Surface 604 E-Fatbike Review – Part 1 – Urban Assault and City Riding

Surface 604 Boar Fatbike

We reviewed the previous model of Surface 604’s Boar Fatbike way back in 2015! The new version has some significant upgrades to the already well thought out design. Besides the immediately noticeable Kryptek Highlander Camo color, enhancements for 2020 Boar include:

  • Smoother Torque Sensing Pedal Assist
  • A revised Color LCD display/dashboard
  • Refined Geometry that has more headtube length for a more upright riding position
  • A USB plug on the battery for charging a mobile device
  • Tektro Auriga Hydraulic Disc Brakes with cutoff
  • Axendo LED Headlight
  • Rear Chainstay-mounted kickstand
  • Optional SR Suntour NCX Suspension Seatpost

Full Spectrum Cycling Co-host, Tony Berger, has been riding the Surface 604 Boar for a while now and his part in this story is the summation of several trips. Take it away Tony:

Last month, there was a bike race between two breweries in Milwaukee. I didn’t feel like taking it seriously; so I thought it would be a good time for a little urban fatbike riding. When I got to the shop, the 604 was staring at me. I think, why not, so I check the battery and it has about a 50% charge. The race was a mere 16 miles of city riding and 50% should be fine.

A little about me. I ride a lot of different bikes and especially a lot of different fatbikes. I’m not the biggest guy in the world so most of my bikes are dressed in 4-inch shoes. The Surface 604 Boar is HUGE with Kenda Juggernaut 5-inch tires that honestly look even bigger. I’ve ridden 5-inch tires before but always felt they required more work for the same amount of fatbike fun than I’m used to. I also have a few electric bikes of various setups but none that are fat.

So, what is the Surface 604 Boar anyway? Designed in Canada (eh) this is an absolute monster of a fatbike. Fully equipped with front and rear racks, fenders, headlight and an optional suspension seatpost makes it feel like it’s ready for just about anything. I’m not gonna lie, it’s a heavy beast that I’d think twice about riding if it didn’t have a nice sized battery (more on that later) and a decent charge. Oh yeah, it’s also got a very stable kickstand! Kind of a must on a bike of this size.

Powerful Bafang Rear Hub Motor
Very useful rear-mount kickstand works well even with loaded panniers.

After a few minutes on the 604 I completely felt it would be a great urban assault ride! It’s very plush to ride with the tires at about half pressure conquering anything I threw at it. Stairs, gravel, POTHOLES, puddles and trails. I rolled over to the race start, did I mention it was at a brewery, and ordered a beer while I waited for the start. When I came outside to check on the bike it was surrounded by racers who wanted to know more about it. It’s the kind of bike that won’t go unnoticed. After some information and a brief ride we were off to the next brewery which is a somewhat straight shot through Milwaukee, well, at least it is for the people on road bikes. I preferred to meander a bit instead to see what this beast was all about. I’ll describe this ride as I go. For starters, I inflated the tires to maximum”ish” pressure of about 27psi. With high inflation (for a fatbike) and a beefy (nominally 750w) Bafang rear hub motor you can really see this bike shine as an urban commuter. The pedal assist has 5 settings and a SRAM X5 1×9 drivetrain. Even on PA1 (pedal assist level 1) and a decent gear the 604 was easily up to 18mph as long as I was working hard on the pedals, in other words, exercising….on an ebike. In PA2 or PA3 or dare I go higher this bike would make a great ride to work in a suit type bike. You’d not have to worry about getting sweaty but you can still pedal at a casual pace yet make great time. I was able to easily push it to 20mph in PA3 with a decent pace. This beast also had a thumb throttle which I find very useful for a few things. First of all, sometimes you just want to “push the button” and get a boost when you’re either hitting a big hill or racing with your friends. Secondly, it’s great for evasive maneuvers like crossing the super busy street the shop is on. Need to get across quickly, just push the button! One other thing is, if you’re like me and ride a lot of internal gear hub bikes, you sometimes forget to shift when coming to a stop making a start from stop take off kinda rough. With the throttle you can just get the speed up just enough to continue riding and let PA do it’s thing.

After the fast part on the streets, I dropped the pressure in about half and hit the west side of the Milwaukee River Trails and a bit of the beerline but mostly paved and a decent hill. It’s a very comfortable ride with lower pressure and I could see riding it more at this level than full inflation thanks to the e-assist helping when it is needed. Cut to the Oak Leaf Trail to continue South to the brewery via the lakefront around the Summerfest grounds Hitting some of the usual Urban fun like the launch at the Art Museum and such. Continued on through MIAD and over past the Milwaukee by Bike HQ and finally back on the trail a bit until finding a bit of gravel and grass and a small bit of pavement to the halfway point and another beer.

Did I mention people tend to look at this bike? Came out with beer to find several people looking at it again. More technical questions like weight, MPH, charge time, etc.

Heading back to the mighty 53212 I hit the same grass and gravel area and decided to kill the PA and see how it feels as a “bike” and a heavy one at that. I wanted to see what it would be like to ride it if I should run out of battery. Would it be so freaking heavy that it would be painful? Actually, not at all! You’ll certainly know you are moving a heavy steed but you’ll still be able to slow roll with average pace and get a decent workout but you won’t hate it. I could probably see 5 to 10 miles if I ran out of juice and couldn’t recharge. But, back to e-Fatbike fun and urban exploring! Decided to bomb the streets home straight through downtown on PA3 since I had better than 25% and I wanted to see how it would work as a “getting home fast” bike. I was, at times, a decent clip over 20mph (yes, we did “unlock” the controller to a Class 3 status that is good for 27mph-plus if your area allows it) and never worried about stability or safety. I was a little worried about bugs in my teeth thanks to the grin I couldn’t whip off my face other than to giggle. The power ride did cost me a bit as I was now nearly out of battery but that was no fault of the bike, rather me being silly. Got back to the shop just in time to plug it in.

In conclusion I guess I always try to answer the question of “for the money, would I buy this bike”? Retail this bike is $2599 which isn’t too bad a price for everything that’s included. This one has a couple of options with the suspension post (+99) and bigger battery (+$200) but that still doesn’t add up to more than 3 grand. Winter is coming and I could likely be convinced to buy this bike. It’s seriously fun to ride on a casual day, urban, beer bike run AND a great city commuter too.

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