Like your popsicles and snow, we in California have 100 different words for sand. Ordinary sand. Powdery sand, silt, fine sand, fine and blown sand, deep sand, you get the picture. Things are everywhere, which makes sense because it’s a the desert. So it’s nice to have a vehicle that can drive it. Enter the SSR Sand Viper eMTN bike.

We don’t review electric bikes here in MO, but on special occasions (like when someone offers one) we will bend the rules. Down the road in Santa Fe Springs, California, SSR Motorsports has been importing all kinds of cars from China for 20 years. The price has always been appropriate, and in recent years the quality of many of them has come to compete with more expensive brands from other parts of the world. The Sand Viper is quite popular and retails for $1,999.

You can go pretty well rammed sand recently bulldozed.

Not to be confused with the earlier 350-watt version, the latest 500-watt Sand Viper is a 48-volt beast that can hit 20 mph in no time. A small studies tells us it’s a Class II electric bike because you can get maximum kick by pedaling or twisting the throttle, which is the inside half of the right grip. You’ll get there faster by pedaling and revving, but once you get up to speed you don’t need to pedal at all to get past 20. The throttle is also very handy when you want to keep up with cars running red lights, even more so when you’re trying to pass rit bumpy is confused sand

In the sand, basically, you’re almost always holding the throttle to avoid getting bogged down, and the assist level is usually 5 out of 5. The last time I went 15 miles out to sea on Yamaha Cross Core Road BikeI had to push through it quite a bit burning sand after I got to the beach to close it on the lifeguard tower, then I had to walk down to the water with my feet. However, on the fat Sand Viper tires, you can just hold the pedal and throttle all the way to the water’s edge. Which is nice.

(JB cell phone photo)

What’s also nice is that you can keep walking along the water’s edge wet packed sand that might be illegal but no one really knows and doesn’t seem to care unless you’re a jerk. Don’t try this on your Husqvarna in California.

The 26×4 inch tires may look cartoonish, but they work. Like. Just like on a motorcycle, some people splash through the sand easily, others have to work at it. Bleeding the tires with 25 psi would have helped a lot as I found out later….

The magic is in the brushless motor, conveniently located in the rear hub, right there with the Shimano seven-speed transmission Acera S/S Switch.

The left shifter has an on button and + and – buttons to go between assist levels 1 to 5. Levels 1 and 2 are a no-go for me, on this 53lb bike (SSR claimed weight), it feels too much like work. However, the top three levels of assistance are elevated; they let you decide what heart rate you want to raise. Combine your engine with a 7-speed gearbox and you can find the right rhythm for any occasion.

The throttle makes this a Class II electric bike. You can turn it off with the red button if you need to. Shimano’s seven-speed derailleur clicks every time it shifts.

Unlike the more advanced cadence measurement software that Yamaha has and Harley-Davidson Serial 1 Electric Bikes we rode, the SSR tracks your pedal speed via 12 magnets in the ring and a speaker mounted inside the front sprocket, like basic motorcycle ABS. It’s not as quick to pick up when you’ve picked up the pace or relaxed as it is to feel when you approach a hill and put more pressure on the pedals. But it hardly matters thanks to the manual throttle, which the Harley and Yamaha lack. The SSR system should be much cheaper.

House in the range

Specs say 25 miles, depending. I set out on Tuesday morning for my 30 mile beach test route to find out. Running on the Santa Ana River Bike Trail near my home in California, my legs’ happy place was mostly in 4th assist and sixth gear with an indicated speed of 17 mph.

Dropping down to level 3 would raise the heart rate by maybe about 10 beats and drop it to 16 mph, but who’s counting? Raising the assist to its highest level of 5 and shifting it to the top gear, 7th, puts you on the indicated 21 – pedaling easily and barely breaking a sweat.

Arriving at the mouth of the river after 15 miles, the battery indicator did not budge from four bars. Sweet.

The 15 mile downwind leg homeward was planned to be a full level 5 to really test the battery, but no more than 2-3 miles after the start we lost one bar of power; after a few miles with nine more to go we were down to two bars and didn’t want to pedal home so i backed off to help on levels 3 and 4 in 6th gear just to play it safe.

The Viper’s power meter isn’t the most accurate thing in the world, as it wanders a bit between the bars; at one point we were down to one bar. But when I got to home port after 30 miles we were looking at two bars on the display.

Searching Google for the owner’s manual, we find:

Ideally, we’d have a much more accurate readout of remaining capacity, but it looks like my 30-mile trip only used half the battery’s capacity, which, if accurate, means we got twice the claimed 25-mile range. (If you were riding those 25 miles on sand, that estimate would be much closer to being accurate.) As I said in my Yamaha Cross Core review, for any trip longer than 30 miles, I’ll take the motorcycle or the bus. So for me, Sand Viper has a lot going for it.

Fat tires are no joke

When I first started seeing these bikes with fat tires, I thought they must be just a fad for surfers and surfers, but it turns out that these 26 x 4 tires don’t just make riding in sand, wet grass, snow, etc. .. (if you have help) they also provide a more comfortable ride than a regular road bike.

What’s really surprising is that they don’t seem to have much more rolling resistance than the skinny 90 psi on your typical road bike. The sidewalls say 30 psi max inflation on my Kendas bike, but even at 25 psi Strava recorded an average speed of 16.7 mph on my trip to the beach – exactly the same average speed as the tired electric Yamaha Cross Core bike almost three years ago on the same route.

On the Yamaha, I had to put on some padded bike shorts, get into position, and endure scowls from pedaling purists. On the Sand Viper, I’m just another perpetual sophomore, sitting fairly upright on a soft cruiser seat that’s even mounted on a shock seatpost. It’s no Cadillac, but the Viper rides much smoother than any other bike I’ve ridden.

Also, even though the aluminum frame only comes in an 18-inch size, the adjustable handlebar mount allows you to turn the bar to any position that suits you.

Every time I ride the Viper, I feel like I got just as good a workout as I did on the Yamaha, but my body also feels a lot less punished. What do you like?

Bells, whistles…

It does have a tiny bell that rings on the thumb of the left hand, but no whistle. There’s also a USB port on the side of the removable battery, and the headlight is also connected to the electrical system; the rear light, however, does not appear. When SSR went with the 500W Sand Viper, they also added a bolt-on aluminum rear rack, which is certainly very handy for shop visits. You could very well attach a plastic milk crate to it with hose clamps and/or cable ties.

All components, including the Shimano derailleur, grips and levers, are of high quality. The front wheel is quick-release, the welds and lugs are well done. The sand viper is a very nice piece of work.

Don’t be challenged

It doesn’t have to be a motorcycle or a bike, it’s somewhere in between. And it must be a pretty attractive niche because there are about a thousand fat tire electric bikes like this on the market – a market made up, among other things, of lazy old chubby misers like me who want a bit of exercise, but not too much of one, and have fun in the process. It’s nice to put on a podcast or two and go for a walk, maybe stop for a cool drink along the way. I think I’ll only bring the Sand Viper back when the rumored SSR electric scooter comes out.

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