With its chunky fat tires, 14-speed gears and centrally-located electric motor, the Hanebrink all-terrain vehicle looks like a fun ride. Built to cope with a multitude of off-road situations with style and speed, the pedal-assist electric bike is classified as a bicycle throughout the U.S. so should also be good for popping down to the local mall and hauling back the week's shopping on the rear cargo rack. It's also managed to claim first place in the very first Interbike Hill Climb Challenge. Let's have a closer look...

It will be of little surprise to learn that the Hanebrink all-terrain vehicle was designed by six time Mountain Bike national class champion and former U.S. National Team member Dan Hanebrink. It's based on 1993's Extreme Terrain fat tire pedal bike and is made to order at the Fortune Hanebrink workshop at Big Bear Lake, California. Echoing the philosophy of many electric assist bicycle makers, Hanebrink says: "We are not trying to replace standard bicycles, we want to replace cars and trucks."

The bike has its 600 Watt brushless electric motor positioned in the middle of the frame – just above the pedal crank – to optimize center of gravity, improve maneuverability and provide stability. The motor can power the vehicle up to 20 mph in the highest of the dual range 14 gears without pedaling but the rider should be able to get higher speeds with a little bit of clever gear know-how and a generous helping of rhythm.

"The motor is geared through the bicycle gearing so we recommend some pedaling to shift gears if you are looking to achieve the maximum speed from the motor," the company's Kane Fortune explained to Gizmag. "Power shifting is possible though because it is a bicycle we recommend pedaling through a gear shift. As long as you are in the correct bicycle gear, your pedaling will always allow you to add speed with just minor effort. In a great pedal rhythm, riders can reach speeds up to 35 mph."

The Hanebrink all-terrain vehicle's lithium ion 10 amp hour battery (LiFePO4) will give the bike enough juice for about an hour's use on a single charge, which will take three hours. The rear rack could have up to five batteries fitted which will extend the run time to over five hours. The wide aluminum rear rack is otherwise capable of carrying over 100 pounds of cargo.

The bike has a 6061- T6 aircraft seamless aluminum tube frame, hydraulic disk brakes and a carbon fiber handlebars where the throttle and motor controller is mounted. The pedal-power hardware comes courtesy of Shimano and the wheels and hubs are made by Hanebrink. Those impressive-looking 20 x 8-inch tubeless tires complete the specifications.

Both pedal-only and hybrid pedal/electric versions are assembled to order, the former weighing in at about 45 pounds and the latter about 80 pounds, depending on configuration. Fortune told Gizmag that there'll be more models added to the range next year and that the company is currently looking into securing availability from national and international dealers.

Until then, the only way to get hold of the Hanebrink all-terrain vehicle is from Fortune Hanebrink. Hybrid electric pricing starts at US$5,500 and Fortune told us that "both pedal and the pedal electric hybrid are considered bicycles in the majority of the U.S. but State laws do vary nationwide."

The bike recently took first place at the Interbike Hill Climb Challenge, a third of a mile sprint up a six per cent gradient hill. Fortune powered in front of professional riders to secure a decisive win in the first of an annual competition especially created for electric assist bikes. The race was sponsored by the Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA).

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