The original (non-electric) fat bikes were custom built machines that were designed to tackle epic challenges such as riding the Sahara or taking on Alaska’s Iditarod Trail. The advent of e-bikes has however made them comparatively mainstream, as the extra power available with electric assist means most people now have the option of riding one pretty easily. Indeed, in the US, where Super73 hail from, e-fat bikes are very much mainstream. Now they are carving a sizeable niche for themselves in the UK too.
Super73 are one of the most high profile brands specialising in electric fat bikes and have made a name for themselves by not only producing visually unmissable designs that look like a marriage of a monkey bike and a fat bike, but also with high profile endorsements from the likes of Will Smith and Paris Saint Germain FC.
They also appear phenomenally successful at raising funds, going from a $25,000 crowdfunding launch in 2016 to a $20m venture capital round in 2020.
I've recently been lucky enough to get a ride on their top of the line R Adventure model.
I’ll cut to the chase here as my main conclusions might affect whether you want to read the rest of the article or not. In short, this is a superb e-bike as speed pedelec, but to me it didn’t make as much sense when operating as a regular e-bike (which is how it is actually billed), where that huge rear hub motor feels under utilised.
Controversially, it can be changed from its default UK mode (15.5mph) to more powerful 20mph and 28mph modes by using the Super73 app.
Fat tyres, big weight, but huge fun
I’ll get my confession in straight away. I briefly tried the R Adventure at the 28mph setting on a deserted beach and a farm track and this is when the huge rear hub motor really came into its own – accelerating above the 15mph mark. However, ridden for the rest of the time in 15mph it does feel that the massive rear hub motor is underutilised and indeed this big, heavy and bulky bike feels underpowered.
On tarmac and at low speed, the R Adventure feels awkward to handle, but on squishy mud or shingly and sandy beaches it is transformed. It coped pretty easily with the softest of surfaces and with super bumpy grass where the tyres feel as good as, or better than, bigger diameter but smaller width e-MTB tyres. It's simply great fun and a very high quality ride off-road.
I would add a couple of caveats to that. On anything but easy gradients and in 250W mode, it lacks climbing power. Switching to a higher powered mode makes steeper climbs much more feasible, though not legal.
It's worth saying it doesn't feel 'super-powered' in a higher mode. The higher power is really needed to give such a heavy e-bike (40.6kg) with ultra-wide tyres similar performance uphill to regular e-bikes.
The low bench seat means getting meaningful pedal power for any significant amount of time will be a struggle - though torque sensing and a good spread of eight derailleur gears mean motor power arrives as soon as you apply pressure to the pedals.
The R Adventure is ultra comfortable - possibly the most comfortable e-bike I've ever ridden - and its combination of high quality full air suspension and huge 5" wide tyres means it just glides over pretty large potholes, while huge kerb drop-offs are no problem at all.
Judging by the Super73 marketing images out there, the brand is aimed very much at people who love its motorbike-inspired looks and want to look cool - after all there won't be many arctic hunters around who will buy this model for its distinctive winter camouflage (other colours are available...).
But is it really a practical e-bike for everyday use? In some respects, yes. If comfort over very uneven surfaces is important, this is a bike that will easily roll over many obstacles that other e-bikes won't. It will also take a small rear pillion passenger if you buy the optional footpegs and various rear carrying racks and platform are available at a price.
Again, the caveat is lack of motor power at the 250W limit on such a big bike, which will be exacerbated with more load of course.
There's a huge 960Wh battery that has a claimed range of between 40 and 75 miles, but the weight of the bike and its super wide tyres are likely to mean real world ranges towards the bottom end of this scale or even less.
The lights are super powerful and excellent, but the mudguards are too short to keep muck off many parts of the bike on the soft stuff.
I should also note premium parts are used throughout and the frame looks to be built like a tank with braced double alloy tubing used on many elements. It certainly looks like it should last a very long time.
In short, there are far more practical e-bikes out there for most situations, but the Super73 could have a number of practical niches, especially for rougher terrain. Or again, practicality may not come into it and you might just admire the Super73's looks.
Super73's website says this is an EU/UK 250W EPAC. However, while the R Adventure comes set as a 15.5mph (25kmh), 250W pedelec, the above screen in the app lets you choose faster modes. (Note that when you turn the bike off it defaults to 250W EPAC mode.)
The app page has a disclaimer stating modes 2, 3 and 4 are illegal in the EU but that, "by pressing SAVE you are solely responsible to follow the maximum allowed speed and motor assist level established by your local electric vehicle laws."
Clearly Super73 are putting the onus on the rider and they are surely aware that selecting a higher speed for public use is illegal in the UK and the EU.
The best that can be said of this approach is that they are treading in a grey area. The legislation doesn't seem to deal directly with e-bikes with 'off-road' switches, but the common consensus in the UK seems to be that they are likely not legal. Whether a setting in a phone amounts to the same as a physical switch is again a question for the courts to determine on their reading of the legislation. Official UK government advice refers to off-road switches and states that they, "do not, in our opinion, comply with the GB EAPC regulations."
As far as I could tell Super73 haven't gotten type approval for this model to be used as a speed pedelec, which I feel is the best use of all that power and such a comfortable and stable high speed ride.
Of course, it's currently very difficult to pass all the paperwork hurdles for speed pedelecs in the UK, but you feel there would be significant interest in a Super73 speed pedelec in Euro hotspots like Flanders and Switzerland.
The situation really is crying out for the UK government in league with the insurance industry to realise the huge car-replacing potential of speed pedelecs and their green credentials and put together an easy to access and affordable registration, licencing and insurance package.
Speed pedelecs are not mopeds; they are lighter, more efficient and let you get some exercise, and it's about time they had their own legal category in the UK as they do in some European countries. They are a unique means of long distance commuting and could transform the daily travel slog for may.
Whilst there are plenty of electric fat bikes around there aren’t many that come close to the Super73 R Adventure in terms of either quality or smooth, stable performance up to 28mph. The £4,999 price tag of the R Adventure makes it their priciest offering, but if you just want to get in on the moto-style electric fat bike action then their wide range of models starts at around £1,500.
E-fat bikes from little known brands are a favourite of online discounters, but comparing them to Super73s quality is like comparing chalk and cheese.
One brand that does appear to be competing directly with Super73 in terms of design and price is Knaap, though we have not yet reviewed any of their bikes here at ebiketips. We would have picked out another well-known US brand, Rad Power, as a recommended and lower priced fat-bike specialist competitor, but they are leaving the EU market next year and so look like less of a good long term bet than they once were.
If you want a high quality electric fat bike then a leftfield choice might be to fit a CYC Photon mid-drive kit to an unassisted one as it is one of the few kits compatible with the 120mm bottom bracket width common of fat bikes - and you'll get a far more pedalable e-bike into the bargain.
In summary, the Super73 R Adventure is an e-bike that looks to carve out a very high quality and stylish niche. However, there are much cheaper and more practical e-bikes out there and they don't have the legal question mark over them that the Super 73 does. I would predict that won't stop them selling a fair few to both those who want to venture off-road where other e-bikes find their limitations and also to those who simply admire the Super73 style.