Got a chance to demo the Felt LEBOWSKe today. I rode it around on some pavement and through the grass, over some big roots and up and down a few small hills. By no stretch of the imagination did I actually ride the kind of single-track I am used to thrashing my $1000 electric fat-bikes on, but I feel like I did get a good idea of what the LEBOWSKe could do.
I’m a huge fan of mid-drives and the LEBOWSKe was the first electric fat-bike I’ve ridden with an X01 system from SRAM. The road gear is 10T and the granny is a 42T which gives a much better gearing range than anything else I’ve tried yet. That being said the 11 speed chain doesn’t look like it would hold up to the 120Nm of the BBS02 (about double what the Bosch system puts out). I’ve had many more problems with broken chains in the deep snow with my 10 speed than I have had with the 7 & 8 speeds.
The Bosch system is not a system designed to appeal to degenerates. There is no throttle so you are deprived of the wheelie popping torque that I’ve grown addicted to on the granny gears of the BBS02. Even in Turbo mode you have to push the pedals pretty hard to weasel 400 watts out of the Bosch motor. The feeling is refined and seamless and it ‘feels’ like what most people expect single-track riding to be, just with more power than what you can really generate. The perfect bike for the kid always picked last in gym class (that would be me).
I’m not really a Bosch fan even though I’m actually ‘Bosch Certified’ for whatever that is worth. Their system does not allow you to modify the programming like you can with the BBS02 and the battery shuts off if the temps fall below 32 or over 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The average temp in Ithaca is 40 degrees and it’s not uncommon for me to be riding in well below 0 degree weather. The Bosch system is completely closed, you can only use Bosch chargers and Bosch batteries with the Bosch drive-train system. The Bosch batteries are not very cost-competitive for their performance and it’s unfortunate that you have to use their chargers which will only charge the packs to 100% of capacity (charging only to 80% can almost double your pack life).
- Feels nice, like a fancy expensive car that someone else would buy for their wife and then try not to destroy.
- The bike is light, feels very responsive to steer.
- Torque sensing drive system means you have to work for your power forcing you to exercise even though you are lazy, so lazy that you even bought an electric bike.
- When you are riding this bike around you really feel like “The Dude“.
- Yet another bulleted item meant to make you think this bike is really great and you should buy it RIGHT NOW. It will make you happy, women will watch you ride by and think you aren’t a weakling, it’s better than having a puppy, etc., etc.
- Power is anemic, great for responsible trail-riding, not great for shenanigans.
- 20mph is too slow for the roads but too fast for winding single-track, don’t even think about trying to raise it about 20mph, there is no way to do it unless you are a L33T hacker (even then you void your warranty).
- Not sure how I feel about carbon fiber handlebars, carbon doesn’t really hold up to abuse the way that metal can.
- Tires are heavy, rims are heavy, tubes are heavy. Not sure why they chose double-wall rims when single-wall would have been lighter. This bike begs for ghetto tubeless.
- Bike is not stealth, although it’s very quiet, the lack of a large front chain-wheel and the battery mounted on the frame make it clear at a glance that it’s an e-bike.
- My poor ass, it has been pampered with a nice cushy seat and a Thudbuster LT with 3 inches of travel for the last 6 months. The Rockshox dropper post isn’t tall enough for my 6′ 10″ body and the Felt seat was rock hard. Punishing to ride.
- Cheap ass plastic pedals that look like they came off a huffy from Walmart.
For the $5800 retail that this bike runs I could easily build 4 electric fat-bikes with BBS02’s (check out my best build yet here for ~$765) and get 2 50v 20Ah batteries from China and still have enough money leftover to take my Significant Other to go see Mad Max several times. My fat-bikes would not be quite as light or as pleasant to ride but they would have over twice the power (750W Nominal 1200W peak) and batteries that would last a whole lot longer and would be a few pounds heavier. I’m sure there are people out there willing to pony up the cash for a Bosch system that might be a lot more reliable than the BBS02, but I’m just not one of them. I wouldn’t even pay that much for a car, my last vehicle purchase was less than $5000 (2001 Honda Insight with 130,000 miles) and that car paid for itself in less than 2 years with the money I saved in gas (it gets well over 55mpg). When it gets right down to it the two things I really care about are cost and weight. The Felt LEBOWSKe is a winner when it comes to weight and riding feel, but a loser when it comes to the high price and lack of any real power.
For a ‘real’ review by someone who is not a jerk (he probably doesn’t even swear at people in cars every time he gets behind the handlebars) check out Court’s review on electricbikereview.com right here. He gave it a 10 out of 10 which must mean it is the best that any bike could ever be, forever! Court’s website also has a lot of nice specs on the bike that I don’t feel like stealing and just copying here.