Best folding, fat tire bike for riding on sand.

windtrix

New Member
Region
USA
I’m going to be riding my bike almost exclusively on beaches, but will encounter hills to and from the beach. I can’t seem to find exactly what I need in one bike. After much research, I know what I should be looking for, but not sure of priorities. I’m a bigger gal, so I need a powerful motor for the hills. I’m on my own, so battery for distance is important to make sure I get where I’m going. And what chain wheel tooth count (not sure of terminology) is best for hills? And how Important is torque and how do you calculate it?The beach environment is an issue, so protection is important, such as the battery installed in the frame, position of controller, etc. I thought the 4 inch tires would be easy, but all the bikes that have most of what I want USED to have 4 inch tires, but now are 3 inch (rad mini, rize bolt x). The Rad people said I could put 4 inch tires on the rims, but is that really a good thing? The Rize people said you could not put 4 inch tires on the bolt x rims. Support is an issue for me, too. I live over 90 minutes from any bike shop so phone support (preferably US or Canada would be good). I do have one ace in the whole and that is a guy at an e-bike rental place in a nearby town who can assemble, maintain and do some customization. He is a certified e-bike technician, which is great, but don’t want to be totally dependent on him, once I have it set up. I have considered Yamee (Rattan) - questionable service. Rad Mini, Rize Bolt X - not 4 inch tires. Kutty X - the amp number on battery is lower. Surface 604 Twist, only 500w motor. Elux Sierra Gt, but on another forum thread, people said the parts were cheap for the price. Safety is super important too, so is the the twist throttle or trigger throttle safer for a dork like me who didn’t know what a throttle was until I started researching e-bikes? Thanks for any ideas/advice.
 

RunForTheHills

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Are you going to be riding on loose sand, the firm sand near the water, or on the bike path next to the beach? Sand and salt water is going to get into everything and the bike will need a lot of maintenance. I would probably stay away from oil based lubes on the chain and go for a wax dip or wax based lube to keep the sand from sticking to it. The 4 inch tires will be a benefit on loose sand, but not on pavement.

For gearing, less teeth on the front chain ring and more teeth on the rear cog will give you a lower gear for hills. Any motor will work on hills, but if your hills are long and steep, a mid-drive motor is best. The watt rating of the motor can be deceiving and is usually manipulated by the manufacturer to meet government regulations. The peak output of the motor may be much higher than what the manufacturer says motor is rated for.

A twist throttle can be accidentally triggered if you grab the handle to hold or carry the bike. A half twist throttle or a trigger would get around that issue. I like thumb triggers, but people who are used to motorcycles tend to prefer twist throttles.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I'm going to skip around some as you're asking quite a few varied questions.

The same fat tire bike will be the best and the worst depending on the pressure you put into the tires. You DO want bigger tires and if you are genuinely riding on deep sand (which kinda seems unlikely) then 4" is where you start and go up from there, keeping tire pressure down low - subject to your body weight.

How to measure torque: The measurement is in Newton Meters (Nm) and bigger numbers are better. MAYBE more useful is the amperage of the controller if you can find out what it is. More amps = more torque so here again bigger numbers are better. Also: 20" wheels vs. 26" wheels - the smaller wheels deliver more torque via physics. Clear as mud so far? Sorry there's no simple formula and if there was, you would find that bike manufacturers obfuscate as much as possible to try and make that result more cloudy.

Insofar as torque or even motor performance is concerned: Forget about motor wattage. Its meaningless. All it tells you is how much raw current (punishment) the motor is rated to handle, and even then it makes no sense in terms of what is actually happening. I'll explain: Watt output is a function of battery voltage times controller amperage. So lets say you have a 48v battery... First of all that 48v battery is really 54.6v when it is charged fully. Got that? Next lets say you have a 20a controller (I am describing a Sondors Fold XS right now which actually has these specs). So... at full charge (and only at full charge) the Sondors' 750 watt hub motor puts out 54.6 * 20 = 1092 watts. That could easily be a 500w motor (earlier 'X' models had them) and both 500w and 750w motors deliver the exact same almost-1100w. The 750 is just beefier inside and if you hammered it forever on full throttle its far less likely to have a problem of some kind (but in all honesty neither of them is likely to have a problem). The wattage rating has nothing to do with actual output of power to the ground.

It seems more likely you would be on a paved path. At which point you can ride on much smaller tires. 3" tires would be fine on a paved path with sand strewn across it - even if that sand is an inch or two deep.

You say you are a plus-sized person. Bear in mind the bigger the tires, the greater their load capacity. Especially if they have been deflated some for traction, which is a requirement on deep sand.

By the way its common to carry along a battery powered pump to deflate and reinflate tires if you are riding on a path toward the beach. You ride there on road pressure, deflate, hit the sand and then reinflate for the drive home. Exactly the same process as if you are 4-wheeling in a truck.

I am a moderator on the Sondors Facebook group (don't work for them) and I see comparisons all the time. For what you want you should consider their Fold XS, which at 1799 is less than some of your other choices and delivers more - the company owner is a True Believer in ebikes as transportation and this influences his pricing strategy. The XS line was created after they looked at all the upgrade mods the users were showing off in the group and they made a bike line with those mods included from the factory.


Max load on these bikes is listed at 300 lbs and thats a real number. The bikes are quite sturdy. That is a 'true' Bafang 750w motor core in this bike, and that means its the beefiest geared hub motor on the market. Its rated for 80Nm but if you pull the casing apart you'll see (thanks to the markings inside) Bafang proofs them at the factory to 100Nm. Basically, its a sturdy little bugger that is effectively indestructible. Also, the fact that Sondors actually tells you its a 20a controller is a step up over most manufacturers. They did not put in a 25a controller like the full sized XS simply because the smaller 20" wheels made the bike wheelie with that much torque.
 

windtrix

New Member
Region
USA
Are you going to be riding on loose sand, the firm sand near the water, or on the bike path next to the beach? Sand and salt water is going to get into everything and the bike will need a lot of maintenance. I would probably stay away from oil based lubes on the chain and go for a wax dip or wax based lube to keep the sand from sticking to it. The 4 inch tires will be a benefit on loose sand, but not on pavement.

For gearing, less teeth on the front chain ring and more teeth on the rear cog will give you a lower gear for hills. Any motor will work on hills, but if your hills are long and steep, a mid-drive motor is best. The watt rating of the motor can be deceiving and is usually manipulated by the manufacturer to meet government regulations. The peak output of the motor may be much higher than what the manufacturer says motor is rated for.

A twist throttle can be accidentally triggered if you grab the handle to hold or carry the bike. A half twist throttle or a trigger would get around that issue. I like thumb triggers, but people who are used to motorcycles tend to prefer twist throttles.
Are you going to be riding on loose sand, the firm sand near the water, or on the bike path next to the beach? Sand and salt water is going to get into everything and the bike will need a lot of maintenance. I would probably stay away from oil based lubes on the chain and go for a wax dip or wax based lube to keep the sand from sticking to it. The 4 inch tires will be a benefit on loose sand, but not on pavement.

For gearing, less teeth on the front chain ring and more teeth on the rear cog will give you a lower gear for hills. Any motor will work on hills, but if your hills are long and steep, a mid-drive motor is best. The watt rating of the motor can be deceiving and is usually manipulated by the manufacturer to meet government regulations. The peak output of the motor may be much higher than what the manufacturer says motor is rated for.

A twist throttle can be accidentally triggered if you grab the handle to hold or carry the bike. A half twist throttle or a trigger would get around that issue. I like thumb triggers, but people who are used to motorcycles tend to prefer twist throttles.

Are you going to be riding on loose sand, the firm sand near the water, or on the bike path next to the beach? Sand and salt water is going to get into everything and the bike will need a lot of maintenance. I would probably stay away from oil based lubes on the chain and go for a wax dip or wax based lube to keep the sand from sticking to it. The 4 inch tires will be a benefit on loose sand, but not on pavement.

For gearing, less teeth on the front chain ring and more teeth on the rear cog will give you a lower gear for hills. Any motor will work on hills, but if your hills are long and steep, a mid-drive motor is best. The watt rating of the motor can be deceiving and is usually manipulated by the manufacturer to meet government regulations. The peak output of the motor may be much higher than what the manufacturer says motor is rated for.

A twist throttle can be accidentally triggered if you grab the handle to hold or carry the bike. A half twist throttle or a trigger would get around that issue. I like thumb triggers, but people who are used to motorcycles tend to prefer twist throttles.
I am going to be riding on firm sand near the water for the most part, not a path. I did not know about wax dip and lube. That's very helpful and I will look into that. I did not know about the motor output being misrepresented, but makes sense to increase sales where there are limits. I just heard about the thumb throttle and that seemed to be safer for someone like me. What about hydraulic brakes? It seems like I might press on those too hard in a panic situation and throw myself off the bike. Maybe having to use a stronger grip to stop is safer? I really am not going to be doing too much riding on the street, but occasionally I will. Thanks for all the info!
 

RunForTheHills

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
3" tires might be fine on the firm sand. Can you rent a bike from the shop you mentioned to test it? You won't throw yourself over the handlebars stopping with hydraulic brakes, particularly on sand or slippery surfaces. Modulation refers to ability to control the stopping power of the brakes by how much pressure you apply to the handle. Some hydraulic brakes have better modulation than others. I haven't really done much riding on sand. Rim brakes might actually be better than disc brakes if sand got into them. However, rim brakes aren't a good option for fat tires.
 

windtrix

New Member
Region
USA
I'm going to skip around some as you're asking quite a few varied questions.

The same fat tire bike will be the best and the worst depending on the pressure you put into the tires. You DO want bigger tires and if you are genuinely riding on deep sand (which kinda seems unlikely) then 4" is where you start and go up from there, keeping tire pressure down low - subject to your body weight.

How to measure torque: The measurement is in Newton Meters (Nm) and bigger numbers are better. MAYBE more useful is the amperage of the controller if you can find out what it is. More amps = more torque so here again bigger numbers are better. Also: 20" wheels vs. 26" wheels - the smaller wheels deliver more torque via physics. Clear as mud so far? Sorry there's no simple formula and if there was, you would find that bike manufacturers obfuscate as much as possible to try and make that result more cloudy.

Insofar as torque or even motor performance is concerned: Forget about motor wattage. Its meaningless. All it tells you is how much raw current (punishment) the motor is rated to handle, and even then it makes no sense in terms of what is actually happening. I'll explain: Watt output is a function of battery voltage times controller amperage. So lets say you have a 48v battery... First of all that 48v battery is really 54.6v when it is charged fully. Got that? Next lets say you have a 20a controller (I am describing a Sondors Fold XS right now which actually has these specs). So... at full charge (and only at full charge) the Sondors' 750 watt hub motor puts out 54.6 * 20 = 1092 watts. That could easily be a 500w motor (earlier 'X' models had them) and both 500w and 750w motors deliver the exact same almost-1100w. The 750 is just beefier inside and if you hammered it forever on full throttle its far less likely to have a problem of some kind (but in all honesty neither of them is likely to have a problem). The wattage rating has nothing to do with actual output of power to the ground.

It seems more likely you would be on a paved path. At which point you can ride on much smaller tires. 3" tires would be fine on a paved path with sand strewn across it - even if that sand is an inch or two deep.

You say you are a plus-sized person. Bear in mind the bigger the tires, the greater their load capacity. Especially if they have been deflated some for traction, which is a requirement on deep sand.

By the way its common to carry along a battery powered pump to deflate and reinflate tires if you are riding on a path toward the beach. You ride there on road pressure, deflate, hit the sand and then reinflate for the drive home. Exactly the same process as if you are 4-wheeling in a truck.

I am a moderator on the Sondors Facebook group (don't work for them) and I see comparisons all the time. For what you want you should consider their Fold XS, which at 1799 is less than some of your other choices and delivers more - the company owner is a True Believer in ebikes as transportation and this influences his pricing strategy. The XS line was created after they looked at all the upgrade mods the users were showing off in the group and they made a bike line with those mods included from the factory.


Max load on these bikes is listed at 300 lbs and thats a real number. The bikes are quite sturdy. That is a 'true' Bafang 750w motor core in this bike, and that means its the beefiest geared hub motor on the market. Its rated for 80Nm but if you pull the casing apart you'll see (thanks to the markings inside) Bafang proofs them at the factory to 100Nm. Basically, its a sturdy little bugger that is effectively indestructible. Also, the fact that Sondors actually tells you its a 20a controller is a step up over most manufacturers. They did not put in a 25a controller like the full sized XS simply because the smaller 20" wheels made the bike wheelie with that much torque.
I am not sure why I didn't mention the Fold XS. I must be on info overload because it is #1 on my list after the first go round of research! In fact, I decided to ask these questions before I revisited my favorites to make sure I was considering the most important points. I think the only minor drawback is that it is not a step through. That would be nice, but I am 5'7 and in great shape (even if heavy-ish) and don't see a problem with throwing my leg over to get on. The other thing is that it comes with no accessories so I need to add at least fenders (I wish they were plastic) for my purposes. I don't see bell or lights on it either, but those can be added. It just ups the price a few hundred dollars. I can't tell if they charge extra for shipping.
I had already heard about deflating the tires, but I didn't know about a battery pump. I had heard that a small compressor might be a good option. I want to go with whatever is small and easy. My neighbors just got Rad Rovers, but those things are gigantic and really hard to maneuver, even in a parking lot. I am sure they will be rethinking their choice when they see a smaller option. I know the folding bikes are heavy, too, but at least I can get it in my SUV for traveling. Thank you so much for your advice and confirming my top choice. I was really getting overwhelmed with trying to make this decision. I don't mind that I have to wait until August or later to get the right bike for me. I am going to head over to the facebook group so I can get some more details.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I am not sure why I didn't mention the Fold XS. I must be on info overload because it is #1 on my list after the first go round of research! In fact, I decided to ask these questions before I revisited my favorites to make sure I was considering the most important points. I think the only minor drawback is that it is not a step through. That would be nice, but I am 5'7 and in great shape (even if heavy-ish) and don't see a problem with throwing my leg over to get on. The other thing is that it comes with no accessories so I need to add at least fenders (I wish they were plastic) for my purposes. I don't see bell or lights on it either, but those can be added. It just ups the price a few hundred dollars. I can't tell if they charge extra for shipping.
I had already heard about deflating the tires, but I didn't know about a battery pump. I had heard that a small compressor might be a good option. I want to go with whatever is small and easy. My neighbors just got Rad Rovers, but those things are gigantic and really hard to maneuver, even in a parking lot. I am sure they will be rethinking their choice when they see a smaller option. I know the folding bikes are heavy, too, but at least I can get it in my SUV for traveling. Thank you so much for your advice and confirming my top choice. I was really getting overwhelmed with trying to make this decision. I don't mind that I have to wait until August or later to get the right bike for me. I am going to head over to the facebook group so I can get some more details.
Pretty sure shipping is not included in the purchase price. You can know for sure by going halfway thru the checkout process and seeing what happens.

I am not a fan of folder bikes but its a personal preference kind of thing. Plenty of people disagree with me :) . Maneuverability is something I hear about often when people are debating whether to go with the folder option or a full size bike. Also at 5'7" a folder style is going to be easier for you to set up to fit yourself. The lower standover height and ability to lower the seat further is a decider for a lot of people who never have any intention of folding the thing.
 

windtrix

New Member
Region
USA
3" tires might be fine on the firm sand. Can you rent a bike from the shop you mentioned to test it? You won't throw yourself over the handlebars stopping with hydraulic brakes, particularly on sand or slippery surfaces. Modulation refers to ability to control the stopping power of the brakes by how much pressure you apply to the handle. Some hydraulic brakes have better modulation than others. I haven't really done much riding on sand. Rim brakes might actually be better than disc brakes if sand got into them. However, rim brakes aren't a good option for fat tires.
Yes, I am going to rent one of the e-bikes this week. All, of them are 4 inch tires so I won't be able to test the difference between those and 3 inch. I will ask him about the brakes. That won't be a deal breaker either way, but it kind of concerned me when I saw a discussion about adjusting to hydraulic brakes on one of the video reviews. Thanks again for responding!
 

RunForTheHills

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Hydraulic brakes are self-adjusting. If they are a bit squishy, they may need to be bled to get the air out of the line. If you read reviews for particular models of hydraulic brakes, they will usually rate them on the amount of modulation they have as one of the factors that they look at. It is not something that you can adjust.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
You'll be pedaling your butt off coming up an incline in dry loose sand. It takes a ton of horsepower to keep any speed at all. Fat bikes are touted as a miracle on sand and snow. They are better than traditional bikes, but they are not a miracle machine. Watch some tests on here of fat tire eBikes. Youtube is your friend.
 

ElevenAD

Well-Known Member
if you are heavier and want to really ride on sand your probably not going to find a folding bike with enough power,you will need a more powerful bike than a Rad imo. Something with an Bafang m620 or bafang BBSHD will do it. If you prefer hub motor bikes make sure its at least a 1000watt motor! finding a powerful stepthrough is no big deal but the folding part limits your choices!..you will see what i mean about power when you do your test ride!
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
You'll be pedaling your butt off coming up an incline in dry loose sand. It takes a ton of horsepower to keep any speed at all. Fat bikes are touted as a miracle on sand and snow. They are better than traditional bikes, but they are not a miracle machine. Watch some tests on here of fat tire eBikes. Youtube is your friend.
That rider in the video is inexperienced riding in sand and that has a lot to do with his problems. He acknowledges this inexperience and he's not trying to be someone he's not, so nothing against his best-efforts. But I would say he should have tried again before making that video. At one point he comments he considered dropping to 5 psi but didn't have a pump (assumedly to air back up again).

Considering he started at 25 psi... His elevated psi is most of his problem. Taking into account his tire size, he should have started - and probably ended - at about 6 psi. People don't realize how much loft remains at what sounds like such a low pressure. And the benefit is *enormous*. This is my favorite vid illustrating the loft at low psi thing:


Also with all that said, the Rad Rover tested had 26" tires and has a relatively low-powered controller. Also the "750w" motor inside of it is not a real 750w core and has been tested to produce lesser acceleration (torque) regardless of the controller behind it. So its handicapped on multiple fronts for this test. A 20" fat tire is going to be inherently more capable of laying down torque just for starters (its also slower on the top end but thats the tradeoff you get with smaller diameter wheels).
 

RunForTheHills

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
The OP said she was going to ride on firm sand and not the soft sand. While it still sounds like a good idea to lower the tire pressure, I don't think the motor is going to be a problem. You can see in the video where he starts out on the firm sand by the water that the bike rolls pretty well on it.
 

windtrix

New Member
Region
USA
I was not clear about a couple of things. The only time I will be on hills is 2-3 blocks on pavement to and from the beach. No riding on soft sand. Once at the beach, I might have to go a short distance on soft sand, but I am hoping I can walk it if necessary.

I had not seen that video before. That is definitely rougher riding than I will be doing. I am always aware of the tides so unless I have a breakdown, I shouldn't have an issue of no hard sand at the tide line.

Interestingly, my neighbors just bought the exact bike in the video. I rode one in our parking lot and thought it was huge and hard to maneuver. The woman is tiny and I think she is going to be sorry she didn't buy a smaller one when she sees mine (folding, 20" wheels). They had no problem riding on our flat 7 mile beach at all. They did not lower tire pressure. But, on the second ride of the brand new bikes, one of them lost all power and the two of them had a heck of a time trying to maneuver it back over soft sand and up the couple of hills. Midway home, they got on the Rad FB group and they were told to check all the wires. They did and found one disconnected. Easy fix, but kind of disturbing to me that it would come undone on a completely smooth ride the 2nd time the bike was ridden.

Thank you all for your input, it has been very informative. I have settled on the Sondors Fold XS, which I think will work best for me.
 
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