- A conversion-built full suspension mid-drive electric bike that's optimized to be light weight and efficient
- Good frame balance with battery weight kept low and central, the pack is locking and can be charged on or off the bike for convenient storage and trasport
- Upgraded RockShox air suspension fork with lockout, hydraulic disc brakes, decent six month warranty, only available in one frame size at 21" and brake levers lack motor inhibitor switch
The BM-Apollos is a full suspension electric bike that’s well suited to trail and mountain riding with 120 mm of travel in the front and 190 mm in the rear. You get nimble 26″ wheels, responsive hydraulic disc brakes and a battery pack that keeps weight low and central on the frame. As with all of the BMEBIKES for 2015, this one uses a Bafang mid-drive that fun to ride in throttle mode but very efficient and capable in pedal assist, especially using the nine speed cassette for leverage. This is a conversion style electric bike meaning BMEBIKES hand picked the frame, suspension, wheelset and all other accessories to pair with an ebike motor system and battery. I feel like they selected great parts and are offering a quality ride here at a decent price. While it only comes in one frame size and one color, it rides well and looks good. The one complaint I have here is the lack of motor inhibiting brake levers and shift sensing but otherwise it’s solid and the customer support and warranty are better than if you tried to build one of these yourself.
Driving this bike is a BBS01 middrive motor that’s mounted directly to the bottom bracket. It’s a compact, versatile drive system that keeps weight low and centered on the frame while leveraging your rear cassette for efficiency and strength. Even though it’s not as sophisticated as a Bosch or Impulse centerdrive, it’s a big step up from the older EVELO and iGo mid-drives I’ve tested. One way they’ve really supported the motor here is to add a custom CNC made chain ring adapter along with a smaller Race Face NW (narrow wide) sprocket. The narrow wide teeth reduce chain slip and the part is available in black, red or green for a bit of style. In fact, when you order from BMEBIKES you can have them customize many aspects of the bike and that’s unique in the space. The motor itself is compact, quiet and surprisingly strong for a 350 watt design… in practice, I regularly topped out at over 600 watts and didn’t struggle too much to ascend moderate hills, even in throttle only mode. I was told the amp output on this battery / controller setup is around 18 amps which is slightly higher than average for the BBS01 which might account for the increased power. The biggest complaint I have about how the motor performs actually has to do with the braking system. Unlike many cadence sensing electric bikes, this one does not include motor inhibitors on the brake levers and that means you can sometimes end up competing with the motor to stop. It wasn’t as much of an issue with this model as it was on the higher powered BM-Helio but still worth mentioning because this is an off-road bike that may encounter difficult terrain.
The battery powering the BM-Apollos electric bike is packed with premium Panasonic cells that deliver a higher discharge rate (higher C Rating), offer higher energy density (lighter for the same amount of stored energy) and extended life (should age well). To really take care of the pack, store it in a cool dry place and try to keep it between 20% and 80% charged when not in use. The cells are all 18650 sized and the aluminum alloy shell containing them is one of the sleekest I’ve seen. I realize that from the side it may look long and rather large but from the top down it is narrow and really well reinforced on the downtube. The battery pack includes an integrated keyed lock for security and can be charged on or off the frame. I really came to appreciate this battery for the price, weight and aesthetic balance it offers and even though it’s about average size with 36 volts and an 8.8 amp hour capacity, you actually get a pretty decent range depending on how you ride. For a 170 pound rider on flat pavement I’d estimate 20 miles using throttle only… but if you switch to pedal assist and just tap the throttle occasionally to start or get up a small hill, you could easily double that.
The drive system on this bike offers a lot of modes but really isn’t that complicated to use and the cockpit is clean and intuitive. Once the battery is secured to the frame you press a rubberized power button at the center of the control pad (which is mounted near the left grip). You do have to reach past the trigger throttle here but it’s doable without completely letting go of the handle bar. Once activated, the backlit Bafang display panel (front and center) shows your speed, battery level, assist level (preset 1-3 but configurable to 5 or 9 levels), watt output and trip distance. Unfortunately, the display doesn’t swivel easily to reduce glare without loosening it with a tool and is not removable so it may take more wear through exposure. Otherwise, it’s sleek and easy to read. When you first turn the system on, assist is actually set to zero and unfortunately you cannot activate the throttle in this mode… that’s one of my gripes because sometimes you don’t want assist to accidentally kick in while navigating difficult terrain. Once you click up to 1, 2 or 3 pedal assist becomes active and anytime you turn the cranks, the motor begins to spin. In any of the assist levels you can also use the trigger throttle for an extra boost as an override but power is somewhat limited by the mode you’re in. This is another area where I feel like the system could be improved, I’d prefer the throttle just go to full power in any assist mode because it’s a variable speed design and you might need the extra power in a pinch. I do like that they chose a trigger throttle here instead of a half-twist design because this keeps the grips more secure feeling. As mentioned earlier, the mid-drive motor helps you pull the chain and therefore benefits from the rear cassette just like you do when pedaling. If you’re climbing a hill, just switch to a lower gear to help the motor. I’ve heard stories about the BBS01 overheating with the standard sized sprocket so the decision to use a smaller sized one here for off-road use seems like a great choice. With nine gears to choose from, the system is very capable and offers a smooth cadence from zero to ~25 mph when pedaling (the motor cuts out around 20).
I love full suspension electric bicycles because my back and neck get sore when traveling at higher speeds over longer distances… and especially off road. The BME Apollos costs more than the other models but the components are great. The Shimano Deore derailleur, Avid Elixir 1 brakes and light weight air suspension by RockShox perform well on trails and rough mountainous terrain. It’s definitely possible to build an ebike like this yourself but then you don’t get the warranty and with the custom flat black paint job here, all of the wires and cables are pretty well hidden visually. An alternative would be to go with a purpose built full suspension middrive like the IZIP E3 Peak DS for ~$600 more and you would get two frame sizes there but the throttle cuts out at ~6 mph which I don’t love. Both of these electric bikes (and most full suspension offerings I’ve seen) lack bottle cage bosses so you might want to consider a CamelBak or seat adapter for porting water. There’s no rack mount braze ons or room for fenders but that’s not really the point, you could always get a beam rack if needed. One final note is the inclusion of the front derailleur (which comes stock with the frames that BMEBIKES converts). This hardware is not functional and I imagine they simply left it as a chain guide to reduce drops. All things considered, it’s a capable cool looking bike at a value price point.
- Nice upgrades including RockShox air suspension (32 sanctions, incrimental lockout), Avid Elixir 1 hydraulic disc brakes (160 mm rotors), Shimano Deore Shadow drivetrain and Race Face NW front sprocket with custom made chainring adapter
- Excellent weight distribution with the motor and battery low and centered on the frame, also relatively light weight for a full suspension model at ~48 pounds
- High quality battery made with Panasonic Lithium-ion cells, they should last longer and have a higher discharge rate than cheaper packs, I also like the the pack doesn’t require its own on/off switch
- Sturdy reinforced battery bracket, in addition to using the standard braze-ons BMEBIKES also adds rivnuts which create more mounting points on the downtube for strength
- Fairly affordable given the solid performance and true off-road capabilities, it also looks nice in all-black and isn’t busy or cheap looking
- Independent button pad is mounted close enough to reach without taking your hand off the grip, the trigger throttle is also nearby and doesn’t compromise the grip the way a twist throttle might which is a good solution for off-road use
- Quick release wheels, front and rear, thanks to the mid-drive motor… this makes servicing and trail maintenance easier as well as transporting the bike if you have to stuff it in your car
- Battery is locking and removable for convenient charging and reduced weight during transport
- Six month warranty is better than nothing and the company has been around since 2010 and has a retail shop where you can see the bikes or pick up locally
- Cable management isn’t as clean or aesthetically pleasing as with a purpose built ebike (easier to snag when riding or transporting)
- The BBS01 mid-drive motor hangs down a bit below the chain ring and may come into contact with logs, rocks and other obstacles when riding off-road, the case feels sturdy but on a full suspension frame like this with greater downward travel it may become more vulnerable
- The BBS01 mid-drive motor does not offer shift sensing and may mash gears as a result, ease off the pedals while shifting to reduce wear on the chain and sprockets
- Brake levers do not include a motor cutoff switch and the pedal assist activation and deactivation can lag a bit… so depending on the terrain, the motor is not as responsive and you may end up fighting the motor with your brakes
- The Apollos lacks any sort of water bottle cage adapters so you might need to wear a Camelbak or get saddle rail adapters like this
- Display panel can be adjusted to swivel forward and back if the mounting point is loosened (this can reduce glare) but is not easily removable for safe storage
- Only available in one frame size which is a bit larger at 21 inches and in high-step, may not be ideal for shorter riders
- Official Site: https://bmebikes.myshopify.com/products/bm-apollos-27-5
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/sgv9JSMbhZZFbMoXA