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e-bike in the snow
We have 5" on the ground and decided to take out my e-bike to see how, or if it would perform in snow. Here's my objective thoughts on using it.
I took the bike to my furthest treestand that is one mile away. The temp was 30 degrees so the snow was not fluffy but not sticky either.
On my first hill I just about wiped out. The front tire slid out and I had to put my feet down to keep from dumping it. I lowered the speed a bit and was more cautious. If the bike stayed perfectly perpendicular to the ground all was good. I was able to drive in 5" just fine. But In that one mile, I had that front tire slip out at least 5x. I also had to cover a few frozen pools of water on my dirt road. I took it really slow where. On one of those roads my wheel busted through the ice but only a couple inches so I kept driving.
I would have to say that 5" is probably the absolute max for using an e-bike in the snow. And if you do, go slow. Straightaways were OK, but uphill and downhill travel was dicey.
Anyway, thought I'd share this with you guys. Good luck.
Good info. It all depends on tire tread, pressure & width, snow conditions, plus total weight on the bike. There are several companies that make studded winter tires for fat bikes (that mainly helps with icy/hard packed conditions though). I'm not familiar with riding an e-bike, but I have ridden fat bikes and regular mountain bikes in snowy conditions a lot. As you note, straight and smooth isn't much of a problem but hills and variable snow conditions can be trouble.
It can get really tricky when you have rutted snow/ice without a packed/groomed trail.
That’s an expensive machine to risk wiping it out...... not to mention the danger.
What type of tires are you using? You can get studded tires and that should help quite a bit. Tire pressure can make a big difference, too. People ride their fatbikes in the snow all winter up here. There are definitely conditions that are pretty much unrideable no matter what you do, though.
I've ridden mine in 8" without any issues but our snow here in CO is a lot fluffier than East Coast snow.
Less to do with the fact that it is an ebike or not than the skill of the operator. Experienced riders can handle riding in much more challenging conditions than people who have little or no experience off trail.
tire pressure is your friend....or enemy. I've "fat biked" in MN for years. There's a reason why tubeless tire setups are the preferred setup for winter biking. You can air down to 3-5 psi and keep the bead on. I don't know anyone that bikes in snow that runs anything remotely close to full tire pressure. Studs only help on ice or super packed cold snow. You can have a studded tire in 6" of snow, but if you're aired up to 20 psi, you might as well walk the hills.
I am at 25psi so I'll give that a shot. I never thought of lowering the PSI for snow but that makes sense.
I was gonna say Pat, I bet you have too much air in your tires. I have mine way low and have had zero issues in the snow. I don't know my exact PSI, but when I drive over a 3" stick I don't feel it. 2 days ago I drove over a couple 5-7" diameter logs and hardly feel them because the tires take so much of the hit. On pure ice (frozen water) I did hit a corner doing about 14mph and had it slide on me and had to put the foot down, but that was excessive lol. Was racing out from checking trail cams without gear.
Every time I use the bike I love it more. I stopped on the road to check cams on a property. I keep my bike in the inside of my Ford in the back seat. From stopping, assembling front tire, doing a mile's worth of riding, checking two cameras, removing one and placing it in another location and doing some scouting of tracks in the snow, I had the bike dissembled, stowed in the truck and driving away in 15 minutes from when I parked. I swear that would have taken me an hour on foot.
Yep, I run mine at about 7-8 psi in snow and sand. Riding in deep loose sand in the Platte river bottom where I turkey hunt is worse than snow.
Here in MN they do fat tire bike racing in the winter. You could adapt some of the tire and stud choices for winter riding/racing to an ebike. From my own past experience riding in the snow between college classes and work, I can tell you normal mtn bike tires are probably not enough to ride safely.
I have road mine in deep snow and the big thing you need to watch out for is punching the front tire through and going over the handlebars. Icy turns are sketchy too and I did hit the ground hard once last year.
Bicycle Tire Chains - see link
The chains work pretty well. Fenders are a must in snow if you want to stay dry.
What tire width are you riding Pat? On my pedal fat bike I'm running 4.0" and for mountain bike summer trails I only run 11.5 psi. With big tires just a simple 0.5-1psi change makes a big difference in handling. As others have stated in sand or snow you can go way lower pressure. If you're running tires anywhere in the 4.0 range you're riding them WAY too high pressure at 25psi.
My first hunt with my new E-bike last fall was after 4-5 fresh Kansas snow story, I wasn't prepared for that. I headed out that morning not knowing what to expect. It handled the snow just fine, the hidden and frozen ruts were more of an issue. Baptism by fire (snow) if you will, taught me just how effective those fat tires are in maneuvering through and over obstacles. Once I left the trail and headed across the snow covered wheat stubble and cut milo travel was a snap. I drove right up next to my pop-up stepped inside, just minutes ahead of a hot doe and her young suiter. I'm a novice rider for sure, I've discovered though dry or frozen works better for me than thawed and muddy. The bar ditch is my friend in sloppy conditions. I've never been much of a risk taker, slower is my game. Even on my 4 wheeler I'm more of a Driving Miss Daisy, than Speed Racer. I'm not a fan of crashing anything, I've worked and saved to long to break anything.
eBike John's Link
I have had dirt bikes 2 stroke motocross bikes to be exact almost my entire life & they are a blast to ride in the snow but if you ride on 2 wheels in the snow your doing to bust your ass period just a matter of time
I jumped on here a bit late but the advice is solid. Lower psi will give you more traction. With that said, it's still a small surface area so turning fast or leaning into a turn will always be dicey on ice. Just this morning I reached out to a company I'm hoping to team up with that could be a cool solution for winter riding. It won't work for everyone but for those that can, it looks like a lot of fun. It converts your fat bike into a half bike half ski. check out the link!
I would try lowering your tire pressure. ;-)
John, That looks interesting and fun for downhill although I'm sure I'd end up on my azz for sure. Wonder how it performs going uphill though???
How about ski outriggers?
Used my e-bike again tonight in 4” of snow. This time with low air pressure in the tires.
That helped, but it was still not great. Maybe it’s better with powdery snow instead of that dense icy crap we have back East, I’d have to say 3” or under is probably ok. 3+ “ and I’m gonna walk to the stand.
I’m shocked Pat, I wonder if there’s a tire quality thing. What is it doing while you’re riding that you aren’t liking? Traction problem? Takes too much energy? Throwing snow? Sliding on you?
I run into this group of guys and gals on regular fat Tire bikes in the winter and they all have those studded tires for winter workouts/travels.
I'm looking into them for my eAssit mountain bike for this winter for Yote hunting.
Good luck with whatever you decide Pat,
For the do it yourself installer types.....
Good luck, Robb
Studded tires help massively if there is ice on the bottom of that snow... but if they cant hook up with the ground below due to snow compaction, they will slide as well. It's still worth studs in snow/ice though... Just be ready to pay... Studded fat bike tires will run you 250-400 bucks a set. They last years, I think this is year 4 for mine and they are still in great shape.
Tire pressure is the other factor. No idea what you are running, but taking that down will increase your grip quite a bit.
The other factor, is that you are going to float more in turns. So rather than leaning the bike (almost certain to yield a washout unless you tripod (put your inside foot on the ground) well), you keep it a bit more vertical, lower the shoulders a bit towards the bars, and steer a bit more. This helps put your center of mass a bit more forward, creating more traction for the front wheel.
Ultimately, in the snow, you are going to slide more. It's going to happen. So those ideas can help, but so does slowing down a bit more gradually into turns and being a bit more conservative with your velocity overall.
Pat, did you guys get 5" in NE CT? Just curious because we have all rain here 40ish miles north of you... Or are you still out in the bread basket?
No, this is in northern NY. Great tips! Thank you!
Gotcha - I was thinking I needed to go hit a bow-only area in your neck of the woods.
Up state makes more sense with all that snow.
Glad the tips helped!
I went over to one of the local bike shops here in my area and talked to the sales girl about what she thought would be the best option for winter biking.
We agreed that just putting studs in would be the cheapest route but that I would have studs in my tires year round as she didn't think taking them out would be worth while.
She suggested to buy a pair of new tires and just rotate them when the season changes.
Kinda like what we do with our vehicles.
I got some prices (Ouch!!) and then double checked on my A-Prime acct for a better price on studded tires.
Tempting for sure
Good luck, Robb
I don’t have an E Bike (wish I had a use for one) But From motorcycle Ice racing knowledge. Studding a tire is labor intensive but not rocket surgery. Purchase the studs and use your driver/drill motor to screw them into a tire.
Of course this means 2 sets of tires.
Look up Brian Bigelows, Kold Kutter install video. His is the best ice racing tire guy in Michigan. Not a bad ice racer either.
I would like to see the double outrigger skis Kodiak posted on a Fat wheel ebike with a tire chain on the rear performance. I bet with the electric assistance that would be the ticket. I would imagine battery life would not last as long though so it would have its trade offs.