts and warranty ... just one counter example. The cited bike seems like it ONLY has a throttle ... which can certainly work, but it's the very cheapest sort of ebike ... not very satisfying to ride (torque sensing, so assist goes up as you put in more effort) is (IMNSHO) best.

You can do better at that price point, either used (many options) or something like a Radrover (throttle+cadence assist). For just a bit more, a previous year (or two) model Haibike perhaps (my wife's steed, torque sensing, mid-drive).

I can't speak to subzero riding, perhaps this winter ... or perhaps I'll wimp out below 10df again ;>
OK, give us some numbers... Nobody say's there's no difference, & I suspect if the ride was about 1/2 Hr or less, the noticeable difference would be miniscule. IMO. But, what is the difference you see...??? I would also wrap up the battery in insulation in your case if I seen enough of a difference as to make a difference...
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Old 08-30-19, 06:34 PM
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In my view, studded tires would be more important than fat tires, if I was forced to choose between one or the other.

As for batteries, the main difference would not be performance, but range. Regardless of the temperature, the motor controller supplies the needed current to the motor, and you're limited to 20 mph (or whatever is the upper limit for power assist) anyway. I haven't ridden an e-bike, but I know a bit about electrical control systems. Regarding temperature, bringing the battery inside would make sense, and while riding, the battery heats itself.

An issue with cold weather is that plastic parts tend to become brittle. This depends on tradeoffs made during design.
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Old 08-30-19, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
In my view, studded tires would be more important than fat tires, if I was forced to choose between one or the other.
For winter riding in Chicago, with all of its vicious freeze/thaw-induced black ice and other treacherous hazards, studs are absolutely vital, IMO.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be one or the other. You can have your fat tire cake, and eat your studs too!

https://45nrth.com/products/wrathchild

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Old 08-31-19, 07:59 AM
  #23  
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You definitely will have less range in the cold and knobby fat tires also reduce range. If that range will be less than required for the commute, you will have to investigate.

If you leave the battery outside, it may even be too cold to start. While riding the battery resistance will generate some heat, but that only when it wakes up to begin with.

Some batteries deal with that better than others, but on a cheap bike don't expect NASA type technology.
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Old 09-01-19, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
OK, give us some numbers... Nobody say's there's no difference, & I suspect if the ride was about 1/2 Hr or less, the noticeable difference would be miniscule. IMO. But, what is the difference you see...??? I would also wrap up the battery in insulation in your case if I seen enough of a difference as to make a difference...
Google maps uses 10mph as an average speed for (unpowered) bicycles, which matches my experience with unpowered bicycles as well. My typical average speed on the Stromer is 15-17mph (much of my current commute is on MUPs with a nominal speed limit of 15mph ... since most of the road cyclists do 20+, I often cap my speed at 20mph to match..I *could* almost certainly raise that average by another 4mph if legal and when conditions optimal).

When I had a shorter commute that was all streets, my unpowered commute was 30-45min (depending on traffic and direction ... much more uphill one way than the other) and was 15-25min powered (and the variation was almost all due to traffic, the delta in uphill was mostly covered by the motor assist). Interestingly, with the shorter commute I wore out brakes much faster ... due to jackrabbit start/stops with all the stop signs and traffic signals.

Insulation is unlikely to help if I keep the battery outdoors, while it would slow the cooling, it won't be overly effective over the course of 8+ hours (overnight, and even during the workday ...). It's not hard to remove the battery and charge it indoors. My (aged) Stromer only uses voltage as an indicator of state of charge (which isn't very reliable) so hard to assert the impact of cold with any precision. At least 20% and perhaps as high as 50% impact (when I was foolish enough to leave the battery in the garage charging overnight).

The thermal mass of the pack is substantial enough that an additional concern is uneven cooling (viz. outside in), from my long ago experience with a lead-acid battery powered EV (Corbin Sparrow) unbalanced cells kill a pack (I managed to actually melt a battery at 60++ mph .. a bit of excitement I don't wish to ever repeat). Stromer's engineering is much better than Corbin's ... so while a fire during operation is incredibly unlikely, an LiON fire is much more problematic than a Lead-acid implosion ... but the deleterious effects on pack life are likely to be considerable.

About 40 years back I really trashed my knees, I had one "repaired" with the crude open surgical techniques popular at the time, so hill climbing without power assist is something my surgeon had warned me off of (at the time, it was "don't run, avoid jogging. Don't ride uphill, and never, ever stand up on the pedals"). I've certainly bent his advice over the years, but I'm just one missed climb from buying myself another surgery ... so I do try to minimize aggressive (unpowered) climbs.
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Old 09-10-19, 09:02 AM
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If you don't specifically want the E-option, you might want to take a look at the TerraTrike or ICE fat trikes. With a trike, you don't have to worry about sliding a little sideways. There are also non-fat offroad type trikes that basically run mtn bike tires that will do the same, but won't 'float' over snow as well as a fat tire.
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