Electric fat bike touring is a great way to get your mountain bike fix during the winter. The Portes du Soleil is one of the best summer mountain bike destinations in the world, and now you can enjoy two wheels on the snow. The Rustine Bike School is part of Avoriaz Alpine Ski School and they offer a some great options for you to try an Electric fat bike.
If you have never ridden an electric fat bike, you are in for a surprise. You expect to feel like a “cheat”, but once you start pedaling you realise that you are still putting in effort, but going a lot faster relative to your effort. It is brilliant fun, and you can immediately see that an electric mountain bike will give you access to more terrain than a regular mountain bike.
The Matra Electric Fat Bikes used by Avoriaz Alpine Ski School are made by Matra. This name may be familiar to historic motor sport fans. But now they have been reborn as an electric bike manufacturer. They make various commuter and road bikes, and a range of electric trail bikes.
The Matra electric fat bike has been developed in partnership with Avoriaz and Solex. The idea is to provide visitors to Avoriaz a way of getting around the car free resort and enjoying its surroundings during summer and winter.
The bike has four levels of electrical assistance:
- Eco – Minimum assistance for when you don’t really need it and to save battery power
- Tour – A little more assistance, ideal for normal riding
- Sport – Lots of assistance for when you are in a rush or going up hill
- Turbo – Even more assistance for steep hills and fun times
The bikes are also geared like a regular mountain bike, which makes it easy to climb steep slopes. This, coupled with big fat grippy tyres, makes them very capable bikes. They instill confidence and are surprisingly versatile.
Available Electric Fat BikeTours
Skiers, snowboarders and mountain bikers crisscrossing all over the slopes would be absolute carnage. Therefore, in Avoriaz, during the winter, the use of electric fat bikes is strictly controlled during the day. This is because Avoriaz is a true ski in ski out resort.
Due to regulations, you need to be accompanied by a qualified mountain bike guide. Avoriaz Alpine Ski School have two guides Laurent and Elie. These guys are very knowledgeable and very handy on a bike. They have put together a few options for electric fat bike tours in Avoriaz.
Leaving in the morning or afternoon, Laurent or Elie will take you on a trip around the Super Morzine area. This tour takes around two hours. It is suitable for all levels of rider, and is perfect for your first try. But, even if you are a reasonably experienced mountain biker, you can have lots of fun. There is a section with lots of switch backs, which is ideal for practicing your drifting. This was my favourite part of riding my electric fat bike.
Riding from the bike school’s hut in Avoriaz, you make your way to the quiet cat tracks, used by cross-country skiers and snow shoers. If the snow conditions are suitable, you will be taken off-piste to test out your bike’s capabilities in the untouched powder snow.
Sunset Downhill Tour
There is also a downhill session, that takes place once the ski slopes are closed at 5:30pm. This takes you on green and blue ski slopes. Laurent and Elie will even take you through the ‘lil Stash, an area designed for skiers and snowboarders to practice their jumps.
The downhill session has two options. The first option is to ride your electric fat bike back up the mountain to Avoriaz. The other option is to ride “normal” fat bikes down the mountain, but load your bike in to a trailer and ride a snow mobile on the trip back up.
Riding on the Snow
Riding on snow on an electric fat bike is super fun! If you are just going for a leisurely ride, it is as easy as riding a regular bike. The big fat squashy tyres provide lots of grip, giving you plenty of confidence. But, when you decide to start playing, things get more interesting.
Controlling the bike
It takes a few minutes to get learn how to control the bike, but the surface you ride on in Avoriaz is well groomed, so it is pretty easy to get to grips with it. When snow is uneven, the bike will naturally slide in to the ruts and ditches. When it is like this, it is best not to fight it. Instead, learn how it behaves, predict where it is going to go and enjoy it.
When the terrain is flat, it is best to start in Eco or Tour modes. This is because the torque of the motor spins the back wheel easily on snow. But, when you get used to it, this is really good fun.
Your riding position is key to how an electric fat bike handles. You can only really pedal when you are going in a straight line. When taking sharp turns, you will need to dab your inside foot down. This is for when the bike slides, either intentionally or not. You need to keep your outside foot weighted and be out of the saddle for maximum control.
You will also notice that you need to keep your weight further forward when riding on snow than you are used to. This is so the front wheel is pushed in to the snow, giving you grip. Once you have got used to balancing your weight, you can really get your weight forward, making it easier to drift the back wheel. This is ridiculously good fun, either when taking corners or just playing around on straight sections.
Different snow conditions
Different snow conditions require different riding styles. Riding in deep powder is a lot tougher than riding on groomed cross-country ski trails. If you are riding on hard pack, and your bike ends up in the powder you can quickly lose control from the rapid deceleration.
What to wear
It is best to layer your clothing. Even though your electric fat bike assists your pedaling, you will still get warm. If you layer your clothing, you can add or remove layers to suit how hot you get. The essential item of clothing has to be gloves. When the temperature is below zero degrees, your hands will thank you for them.
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Avoriaz is a ski resort famed for its unique architecture and great easily accessible ski slopes. It is located in the Portes du Soleil, France, which is one of the largest ski areas in the world. But, it has some amazing mountain bike trails in the summer too. The trails are all accessible via the lift system used by skiers and snowboarders in the winter.
There is a lot of accommodation in Avoriaz, but a great alternative is to stay in Morzine. This is the resort in between Avoriaz and Les Gets. It is just an hour and a half drive from Geneva airport, making it one of the most accessible mountain resorts.
Check out More Mountain for some excellent catered and self catered accommodation in Morzine.
Make sure you book your electric fat bike before you arrive in Morzine or Avoriaz with Avoriaz Alpine Ski School. You can do this in both summer and winter. It makes a great alternative activity to do when visiting the mountains. Also, drop me a message, I might just meet you up on the mountain, as I live in Morzine!