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Easy Rider

Easy Rider

Snow, ice and sand are the natural enemies of many bikers. But 

a new trend from the USA defies these elements: fat bikes. These have tyres up to 4.8in wide and air pressure of around 0.5 bar to cope with all conditions. And now they also have electric drives.

Like so many trends and extreme sports, fat bikes and snow bikes come from North America. Here, typical fat bike regions include Alaska, Minnesota and New Mexico. Snow, ice, sand or slush might be elements which an average cyclist happily avoids, but not the ‘fat bikers’. The extremely wide tyres and rims make air pressures of around 0.5 bar possible, delivering a large support surface that means cyclists can ride on even very soft surfaces without sinking. There is also a lot of traction and low rolling resistance on terrain. 

Like SUVs that would seem oversized for normal use, fat bikes meet the needs of cyclists who want to stay independent in all weathers. There is one drawback, however. Riding uphill with the fat bike is tiring, on account of the difficult ground conditions and the wide tyres. And this is where a new solution comes in: high torque electric drives. With the support of the right motor, it’s fun to ride in snow through all terrains, speeding along the winter trails, negotiating every hump and bump, and even creating a snow cloud with the back wheel.

Naturally a real off-roader needs a strong motor. This is where Maxon comes in and the company has developed the retrofittable Bikedrive – a rear-wheel drive combining a motor with robust planetary gearhead that provides a lot of thrust on every surface.

Because the Bikedrive was designed using Maxon’s extremely efficient ironless winding technology, and operates at an efficiency of 85%, it can provide an impressively high distance range with a relatively low weight/Watt-hour battery. The Bikedrive incorporates a 3.5kg motor that offers continuous torque from 25-30Nm, with maximum torque of 50Nm. Acceleration from 0 to 30km/h takes only 3 seconds. The motor runs on a 48V, 2.8kg lithium-iron battery providing 360Watt-hours of power. 

The combination of battery and motor enables a cyclist to climb between 1,000 and 1,400m with a mean inclination of 11% in only 30 minutes, while using significantly less power than other e-bikes. Charging the battery to 70% takes 60 minutes, with charging to full power in two hours. Designed to be a pedal assist system, the motor only provides additional torque while you are pedaling. Since the motor has a built-in freewheel and clutch, pedaling the bike without powered assistance is no problem and there is very low resistance. Power and speed are electronically limited to comply with national regulations for e-bikes, meaning that a Bikedrive enabled bicycle can be enjoyed both on the trail and on the road.

The Bikedrive can currently be installed in any fat bike with a 135mm rear axle. The rider controls the drive through a power grip, which provides three stages of drive plus a boost mode. And if you want to convert back to a normal bike, you simply remove the battery and swap the real wheel – no special tools are required.

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