Electric Bike Action Bike Review: HPC Titan Fat Bike
Hi-Power Cycles is known for making bikes that live up to their name. Their bikes are made in the U.S., and they make stuff that they themselves want to ride. It’s kind of like Apple’s philosophy applied to bicycles. There’s always a wow factor to everything they build. Their custom bikes are a sight to behold, but they also have production bikes that are all but infinitely tunable to customize them per customer wants, needs or desires.
The frame is a beefy aluminum frame made wide enough to handle the oversized 150mm Boost wheel spacing. Our test bike was a pre-production test mule, and the 26×4.5-inch tires were barely rubbing on the inside of the stays. Production bikes have a wider yoke to allow up to 4.8-inch tires.
The Renegade fork was developed specifically for fat bikes with surprisingly thin 32mm stanchions. We’ve had some bikes with a larger-diameter fork that would flex under the pressures put on by a Class 1 fat bike, so how would this fork fare in a bike that can be (and our case, is) set up as a bike so powerful it can only run on private land or OHV areas? Read on.
Being a fat-tire bike, that’s the first thing to talk about. The Kenda Juggernaut 26×4.5-inch tires have fairly light knobs with tons of volume to control ride and grip. They’re mounted on hand-built wheels with Alex Blizzer 90 rims and Phil Wood spokes that are hand-cut in-house and hand-laced.
The drivetrain is SRAM GX 1×11, with 11-42t in the rear and a 40t Race Face narrow-wide chainring up front, and a KMC 11-Turbo (e-bike-specific) chain.
Of course, with a powerful beast like this, you have to have brakes you can rely on. HPC went with Magura MT4e brakes with cutoff switches and 180mm rotors.
HPC went with a Bafang Ultra mid-drive motor here. It comes with a 1000-watt badge, but in truth it can be programmed to run anywhere from a street-legal 750 watts to a white-knuckle-inducing 1600 watts stock, but it’s built well enough to be able to handle over 2000 watts, and there are those who have reliably done so. HPC offers it on this bike, preprogrammed to 750, 1500 or 2000 watts per customer specification.
At 160 N/m of torque, it easily stands at the top of the heap, even well above the TQ motor’s 120 N/m. The Titan uses an advanced torque sensor and cadence sensor that senses rider input 1000 times per second to offer a smoother riding experience.
There are a range of batteries that are offered with this bike. The standard battery is a 12.4-Ah version, but they offer a 14, 17.5 and a 35 Ah (requires a frame bag). All of the batteries are built in-house.
You can customize your whole bike online, including better/faster chargers, a 2500–4000-watt lighting system and a dropper post for $400. Standard paint colors are orange, Gloss White or Matte Black. Beautiful custom colors by PrismaticPowders.com can be applied for $300.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
If you’re buying a bike from HPC, you’re a customer looking for extreme power, high durability and you have access to a place to legally ride a bike like this. They’re built right here in California. The typical HPC customer is less concerned about price than about performance. All their bikes are tunable, both mechanically and electronically.
When you first throw a leg over, you realize this is a big bike! Some of that comes from the fat tires, just the look of it. It starts in pedal-assist mode 1, which you can turn to 0 if you want to use throttle only. HPC can configure it with up to 10 modes, but we always think that’s far too many. Ours came with only 5. So much for turning it up to 11!
Even in level 1, with 160 N/m of torque, you have to be prepared for the take-off. A little pedal pressure and off you go! If you’re still straddling the top tube when you push on the pedal, you may have a bruise on your backside long after the surprised look is gone from your face.
Getting the front wheel off the ground is really easy with this much power. We learned to start in PAS mode 1 and increase as we’d go; otherwise, the acceleration could invite trouble; there’s simply so much power and torque. Luckily, it’s controllable, especially once you get used to it, but it has the kind of power that can surprise you.
The gearing also helps. The 11-speed, 11-42t drivetrain provides ample range to climb anything or just to go really fast down a trail. On level ground, we hit as much as 35 mph with a 150-pound rider.
“When you first throw a leg over, you realize this is a big bike”
The Renegade fork, as mentioned, turns out to be the stiffest fork we’ve ever had on any e-fat bike. It only allows 120mm of travel, but that is enough, combined with the voluminous tires, to make for a pretty plush ride. One test rider remarked that a full suspension would be even better, but that would add weight, complexity and expense.
Battery life with the stock battery was not great, but with this much power and having this much fun, we almost didn’t care that we were getting 10 miles per charge. Our average ride only lasted an hour before the battery was drained, but we were full-throttle a lot of the time and climbing, running through sand washes, generally pushing the bike to its limits. More than once we bit off more than we can chew and found ourselves off the bike. It wasn’t the bike’s fault!
The great thing about those huge tires is that they are extremely buoyant in deep, dry sand and offered an astonishing grip for the conditions and relatively non-aggressive knobs. The key is to run lower pressure in sand, snow and mud. You can easily run a mere 5 psi, and the tires perform extremely well in these conditions, as well as providing a good level of suspension to take out the bumps.
The cutoff switches on the brake levers work extremely well to chop power instantly. Sometimes, when you stop pedaling, the motor continues on at whatever power level you have been riding at for at least a full second, which is disconcerting if you are at full power. Most of our test riders ride with one or two fingers on the brake levers all the time. The levers were so sensitive that two of the three riders had to stop keeping a finger on either lever to stop cutting the power when they didn’t want to.
Overall, the HPC’s braking was adequate considering the smallish rotors. In fact, we’d expect to see 200mm rotors for a bike of this size and power, along with quad-piston calipers instead of the dual pistons used.
The display on our preproduction model was monochrome and not backlit, but the production bike comes with a full-color, backlit display.
If you are looking for a bike that’s an absolute riot to ride, built to go over almost anything and garner a lot of attention, this may be a great choice. It would certainly work for winter commuting in the snow and slush, as well as fun in dirt, mud, sand and anywhere else you could think of to take it. We’d definitely recommend springing for one of the larger batteries (especially the 17.5-Ah version) and the dropper post, and if you’re going to ride it often, get the upgraded charger, either the 6- or the 5-amp satiator, both of which can charge the standard battery from 5% to 100% in 2.5 hours.
Price: $4495 stock, $4995 as tested with 1500W motor
Motor: Bafang Ultra with 160Nm of torque and 750-2000W of power (programmable)
Battery: 12.4 Ah (stock) with options up to 31.5 Ah
Charge time: 4-6 hours (2.5 hours with optional charger)
Top speed: 36 mph (tested)
Range: 10–30 miles (tested)
Drive: SRAM NX Eagle 11-50T
Brakes: Magura MT4e hydraulic disc brakes with power cutoff switches
Controls: DPC color display
Fork: Renegade fork with 120mm of travel
Tires: Kenda Juggernaut 26×4.5”
Weight: 53 lb.
Color choice: Orange, Gloss White, Matte Black or custom (+$300)
Sizes: Medium (17”), large (19”) or extra-large (21”)