Frankly, we’ve been wondering when Felt would have a go at a fat-bike. And, while we’ve heard rumors and seen outright introductions from several of the players that could significantly influence the fat-bike market, this particular Felt Fat-bike Concept caught us a bit by surprise. OK, it totally caught ME by surprise anyway.
Felt are heavily influenced by the needs of the Euro Market Euro where In some markets in Europe e-bikes are 30% or more of bicycle sales and, because of EU regulations, pedal-assist e-bikes are the way to go there. We agree! Simply mashing a throttle is more like a motorcycle while pedal-assist is more like you’ve got a Cat 1 racer pushing you along while you are still exerting yourself like any other ride.
While we have seen e-fat-bikes and pedal assist fat-bikes before, the Bosch pedal assist unit is really well integrated into the bike design with the main power and battery units slung low, near the bottom bracket. The assist comes in 4 modes with increasing amounts of assist up to 250 watts called Eco, Touring, Spot and Turbo. Top speed of this bike under pedal assist, at least in Europe where e-bike regulations are further along than in the US, is 20MPH. When a company with the resources of Bosch puts their engineering, money and resources behind a product you can expect a very well thought out result. In fact, this is already the second generation pedal-assist unit from the venerable German company.
Felt are one of 4 companies to be licensed by Bosch to offer the pedal-assist unit. Of course, most of those units are slated for commuter-style e-bikes but we think this fat-bike concept is worth further exploration. A Felt rep told us that this was really just a design exercise in the beginning but feedback at Eurobike was very positive and, in just the first few hours here at the Interbike Outdoor Demo, feedback greatly exceeded their expectations. Will this Felt fat-bike make it to market? Quite probably as a 2015 model.
Price?? Well, that is an unknown right now but don’t expect it to be cheap. Then again this kind of technology never comes cheaply in the beginning. We hope Felt pushes this forward.
I know what many of you are thinking, WTF? WHY? Heiko, a Felt rep from Germany explained that part of the reason is that people are so busy. Many people want to ride more but lack the time and while a pedal-assist e-bike is not a Time Machine, it does expand the amount of ground you can explore over a given time period. Besides some of the more commuter-oriented benefits like being able to bike in to work from twice as far away or hitting a restaurant for lunch that is outside your range in a given amount of time when simply pedaling, imagine being able to do 2 climbs on your favorite trail instead of one, along with the downhills that follow during a lunch time ride while still exerting the same amount of energy that you would have for a ride that covered half the distance. Bring it on!