The folding Ecotric fat tire electric bike is a ton of fun.
E-bikes are the wave of the future, or at least that is what I have heard. There is a plethora of uses of a bike that also has an electric motor mounted on the back. Many hunters like to use them to stealthily get to their hunting spots without leaving a lot of scent. Other people like my neighbor have been looking at them for use motoring around the campgrounds they like to frequent in the summer months. Still other people invest in electric bikes to cut down on the amount they spend on gas money driving to work each month.
Personally, I had not owned a bike in years, and I wanted something that I could use for a little bit of everything. After a ton of research, I finally settled on the Ecotric folding fat tire electric bike. Yes, it has all those features.
After having owned this electric bicycle for a number of months and having put a bunch of miles on it, I'm ready to share my thoughts on it and why it is a worthy buy for anyone looking for a fat tire bike that is just a joy to ride.
Why an electric bike?
At first, I was not going to buy anything I would consider fancy. I was going to get a plain old mountain bike to replace my older bike that I bought used and turned out to be a lemon. One of my major hobbies, other than hunting and fishing, is geocaching. Michigan is criss-crossed by countless bike trails filled with geocaches to find and I wanted to be able to start seeking those out again.
Long story short, my original search for a cheap mountain bike turned into a search for a fat tire bike instead. From there it morphed into a search for a folding fat tire bike, and from there to a folding fat tire electric bike. I wanted something that could better handle the varied terrain offered by most of these trails. Some are paved, some are dirt, some are crushed rock. I wanted a bike that could do all of them with ease.
It did not take me long to find the Ecotric on Amazon. It is one of the top-rated fat tire e-bikes for sale there. This fat tire bike has 20-inch tires, a 500W rear hub motor and it folds up to a compact size. The only thing holding me back was the $800 price tag. It took about two weeks of research into other models and countless videos before I finally decided the price of this bike was too good to pass up. For reference, most electric bikes start around $1,000. One of my friends just bought another brand that starts at $1,500. These bikes are not cheap, but like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
I will not lie. I was a little anxious about ordering a bike from the Internet without ever seeing one in person. Especially when I found out there were a few things you must assemble when it arrives. I am not a bike expert and I am not mechanically talented either. Thankfully, it went smoothly for the most part. I had little trouble attaching the front tire and the handlebars.
There was one small annoyance in assembly. A required bolt for attaching the front fender was not included with my bike at all. Rather that mess with customer service for one lousy bolt, I went to Menards and picked up one that would fit the nut that came in the small baggie. It worked out just as well. Another annoyance was the front reflector, which has a stupidly long tag end that makes mounting it nearly impossible. I suggest watching the video I embedded above because it does a better job of explaining assembly than Ecotric's own YouTube channel does. Like the guy in this video, I ended up trimming the aforementioned tab off to get the reflector to fit as intended.
My advice is to be careful on assembly because they do not give extra nuts and bolts. It seems wrong that Ecotric could not be bothered to pack two or three extras of the smallest parts with an $800 folding electric bike, but that is a minor annoyance. Thankfully, everything after that has been smooth sailing with this bike.
Charging is simple and easy
Once I finally had the bike assembled, I took it for a quick ride with the battery drained. That meant it was entirely under my own power. It is possible to ride this bike with no assistance from the 500-watt brushless motor. However, it is also somewhat difficult to ride without the pedal assist. This bike weighs approximately 56 pounds. On an even surface or downhill, it is not so bad, but if there is an incline, it can be a challenge to pedal.
Thankfully, the 36V/12AH lithium battery charges quickly and simply enough. There is a small port on the battery and a simple charger that plugs into the wall outlet. I left it charging overnight and it was ready to go the next morning. I usually just leave mine plugged in to ensure it always has a charge when I am ready to ride. The battery is removable and locks into the bike's frame via a key. The bike will also not operate unless the key is inserted and turned to the "on" position. That should help with deterring thieves who will be confused as to why they cannot just start it up and fly away with a twist of the throttle.
The battery life on a single charge is decent for most light riding purposes. I took the bike to a mixed-surface bike trail and managed to get about 18 miles off a single charge just using the throttle without the pedal assist. Yes, I was extremely lazy on that ride, but I wanted to see what this bike could do. That test ride is right in line with Ecotric's own ads that say the bike gets between 18 and 23 using only the throttle. I have read a few online customer reviews that say they got 25-40 helping the bike out by using the assist.
More fun than your average bike
Make no mistake, this is not a moped or minibike or anything like that. The maximum speed of this bike is only about 20 miles per hour. While that speed limit does not sound fast on paper, it feels like more than enough for this foldable bike. The power of the 500w motor surprised me the first time I twisted the throttle. It has enough power to get you up to speed in seconds. It sounds a little like a hobby-grade electric RC truck on steroids. The motor is easy to operate thanks to the simple push button controls on the handlebars. They are easy enough for even a child to understand and use.
Besides the motor, this fat bike is also fitted with a Shimano 7-speed gear system. Pedaling this bike without the gear assist is something of a chore. As I mentioned earlier, this bike weighs about 56 pounds thanks to the heavy motor component, the tires and the solid aluminum alloy frame. It shifts gears effortlessly, but because of that weight, it is tough to get going into those higher gears.
That is where the pedal assist comes in. It gives just enough power to help you pedal the bike effortlessly up slight slopes and over longer distances. Dare I say that pedaling up a hill is fun with this bike? It really is, and you cannot say that about most bikes.
If you have a short commute to work and are looking to save money, this bike would be a joy in the warmer months of the year. It is just plain fun to ride whether you are using exclusively the throttle, pedal assist or trying to get a workout under your own power. I often find myself just going out for a cruise through the neighborhood many evenings after work. It is a great stress reliever.
It should be mentioned, if you are looking for something to handle rough terrains, this may not be it. I did test the bike off-road. It effortlessly glides over grass, dirt and even sand, but this is not an electric mountain bike. It is not built for extreme wilderness trails or downhill runs. More on that below.
What it is not made for
If you are looking for something to handle rough terrain, this may not be it. I did test the bike off-road but it is not built for extreme, rocky wilderness trails or downhill runs with ruts and jumps. It is more of a commuter bike that has some off-road capability thanks to the tires.
We know many hunters out there are buying e-bikes to get into their tree stand and back again quietly. I would say that this bike would work for that, but only if the terrain of your hunting area is fairly flat and dry. This bike has no suspension on it, so you will feel some of the bumps and ruts. You can probably replace the front suspension fork with something that will smooth things out, but there is not much you can do about the back. The bike will likely handle zipping down open forest trails and the bumps and ruts of picked agricultural fields like those found here in the Midwest. I would not trust it in mud or water simply because I do not know if the motor itself is waterproof.
Also do not expect to pull a deer out of the woods with this bike, the weight capacity is somewhere in the 250-pound range. If you want to drag an animal out, you are going to need a more powerful and probably much more expensive bike for that.
However, this bike is perfect for someone looking to commute around town or to work. It would be great for urban fishermen hopping from spot to spot in parks and along rivers. It would also be ideal for campers to get around large campgrounds quickly and easily. As I have already mentioned, for the avid geocacher who likes to hit bike trails loaded with caches, this bike is perfect for that. At some point in the future I would like to take it on the South Shore train over to Chicago for a day. It would be fantastic for exploring the big city without expensive cabs or Ubers.
Other ebike features
This bike has plenty of other features that bear mentioning that I have not touched upon yet. It has front and rear disc brakes. The braking system works very well, it does not take much of a squeeze to slow down. That is a good thing with a bike as fast and as heavy as this one.
I have barely talked about the fact that this is a folding bike. All it takes is the moving of one pin in the center of the aluminum frame and the bike folds in half, front wheel parallel to the rear wheel. This makes it much easier to store if you have limited space. The folding part of the bike is very well designed. The aluminum frame feels very solid. No part of it feels cheap or flimsy. It is hard to find stuff constructed this well these days. When you are riding there is no sense of it coming loose while moving. Many people who have seen this bike were surprised when I pulled the pin and showed them how it collapses down. Because it just looks like a normal bike when you are riding it.
The handlebars also quickly fold down to make the package even more compact. The handlebar includes a ruler on the side, which we appreciate. It allows you to quickly set the handlebars to the same height every time you use it. One puzzling aspect is why Ecotric did not do the same with the adjustable seat, but that is a minor complaint. You could probably put a dab of paint or make a small mark to set your preferred height.
Once folded up, the entire bike fits perfectly into the back of my 2011 Jeep Liberty with room to spare. I am guessing it will fit into most car trunks and maybe even some RV storage areas with ease. It is nice to be able to lock my bike up securely in my vehicle. I also do not have to bother with purchasing an expensive bike rack that also needs to be stored and mounted every time I want to take my bike somewhere.
The bottom line
Electric fat tire bikes are fun to ride, but they are also expensive. Most bikes I priced were a minimum of $1,000. Most were much more expensive than that. I saw dozens that start between $2,000 and $3,000. It is worth noting that most of them did not offer the folding features that the Ecotric comes with either.
As I already mentioned, this bike cost about $850 with tax. That is not cheap by any means, but when compared to the competition, it is an absolute steal. It makes me wonder how Ecotric can even make a profit when they are undercutting their competition so much. If you are looking for a good electric folding bike, it is hard to go wrong with the Ecotric.
For what I will be using this bike for, this bike is a winner and well worth my hard-earned money. I will be using this bike for many different outdoor adventures in the future.