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HANEBRINK Hybrid Bikes

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Taking first prize in our oddities category at last month’s Interbike Demo Day, the HANEBRINK hybrid bikes, made by Fortune Hanebrink Inc. of Big Bear, Calif., featured lithium-ion/ferrous-phosphate batteries and humongous 8-inch-wide tires. At the dusty scene during Demo Day, where the Gear Junkie crew tested new bikes for the 2011 season, we initially thought the HANEBRINK was a stunt.

But the fat bike soon exceeded everyone’s expectations by winning the first annual Interbike Tradeshow “Hill Climb Challenge,” an event that featured top factory teams and fit riders pedaling electric bikes up a 1/3 mile paved course. The HANEBRINK bike whirred uphill — the rider pedaled and maxed out the bike’s motor — on the steep six-percent grade, crossing the finish line in the sprint event on top to win first place.

HANEBRINK Fat Tire Hybrid Bike

The three current models in the HANEBRINK line were made by six-time mountain bike national-class champion Dan Hanebrink. He designed the first non-electric HANEBRINK bikes in 1993. The fat-tire bikes were initially made for pedaling in the wilderness in soft terrain like snow and sand. Two years ago, Hanebrink’s company added an elertic-assist motor to the fat bike.

Original (non-electric) HANEBRINK bike on a winter expedition

The upgraded XT-600 model was introduced this year. It has 14-speed gearing and two lithium-ion/ferrous-phosphate batteries for its power source. This setup allows the bike to carry heavy gear and handle steep, technical terrain that is un-rideable by any other electric bicycle. “As recently as a year ago many people thought that the idea of a performance electric bicycle was an oxymoron,” said Kane Fortune, a business partner at Fortune Hanebrink Inc.

The company’s latest, the X-5 Blackbird model, has a mid-mounted motor, 14 speed gearing, and dual batteries. On flat terrain, the X-5 can reach speeds of over 65 MPH. Says Hanebrink, “We are not trying to replace standard bicycles, we want to replace cars and trucks.”

Speed, float, and all-terrain access are themes with the HANEBRINK line

All HANEBRINK bikes are assembled in Big Bear, Calif. Prices start at $5,000. www.fortunehanebrink.com

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

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