2015 SSR Motorsports 500W Sand Viper Review


Technical Specs & Ratings



500W Sand Viper


Class 2





Mechanical Disc



499.2 Wh

499.2 Wh

62 lbs / 28.15 kgs



Adjustable Angle

Low Rise

Rubber, Ergonomic

Promax Suspension Shock


Padded Comfort

Wellgo Aluminum Alloy Platform

Mechanical Disc

Tektro Mechanical Disc with 160 mm Rotors, Tektro Levers with Motor Inhibitor


Video Reviews

Written Reviews

The Sand Viper is an electric fat bike from SSR Motorsports (known for designing gas powered scooters and motorcycles) that’s feature rich and value priced. The first iteration of this model offered a modest 350 watt motor that was decent for paved rides and hard packed trails but somewhat limited on actual sand… It just wasn’t powerful enough and steering suffered with the added weight up front. The price was excellent at $1,399 and sales picked up. Based on customer feedback and dealer interest, SSR dove back into the design process improving pretty much everything about the original bike while also introducing a larger motor option for $1,799 which this review centers on. Here’s a list of what they improved in five short months between my last review and this one. They moved the motor to the rear wheel for improved handling and drive traction, put a quick release skewer on the front wheel to ease storage and transport, swapped out the grips for softer more comfortable version, added an adjustable angle stem to improve ergonomics and fit, added a rear LED light to balance out the integrated LED headlight, added a bolt-on rear rack for transporting cargo, relocated and reinforced the kickstand and changed to a sealed cartridge bottom bracket for improved durability in dust, sand and snow. Pretty awesome right? I was impressed with these upgrades and thoroughly enjoyed the 500 watt version because it accelerated and climbed better. While this isn’t nearly as capable as something like the Felt Outfitter or Haibike Fatsix (because it uses a hub motor vs. mid-drive), it’s still a great option for moderate paths and packed sand or snow.

Powering the 500W Sand Viper is an internally geared 500 watt hub motor from 8Fun. As mentioned earlier, it’s mounted in the rear wheel which is ideal for frame strength, steering and traction. The black casing matches the tires, kickstand, cassette and other highlights and looks especially good on the matte black model I tested. SSR also makes a matte red or gloss white if you’re interested in something brighter. On the left side of the motor you’ve got a 160 mm mechanical disc brake with Tektro Novella calipers and on the right you’ve got a seven speed cog set with mid-range Shimano Acera derailleur. In my opinion, the bike could benefit from larger 180 mm rotors because it’s fairly heavy at ~62 lbs and the mechanical design just isn’t as powerful or fast as hydraulic. There’s always some trade offs made to keep prices low and the brakes fall into this category but aren’t a deal killer. The brake levers themselves are nice with rubber veneers on the front edge that improve grip and dampen vibration. They include integrated motor cutoff switches which are useful in pedal assist mode (especially because these bikes use a very responsive 12 magnet pedelec design). I noticed that the chainring was a bit smaller than standard and this made starting and climbing easier when paired with the lowest gears, good choice for a larger fat bike. Seven speeds is decent for urban riding and mid-level trails and I was delighted to see Acera vs. Tourney because it’s a step up and should perform at a higher level and require less maintenance. Drivetrain aside, it’s nice to have throttle on demand so you don’t have to pedal at all to get the Sand Viper moving, just twist and go.

Powering the bike is a well placed Lithium-ion battery pack offering 48 volts of power and 10.4 amp hours of capacity. The shell is commonly called a “dolphin” in the industry and is one of my favorite designs because it has a locking core for security, LED power level indicator built in (useful for checking charge status when the pack is stored away from the bike) and a female USB port for use with portable electronics! The cells inside the pack are 18650 style Lithium-ion that should age well if stored in cool dry environments and kept between 20% and 80% ongoing (extreme heat and cold can damage batteries so I usually keep mine inside). Just behind the battery, mounted on the seat tube, is a controller box that manages power transmission throughout the electric bike. With both of these black boxes taking up most of the inner triangle on the frame, there’s no room for a bottle cage to mount but the addition of a rear rack somewhat addresses this. You can always get a cheap bag with integrated bottle holster to stay hydrated or wear a CamelBak. In general, the battery keeps weight low and centered on the frame and I like that most of the power cables are internally routed through the frame. This isn’t as fancy as some high-end electric bikes that offer custom frame-mounted batteries like the Polaris Sabre but the cost savings is a draw for sure and the power of a 48 volt system is very noticeable.

Activating the Sand Viper is a two step process, once the battery is charged and mounted you press the silver circle on the left side of the pack and then the top gray rubber button on the LCD display console. Once these steps are complete, the monochrome display comes to life and shows your speed, current (how fast you’re depleting the battery), assist level, battery level and an odometer or trip meter. To switch between odometer and trip meter just press the down arrow twice quickly. I really like how simple this display is, if you press power quickly one time while the bike is on the headlight will activate and a backlight will illuminate the LCD itself for easier use at night. The rear light is independent which means you’ll need to bend down and press a rubber button to get it switched on… and this is an area of limitation because the light might be left on accidentally after a ride and eventually you’ll have to replace the two AAA batteries inside to keep it going vs. the headlight which will always run off of the main battery pack. I also noticed that the backlight can end up being blocked by the carry rack (or a bag you fasten there). This situation is exacerbated by the seat post suspension element located towards the top of the post (where the light would be most visible). Not the end of the world though, the light is easy to unclip and re-fasten to a bag or your backpack or helmet (if you get a sticker adapter plate). Back to the LCD… there is a “throttle mode” you can reach by arrowing all the way down (the first little block will blink) and five levels of assist to arrow up from there. Assist is super responsive in the highest level, almost too responsive because the motor is so quick. I found the third and fourth levels to be just about perfect and it was great seamlessly switch into throttle mode without messing with the display because the throttle overrides. If you don’t want the throttle getting in the way, you can press the little red button just below the half-grip twist and it will de-activate. This could be useful if you’re riding on bumpy terrain in a lower assist level and don’t want your tight grip on the handle to accidentally activate the motor and create instability.

I’ve tested a lot of fat tire electric bikes in the past year and the Sand Viper is one of my favorites. Even the original version without the design improvements felt solid and offered a lot of value. You can still get a 350 watt version (with improvements: rack, adjustable stem, light etc.) if you’d like to save money and don’t need the extra power found on the 500W version here. As an anecdotal aside, thousands of people have been thrilled with the recent Sondors ebike that’s also a 350 watt fat bike priced under $1,000 but in my opinion the additional gears, lights, rack, local availability, year long comprehensive warranty, larger battery and fancy LCD computer found here are well worth the upgrade. The 500 watt model just takes the original one step further and is ideal for larger riders or those interested in taking the roads and paths less traveled. It’s not a perfect ebike but for the price it’s very good :)


  • Quick release on front wheel and removable battery pack make this fat bike lighter and smaller for easy transport or storage
  • Offers both pedal assist (five levels) as well as throttle on demand and even includes a throttle off switch… Basically you get every type of drive mode
  • Backlit LED screen is easy to see and navigate while riding without taking your hand off the grip, controls the headlight which runs off the main battery
  • good weight distribution with a mid-mounted battery pack on the downtube, battery is locking and removable for convenient charging and lighter transport of the frame, it also includes a USB charging port for portable electronics!
  • The large 26″ x 4″ tires add some cushion and the padded saddle and Promax seat post shock add some more, nice extras that make distance riding more comfortable
  • Low-rise handlebar, ergonomic grips and adjustable angle stem reduce hand, arm and back fatigue when adjusted properly
  • Oversized SIS Index shifter may be entry-level but works well on fat bikes like this which may be used in the snow… easier to shift gears when wearing gloves thanks to the big levers
  • Oversized Wellgo platform pedals feel stiff and offer great traction (important for snow-riding when it’s wet and you’re wearing boots)
  • Available in matte black, gloss white and matte red frame colors (the paint looked very nice to me considering the price point)
  • Solid Tektro mechanical disc brakes with average-sized 160 mm rotors, these are controlled by Tektro e-bike brake levers that cut power to the motor when pulled, the levers are upgraded and include rubber for improved grip and vibration dampening
  • Upgraded sealed cartridge bottom bracket should be more durable when exposed to dust, sand, snow and water
  • Sturdy side-mounted kickstand keeps the Sandviper from tipping over at bike racks, it’s mounted towards the back to avoid contact with feet while pedaling
  • One year comprehensive warranty serviced through dealers, pretty solid for a 500 watt ebike under $2,000


  • Downtube and seat tube are both taken up by the battery and controller box respectively, this means there is no room for a bottle cage mount
  • You have to turn the battery pack on before you can turn the LCD display panel on and begin operating the bike, this could cause some confusion
  • Rear light sits a little low due to the suspension seat post and runs on independent AAA batteries so it’s easier to forget to turn off than if it were integrated
  • Only one frame size available at ~18″ in the high-step style, might not work for everyone but the adjustable stem helps

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