Snow & Snowbikes

December 22, 2017

 

The Inuit have many names for snow.  When you ride Fatbikes, you get to understand why.

 

The structure of the snow makes all the difference on how your bike performs.

A few years ago I was riding (on my now 5 year old regular Amish 9-Zero-7 fatbike) while tlun and clim snow was falling, that was probably one of my best snowbike rides.  It was a solo night ride and in the light of my bike, every flake in the air and on the ground looked like a millions of glimmering diamonds.  The snow squeaked softly below my tires.

 

Sparkling colours enveloped me in the middle of the night on a beautiful snow covered trail; I was wrapped in a vortex that coddled me in some sort of nirvana, where  this ethereal display consumed me in the moment…   But I digress.

 

Yesterday’s  snow  was tlapa, although I am sure that I am getting the name wrong.  The 15-25cms of snow that we were attempting to ride through would not pack, and although, if you were able to keep your speed up and in a straight line. you could hammer through it, starting in it was nearly impossible.  With a non-ebike, forget it.

 

The two bikes that we were riding are two units that we stock, the Haibike XDURO FAT 8.0 and the Bulls Monster ES.

 

Like the different types of snow, these bikes both have different characteristics.

 

They both are equipped with the front Bluto RockShox fork, 4.0 Fatbike tires, but from there everything else changes. 

 

The biggest difference between the two units would be the power assist motor.  Bulls use the Bosch Performance CX and Haibike uses the Yamaha PW.

We rode for about 23kms in -8C weather.  Both bikes performed admirably with the Yamaha using a little over 50% of its battery and the Bosch about 40% of its battery.  

 

Some of this ride was in deep snow, where we would have to get off and push, back on etc.  Not ideal Fatbike riding, but nonetheless a great time outside playing in falling snow!

 

As a result of the conditions most of our ride ended up on maintained bike pathway trails.

 

Our observation was that on the flat, and likewise on steep slow hills, both bikes have plenty of power to get the job done, but it became apparent on long stretches of hills, that the Bulls Bosch bike, killed in power.

 

Haibike offers two Yamaha engines in their model line-up (they also offer Bosch on some models),  the PW, and the more powerful PW-X.

 

The Haibike XDURO FatSix 8.0 has the less powerful, PW motor.  But let’s not write off this bike because of this.  First of all the Yamaha motor has some unique strengths to it, particularly in how quickly it delivers its initial power.  If you are on a hill (or in deep snow) and need to get going, the power comes on stronger than the Bosch, and this is pretty cool.  (But you need to turn that down on ice!)

 

Make no mistakes about it the Yamaha equipped bike will keep you up to and move you faster and further than your triathlon fit buddy could go on his double the price high end carbon fibre non powered fatbike, it just  may take a little extra effort on your behalf to keep up to the Monster ES.

 

On the plus side the FatSix 8.0, comes complete with a dropper post and with the total price of the FatSix at $500.00 less than the Monster, represents a very good value.   

 

We have equipped our Monster demo (it’s on sale right now at a huge discount BTW), with a dropper post, because we like them particularly in deep snow.   Like in the Video here:  

 

The seating position on the FatSix is also a little more upright, although with either bike, a change of the bar stem for $30.00  gives you many possibilities. 

 

You also sit a little higher up on the FatSix, which also provides you with a little more pedal clearance; although with the Crank Brother Stamp pedals that we ride on, we have very few pedal strikes in the winter or summer.

 

The two bikes feature internal cable routing, and although we like that the Monster’s cabling goes right to the back of the bike, the Haibike has porting features that would make it easier to change cables.  There are also many other minor differences in the bikes, including the displays, handlebar width and design, paint design, wheels hubs, SRAM vs Shimano, and much more. 

 

One thing we do think the FatSix is lacking is eyelets for a rear rack on seat stays.  We have racks that can still accommodate the FatSix, but like the fact that the Monster fits almost every off-the-shelf fatbike rack.  When you are riding in the cold its nice to have a stash extra layers in the trunk, and thermos of hot apple-cider! 

 

 

In the end it will come down which you like better.  They both represent the best value for a hardtail fatbike with a Bluto RockShox out there.  Stay away from rear or front-hub motors on a fatbike (or any mountain bike for that much) as the ride-ability in snow for either of those is ridiculously useless.  Like these two bikes, mid-drive is the only way to go.

 

For me I’d take the Monster for $500.00 more.  It's not just the power but the sum of everything on the bike; though I sure like the dropper post on the Fat Six and many of the other unique features that come with it.  I'd also ride a 5 inch front tire (which both bikes can accomodate) if I we keep getting light powder snow!  Bring on the tlun and clim! 

 

 

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