BIKE TEST: EASY MOTION EVO BIG BUD PRO:

BIG_BUD_PRO_5

In this time of specialization in e-bikes, they don’t come much more narrowly focused than the Easy Motion Evo Big Bud Pro. It isn’t merely an e-bike, nor simply an all-terrain e-bike. It’s not even so pedestrian a thing as an e-fat bike. The Evo Big Bud Pro has coordinated, compact hub motors in both wheels, and that makes it all-wheel drive or two-wheel drive depending on how you look at it. You may be thinking, is that legal? Don’t e-bikes have a limit on power? Yes on both counts, but the limit is 750 watts. Since the Big Bud is 350 watts in the rear and 250 watts in the front, it slides easily under the legal limit.

So what motivates a company to develop an AWD fat bike? Snow and ice. While fat bikes trace their origins to winter riding, the Big Bud Pro and its sister, the Evo Snow Pro model, totally crave conditions a figure skater would love. Four riding modes (not assist levels) handle any terrain, but the less traction the better, since the system detects wheelspin. In the AWD setting the Big Bud delivers full power to both wheels, but if the system detects more than a 5-percent slip between the motors, it adapts the power of each motor to supply total traction. In Eco the bike starts with the rear motor, but rolls with the less-powerful front motor to extend the range. You may also select riding with just the rear or just the front assisting.

Easy Motion chose to power the rear wheel of the Big Bud with its well-tested 350-watt hub motor and torque sensor.
Easy Motion chose to power the rear wheel of the Big Bud with its well-tested 350-watt hub motor and torque sensor.

LAYOUT AND DESIGN

Like all Easy Motion hub-motor e-bikes, it takes a careful look to see that this is indeed an e-bike. The compact geared-hub motors hide effectively between the cassette and the disc in the rear and next to the disc rotor in the front. The cable routing of the front motor is particularly clean. With the battery hidden inside the frame the Big Bud remains a stealth e-bike. One winter accessory is a partial giveaway: there is a wrap-on neoprene sleeve to keep the battery warm in extreme conditions.

To motivate the front wheel, the Bud gets a 250-watt hub motor, and the cabling is very clean.
To motivate the front wheel, the Bud gets a 250-watt hub motor, and the cabling is very clean.

THE PRICE TAG

All of the Evo hardtail models are in the $3000 range, but the fat wheels and tires, exotic programming for AWD, and the second motor put the price of the Big Bud at $3499. It features a Shimano Acera derailleur with an eight-speed cassette in the rear, and that is mated with two chainrings in the front for 16 speeds. Three front chainrings are more common on E-Motion models, but the gearing works fine in real-world testing. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and E-Motion’s clever no-tools wheel nuts are nice touches.

 Tektro supplies the brakes, and they have power enough for pavement but also enough progression for riding on ice.
Tektro supplies the brakes, and they have power enough for pavement but also enough progression for riding on ice.

As easy as it is to remove the wheels, fat tires are not easy to break down on the trail for repairs, and a lot of air is needed to inflate them, so some sort of sealant is highly recommended. Slime in the tubes is a great idea, and we carried pressurized cans of the Slime that plugs small punctures and inflates the tire.

TRUE TESTS

We were very fortunate to get perfect weather during the Big Bud test period. Because in addition to our normal trail testing, we also got to ride the Big Bud in mud, snow and ice. Just as we have found with deep, soft sand, a foot of powder snow is a lot of work despite the monster tires and e-assist. While riding was a lot of work breaking through the powder, it was possible and a bunch of fun.
BIG_BUD_PRO_7
The difference was noticed on packed snow and ice. Even glassy ice was easy to ride on, and the Big Bud maintained a planted, solid and sure-footed feel at all times. Rock-hard packed snow offered traction that rivaled perfect dirt conditions! We could easily ride where people could barely walk, even those who were using spiked crampons on their boots!

GETTING IT IN MOTION

Packed and polished snow surfaces like sled hills are where the Big Bud works the best. Even glassy ice doesn’t bother it much. Deep snow like this is work.
Packed and polished snow surfaces like sled hills are where the Big Bud works the best. Even glassy ice doesn’t bother it much. Deep snow like this is work.

Only when there was transparent glass ice did we feel any slip at all. We could easily ride up hills that other users were sledding on. Even when we purposely tried to break the tires loose we had a hard time. If there’s one thing we’ve found with all the Easy Motion bikes we’ve tested, it’s that they are super impressive from the first ride. The assist is set up so you really feel it no matter whether you are in a flat parking lot or on more demanding terrain. In that respect the Big Bud is different. No doubt Easy Motion engineered in the super traction at the expense of acceleration. It moves right along with ample assist when you are moving, but it doesn’t leap away from a start.

We hit some local dirt roads before the snow ride, and with normal bikes we would have skipped the ride. The surface was still soft. We could see where people’s boots and even dogs’ feet were leaving deep prints. With 10 psi in the tires we left absolutely no depressions in the surface; in fact, we rolled some rutted areas smoother than we found them. It was rare that there was even an impression of the tread pattern left after we passed. You do feel the drag of the soft conditions, so our speeds were low and we avoided steep climbing.

COMPUTER STUFF

The display and assist modes are the same as we expect with E-Motion bikes, so there are four levels of assist starting with Eco, but the Big Bud is a heavy bike at 63 pounds, and we were constantly riding in soft conditions, so we spent most of the time in the two highest assist levels. Choppy, packed dirt surfaces were our least favorite terrain. With no suspension to rely on, the Big Bud’s large tires help, but pedaling through hard chop can still be a rough ride.

The display may be small, but it has all you need. It can be removed quickly for theft prevention.
The display may be small, but it has all you need. It can be removed quickly for theft prevention.

Pavement is surprisingly fine with as low as 15 psi in the tires. There is a little tread noise, but oddly we found that it alerted other bike-path users to our presence, but it wasn’t loud enough to be annoying to the rider. When a rare winter rain left our local sand washes firm and mostly smooth, the Big Bud was a blast to ride and perfectly in control. As we mentioned, we were able to ride in good-conscience days before we would have been able to with skinnier tires.

As always on fat bikes, gravel, loose rocks, leaves, pine needles and any other loose surface are rarely an impediment to having fun. But now that we have ridden in packed snow, we will never miss the opportunity again. In the snow you finally “get” the whole fat bike world, and e-assist only adds to the experience.

THE VERDICT

There is no doubt that the Evo Big Bud Pro is a niche e-bike. It is designed for an even more limited use than a standard e-assist fat bike. But, if you have the conditions for it, you will undoubtedly be surprised with how easily it deals with snow and ice. If you have the right job, the Big Bud is the correct tool for it. Sure, you can easily ride it on pavement and hammer-packed dirt, but why waste it? Find some snow!

SPECS
MSRP: $3,499
Motor: 350-watt rear, 250-watt front, brushless geared hub
Battery: 36-volt, 11.6 Ah, 432 Wh, Samsung lithium-ion, locks to frame
Battery life: 1000 cycles
Charge time: 5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph
Range: 15 to 30 miles, normal pedaling at standard/sport level
Drive: Shimano Acera 16-speed
Brakes: Tektro hydraulic discs, 180/160mm rotors
Tires: Yang 26X4.0
Display: Removable LCD with speed, odometer, trip, elapsed time, battery capacity and pedal-assist levels
Fork: E-Motion Hi-Ten
Frame: Aluminum alloy with internal cable routing
Weight: 63 pounds
Contact: www.emotionbikesusa.com