What Is The Best Type Of eBike For Winter Riding?
Let’s face it, if you live anywhere in the world that can reliably be called “The North”, you’re likely to be in a place where snow falls, the streets and pavement get icy, and the temperatures outside stay in the negative range for a while. As the amount of daylight shortens and the weather cools, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to put your bike away for the Winter months, especially if you have an eBike.
Think about what Winter means for most people, namely staying indoors and not venturing out unless they are bundled up under 17 layers. This usually leads to people being grumpy or miserable with what society has termed “The Winter Blues.” The best way to combat those blues is to get outdoors, get some sunlight and fresh air in your face, and get some exercise in, making an eBike a great way to accomplish all three!
You also get to stay warm because of your exercise, which makes the body burn calories, heating up your core in turn. As that warm blood circulates out to your extremities, you’ll find that after about 5 minutes of riding, you won’t even be shivering. The question is, however, what is the best eBike for riding in snowy and icy conditions to get that sunlight, fresh air, and exercise?
The answer is a Surface 604 fat tire eBike!
Why A Surface 604 Fat Tire eBike?
When you want to ride in Winter, you do need to pay more attention to a few specific areas regarding eBikes, as you want to remain safe while riding, with your bike being reliable and as maintenance-free as possible. These considerations are tires, brakes, saddle, battery, and reliable power delivery. Let’s break them down one by one!
It’s simply physics that the more surface area a tire has, the bigger a contact patch with the road it has, and an eBike is considered to be fat tire when the width exceeds 4 inches on the tread. The bigger the contact patch, the more evenly the weight is distributed to ensure maximum grip. The more grip you have means you get more traction when you apply power to the rear wheel to get things rolling.
It’s a cascade effect, but the basic concept is that a fat tire eBike has enough grip, without needing special tires, to be able to reliably gain traction even on ice. You can still slip on black ice or perfectly smooth ice surfaces, but for the most part, as long as you ride carefully, you are very unlikely to come off the bike at all. This is why Surface 604 eBikes come with 4.5-inch width fat tires, except for one model with 4-inch width tires, for that extra grip and extra confidence in Winter riding.
As much as you want to get up to speed in Winter to get the blood pumping and the warmth flowing, there are times when you need to slow down or stop in a hurry. What you need there are reliable brakes. As most eBikes use disc brakes, what is more important is to look at what type of activation they have, cable or hydraulic.
All Surface 604 eBikes use hydraulically activated brakes, for the specific reason that hydraulic fluid doesn’t freeze and is quite temperature stable. It’s the same reason your car brakes are hydraulic, as they will still work even if it’s -50 C outside. Cable brakes, on the other hand, use a twisted steel wire inside a sheath, and steel contracts and expands with temperature differences, which may cause the brake pads to come into contact with the discs on very cold days, wearing them down quicker.
Something that many overlook but is vital to safe and comfortable riding in Winter is a good saddle. You want it to support your weight evenly, without putting pressure on your pelvis or perineal bone areas, as well as be able to withstand the elements. Surface 604 uses Selle Royal saddles on their fat tire eBikes, as they are proven to be plush, comfortable, supportive, with a perineal relief groove, and are water and weatherproof.
If you’re going to be riding in Winter, you want to make sure that you have more battery than you need for the distance of your planned trip. A part of your route may be blocked or be too dangerous to ride across, or you might need to overcome an obstacle that was not obvious when you were planning out your trip. You do not want to lose power while riding in Winter, potentially leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Another consideration is that riding in Winter can affect battery performance. The cold won’t outright damage your batteries, but the colder the cells are, the more likely they are to release their stored electricity, which can reduce your range. For that reason, every Surface 604 eBike, including the fat tire models, has removable batteries that are also well suited for long distances, usually 60 or more KM. You want to keep the battery warm and indoors right up to the point that you are going to ride.
Reliable Power Delivery
There’s no point in riding an eBike in Winter if the battery gets drained quickly and the bike gives inconsistent power and torque. Power delivery in Winter needs to be consistent, reliable, and not to a point that it overtakes the pedal effort that you are putting in. There are three different components within an eBike that determine exactly how much power you get.
The first is the control unit, which is where you select the amount of pedal assist on a control box that is attached to it on the handlebars. What pedal assist level you choose determines how much power the next component, the pedal sensor, tells the battery to output to the third component, the actual drive motor. In many eBikes, a cadence sensor is used that measures how fast you are pedaling in relation to the pedal assist selected.
In Surface 604 fat tire eBikes, however, a torque sensor is used at the pedals that measures how much effort you are putting in, and constantly varies the power and torque the motor is outputting. This gives a much more natural feeling to the pedal effort and riding comfort.
Surface 604 Fat Tire eBikes
Currently, heading into 2024, Surface 604 offers three fat tire eBike models: The Twist Folder, the Boar Explorer, and the Boar Hunter. Similarities across all three are that they all come equipped with a Bafang 500W geared rear hub drive motor, one of the best motors currently available for eBikes. All three also come as standard with a 48V 14 Ah (672 Wh) lithium-ion battery pack, giving a nominal 72 KM of range depending on pedal assist levels and if you use the thumb throttle or not.
All three also have the Surface 604 designed 12 MOS Smart Controller, which is robust, weatherproof, and can handle temperatures well into the freezing range without issue. All three use a torque sensor that reads 1,000 measurements per second to give you precise torque and power seamlessly. In fact, the controller and sensor are so good, they often feel like they aren’t even there and you have bionic legs to keep on pedaling.
All three bikes come equipped with Tektro Auriga 180mm hydraulic disc brakes. All three also have a full-colour, easy-to-read, and use main display that lets you know pedal assist level, battery remaining, speed, and odometer. All three also come with an included headlight and tail light for extra safety when riding in dark conditions.
Surface 604 Twist Folder - $2,899
The Twist Folder is a folding eBike that is aimed primarily at urban use, although it is robust and tough enough to handle off-roading and trail riding. It comes with 20x4 inch wheels with a more road-oriented tread pattern, and has an SRAM 9-speed derailleur to handle the gearing. The Twist comes as a Class 2 eBike, limited to 32 KPH assist, but can be unlocked to a Class 3 or Unlimited eBike for assist up to 45 KPH and beyond.
The Twist also includes a Selle Royal gel saddle as standard, which is water- and weather-proof, and provides a comfortable ride at all times. As with all other Surface 604 eBikes, the Twist is rated IP65 waterproof as long as the bike isn’t completely submerged, so getting some snow on the frame or being caught in a flurry won’t damage the bike in any way.
Surface 604 Boar Explorer - $3,599
The Boar Explorer is what is called in the eBike world a pathfinder or off-road adventure eBike. It pretty much says it in the name, it is designed to explore the wilderness away from the beaten path, but it also makes a very competent and comfortable Winter commuter and urban bike. Coming with 27.5x4.5 inch fat Maxxis Colossus tires, it has an aggressive tread pattern that digs into snow and ice to give you maximum traction. A Shimano Alivio 9-speed derailleur handles the gearing, and it comes as standard as a Class 2 eBike, with Class 3 unlocking available.
For the saddle, the Boar Explorer has a Selle Royal Nebula seat, which includes a gel layer, a perineal relief groove, and is water- and weather-proof. The entire bike is rated IP65 waterproof as long as it isn’t completely submerged. The Boar Explorer is perfectly happy in Winter conditions, and you can realistically use it in everything but the most horrendous of conditions.
Surface 604 Boar Hunter - $3,699
The big brother of the Boar Explorer, the Boar Hunter is based on the same frame, but has a few significant differences. The first is that the Hunter comes with Kenda Juggernaut 26x4.5 inch tires, with a very aggressive tread pattern designed to give maximum traction in mud, leafy undergrowth, forests, snow, and ice. The gearing is via an SRAM X5 9-speed derailleur, and it comes as standard as Class 2 eBike.
The Hunter comes with a Selle Royal Nebula seat like its brother bike, and is also IP65 waterproof. The biggest difference between the two Boars is that the Hunter is set up more for heavy-duty hauling, while the Explorer is more for distance and capability off-road. Like its brother, it is also an excellent Winter commuter and urban bike, especially seeing as it is meant to slog through mud and rain and undergrowth and get you through it all.
Now Is The Perfect Time To Get A Surface 604 Fat Tire eBike!
Don’t just take our word for it, look at these independent reviews that give the Surface 604 top marks!
Surface 604 Boar Explorer @ Electric Bike Reviews
Surface 604 Boar Hunter @ webBikeWorld
Surface 604 Twist @ Electrified Reviews
As you can see, Surface 604 bikes score consistent top marks for their features, capabilities, and all-around ease of use. You can buy your Surface 604 from any affiliated dealership, or directly from us! No matter how you go about it, a fat tire eBike for your Winter riding needs is just a few clicks away!
Fat Tire eBike FAQ
What is a fat tire eBike?
A fat tire eBike is any that has at least 4-inch wide tires of any diameter.
What is a “half-fat” eBike then?
A half-fat tire eBike is one that has tires between 2.7 and 3.2 inches in width. An example is the Surface 604 Shred mountain bike, which has 27.5x2.8 inch tires
Are fat tire eBikes suitable for riding in Winter?
Fat tire eBikes are probably the best type of eBike to ride in Winter. They provide more tire surface area for more confident and reliable traction on snowy and icy surfaces.
What are fat tire eBikes best suited for?
Anything! There are fat tire commuter eBikes like the Twist folding bike, there are cargo bikes that use fat tires, there are many mountain bikes that use fat tires, and there are dedicated off-road bikes like the Boar models that use fat tires.
I’m new to eBikes, is a fat tire eBike good for a beginner?
Absolutely. Fat tire eBikes are excellent for beginners as they are very forgiving if you are riding on bumpy, slippery, or unstable terrain. They also almost always have high-torque motors, with more than 65 Nm of torque, to help overcome the heavier weight of most fat tire eBikes.
Are fat tire eBikes heavy, then?
It depends on the materials used in construction and the usage the bike is designed for, but on average, you can expect a fat tire eBike to be 10 to 15 lbs heavier than a similar non-fat tire eBike. The heaviest Surface 604 fat tire eBike is the Twist folding eBike at 62 lbs (with battery installed).
Can fat tire eBikes carry a lot of payload?
This one depends on the specific eBike, but in general, as the frame is more robust on a fat tire eBike, they are often rated to carry 275 to 300 lbs of payload as standard. Some fat tire eBikes specifically designed for cargo and utility uses can carry upwards of 400 lbs, but they are special-case eBikes often used by businesses and delivery riders.
Are fat tire eBikes more expensive than a “normal” tire eBike?
Not necessarily! A great example is the Surface 604 Quad, which is the same price as a Surface 604 Boar Explorer, but doesn’t have nearly the same cargo and payload capacity, nor does it have the full 4.5-inch wide fat tires, as it is a half-fat mountain bike with 2.8 inch wide tires. Those extra 1.3 inches make a lot of difference
Are fat tire eBikes worth it?
It really depends on what your use case and preference is. If you want to ride in Winter, absolutely. If you want to get off-road, off-trail, and get way out there in the wilderness, then for sure. If you’re going to be doing regular city riding and commuting, it varies but fat tire eBikes are pretty common there too.
Where is Surface 604 located?
Uniquely Canadian, Surface 604 was established in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the name comes from the area code, 604, when you need to call anyone. The frames are designed and engineered in Vancouver, and all testing and validation before a model goes on sale is done in Vancouver as well as on the many excellent bike trails just an hour out of town in the Rocky Mountains.