BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON — Fat bikes have been around for decades. While they’re typically heavier than traditional bikes, their extra-large tires provide added traction and float on sand, snow and other tricky terrain. They’re definitely not a good fit for everyone, but fat bikes have their place.
So what happens when you add a second tire to the front of a fat bike? It weighs more, that’s for sure. But it also gains float, traction and stability. Whether or not that’s a justifiable tradeoff depends on who you talk to.
Peter Godlewski, inventor of the Rungu Juggernaut, first toyed with the idea of a “fat trike” as he worked on designing a bike that could climb stairs. Ultimately, he realized that two front tires offered the added traction and stability necessary for such a feat.
As he tested his three-wheeled contraption around his Southern California home, he discovered that it cruised on sandy beaches better than any bike. An avid surfer, Godlewski realized that his invention would be most beneficial as an off-road cargo bike for board sport enthusiasts. By attaching his surfboard to a trailer behind the trike or on an overhead rack (yes, the trike can handle an overhead rack), Godlewski could traverse the hills, railroad tracks and miles of sand between his house and his favorite surfing spots.
Godlewski refined the design, incorporating disc brakes and an aluminum frame. He launched the Juggernaut on his website and before long cyclists and adventurers from around the world were placing orders.
One group of people that's shown a lot of interest is those with neurological disabilities. If they struggle with balance, these trikes give them the sensation of riding a bike, but with more stability and safety.
–Peter Godlewski, inventor of the Rungu Juggernaut
Additional customers came from a demographic that Godlewski hadn’t even considered when he designed the trike.
“One group of people that’s shown a lot of interest is those with neurological disabilities,” Godlewski said. “If they struggle with balance, these trikes give them the sensation of riding a bike, but with more stability and safety.”
The sales success was encouraging, but Godlewski wasn’t done innovating. The trikes were still difficult to ride in some conditions. And at about 55 pounds, they could feel awfully heavy on a long ride. So he added a 2-kilowatt electric motor powered by a 12 amp-hour lithium battery. Equipped with this hub motor, the Juggernaut lives up to its name and powers over rugged terrain like a machine.
Godlewski recently brought a couple of his trikes to Utah for a demo in Big Cottonwood Canyon. I was in attendance and took the Juggernaut far off the road and down into the snow along the riverbed. It scooted along like a miniature snow machine and only bogged down a couple times when I got into the deep, slushy stuff. With the motor providing extra power, I could actually charge up hills with no problem.
Several drivers stopped on the side of the road to gape at the strange-looking trikes. A few even tromped out into the snow so they could take one for a spin. It’s a testament to the stability and control of the Juggernaut that there were no crashes as a bunch of fair-weather bikers plowed through snow banks at high speed on a trike they’d never ridden before.
While the Big Cottonwood demo went off without a hitch, Godlewski insists there are a few more bugs to work out before the motor-equipped Juggernaut hits the market.
“We’re nearly there,” he said. “The standard version of the trike is currently for sale on the website and we’re gonna launch U.S. sales of the electric model in May.”
About the Author: Grant OlsenGrant Olsen joined the KSL.com contributor team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. You can contact him at email@example.com.