Fatbike tires for commuter e-bike


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Feb 21, 2023

Fatbike tires vs. normal tires for a commuter bike. Do fatbike tires really offer more capability than normal bike tires in an urban context? In my case, I live in a snowy/cold city and my commute to work is about 23 km mostly on roads, bike paths, with the option to go thru some parks.
From my own experience, the fat 4" tires are good in soft snow, I'd think would be great in sand I think.
I rode in wet rainy conditions and they felt a bit warbly ... unlike a set of 2.5" tires.

My 2.8" tire on the front of one of my bikes slices right through hardpacked snow..

I'll be testing range on 2 of my ebikes this summer....the Aventon Aventure fat 4" tire ebike compared to the BBSHD crazy lunacycle mid drive 2.5"
tires.....to see just how much the range is affected by fat tires over 2.5"

I feel as though my commuter during the spring, summer and fall will be my BBSHD build and the Fat tire bike will sit until winter times LOL

So, how far will your travels be then @Shaister

Do ya have an ebike yet?

Welcome to our humble home by the way :cool:
Thank you HumanPerson.

I do not currently have an e-bike. I currently use a non-electric bike to commute to work, but in the summer my office will close and my commute will increase from 6.5 km to as much as 23 km(!) So I am considering an e-bike to avoid having to buy a car.

A lot of e-bikes are sold with fat tires, and the improved performance in snow is enticing because perhaps it would allow me to bike thru the parks more often during the snowy months, rather than take the roads. About 30-40% of the route would be in the parks. Since I've never ridden a fatbike, it's hard for me to judge this advantage.
How much do you weigh?
fat tire can be heavier & reduce your battery range, if your commute involves constant stop & go.
But fat tires can also serve as suspensions if you experiment with tire pressure.

In NYC where I ride mostly, the fat tire allows me to be a bit careless about riding over potholes, or over bumps.
This winter was the first time that I have yet to encounter snow in my riding commute.
I have been riding narrow tires in the snow with no issues, I have ridden ebikes with fat tire since 2018.

Other than the weight of fat tire ebike makes them more difficult to carry up & down stairs, onto vehicles or trains; the ride of a fat tire ebike just feels less nimble than narrow tire ebikes.
The fat tires do feel more rugged that they soak up road shock & ride over obstacles with less concerns.
My latest fat tire ebike is a pure street ride, but handles just fine when I cut through parks on hardpack trails.
Thanks for your observations, “A”. I weigh about 200 lbs and battery range is definitely a main concern, since the whole reason for getting an e bike in my case is to increase the distance I can travel. Frequent starts and stops at intersections will be inevitable. I suppose one can always buy a bigger battery to compensate for the rolling resistance of fat tires but not sure it’s worth the extra cost.
At 200 lb., you would benefit from fat tires.
Rolling resistance on fat tire is not going to be the main factor that effect your battery range when you consider the fat tires will provide better ride quality, puncture resistance and durability (for your weight).
Yes, using narrower tires will likely give you better battery range, but you will sacrifice ride comfort and likely reduce the lifespan of your wheels.
Battery range is much influenced by how much (effort) you (put into the) pedal.
I usually ride with the lowest or next to lowest pedal assist level and much of the forward moving power is from my legs (instead of motor).
Throttle usage is mostly from a complete stop to get the ebike going to a comfortable speed for me to pedal at good cadence.
I pedal harder on hills, more often than relying on throttle. I'd say that my throttle usage is less than 10% of my cycling.
Even as such, the battery range I get are often less than company advertised numbers; granted that I weigh about 175 lb. and regularly carry about 15-20 lb. of cargo with me.
It's difficult to estimate battery range without knowing how much you rely on throttle operation.
Good point. One of my secondary goals is to stay in shape so I’m planning to use the pedals a lot. In that case maybe range won’t be an issue. Ride comfort has never been an issue for me on my current commute, but with the commute distance increasing by a factor of ~3.5 this may become more important. Especially here in Montreal where potholes abound!

I still have time, so I think the best approach is to test out the route with rented/borrowed bikes. Right now, I’m thinking a fat bike frame with ability to swap our tires for different seasons could be ideal. That would restrict me to a mid drive motor though. I would really prefer not to have multiple bikes, but that too is an option if necessary (still cheaper than a car!)
I ride the same tires in winter & summer, just adjust tire pressure & my speed accordingly, fat tires are flexible.
Tire change is a hassle regardless mid or hub drive.
But you can't ride a mid-drive ebike without a chain, it is always going to be limited to the weakest link in the chain.
Once that chain is broken, you've got no other option than to fix it or walk it.
At least with a hub motor you can still throttle back to your home or car.
Maybe it's just the lazy mechanic in me; I rather ride more than wrench more; less time working on the bikes gives me more time to ride.
And with extra power of a motor in the mid-drive ebike, the chain requires to do more work, more maintenance; mid-drive ebike is (always) likely to cost more than hub-drive ebike.
Unless you're riding with a group of hardcore MTB riders on black diamond trails, mid-drive motor weight distribution advantage could come to some difference in performance while keeping up with the rest of the group.
I agree mid drive motor is probably overkill for my situation.

Regarding tire changes, I already change my front tire in the winter to a studded one for safety reasons. Especially on an e-bike, I would not be comfortable without at least one studded tire in the front, even with a fatbike. Black ice is a thing. I think that rules out a front hub motor for me.

My wife makes the interesting point that fat tires could cause me to be overconfident on the road and hence, more dangerous than normal tires.

I'm starting to think "chubby" mountain bike tires (>2.0 inches) are the way to go as a good year-round compromise.
Have you ridden with fat tires at low tire pressure (10-12 psi)?
Well, fat tire (20 or 26 x 4.0) bike or ebike can offer some very different traction when the fat tires are inflated at different levels.
If you plan on riding in the wintry condition, when black ice would be present, for extended amount of time; then sure, have a spare set of wheels with studded tires.
But if you're mostly riding during cycling season when black ice are not present and only likelihood of encountering black ice is a handful of times a year; just lower the tire pressure and take it easy on the ride.
I cycle year round, I keep tabs on the weather daily; if I know a cold spell is coming that I might encounter icy conditions, I prepare for it, dress accordingly and ride accordingly.
Beg for a test ride on a fat tire bike or ebike; get a feel of the bike handling with fat tires.
They are very different that regular bikes with narrower tires; some may not like it.
I didn't initially, but the realization that I'm no longer racing on the bike to get to my destination,
taking my time just to enjoy the saddle time instead of getting somewhere in a hurry; that makes the (sluggish, but more comfort) fat tire rides much more practical.
The main disadvantage of fat tires (for me) are heavier, and take up more storage than regular tire/wheeled bikes.
You lose some of that "nimble" feeling while riding a bicycle; but you can get used to it and find out how nimble fat tire bikes can be after a few hours of riding.

Fatbike tires vs. normal tires for a commuter bike. Do fatbike tires really offer more capability than normal bike tires in an urban context? In my case, I live in a snowy/cold city and my commute to work is about 23 km mostly on roads, bike paths, with the option to go thru some parks.
Check on what is required to change a flat tire with fat tires and tubes as compared to 1.95" standard bike tires. These tires are often used at 35 PSI on mountain bikes and give a very very soft ride. A 175 lb rider can ride on 27.5 x 1.95 inch tires with 22-25 PSI pressure. The greater the volume of the tire the more weight it can support at a lower pressure.

There is a happy medium between 23mm road tires and 4" fat tires and these are the tires used on mountain bike and commuter bikes like the ones sold by REI.
I mounted a new set of 45NTH 'Kahva' studded tires, 27.5 x 21.5 for winter riding on my new Gin X here in Minnesota. So far, so good. The Gin X is a great compromise of low weight and most features for an ebike with the lowest price point out there. Here's a picture of me, the bike and my pup, who absolutely loves bike rides in her handlebar basket. I have added some reflective graphics to the Gin X to 'pretty it up' and to make it more visible at night. Here's the link to Gin's site, check it out!



  • Zoey and GinX on Winter Ride in Minnesota.jpg
    Zoey and GinX on Winter Ride in Minnesota.jpg
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Thanks! I've done other accessorizing and small improvements to my Gin X. So, those that get serious enough to order one, I can offer lots of advice on what I've done to the bike and why. I should have mentioned that the 2 co-owners of Gin, Rahul and Marina, have consistently responded to my emails on small issues, questions and suggestions for improvements I've communicated to them over the last 6 months. They REALLY DO believe in customer service!

Fatbike tires vs. normal tires for a commuter bike. Do fatbike tires really offer more capability than normal bike tires in an urban context? In my case, I live in a snowy/cold city and my commute to work is about 23 km mostly on roads, bike paths, with the option to go thru some parks.
I think fat tires offer enough advantages to make them more than worth the little extra weight. https://www.magicycle.org/shopping-for-an-e-bike-5-questions-to-ask-before-buying/
I live in Wisconsin and commute in the winter on my fatty.

It does great on dirt and gravel, but slows me down noticeably on pavement. It's also noisy, which annoys me after awhile. It needs a lot more electric assist to maintain street-type speeds on pavement. In deep sand, it still sinks in, due to being so heavy. I almost crashed on the beach when I tried that. Wet, hard sand would probably be fine. I've done snow, but never had to brake or turn on it, so I don't think that counts.

Since probably 95% of my riding is on pavement, I'm selling it and replacing it with something with more efficient tires. (60 psi 70 cm wheels instead of 20 psi 20" wheels)

For you, you should base your decision on whether your bike paths and park routes are paved or not. If they're paved, don't do it. If they're gravel, don't do it. For mud or grass it would be worth it if those routes would save you time.