Finding an electric fatbike is hard enough, and even if you do, it turns out to be very expensive. Still, I found an affordable one in China, via Amazon. But is the Shengmilo MX-02 really a bargain, or is there a catch?
I prefer buying expensive goods at a specialist around the corner. So I started my queest at some bicycle stores in my hometown. But when they could not sell me what I wanted them to, I went back to the internet and found the Shengmilo MX-02: 500 Watts Bafang engine on the rear axle, 48V 17 Ah battery, hydraulical disk brakes, 3×7 Shimano gear shifters and a couple of far too fat 26 x 4.0 snow tyres. If NASA ever decides to ride a bike on the moon, it will be on this MX-02. Price at Amazon.de: 1.699 euros, mostly mounted and delivered at home. A bargain for a bike like this.
Before we go any further: you want to be sort of handy and know your way around in bicycles (or have a friend who does). If not: go see a specialist who delivers the bike ready to ride. This 35 kg package, delivered by UPS, requires some homework. Still, gears, brakes and electronics are mounted. What’s still to be done: front wheel, steering bar, settle, fenders and headlight. Manufacturer Huaeast offers a handy all in one-tool to do so. The protection bar of the rear gear is bend though, like one of ther spokes of the front wheel, where it touched one of the pedals in the package. Besides, no effort was made for some proper documentation. All you get is a poor folder for another bike, plus a Google translated manual that concerns yet another type. Good luck!
Once mounted, the bike looks just fine. But the fine tuning is still to be done. Line out the wheels, tune the gears and hydraulic brakes. A precision job that takes experience. When it’s done, it is time for the first test drive.
But let’s have a closer look to the bike, first. Once you’re used to the sheer size of those tires, you’ll notice the matt finishing of the yellow parts. Matt might be outdated on cars, on this bike it looks just great. Less great is the way the electronics are cluttered in a cheap nylon bag, hanging on the frame with Velcro. The mounting of the battery isn’t impressive, either. Be careful when mounting or dismounting it. Sliding it on or off the clamps is troublesome and since the casing is cheap, slippery plastic, it might slip out of your hands and batteries are very shock-unproof.
From left to right on the steering bar, there are the rear brake handle, front derailleur (stepless) control, buttons for the engine (on-off, up and down), display, buttons for front light and horn, rear derailleur controller, front brake and – surprise – throttle hand grip.
On the damped front fork, there’s a switch on the left to control the intensity of the dmping and another on the right to switch off the damping. Although the front light is switched on via a button on the steering bar, the rear light is independent and powered by its own battery, charged via a usb-wire. It is mounted under the seat, so it’s out of site when you carry luggage on the back. There’s a seperate mounting bar though for an extra rear light.
My first miles are on tarmac, making the deep profile of the tires hum. Once on the beach, it is obvious that this is the place to be for those Chaoyang 26 x 4.0’s. With my mountainbike, I get stuck here but on this fatbike, I can handle it, even without electric support.
Once you have the electric system switched on, the display lits and the engine is in PAS 1 (power assist). Onze you start pedaling, it is registered by a sensor on the left side of the pedal shaft. After a second or so, the engine joins in, pushing you in the back. In PAS 1, it does approximately 20 km/h, PAS 2 does 25 km/h, PAS 3 30 km/h, PAS 4 35 km/h and in PAS 5 the engine helps up to 40 km/h. Officially, this makes this bike a speed pedelec rather than an e-bike, so check the legislation in your country.
That goes for the throttle hand grip as well. Anyway, it’s a nice thing to have in countries where it is allowed, and when you walk your bike up a dune. The throttle can not be proportioned, though. It is either on or off, the speed according to the PAS value.
Although this bike is quite heavy, it is easy enough to ride it on your own power. The rear ratio’s are fine and changing gear works smoothly. On tarmac, you want to pressurise the tires and cope with the humming of the profile. At the beach, this is a great bike, capable of doing things you didn’t believe feasable. I have been riding the beach for many years, so I know this bike makes it even more fun. Always clean the bike carefully, for salt water and sand are rude killers to any bike, especially components like the chain, brakes and derailleurs.
At 1.699 euros the Shengmilo MX-02 is value for money. Save some money for a solid chain lock, for bystanders will love your new bike, maybe a bit too much. And take loving care of it. Also, I bought a classic bell for it. The horn works just fine, but might have an intimidating effect on other cyclists.