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Defiant electric fat bike tackles sand and snow

By

July 3, 2013

The Defiant Big Easy provides grit and power over sand and snow

The Defiant Big Easy provides grit and power over sand and snow

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Two big trends that have stormed the bicycle industry over the past few years are pedal-assisted electric drivetrains and fat tires. These two trends converge in Defiant Bicycles' Big Easy. Unlike other electric bikes that stop at the edge of the street, the Big Easy keeps rolling over some of the toughest, most sluggish terrain on Earth – everything from hot sand to cold, mushy snow.

We've seen a few different electric fat bike designs in recent years, including 20-inch-tired clown bikes from Hanebrink and the Pedego Trail Tracker. We expect to see more of these bikes emerge because many US cities with big bike cultures – Portland, New York, Boulder and Minneapolis, to name a few – can have harsh, snowy winters. An electric bike designed to excel in snowy weather seems like a natural fit for commuters in these types of locations.

In fact, the Big Easy was created by a dedicated Minnesota cyclist to fill just that type of niche. Defiant co-founder Kevin Spreng, a Twin City-area attorney, became frustrated by the lack of viable winter commuters so he set out to design his own.

"I thought I’d give a fat tire snow bike a try," Spreng explains on Defiant's CrowdSupply campaign. "It worked great on snow and ice, but it wasn’t fast enough for me. So, I put an electric motor on my snow bike. It was brilliant. Now I could go 15 to 20 miles per hour on snow-covered trails and roads while still getting a terrific workout. That’s really how Defiant Bicycles and the Big Easy model were born."

With its 4.7-inch tires, the Big Easy is among the "fattest" of the fat bikes on the market. Those fat tires can be deflated to pressures as low as 7 psi, increasing their surface area to better "float" through soft terrain. Big, cushy tires also add a sort of suspension system, smoothing out bumps and ruts.

Defiant Big Easy

While its burly build and big tires are all about rough weather, its e-assisted drivetrain is aimed at sure-footed, reliable commuting. Electric bikes like the Pedego Trail Tracker make riders choose between motored propulsion and pedaling, but the Big Easy uses a pedal-assisted powertrain that provides an extra boost to get riders from point A to point B a little faster, with a little less effort. Motor assistance can also be useful for carrying heavy gear or helping the rider muscle through a particularly tough, sticky track of snow.

The drivetrain combines a 500-watt rear hub motor and frame-mounted 36-volt lithium-ion battery, offering enough power for 20 miles (32 km) of range and 20 mph of speed. The pedal-assist motor output can be adjusted at the push of a button. The rider can also pedal the bike without any motor assistance and has nine speeds at his disposal. The 8.5-lb (3.9-kg) battery, which takes about four to five hours to charge to full, can be removed completely to create a lighter set-up.

A fat e-bike may be most at home in the slush or sand, but Defiant's idea was to build a bike that could excel all year, in all types of conditions, not just in the winter or on the sand. It claims the bike is a year-round workhorse and recreational steed for mountain biking and commuting. It's also marketing the bike at hunters, adventure tourers and other cyclists that cover a lot of ground with an abundance of gear.

Defiant is currently trying to raise funds on crowd-sourcing site CrowdSupply.com. A Big Easy with a 6061 aluminum frame (built in Portland, Oregon), Shimano XT components and disc brakes is being offered for US$4,495. That's well over the price of the Trail Tracker but competitive with a Surly Moonlander outfitted with a comparable electric motor system. Other Defiant models are available for preorder on the company's website.

Source: Defiant, CrowdSupply

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
8 Comments

I am not a fan of battery or capacitor powered electric vehicles but I will make an exception for giving trolleybuses and like vehicles a few mile range to make detours. However as a fat tire bicycle it looks pretty good and I have found that for dry pavement if the tires will pressures of 100+ psi the additional rolling resistance is not bad.

Slowburn
3rd July, 2013 @ 09:28 pm PDT

At a price of $4495 , it"s pretty clear why "crowd" financing is wanted - you can by a car from China or India for the same money , or a used 4 wheel drive . But the world is full of fools . So let them buy costly souvenirs ! And the clever ones will have money for the next "crowd financed" project . Looks good , and you not need to pay for the picture .

Angel Vardjiisky
4th July, 2013 @ 02:43 am PDT

Purrrrrrlease! I have been riding a fat tire ebike kitted with a bionx for years!! What do they need kickstarting for heavens sake??!!

Just google "my bionx" and hit images and you will see my bike and my road-test report on 5,000 miles of riding it in the Swiss mountains!!

It is at mybionxdotcom if that doesn't get deleted in the comments...

sutski123
4th July, 2013 @ 07:21 am PDT

Sorry, way too expensive at that price...

For much less than double that, you can buy a full on electric motorcycle that you can drive on the freeway and recharge on 110VAC

http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-ds/

CaptD
4th July, 2013 @ 09:53 am PDT

No fenders? $4,500 ? Bike commuters arriving at work with your clothes, or even your foul weather gear, covered in slush and grime thrown up by your own tires doesn't sound like a great way to go. I agree with the 'expensive souvenirs' comment above.

Dave in Alaska
4th July, 2013 @ 10:15 am PDT

What is the point of 20-inch wheels?

And why not just take a $1200 electric bike and change the wheels?

MSmith
4th July, 2013 @ 06:55 pm PDT

$5k for that? I just bought a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4wd for *LESS* than that! If you want to go off road, get a real off-road vehicle! Plus, my Jeep has AC and Infinity sound system!

Ed
4th July, 2013 @ 10:55 pm PDT

Single-track vehicle needs good traction primarily for "dynamic steering" not only for propulsion. Thick tires has little to do with bike handling in slippery conditions. That's why x-country bike racing is a "sport" (btw, resource-wasteful), not a commute.

So not only price but design intent is by fools and/or for fools,

And again.."world is full of fools" they deserve to be ripped off to turn wheels of capitalism/consumerism.

Mike Akulov
8th July, 2013 @ 10:57 am PDT
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