The Electric Cargo Single-Speed Fatbike

Pedaling up to Mama Burger for lunch recently, I noticed a cargo bike parked outside, unlike any cargo bike I’ve seen. This was an electric, cargo, single-speed, fatbike.

I went inside and scanned the tables — there aren’t many of them to scan — thinking I’d be able to guess the owner of this bike on sight. Some stereotype would tip me off, and I’d be able to walk up and ask the owner about the bike. But nobody stood out as The Guy Who Must Own The Exotic Bike.

Luckily, as I was leaving, I ran into this guy, the owner of the bike: Bernie Nieto.

The Electric Cargo Single-Speed Fatbike
New Stereotype: The Electric Cargo Single-Speed Fatbike Guy

Bernie told me all about this build. With the help of AZ Bikes, a local bike shop, he’d taken a Surly Big Dummy cargo bike, and modified the rear end to be wide enough for a fatbike wheel. But that widening made the rear too wide for some of the Xtracycle components, so those had to modified too.

Custom Cargo Deck
Custom Cargo Deck

The standard Xtracycle decks wouldn’t work, so he made his own (probably with a set of Xtracycle Snap Hooks cannibalized from a standard deck.)

Xtracycle Snap Piece Replacement Hooks for SnapDeck
Xtracycle Snap Piece Replacement Hooks for SnapDeck

Although the bike had multiple cogs and chainrings, it had no derailleurs, so it might become a multi-gear bike in the future. The bike also had a custom platform on the back, for… something. That platform, along with the custom passenger footrests, had an industrial diamond-plate texture.

The Electric Cargo Single-Speed Fatbike Tailgate

The e-bike conversion system is a Phoenix Cruiser — one I’d never heard of. Bernie mentioned that he had another bike with a BionX e-bike kit, but he preferred the Phoenix kit because it could go faster than the statutory limit set by the state for e-bikes.

I started to tell him that that it was totally easy to reprogram the BionX controller, and, uh… break the law. Never mind. I know exactly the kind of ire any favorable mention of an e-bike can bring to a bike blog. With those fat tires and a motor, Bernie is already flirting with that gray area between e-bike and motorcycle.

So Instead I told him that in The Netherlands, the police have equipment to test if a speed limiter on an e-bike has been disabled. Surely it’s just a matter of time before Arizona has this equipment too because Arizona is always right behind Holland — nine hours behind, actually.

Interbike 2013: Fatbike frenzy! | Bike Commuters
Interbike 2013: Fatbike frenzy! | Screen Shot: Bike Commuters

I checked with a couple of bike bloggers who recently returned from Interbike, the big annual trade show for the cycling industry.

Yep, they’d seen lots of cargo bikes, lots of fatbikes, lots of e-bikes, and certainly lots of single-speed bikes.

Pete Prebus of Electric Bike Report said he’d seen “the usual e-cargo bikes from Xtracycle and Yuba with a few additional experimental e-cargo setups.”

Over at Bike Commuters, they declared 2013 to be “The Year of the Fat Bike,” because fatbikes were everywhere at Interbike.

But, Google as I may, I can’t find another instance of an electric cargo fatbike — single-speed or otherwise.

Can you? Or is this the first of its kind?

Ted Johnson lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. Follow his hardly-ever-about-bikes blogging at Half-Hearted Fanatic, and tweeting at @TedJohnsonIII.

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