AWD Fat E-Bike Review: PWR Dually Brings 2-Wheel Power to ‘Adventure Biking’


The PWR Dually gets its name from its dual-drive wheels, but how it distributes power between them enhances the riding experience.

The PWR Dually is an off-road adventure e-bike, not a mountain e-bike. With its fat tires and signature AWD design, it excels on trails with loose dirt and bounces over grassy fields.

Rather than trying to break it by hooking off the nearest jumpsI tested this bike around the city on paths, up and down dirt trails, and across snowy fields to get a better feel for how it performs and who would enjoy it the most.

In short, the PWR Dually stands out from competitors with its unique two-wheel drive, which delivers torque and fun for anyone looking for an off-road e-bike for casual rides or crunchy commutes. It’s priced competitively with other fat-tire e-bikes that don’t provide the same power control.

(Photo/MT Elliott)

PWR Dually E-Bike Review

Let’s start with Dual-Drive, the bike’s namesake, take on an AWD bike and its standout feature. The Dually is powered by 500W hub motors on each wheel, which are wired together to relay traction readings.

This last bit is the unique part. Instead of sending the same power to both wheels, the Traction Control detects when traction slips in one wheel and diverts it to the one with greater traction.

That’s how it works. I’ll delve into how it feels to ride below.

With a listed 45-mile range, you’ll want to know where you’re going and be conservative in your battery life estimates. I didn’t test the range to failure because I didn’t want to be left riding a 60+ pound bike home. The estimated battery power on display proved a reliable gauge in my real-world riding.

After my longest ride, the battery took about 5 hours to recharge fully (PWR lists 4-6 hours for a fill from empty). Additionally, the battery held its charge between weeks-long periods between use.

This powerful torque is also why PWR positions the Dually as a hauler. I didn’t test the bike with an off-road capable trailer, but it’s certainly powerful enough to haul gear for a day at the beach or the hunting stand.

The digital interface displayed the bike’s speed, power setting, and battery status. Changing the power meant pressing the designated up or down button, which took some concentration to shift on the fly. A long press of the power buttons turned the bike on and off.

There’s a throttle on the inner portion of the left handlebar. It helped maintain the drive power without pedaling. This feature was convenient when starting from a cold stop to dart across the street, and it lets me keep speed through turns, providing better traction.

PWR Dually ebike review
Testing the PWR Dually’s Dual Drive on iced-over fields and paths; (photo/MT Elliott)

The Ride

The PWR Dually came fully unlocked at 28 mph. A large bike moving at that speed with little effort on the pedals will bring a smile to your face. Conversely, it can confuse cars and other cyclists when a fat-tire bike approaches that fast on city streets and bike paths.

I came to enjoy the motor-cutoff aspect of the brakes. Obviously, it’s a smart feature, so the brakes aren’t fighting the motor, but you can shut off the drive by tapping the brake and then coasting for a stop up ahead. (If you pedal, you engage the motors again.)

To toy with the Traction Control, I stood above the frame, held the front brake, and twisted the e-assist throttle. The bike lurched a bit, and then the back wheel began spinning out in loose dirt while I held it back. It didn’t look as cool as a motorcycle burnout, but it gave me a feel for Traction Control works.

To test the traction while riding, I hit a steep grassy berm at 10 mph and then stood up to mash up the hill. With my own weight now distributed forward, the front wheel still suffered from slippage on the grass while the back wheel pushed on. And then the front wheel stabilized, and its torque seemingly pulled me uphill.

Once the seasons changed and winter hit Denver, I finally got to test the bike out on some snow. I unlocked the front shock and rode the Dually at 20 mph across a few inches of choppy, iced-over fields. The bike was quick to respond to wheels slipping out on the ice and uneven ground.

I could notice a slight delay in the torque pulsing back and forth to keep up, but I was also distracted by having to put a foot down to stay upright. Also, the push-pull of the torque/traction adjusting added to the overall bumpiness of riding too fast across uneven terrain. Turns out, it’s not a motorcycle.

After nearly falling a few times lost its charm, I decided it was time to turn down the power to a more reasonable level (3) and continue with a less sketchy ride. From there, the ride was less extreme and more confident. I was still bucking up and down across a field, but sliding out felt unlikely.

 Dually handlebar
(Photo/MT Elliott)

PWR Dually Main Specs

If you’re thinking you’d ride the bike as a nine-speed and only engage the e-assist when needed, think again. At 66 pounds and with 4-inch fat tires, the only time I’d try to ride without an assist is while coasting downhill.

There are eight power-assist levels. The first is there to get you going from a cold start.

Level 2 felt like it was champing at the bit, ready to boost from the slightest pedaling. At level 3, I was cruising. Level 4 served as a road-worthy assist but could get squirrely (and fun) off-road.

At Level 5, I was hitting the class 3 top speed of 28 mph, and your leg motion seems more like a habit than an effective transfer of leg power.

The front fork’s 95mm of travel was enough to damp the ride when slow-cruising across the dirt with pockets of grass. Any faster, and the hardtail frame and seat made things uncomfortable. On pavement, I preferred to lock the suspension down for a more responsive ride and let the fat tires absorb any bumps.

The PWR Dually has some mountain bike looks and geometry, but it was too hard to tell if I was getting any flex from the frame. That said, I did like that the top tube angles down toward the seat. It made getting off and on easier.

One annoyance was a lack of a kickstand. It was just too heavy not to have a sturdy kickstand with a wide footprint. One glitch I noted during assembly was that the back brake took a lot of adjustment for me to have confidence in it. And that was after a bike mechanic helped out. Also, the wire that connects the front motor to the drive system was pretty loose. I eventually zip-tied it to the fork to keep it out of the way.

rear wheel and components PWR Dually
(Photo/MT Elliott)

PWR Dually Specs

  • Reported weight: 66 lbs.
  • Assist levels: 8
  • Gear: Shimano Acera 9-Speed
  • Suspension: RST Guide MLC with 95 mm (3.74 in.) of travel
  • Motor power: 1,130W peak/ 750W sustained
  • Battery power range: 696Wh, up to 45 miles
  • Top speed: 28 mph
  • Size: 26″ x 4″
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc, 203mm rotors
  • Price: $3,500

Pro

  • 8 assist levels
  • Smooth-shifting
  • Confidential traction

Cons

  • No kickstand
  • Unwieldy wires

Who’s It For?

While this bike certainly functions in the city, the PWR Dually is positioned best for rural recreationists or commuters who can ride on dirt and gravel trails. Think of this as a fat tire bike first, and then the e-bike element as a way to ride longer and easier on steep, uneven terrain.

I think mountain town residents would enjoy this bike on long commutes on paths and dirt trails in the summer and make use of its traction on snowy winter days.

This off-road e-bike is an interesting alternative to an ATV for large landowners getting around their property. Likewise, hunters are learning that e-bikes are a quiet way to get to a hunting stand without leaving behind the smell of gas.

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