Sneak Peek: Hanebrink Bear Cat

April 7, 2013

April, 2013

Dan Hanebrinkhas been busy building new prototype fat electric bikes. Until recently most of these prototypes have been focused on high performance (and expensive) ebikes. Last year he announced the $18,000 Hustler X5 (read our story), which I was privileged enough to ride up in the Southern Californian mountain community of Big Bear, a beautiful lake-front town that looks over Los Angeles. Also, I have ridden some of his high performance versions of the standard Hanebrink ebike which have top speeds of over 50-MPH. There are a number of problems offering high performance ebikes to the public, such as reliability and the high cost of building them (read our story on the high cost of ebike speed),

Recently Hanebrink changed directions from the high performance path they were on, and suddenly announced a new product, the “Bear Cat” at a $4,500 price tag which is low for an ebike from Hanebrink. The original Hanebrink ebike (read review) has a mid-drive hub motor and starts at $7,650.

Dan’s ebikes have been featured in many major publications such as Gizmag, EV World, Popular Mechanics,  Autoblog Green, the Discovery Channel, etc. We are proud and honored that he chose to announce the release of the Bear Cat.

I will be travelling to Big Bear to do a complete review on the Bear Cat in the next few months.

Hanebrink Bear Cat


Made in the USA

If you are looking for an ebike that’s only $2,000…you will need to look elsewhere. There are plenty of box-shufflers bringing in generic ebikes from China that you can turn to. Most of the good ones have been reviewed on this site.

The majority of the Bear Cat is made and assembled in the United States. Of course, it does have Asian components (controller, motor, etc), but  so does every other Ebike as of this writing. The Bear Cat was designed by Dan in Big Bear, the frame is welded in a California factory (the same factory that makes the frame for the Optibike), the custom parts are cnc’ed in California, and then Dan hand assembles and quality-checks each ebike. As far as ebikes go, that is as close to “Made in America” as you’re going to get…and the price reflects that.

Key Component List

Hub Motor: Aotema 36V 800 watts

Controller: 36V 26A

Gears: 21-speed Shimano  front and rear derailleurs

Shifters: SRAM twist grip (rear), and thumb grip (front)

Throttle: Twist Grip

Battery: 36V 10-Ah All Cell Lithium-Ion

Hanebrink Bear Cat

All Cell Battery  

All Hanebrink bikes utilize the All Cell battery which is the highest quality Ebike battery available.  The USA-made  battery has a 2-year warranty and is expected to last well over 1,000 charges. The Bear Cat comes stock with a 36V / 10-Ah battery which isn’t very big.  Since all Hanebrinks are custom built on order, you can request a larger battery (at an additional cost) at the time of ordering (which we recommend).

Custom Suspension Forks

Hanebrink made a name for himself in the bicycle industry by building his own custom suspension forks for mountain bikes. One of the unique  attributes of the Hanebrink bike is that they have an 8-inch wide tire, which as you can see from the pics is enormous. Most fat electric bikes have a maximum of a 4-inch wide tire. Currently there are no commercially available fat bike suspension forks. Hanebrink is the only company making fat suspension forks, and it’s only for their monster 8-inch wide tires.

The first 50 Bear Cats sold will include Hanebrink fat suspension forks for no additional cost. After the first 50 bikes, suspension forks will be a $500 option.

Mid drive or hub motor bike?

The biggest difference between the original Hanebrink  (X2) and the Bear Cat is the X2 has its Aotema hub motor mounted in the middle of the bike and is a mid drive, meaning the bike is powered through the chain allowing you to use the pedal-gears as motor gears (read our article on mid drives). This makes it an ideal bike for climbing steep terrain and carrying heavy load, and also allows the x2 to have a higher top speed, while still be an amazing climber. The Bear Cat has the same Aotema hub motor built into the wheel, which of course is the traditional way of using a hub motor.  This reduces the complexity of the bike by a lot, but then the motor has only has one speed. The Bear Cat is geared very low for off road use and hill climbing. The motor is built into a wheel with only a 19.5-inch diameter, resulting in ultra low gearing. This results in great hill climbing and off-road performance, but do not expect a top speed of anything over 15-MPH.

Differences between Bear Cat and the Original Hanebrink X2


The main difference between these 2 bikes is the x2 is a mid-drive and the Bear Cat is a standard hub motor bike. The only other difference is that the x2 comes with a rear rack, and has the battery and controller mounted on the rear rack.

On the Bear Cat, the rear rack is a $200 option.

Hanebrink Electric Bike



The retail price of the Bear Cat is $4,400. The starting  retail price of the x2 is a whopping $7,650.  I am not sure about why there’s such a big difference in pricing, given how similar these two ebikes are.

Additional options on the Bear Cat would include:

  • Cycle analyst dashboard (top grade battery management, highly recommended)
  • Larger All Cell battery
  • 48V upgrade (controller and battery)
  • Rear rack ($200)

For more information visit the Hanebrink website.

The Hanebrink Bear Cat alongside Dan Hanebrinks dog "Hustler"

The Hanebrink Bear Cat alongside Dan Hanebrinks dog “Hustler”

Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.


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