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In this article, we’re going to be looking at options to build a DIY electric fat bike conversion. The Fat bike has been around since the 90s and its popularity is at an all-time high. These bikes can be great fun in the sand and snow, but the high rolling resistance caused by their extra large 26″ x 4.0″ tyres and heavy, beefed-up frames, can make pedalling somewhat harder than on a traditional bike. This is why they make an excellent choice for an electric conversion.
There are plenty of electric fat bikes currently on the market, but if you already own a fat bike, you can save a lot of money doing the electric conversion yourself. The best e-bike conversion kits for fat bikes will be specially made for the wider 175mm rear dropouts or extra wide 100/120mm bottom brackets.
Do I need a Fat Bike?
This really depends on your preferences and the kind of terrain you expect to be riding on. The traditional fat bike does not have suspension as the extra wide tyres which are run at a relatively low pressure (usually around 15 psi) enable cycling over terrain and in weather conditions that would be difficult even for a traditional mountain bike. Fat bikes really come into their own when ridden through sand, snow and thick mud.
The other attractive feature of fat bikes is they look rather cool, and they certainly turn heads. When ridden on tarmac the tyres can make a fair bit of road noise, akin to a Land Rover!
Buying a fat bike is a matter of personal choice. But you don’t need to live near a beach or in a cold climate to justify getting one. Fat bikes make great, comfortable back-road commuter bikes, especially if your local roads are full of pot-holes!
Most fat bikes also come equipped with mounting points for pannier racks and can make good cargo bikes.
What is the Best Electric Conversion Kit for a Fat Bike
This really comes down to budget and the amount of power you need. There are two main options for electric conversion mid-drive motors like the Bafang BBSHD or rear wheel motors, like the Bafang hub motor. Both of the aforementioned motors can be quite pricey. But, thankfully, there are plenty of cheap e-bike kits available.
Mid-Drive Electric Conversion Kits for Fat Bikes
If you are fitting a mid-drive motor, the best option would be a Bafang. The only motor previously available in 100mm or 120mm version was their flagship BBSHD model, but recently some suppliers have started selling the BBS01B 250w and BBS02B 500w and 750w models with an extended motor shaft allowing for fitment to most fat bikes. These motor shaft extending kits can also be purchased and fitted to a Bafang motor you already own – useful if you want to transfer your existing BBS01 / BBS02 from a regular bike to a fat bike.
Hub Motor Conversion Kits for Fat Bikes
If you want to fit a hub motor, the main thing you will need to consider is the wider drop-outs at the rear. Thankfully there is a wide choice of fat bike hub motor kits available in various power outputs from around 350w all the way up to 2000w plus (some of which I have listed below).
There are two types of hub motors – direct drive or geared. Generally geared hub motors are more efficient, produce more torque and are easier to pedal when the power is switched off. Direct drive motors are heavy, and inefficient but can handle masses of power and are generally more reliable in the long term.
Fat bikes are definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but they can be great fun – I have ridden an electric fat bike powered by a Bafang BBSHD and 52v battery up a steep muddy field and the thing just kept on pulling!
I wouldn’t personally buy one unless I lived near a beach or in a climate that gets lots of snow in the winter months. If you were a farmer one of these would make a great alternative to a quad bike -you could even hook up a trailer!
Fat bikes are here to stay – they are robust and versatile. Plus, they can tackle the most difficult terrain with ease, they will roll over just about anything you can put in front of them!
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