Depending on your frame of reference, $2,800 may not sound like a bargain price, but considering the Bosch motor, upgraded 500 watt hour battery pack, advanced Intuvia display panel, and the many frame size and style options that this bike offers… I think it’s an incredible value. The Bulls Cross E is a city style ebike that would make an excellent commuting platform or casual neighborhood ride. It comes standard with nearly every accessory you could want and they all match and fit properly. It’s fairly comfortable thanks to a name brand saddle, suspension fork, ergonomic grips, and adjustable stem but starting with the optimal frame size and style should not be overlooked as they are generally not an option on cheaper products. When you combine the correct size with some well integrated comfort features, you end up with a bike that you can ride further before feeling uncomfortable, and that’s a huge deal on an electric bike rated from 30 to 100+ miles per charge. Instead of a one size fits all approach, the Cross E caters to your needs. Want the easiest frame to mount and don’t mind a bit of frame flex? Then the wave step-thru model is best… want to look a bit sportier and improve stiffness but still have an easier time mounting? Then the mixte mid-step model is best… trying to optimize stiffness, power transfer, and possibly make the bike easier to lift and hang on some car racks? Then the traditional diamond high-step is your best choice. As a guy, I love that the mixte frame looks a bit more masculine but still provides lower stand-over height and love that Bulls chose a color scheme that looks professional and appeals to both men and women. There are so many little details to discuss about this electric bicycle, and they are all listed in the stats section above and mentioned in the video, but they could be easy to overlook or not appreciate if you haven’t seen as many electric bicycles as I have. The only area I would even think about upgrading is the seat post. I’d consider swapping the 30.9 mm rigid Aluminum post with a suspension post to provide a bit more cushion because my back and neck are extra sensitive from a sports injury years ago. Keep in mind, if you think about swapping the post out, it will raise the minimum saddle height by a few inches and thus impact your fit. Only go for this if you don’t mind the saddle being a bit higher.
Driving the Cross E is an internally geared mid-motor from Bosch. It’s not their fastest or most powerful model, but it is their smoothest, quietest, and longest range because it sips power. The Bosch Active Line Cruise is the same size and weight as the high-powered Performance models but has a slightly different styled. It offers 200 watts nominal with peak 500+ watts and up to 48 Newton meters of torque. Compared to the CX motor which offers 75 Nm, it’s weaker, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Cross E was designed for smooth, paved environments where acceleration isn’t encumbered by rocks and trail obstacles. It moves efficiently, even without motor assistance, thanks to larger 700c (28″ diameter) wheels and hybrid tires. And the tires Bulls opted for here are made from puncture resistant material and have reflective stripes on the side. When you pair a locking short-travel suspension fork with those firm tires (rated to 75 PSI) you get a smooth coasting machine. I guess what I’m trying to convey here is that the Active Line motor fits the use case and build choices of the bike. Yep, it’s a bit slower and weaker, but it works just fine. And just like all of the other Bosch motors right now, it delivers shift detection to reduce strain on the chain, sprockets, and derailleur. With eight gears to shift through and a mid-level component group (Shimano Alivio), I feel that the overall pedaling experience and reliability are good.
Powering the Cross E is a Bosch Powerpack 500 rack-mounted battery (despite the demo model in the video having only a Powerpack 400). To me, this battery is almost overkill! Expect excellent range because of the Active Line motor and efficient tires. The battery contains Lithium-ion batteries that are known for being lightweight and long lasting, the pack weighs ~5.8 lbs and charges in roughly 4.5 hours from empty. You can charge the battery while mounted in the rack or slide it out and bring it into your room or office. Note that the first half of the battery charges faster and might only take an hour and a half or two to fill because the cells aren’t having to balance. Bosch offers two chargers and I cannot say for sure which one you’ll get with this ebike. They are both relatively light and compact but one puts out 4 Amps and the other just 2 Amps. Considering that this bike has the larger battery and nicer Bosch Intuvia display panel, I wouldn’t be surprised if it came with the 4 Amp. And you’ll have no problem taking that charger with you because the bike comes with a really great rack. Consider grabbing a trunk bag or panniers at your local shop. And, to really extend the life of the battery, I suggest storing it in a cool, dry location. Extreme heat and cold can wear the cells down more quickly. Part of what you’re paying for on this bike is the Bosch name which promises quality and longevity. Their battery designs are backward compatible so far which makes finding and replacing packs easier. You get a two-year comprehensive warranty on the bike because that’s what Bosch offers and I hear from shops frequently that they rarely ever have issues.
To operate the bike, just charge that battery and slide it into the rack interface. Make sure it’s locked securely and then press the power button on the display panel. The Intuvia display is my favorite, now that Bosch has a smaller Bosch Purion model, because it’s easy to read and has a USB charging port built into the right side. With a cheap adapter cable you can charge your phone on the go and take advantage of the high capacity battery. The display panel is greyscale but backlit by a faint blue glow. It can be swiveled forward and back to reduce glare while riding and even removed completely for safe storage! Considering that this bike weighs nearly 60 lbs, I really appreciate the quick release wheels, seat, battery, and display panel because they make it so versatile for transport or maintenance. The display panel has a bunch of settings that can be explored by holding reset and i together once it’s on, and you can navigate through the four levels of assist that it offers by pressing + or – on the independent button pad. This pad is positioned very close to the left grip, making it easy and safe to use while riding. It produces a tactile click which lets you keep your eyes on the road vs. looking down to the display for confirmation. I usually ride efficient Bosch powered bikes like this with the two lowest levels of assist but might explore the third (Sport) here because of the weaker motor. All in all, the display interface is great except that you cannot turn off backlighting. You can press the lightbulb icon to turn the integrated lights on or off, but not the backlighting of the display.
Other highlights of this bike include a cafe lock with cable insert that uses the same key as the battery pack, integrated lights that run off the main battery, plastic fenders that have extra support arms to keep them quiet (plastic is light and durable but tends to be noisier), a well-positioned kickstand with adjustable length, a bell, and hydraulic disc brakes. Getting up to speed, being efficient, and feeling comfortable are all important but stopping is critical. Hydraulic brakes tend to be easier to actuate and in this case, adjustable-reach levers allow you to dial in fit. Whether you have small hands, large hands, or wear gloves for part of the year, these levers are going to fit you well with a bit of quick adjustment. Staying clean really matters if you’re cycling to work daily (and have to deal with wet conditions) and so, in addition to fenders, Bulls has also included a plastic chain cover to keep your pant leg clean and snag-free. It may see minor and obvious but so many other bikes don’t do this (many which are mountain or trail bikes… but some city bikes as well). Coming back to that price point, yes, it’s way more than some of the online-only direct to consumer products. But you do get something for your money here. This is an electric bike that I would expect to last longer, perform better, and be safer than many alternatives. The convenience of integrated lights that won’t be left on accidentally or stolen so easily is great. The list of Pro’s and Con’s below goes into more details and links to some good accessories but the vast dealer network of Bulls retailers can also help you to get this thing setup right for your needs. Really think about the frame style that works best for your body and then pick the correct size. One final little note, they even threw in a mini-pump that fits into the rear rack! To me, that’s awesome, and makes this a candidate for e-bike touring. Big thanks to Bulls for partnering with me on this review and inviting me out to their headquarters for back to back test rides. It allowed for a better comparison of motors and appreciation for the differences between commuter models (of which they have several). Frame specifics for the Cross E here are: Wave: 45/50cm, Mixte: 45/50cm, Diamond: 48/53cm.
- This is one of the most feature complete electric bikes I have tested, especially at the $2,800 price point, you get lights, fenders, a bell, adjustable kickstand, mini-pump, and a cafe and cable lock that are keyed to match the battery so you don’t end up with extra keys weighing down your keychain (you get four copies of the key vs. just with many other ebikes)
- It offers an exceedingly comfortable ergonomic experience through a combination of basic suspension fork, gel saddle, swept-back handlebar with ergonomic grips and adjustable-angle stem, consider adding a 30.9 mm seat post suspension for even more back and neck comfort if you ride on varied terrain (but note that it will raise the minimum saddle height by ~3 inches)
- Your choice from four frame sizes and three frame styles (wave, mixte, and diamond) allows for proper fit and confidence when riding, you can optimize for stiffness and power transfer with the diamond frame or easy-approach and stand-over with the wave
- Sometimes, plastic fenders can rattle and produce more noise than Aluminum or Steel but Bulls has opted for nicer fenders here with additional support struts so they aren’t so loud… I did hear the kickstand chatter a bit when I went off of the curb
- Hydraulic disc brakes tend to require less hand strength and feel smooth and powerful, you get mid-level Tektro brakes on the Cross E and the levers offer adjustable reach to accommodate different hand sizes
- In addition to a nice set of fenders, the Bulls Cross E also comes with a plastic chain cover to keep your right pant leg clean and snag-free
- The Bosch Intuvia display panel is large and easy to read even if you’re sitting up straight and further away, I love that it has a Micr-USB port built in so you can charge your phone or other portable electronic device while riding, use cables like this for many devices and a USB-C or Lightening cable depending on your phone
- With eight gears and a mid-level derailleur, you get enough cadence range for climbing or cruising at the 20 mph top assisted speed, the Bosch motor offers shift detection to keep it smooth and protect the hardware a bit more than many other ebikes I have tested
- The rear rack is impressive, it uses standard gauge tubing, which should work for most panniers, and has two slots for lower clips or bungee cords
- Bulls is an international e-bike company with many dealers and a solid two-year+ warranty, this means the bike should be assembled more professionally, fit to you, and supported over the long run
- Overall, I like the color scheme that Bulls chose for this model because it’s gender neutral and professional, the black cables, grey battery, and motor casing all blend into the black frame
- The suspension fork is kind of basic with limited adjustability, it’s a spring design which weighs more but at least it comes with lockout so you can stop dive (when the bike tips forward under hard braking) and increase efficiency by stopping bob as you ride if the terrain is smooth
- Weighing in at nearly 60 pounds (27 kg), this is not an especially lightweight electric bicycle, the fenders, rack, lights, kickstand, longer bars, gel saddle, mini-pump etc. all add up… but at least the battery and display panel are removable and both wheels have quick release for easier flat fixes and maintenance
- If you opt for the wave step-thru frame style, there may be some frame flex because of the rear mounted battery (and this flex could increase if you load up the rack), it’s not the end of the world and I noticed a cross-bar reinforcing the lowest section of frame, but it is a compromise in strength to optimize for easy-mounting
- The Bosch centerdrive motor systems use a smaller than normal sprocket which spins 2.5x per crank arm revolution and this tends to produce a bit more noise (especially at high RPM), the Active Line Cruise model is the quietest version because it isn’t as zippy or powerful as the Performance Line models but it still produces some extra noise
- To save costs, some of the accessories are generic or off-brand including the fenders, non-locking grips, and lights but other areas are still high-end including the Selle Royal Saddle and AXA frame and cable lock
- I didn’t have an issue with this during my test ride but have noticed that some adjustable angle stems can get loose over time if you ride on bumpy terrain, just keep an eye on the stem and consider swapping it with a rigid stem someday if you do have issues, it’s a good way to determine which angle and length you like by adjusting over time and then narrowing down and buying one that’s rigid
- I’m not a huge fan of plastic pedals with rubber tread because they can get a little bit slippery in wet riding conditions, but at least they won’t scrape your shins if you slip off, these pedals are probably fine for urban riding and can be replaced with something like this that’s affordable and good looking
- I love that the high-step and mid-step frames come with bottle cage bosses (and they all have a rack) but the deep step-thru model does not have them