Pedego, known for their beach cruiser line of electric bikes, has made the brash move of releasing a Sand/Trail bike, a natural progression for a company that made its start selling beach bikes to the Southern California market. Now you can buy a Pedego Trail Tracker and feasibly have the option of rolling off the strand and onto the beach for some fun off-road, riding in the sand.
However, the Pedego Trail Tracker is not well-purposed for sand riding, despite its huge tires. Pedego is marketing the bike as more of a trail blazer. The editor of electricbike.com got to take the Trail Tracker on a spin, and see if it really is an off road machine, or just a stylistic road cruiser with over sized balloon tires.
Fat Electric Bike History
One of the hottest new trends in electric bikes is Fat Electric Bikes. Fat bikes are bicycles with tires that are 3.5 inches wide or wider. Their higher weight is worthwhile in places where the local area has a lot of sand or snow.
Dan Hanebrink pioneered first the fat pedal-bike, and then his Fat electric bike (read our review). The mid drive Hanebrink remains one of the best electric fat-bikes you can buy, but at a premium price of over $7000.
Surly started the fat pedal bike crazy with their affordable Pugsley pedal fat-bike. When I saw this bike hit the market, I immediately wanted an electric one. It became one of my first electric bikes, which I converted as a DIY project. It used a high quality BMC motor (read review) and a Rohloff, as its 14 speed drivetrain contained in the hub in the rear.
This bike was expensive to build, but it achieved my desired aim which was to ride an electric bike in the wet sand without the fear of corrosion ruining my moving parts. The only thing that required maintenance on my bike was lubricating the chain. The bike did develop a lot of unsightly rust on any exposed metal component (screws, brackets, etc). Although riding electric bikes in the sand seems like a glamorous activity…it comes at a price of oxidizing your new expensive electric bike.
Fat bikes usually do not make much sense as a pedal bike because of all the added drag and weight of the wide tires. On electric bikes, because you have a motor, this weight and drag does not matter much. The look of fat tires on a bike is awesome.
Soon after Surly started making fat pedal bikes, Tommi Sea followed suit with a $600 version of a made in China fat bike with tires that has a tread in the shape of spiders. Many people I knew converted Tommi Sea bikes into electric bikes because of their low cost.
Recently, Pedego teamed up with Tommi Sea to produce an electric fat bike as a joint project. The two companies had a dramatic falling out just a few days before Inter Bike 2012 this summer. From what I heard from an executive at Pedego, the dispute involved Tommi Sea wanting to do a front wheel drive, and an IGH hub sand bike, and Pedego wanting to do a tried and true rear hub wheel drive. The two companies split ways both determined to release their own version of an electric fat bike.
What resulted is two very similar electric fat-bikes on display at Interbike. The front wheel drive IGH Tommi Sea E-monster and the rear wheel drive Pedego Destroyer. Tommi Sea was enraged that Pedego used their “Destroyer” name because this is what their company had called one of their pedal fat-bikes for years. Pedego claims they used the name “Destroyer” coincidentally. Pedego recently changed the name of their new fat-bike to the “Trail Tracker”, which in my opinion is a better suited name anyway.
There is no love lost between these two companies…expect a price war.
Initially Pedego said the retail price of their Trail Tracker fat bike would be $3,500. The latest retail price I have heard for this bike today is $2,800. The bike has not officially hit the shelves yet so this number might change.
The Tommi Sea E-monster is a very similar bike, and is therefore in direct competition with the Pedego. Both bikes are made entirely in China. As of this writing E-monsters have an MSRP of $3,195
The Pedego Trail Tracker Features:
600 watt geared hub motor
Pedego until recently has used reliable but big and heavy direct drive hub motors. In their city commuter, we saw them use a sexy and small geared hub motor. The Trail Tracker also uses a geared hub motor but this one is rated for 600 watts.
Single Speed Pedal System
You can see in the above picture that Pedego opted for a single speed gear system. This makes sense on a rear wheel hub drive electric bike that could potentially be ridden in sand. Sand wreaks havoc on a derailleur gearing system. So therefore a single speed is the only “clean” option on a rear wheel hub drive. I personally prefer the front wheel drive route with IGH (Internal Gear Hub like the Rohloff) in the back.
The single speed that Pedego has chosen for this bike is geared way too low for normal street riding. I found when I rode the bike I had a hard time pedal assisting the bike because the gearing was not high enough. For low speed trail riding and hill climbing the gearing is probably OK. The drawback to single speed is you cannot have both.
48V / 10-Ah Lithium-ion battery
The Pedego Trail Tracker uses a 48V / 10-Ah battery attached to the bike via a welded rear rack. This battery has proven reliable on other Pedego bikes such as the Interceptor and the City Commuter.
Avid BB7 brakes
The Pedego Trail Tracker uses Avid BB7 brakes which are top of the line mechanical disc brakes, which work great. This is as good as you can go without going hydraulic. The BB7s have finger adjustments on both sides of the rotor, and therefore can be adjusted quickly and easily without tools.
Spider Fat Tires
The Pedego Trail Tracker has chosen 26-inch Spider 4-inch wide tires. This tire is wider than the more expensive Surly Endomorph (3.6 inches), is made by the same company in China (Innova) and handles fine. Because it is a full four inches wide it does create nearly twice the drag and tire noise a standard mountain bike tire would create. Also these fat bike tires do not handle well on the street and are notoriously awkward in corners (they only like to go in a straight line).
One thing to take note is that, even though these are 26-inch tires, because they are so fat, they effectively are 29-inches in diameter when totally inflated. So in essence, this is a 29er electric bike.
Hydro-form Alloy Tubing
One of the nice touches of the Pedego Trail tracker is it uses hydroformed aluminum tubing, which adds a nice finished look to the frame. Also Pedego has done a good job of running many of the unsightly wires through the frame tubing. Pedego has smartly gone with a steel front fork, which adds to the safety of this bike, especially when riding on gnarly off roads. Aluminum forks have the tendency to snap when ridden hard which can cause catastrophic injury.
Pedego has decided to save money on this bike and skimp on its dashboard. It has a very simple and cheap battery gauge on the right hand grip. It uses a twist throttle also on the right hand grip.
Although the Pedego Trail Tracker comes with no real suspension, the 4-inch tires effectively give you an inch of air suspension. Also the bike comes with a springy seat and a low quality suspension seat post. I could notice the seat making annoying squeaking noises when I was riding, but I could not tell a noticeable difference in ride cushiness. The seat suspension is an easily upgrade able component which the owner should consider. A high quality suspension seat post and a Brookes suspension seat would go a long way to smoothing out the ride in this non suspension bike. We recommend the Thudbuster seat-post if it fits in your budget.
Pedego has gone the extra mile and included a kickstand with the Trail Tracker. A kickstand is not an easy accomplishment on a fat bike because they ride do high. The Kickstand does an adequate job of holding the heavy ebike up even when riding on grass or sand.
Can The Pedego Trail Tracker really be ridden in the Sand?
In the wet-packed sand near the water, you will have no problem riding the Trail Tracker on the sand. Be warned however, the wet pack will wreak havoc on your components, and the bike will not stay shiny and new. It might even void your Pedego warranty. As for riding on soft sand…good luck. The Pedego is not only back heavy with its rear motor and rear battery, it is also not very powerful. This bike will not ride well in soft sand.
What about trail riding?
The Pedego’s big fat tires are great platforms for riding off road. They will provide you roughly an inch of suspension. However even with a 600-watt hub motor, you will need to pedal assist this bike a lot to be an effective off road rider. It will be a dog when climbing any kind of hill because it lacks the gearing of a mid drive. Also because of the geared hub motor, there is a chance you could fry your motor depending on how hard you ride it. The Pedego bike comes with a one-year warranty, and that would be the time to put the hard test to this motor riding off road.
What about city riding?
Pedego’s forte is in the commuting bikes, such as the city commuter and their cruisers. The Trail Tracker, despite its name, is more designed as a cruising bike than a hard-core trail blazer. As a city commuter this bike will work fine. The big tires will give you extra stability, and the components will perform fine. What this bike is more about than anything is attitude. Its big tires and rugged look will get you a lot of attention when riding. Also this bike screams electric bike, so forget about being low key and stealth.
The Trail Tracker comes with a standard Pedego 48V rear mounted battery. This is a simple, cheap, (and ugly) battery mounting solution that works OK. It is not a purpose built frame. The Trail Tracker, like all Pedego bikes, is back heavy, since all the Pedego bikes use rear-wheel-drive hub motors and rear mounted battery packs. Because this is a big and unwieldy bike to begin with, the fact that it is so poorly balanced makes it especially difficult to move around. For heavy duty trail riding you will really feel the back heavy nature of this bike. For riding in soft sand you can forget about it. The back wheel will sink in the sand unless your body weight is under 150 pounds.
Big Bulky Bike
Like all fat bikes the Pedego Trail Tracker is a very big bike with its big tires and extended frame. It has nearly the same wheel base as a cargo bike without the utility of a cargo bike. It is hard to move around, takes a lot of space to store, and can be a nuisance if you are trying to load your bike in Public Transit such as a bus or a subway. The fat tires do not fit in standard bike racks, even after letting the air out of the tires. Know what you are getting into…owning a fat bike can be a hassle.
The Trail Tracker is slightly louder than the City Commuter and other Pedego electric bikes I have ridden, as would be expected because of the larger geared motor and large tires. The tires do add a lot of rolling resistance, etc, and do not handle very well on street use. Also for street use I wish the bike was pedal-geared higher so that I could comfortably pedal-assist it at speeds greater than 12-MPH.
It has a top speed of somewhere around 20-MPH although I am just estimating because it does not have a speedometer. It has ample torque for street riding and even hill climbing, although riding off road you will wish you had more.
I would expect to get around a 15 mile range given the 48V / 10-Ah battery (480 watt hours) read our story on watt hours and estimating range. Normally I would expect more range but anticipate 15 miles based on the extra rolling resistance of the tires, and the difficulty in pedal assisting this bike at cruising speeds.
In all, I think the Pedego Trail Tracker is a great riding around town machine, but is not powerful/torquey enough for serious off road, or some in the sand use (unless its the wet sand at the beach).
Special thanks to the nice folks at Electric Bike LA who let me test ride this burly E-bike hot off the presses from Pedego. This is one of the only dealers who currently has the Trail Tracker in Stock.
Written by senior editor Eric, March 2013