How To Cruiser-Ize Your Fat Bike For Under $50
If you’ve been checking out some of the videos and imagery we’ve posted, you may notice that sometimes we’ve swapped out a few parts, like handlebars, from the stock bike that’s shown in the product pages of our site. Fine-tuning the cockpit of your bike – changing the riding position to suit your body, your needs and your style – is as old as biking itself and can make the difference between a bike you LOVE to ride and a bike that might feel a little neglected over time.
Ebikes have the advantage that you don’t have to worry as much about wind resistance, since you’re not doing all the work. That means you’re free to ride in an upright riding position, like you’d find on a cruiser-style bike, if that’s more comfortable or suits your style. Over the past couple of years we’ve had a lot of fun trying out cruiser-style handlebars and stems that really change the way our bikes ride, how they look, and believe it or not, how you feel while you’re riding them.
It’s true, we don’t ride Harley Davidson’s ourselves, but you know, when you hop on one of the new Boars set up with mini “ape hanger” bars, a comfy “springer saddle” and effortlessly cruise down a winding bike path, I swear you get a little glimpse into what it must feel like to ride a Harley – minus the kidney-massaging rumble from the 1400 cc engine with straight pipes.
The 2016 Boar, with its fat tires, power assist and available racks & fenders was designed as an SUV, a do-anything bike that can haul the kids to soccer or charge through off-road terrain. Out of the box, the bike definitely leans toward the “sport” end of the spectrum with low-rise bars, longer stem and narrow seat suited to a mountain bike riding position. The modifications we’re talking about here are for those who are a little less interested in “sport” and a little more interested in cruising. Here are some pretty easy bar mods that’ll cost you under fifty bucks.
SURF’S UP: BOAR E350 WITH CHROME ELECTRA BULLHORN BAR.
Bars – By far the biggest change you can make to the stock bike is the handlebar. We’ve tried a few different bars and they’ve all come from Electra, an American bike company that builds sweet cruiser bikes and cruiser accessories. Felt also has lots of bars and they’re usually a bit cheaper. Right now we don’t sell any cruiser bars ourselves, though that may change. Here are a couple of our favourites:
Electra Bullhorn – This is the classic “beach bar” – 660 mm wide with a bit of rise. The bar’s width suits the bike’s fat tires and it’s swept back quite a bit so the riding position is upright – perfect for scouting waves. The clamp diameter is 25.4 mm (1”) so you’ll need to buy a new stem with a 1 1/8” steer tube clamp (see below). We installed the Bullhorn with the stock brake and cable housings, so it’s pretty simple and cheap. A longer hydraulic line for the front brake would improve the look, but it’s not necessary. Also the wire for the auxiliary keypad (controls for assistance level etc.) will limit where you can position the keypad.
Electra Mini Ape Hanger – True “ape hangers”, like those you see on a Harley once in a while, are pretty radical; in some cases they raise your hands head high. We haven’t had the guts to try out true ape hangers, but Electra has a “mini” version that feels super comfy to ride and like the Bullhorn, doesn’t require any mods to the brake or cable housings. This bar is 760mm wide with a rise of 250mm, the clamp diameter at centre 25.4 mm (1″), so you’ll need a stem (see below).
Stem – Just so we’re on the same page, a stem is the part that clamps on to your handlebar and to the steer tube of your fork. They come in different lengths – the longer it is the further you have to reach for the bar and the more you lean over in a “sport” position. They also come with different degrees of “rise”. More “rise” raises the handlebar and less “rise” lowers it. Pretty simple. Whatever bar you choose, make sure you buy a stem that’s the right diameter, and be sure it’s compatible with a 1 1/8” steer tube, a common size. We’ve found it simplest to source the bar you want then visit your Local Bike Shop to find the stem that’s right for you.
Saddle – Just when you thought this was going to be a simple $50 mod to your fat bike, we’re going to throw another one at you: the saddle. Now that you’ve created an upright riding position for yourself, you may find, like us, that the stock saddle becomes less comfortable. The stock saddle is great when your body weight is more forward (due to the stock bar / stem combo), but with an upright position, more of your weight is directly above your butt and above your seat.
Cruiser saddle – Cruiser saddles are wider than MTB saddles and sometimes have springs to cushion your tush from bumps in the road. Brookes England produces iconic handmade leather cruiser saddles that are designed to last a lifetime, what you’d expect from a saddle costing $100 and up… way up. There are a ton of saddles out there for all budgets, so head down to your Local Bike Shop and find one that’s right for you.
BOAR E350 WITH BLACK MINI APE HANGERS FROM ELECTRA
We know lots of Surface 604 owners have made some interesting mods to their bikes. As always, we invite you to send us some pics and tell us what you’ve done to personalize your ride.