Operation Rigid Falcon: A Moonlander That Changes The Game

Ec's dreamer is Dave Mann. No one is as eager to try something new, to push the boundaries, or to ask unprecedented questions. With the snows and frost of winter fast approaching, we partnered with Dave to take on an electric assist fat bike. After some careful research, Dave discovered BionX. The electric, 48 volt battery is capable of putting out 350 Watts. Other places have already begun building the engine and custom-fitting it to the Surly Moonlander. It's the perfect platform already for deep winter, deep forest exploration, and the added horse power makes it unbeatable for riding in extreme conditions. The goal of this is to play a small part in grooming, reconnaissance for winter trail building, and as a sort of rescue vehicle for fat bike breakdowns.

The Moonlander was already in store, but the kit took a few days to arrive. From the gun, the incomparable Nate. St. Onge began piecing it all together. With the right care and attention, it was done the next day. Dave didn't order the 10 speed freewheel hub, but luckily, they were available on our distributer's site and we had it in store almost immediately. It was all going according to plan.

As construction neared completion, the only real hiccup of the experiment arose. The throttle was non-functioning. Either the control panel or the throttle was shorted, and BionX was quick to toss one in the mail. While we await its arrival, we were pleased to find that the pedal-assist was completely operational. Of course, we had to give it a shot.

Nate took the first spin to test the pick-up. The pedal-assist engages as the speed picks up, and its a big bump. The engine kicks in to bring the rider up to around 15mph with almost no effort at all. The brake lever has a contact that kills the engine, which returns the bike to essentially normal handling and feel. Stopping pedaling also stops the engine.

On his second pass, Nate had the bike up to 22 miles an hour. For a 48 pound machine, that's hauling. Next up, Cody hopped on to test the top end. The engine is set up to cut out at 20mph, so you have to sort of trick it to take it very much over that. By using a big gear, you can take the bike close to 20, then increase pedals speed for a short burst. The engine won't cut out until 22, and leg power can get the bike going faster. It's like having a someone's draft at 30mph. It's wild.

Operation Rigid Falcon will continue, including a long-range test rides of two and three hours in the next few days.

Enjoy our initial gallery.

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