For a couple of weeks, I had the one thing my 12-year-old self would have sold his soul for. I had an electric bicycle from Indian Motorcycles that has a top speed of 28 mph and fat, knobby tires for throwing up dirt and flying across the countryside.
The Indian eFTR Hooligan is the adult version of the banana seat Huffy, but without the skinned knees, questionable homemade ramps for getting air and constant chain and sprocket maintenance.
Well, at least without that last bit.
I rode the Hooligan around the Greenway in Cheyenne on the dirt trails behind Cahill Park, and wherever else I thought I could go without disturbing any grizzlies or moose.
The Hooligan has five pedal-assist speeds, controlled with a simple button push, up or down, on the left handlebar.
The zero setting means it’s all on you to churn those pedals and move. This is fine if you’re on a flat and aren’t intending to get much speed. The tube frame and battery on the Hooligan make it a heavy bike.
The next four settings, appropriately 1 through 4, add assistance to the pedaling via the electric motor on the rear hub. The higher the number, the more assistance that’s added. These work in a way similar to bicycle gears and can be treated as such while riding.
One is like a lower gear where you’re still doing most of the work and 4 is like a higher gear where your work is compounded many times. For normal, leisurely riding, these five settings give you a foundational setup for getting around with varying levels of added thrust, as it were, just as you’d do with the gears on any other bicycle.
Then comes the throttle. That’s on the traditional right-hand of the handlebar.
Set up to be used with a thumb, the throttle allows you to add motor power to your ride immediately. Or, ride without pedaling at all, at up to about 20 mph depending on factors like terrain, rider weight, and so forth.
My helmet was pretty heavy, so I wasn’t able to get up to that top speed with just the throttle.
That thumb throttle is variable, so more press equals more added power. Short bursts to get up a short hill are possible just as are hard bursts to build up speed before doing something stupid.
The removable battery on the Hooligan (removed with a key) has about 13 to 30 miles of charge on it, depending on how heavy you are and how much pedaling you decide to do. It recharges in a few hours from any wall outlet and being able to pull it off the eFTR easily to do that makes life a lot easier.
Brakes, for those who for some reason want to slow down, work just as they would on any bicycle. Squeeze the handle for front, rear or both handles for both. These are lightly assisted as well, working on a sort of pneumatic setup.
Once these controls are understood, the Indian Hooligan is off to the hills.
Its big, knobby tires make off-pavement riding a lot of fun. It doesn’t take long to figure out that turning a corner and goosing the throttle results in rear wheel slides. And standing up (since the bike has no suspension) on the pedals is a solid plan for keeping the tailbone intact.
Catching air isn’t easy when bike and rider are likely pushing the 300-pound mark, but with enough lack of good judgment, it can be accomplished. Somehow, this did not result in AMR being summoned or any kind of emergency surgery.
And lo didst my beard flow beautifully in the wind.
As a practical bicycle for just going A to B or for exercise, the Indian eFTR Hooligan is probably not the best choice. For maximum fun and good times? Yep, way better suited for that role.
The Hooligan retails for about $4,000 if you buy and ship, and for a little less if you get one at your local Indian Motorcycle dealer.