REVIEW – I have not ridden a bike in over 15 years. It is not because I do not enjoy riding it’s because I have poor circulation in my legs. This makes riding a bike a painful and less than enjoyable experience. A friend recently showed me an electric bike that he had been looking at purchasing. An e-bike seemed like it might be a solution to my leg issues. It runs on a battery and does not solely run on pedal power. My friend asked me if this is something we would ever review for The Gadgeteer. I said Nah, probably not just because of the price point. As luck would have it, not even a week later, I received a review offer for an e-bike! How about that for coincidence?! The bike is from a company called TurboAnt. So let’s take a look at the Thunder T1 Fat Tire Electric bike and find out if it can rekindle my joy of bike riding.
What is it?
The TurboAnt Thunder T1 is a fat tire multi-terrain electric bike with a long-lasting battery with a max range of up to 60 miles. The bike is powered by a 750-watt brushless motor and can reach a top speed of 28 mph using electronic pedal assist.
What’s in the box?
- 90% assembled Thunder T1
- Quick-release lever
- Battery charger
- Battery: External 48 V x 14 Ah Samsung/LG
- Range: 35-60 miles
- Motor: 750 W brushless gear motor
- Max. Payload Capacity: 330 lb
- Recommended rider height: 5’3” – 6’4”
- Controller: 48 V/20 A
- Display: LCD display
- Bike weight: 72.8 lb
- Pedal assistance: 5 levels
- Tire: 26″ × 4.0″ Kenda fat tires
- Brake lever: Tektro aluminum alloy grip lever
- Rear light: Brake taillight
- Free wheel: Shimano freewheel
- Brake: Tektro Aries brake (7.1 in/180 mm)
- Chain: KMC chain
- Stem: Promax MA-593S
- Crank: Prowheel 42T forged alloy (6.7 in/170 mm)
- Gear: Shimano 7-speed derailleur
- Front fork: RST Adjustable alloy front fork
- Throttle: Half-twist throttle
- Pedals: Borita pedal
- Frame: Aluminum alloy 6061
- Front light: 48 V LED light
- Saddle: VELO Plush VL6221
- Seat post: Zoom seat post (diameter 1.25 in/31.8 mm and length 13.8 in/350 mm)
- Kickstand: Aluminum alloy
- Spoke: 12-gauge stainless steel
Design and features
The Thunder T1 arrived in a large box. The bike comes 90% assembled, and it and its components are well packaged. After removing the contents from the box, I decided to assemble the bike outside. To make assembly easier, TurboAnt provides you with a tool kit, complete with a zipper bag. Inside the bag, there are 4 Allen wrenches and 4 open-ended wrenches of variable sizes, along with a screwdriver. I like that TurboAnt provides you with a tool kit assuring that you have all the necessary tools for assembly. And the handy zipper bag keeps everything together so, you have a convenient maintenance kit as well.
As I mentioned, the bike comes 90% assembled. The only things I had to attach were the handlebars, front tire, front fender and light, and the pedals. TurboAnt provides you with a user manual, but I found their YouTube video to be a little more helpful. The video shows how to properly unbox and assemble your Thunder T1. Putting the bike together was simple and took me about 30 minutes.
The bike’s overall design is sleek but aggressive. I love the satin black paint job, plush saddle, and leather-wrapped handles. But the stars of the show are those fat tires and large plastic fenders. If I had to use one word to describe the T1 it would be BEAST, and I mean that in the best way possible. It really is a big bike that actually looks more like a motorcycle. Specifically, it reminds me of a modernized version of the old World War one motorcycles with its fat tires and big fenders. See the resemblance?
Tires and front fork
Speaking of the tires, they measure 26” x 4” and are puncture-resistant. The tread and wide design make them perfect for handling multiple types of terrain. The front tire also has a quick-release lever making it easy to remove for travel or storage.
The bike has an adjustable shock-absorbing hydraulic front fork. There are two knobs on the front fork that allow you to adjust the level of shock absorption. The lockout knob on the right side of the fork lets you lock it so, there is almost zero play with the shock absorbers. When in the unlocked position, you can adjust the amount of shock absorption using the adjustment knob located on the left of the fork.
The T1’s handlebars are adjustable using one of the Allen wrenches from the tool kit. You can adjust both the angle and level of the handlebars. The handles are leather-wrapped, giving you a more natural feel and firm grip.
Everything you need to control the T1 is located on the handlebars. On the left, you will find the front brake lever, a bell (TurboAnt thought of everything), and the LCD display.
On the right side are the rear brake lever, throttle, and gear shifter. The design of the handlebars allows you to easily reach all the necessary controls without having to take your hands off the handlebars.
The T1 has an LCD display that controls the bike’s power and provides you with riding info at a glance. Turning on the display (press and hold the power button) also powers the bike on. When powered on, it will display the level of battery power, MPH, odometer, and the level of electronic pedal assist. You can also go deeper into the menu of the display to adjust trip and backlight settings. I found it clear and easy to read while riding the bike, and it is pretty cool to see just how fast you are going. You can also cycle through different info screens after each ride by pressing the power button. There are screens for trip distance, trip time, max speed during your ride, and average speed.
The VELO Plush saddle is sleek and comfortable and can be adjusted in two ways. It uses the same quick-release lever found on the front tire, so you can easily adjust the height without using tools. You can also change the position of the saddle using an Allen wrench.
The bike has both front and rear disk brakes, giving it plenty of stopping power. And the braking distance is easily adjustable.
There is a lock button on the bike’s throttle. This lets you quickly lock the throttle to prevent accidental acceleration. They call it a lock button, but basically, it is a power on/off button. When depressed, the throttle can be used to electronically propel the bike. Pressing the button again disengages the power. The throttle will still turn, but there will be no power to the wheels. This safety feature is a great idea and easy to use. When riding, I lock it while using the pedal-assist feature and unlock it when I come to a crosswalk. This way, I can use the throttle to quickly start moving again without pedaling.
If you are riding at night, the bike has two lights to help with visibility. On the front of the bike, there is an LED light.
The light is small but does a surprisingly good job of lighting the way.
On the rear, there is a red brake light. The light is a constant red and gets brighter when you apply the brakes. This will warn anyone behind you that you are stopping, much like the brake light on a car.
The lights are powered on and off by pressing and holding the + button on the LCD display for 3 seconds. This also turns on the backlight.
Further helping with nighttime visibility is a front reflector, pedal reflectors, and reflective strips on both tires.
The Thunder T1 is powered by a 48 V lithium-ion battery pack with an ultra-high 14 Ah capacity. It is charged using the included 48 V 2 A charger. When charging, the indicator light will glow red and will turn green when fully charged. The average charging time is between 3-7 hours. The battery has a range of up to 60 miles on a single charge. This will vary depending on rider size, terrain, and how often you use the electric pedal assist.
The battery indicator on the LCD display has 5 bars, and the most I have ever had it down to is 3. I got into the habit of charging the battery after each ride so, I have a full charge for the next ride. There is also has a USB port on the side so you can charge your phone while on the go. The battery is removable and can be charged while on or off the bike. The battery locks into the frame of the bike and can be removed using the provided keys.
The bike features a Shimano 7-speed derailleur allowing you to quickly switch between 7 gears for the desired speed. Changing speeds is done using the gear shifter located on the right handlebar. The shifter lets you quickly shift through the 7 speeds by clicking the plus or minus buttons. Using the shifter is easy, and the gears change seamlessly from one sprocket to the next as you pedal.
3 ways to ride
The Thunder T1 can be ridden in 3 different ways. You can pedal it like a regular bike, use the 5-level electric pedal assist, or by the 750-watt brushless motor.
I do not think I have to explain pedaling to you, so I won’t.
5-level electric pedal assist
This is an outstanding feature. Simply start pedaling and get power assistance while you are riding. To activate pedal assist, you must first set the level. You can change the level settings using the + / – buttons on the LCD display. They go from 0 to 5. Zero means no assist at all, and five being the highest amount of assist. When you start pedaling, you will feel the electric assist kick in. Pedal-assist allows you to get as much or as little exercise as you like. I usually set it to 3. This lets me go up to 16 mph with little effort and exertion on my legs. For me, this is the feature that makes the bike magical.
No pedaling necessary – Throttle on-demand
If you just want to cruise around without pedaling, then this is the way to go. To engage the throttle on-demand, just press the lock button on the throttle. Turning the throttle will increase the speed of the bike, like a motorcycle. In this mode, the bike can reach a top speed of 20 mph. That may not sound very fast, but believe me, when you are riding on a sidewalk or bike path, 20 mph is flying. This is where the 750-watt brushless motor really shines. You get good acceleration and power, and it is whisper quiet. This is a fun way to ride the bike and probably my favorite.
If you need help while pushing the bike, you can engage the Push Assistance. This is done by pressing the – button on the LCD display. The e-bike will then run at a max speed of 3 mph. To disengage and stop the bike, release the button.
Let’s go for a ride
Before taking the bike out, I took it to an empty parking lot nearby. I wanted to get comfortable with riding it without any obstacles, human or otherwise. I drove around the lot, testing out the brakes and different riding modes. It took some getting used to, primarily because of its size. It is not only larger than your average bike, but it is also heavier. But after about 30 minutes or so, it was well… just like riding a bike. Except much, much better.
For my first ride, I popped in my AirPods and headed out. I decided to just go out on the sidewalk and take it where ever it led me. And before I knew it, an hour had gone by, and it started to get dark. After riding home and putting the bike away, I thought to myself, Wow! I have not had this much fun riding a bike since I was 10 years old! The ride was, in a word, exhilarating. The ride was smooth, and using the pedal assist was an amazing feeling. I rode over 10 miles that night, and my legs felt great the whole time. Using the throttle to get the bike up to 20 mph was the cherry on top of my Thunder T1 sundae. The first time I used the throttle and the bike took off, I could not wipe the smile off my face.
Simply put, the sense of freedom and adventure I have while riding this bike is almost inexplicable. It has also been a life-changing experience for me. This might sound like a bunch of hyperbole, but here is why it is not. I am the type of person that jumps into my car to travel 5 minutes down the road. Since acquiring the Thunder T1, I now ride it everywhere I would usually take my car. I ride it to and from the gym, the grocery store, the local outdoor mall, and anywhere else within a 7-mile radius of my house. It has also become a daily ritual for me to go for a relaxing after-dinner ride. I have put over 140 miles on the bike in less than 2 weeks of total riding time. And it would have been more if not for rainy weather.
What I like
- Fat Tires
- Long battery life
- Front and rear lighting
- Throttle power
- Front and rear disk brakes
- Tool kit
- Easy to read and use LCD display
- The bike is customizable to the rider
What I’d change
- Not a thing
To wrap it up, the TurboAnt Thunder T1 is a phenomenal e-bike. It has a lot of premium specs found on e-bikes that cost up to $1,000 more. TurboAnt thought of everything when constructing the T1. Did the Thunder T1 rekindle my joy of bike riding? The answer is an emphatic yes, and then some!
If there’s something I did not cover in my review, please hit me up in the comment section below. I would love to answer your questions about this e-bike.
Where to buy: TurboAnt ( Save $300 OFF on Thunder T1 expires: Dec 31, 2021)
Source: The sample for this review was provided by TurboAnt.