- A sporty speed pedelec with beautiful motor, battery, and able integration, the grey and black color scheme help the drive systems blend in, three frame styles to choose from (wave, step-thru, diamond)
- Bosch Performance Line Speed motor offers ~28 mph support, shift detection, and 120 RPM pedal matching, so you can spin comfortably without losing support, smaller Purion display keeps the cockpit clean
- Premium Magura MT4E hydraulic disc brakes with larger 180 mm rotors are ebike specific, they activate bright-mode on the rear light when pulled, both lights are integrated and the tires are reflective and puncture resistant
- Great ergonomic options, the stem offers adjustable angle for upright or forward body position and is built onto a riser, ergonomic grips are decent but not locking, gel saddle and locking coil fork feel good, nice fenders, chain cover, and rack
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The Cross Mover Speed is one of my favorite 2018 models from Bulls, because it’s beautiful, comfortable, and fast! Over the years of reviewing ebikes, I have learned that with high speed comes more vibration and ultimately some neck and back stiffness. That’s especially true with efficient narrow tires and limited suspension. The Cross Mover does a good job of providing some suspension with the urban style coil fork because it provides compression adjust and lockout (for heavier riders and those times when you are on perfectly smooth pavement), and the tires aren’t so skinny that they leave you feeling every bump. The 28″x1.5″ Schwalbe Marathon Plus marries efficiency with safety and durability. These tires have Performance Line SmartGuard, which Schwalbe ranks as “Extreme” level protection, a 5 mm thick layer of flexible rubber that keeps sharp objects far from the inner tube. This is a big deal if you need your bike for daily commuting or are taking a longer tour across an unfamiliar region. Both wheels and the seat post collar come with quick release hardware, which makes changing flats and doing unplanned maintenance easier… but you might want to swap this out for security hardware if you park at a public rack daily. There are so many aspects to this electric bicycle, in large part because it is being produced in three very different frame styles. The wave deep step-thru is going to be less rigid and slightly heavier, but offer the easiest mounting and stabilization for riders with limited hip and knee mobility. The classic diamond high-step will be the sportiest and easiest to mount on hang-style car and bus racks. The mid-step (which they call step-thru) is my personal favorite, and what is shown in the video and images above. This frame combines stiffness with approachability. All three frames include bottle cage bosses which are positioned within reach, so you can grab your drink without getting off or really stretching. This might also be a good spot for a folding lock or mini-pump, and the locking cylinder used for the battery mount comes with a code so you can purchase ABUS accessories keyed-alike, and reduce clutter. Bulls has done an excellent job of reducing weight on this e-bike, it comes in around 53.6 lbs for the mid-step in size medium… even with the coil fork vs. air. The battery and motor weight are positioned low and center, and the Bosch Powerpack 500 is one of the lightest ~500 watt hour batteries I have tested. Considering that you get fenders, a chain cover, and a fully-featured rear rack (with spring latch, i-rack compatibility, and pannier rods) it’s very light indeed. Some quick complaints are the rattle sound that plastic fenders like these make on bumpy terrain (or when riding fast), the smaller Purion display panel which is not removable and has a disabled Micro-USB port (used only for diagnostics), the cheaper non-locking grips and basic pedals, and the headlight which is mounted on the suspension fork arch vs. the frame (and therefore will be less steady).
Driving this bike is one of the sportiest, and smartest, electric bike motors around today. It’s the Bosch Performance Line Speed, which offers up to 63 Newton meters of torque and 120 RPM pedal support. This means that it can start and climb well (even if you’re not in the optimal gear), and it will allow you to spin quickly to reduce leg muscle power and focus on cardio if that’s your preference. It is my preference, in fact, because I have a knee injury. Some other mid-drive electric bike systems (even Bosch’s own Active Line motors) max out around 100 or 110 RPM, so you literally have to switch gears in order to ride faster. It’s less of an issue when your max speed is ~20 mph, but it becomes very noticeable with a speed pedelec like this. The Performance Line motors have taken a unique approach with their chainring spec that makes them quick and efficient for the motor, but louder and possibly less efficient for you as the rider (if the bike is turned off or you’re trying to pedal beyond the supported speeds). They have a reduction gear inside that spins the chainring at 2.5 revolutions for each crank arm revolution. Bosch representatives have told me that it improves chain retention, but it also makes swapping chainring sizes less straightforward… because they are proprietary. It means that the chain cover is smaller and the chain itself is lower, but might allow for increased chain contact with the right chain stay when riding over bumpy terrain. I trust Bosch, have enjoyed this and other motors that they produce on many other leading electric bikes over the years, I feel that the trade-offs are worth it. One thing that is definitely a pro here, is the two-year comprehensive warranty and support from a wide network of Bosch-Certified dealers. I visit shops all over North America and many have told me that the Bosch drive systems are some of their most reliable, and that the company provides quick support with hardware that does need fixes or replacements.
Powering the bike, both lights, and the little backlit LCD display panel is a ~500 watt hour Lithium-ion battery pack called the Powerpack 500. It’s slightly above average in terms of capacity, and very lightweight at ~5.8 lbs. Bosch has been making and selling the smaller Powerpack 400 since 2013, and both packs share the same case dimensions, mounting interface, and charger! That means you can use existing packs that you might already own to extend your rides, get replacement packs cheaper, and borrow or rent this battery on-location all over the world. Traveling with electric bikes can be difficult, because high capacity Lithium-ion batteries are not allowed on most commercial flights. Bicycles however, can be shipped pretty easily. The battery rental possibility really intrigues me with an ebike like this because I think it would make an excellent trekking platform. With a small tool kit, you can adjust the stem to be more upright and comfortable (for spotting traffic, chatting with friends, easing your back and wrists) or more forward and aerodynamic. With a speed pedelec motor, you are not going to get as much range per charge if you’re riding 20+ mph, due to air resistance… but that’s really up to you as the captain. You can always arrow down to lower levels of assist or simply pedal in such a way that the bike isn’t peaking out at the top ~28 mph speed. Other quick thoughts on this battery and the interface that Bulls has created. It’s sunk into the frame a bit to be as low as possible and blend into the design. It has a loop handle at the top for easier carrying and more secure transport in bags… you really don’t want to drop this $900 battery pack! It even has a 5-LED charge level indicator built into the left side, so you can remember if you charged it or not, without plugging it into the bike to check. I really appreciate how compact and lightweight the battery charger is as well. It uses a proprietary plug for safety, but doesn’t require any extra dongles or adapters to charge on vs. off the bike, and it puts out a higher 4 amps vs. just 2 amps on most others, so you don’t have to wait as long for a fill-up.
Activating the electric systems on this bike is fairly straightforward. You charge and mount the battery then press the power button on the top edge of the little display panel, which is mounted within reach of the left grip. This is the Bosch Purion display, one of the nicer compact offerings on the market right now. It cannot be swiveled to reduce glare easily, is not removable for protection, does not show as many menus, and does not have an active Micro-USB charging port like the larger Bosch Intuvia display. However, it does keep the handlebars open for adding a GPS or phone mount, and may not get damaged as easily. This is a very popular display panel for electric mountain bikes, which often strive to go “below the radar” and limit fancy e-bike accessories that could get broken in a crash or attract unwanted attention. I have grown to accept the Purion, but do have a few tips for use… The + and – button pads, which raise and lower assist power, are designed to click in at an angle. They are attached near the left edge of the control pad and pivot in towards the LCD. The right edge is really the sweet spot, I’ve noticed that sometimes the lower left and middle can be difficult to click in or just inconsistent. The screen itself glows faintly in white at all times, which shouldn’t draw much power, and is handy when it’s early morning or later at night and you need to read it. Once you get the hang of things, you really don’t have to look down at all, because you can feel and hear the clicks of the button pad. Holding the + button will turn the lights on and off. Again, the brake levers have built-in sensors that cause the rear light to go extra bright for added safety (this is a European requirement, as are the longer levers with ball ends). Holding the – button will cycle through trip distance, odometer, assist level, and range. And, the range menu is dynamic, so you can see the bike calculate how far it thinks you can go before the battery completely drains based on the last mile of riding, your current state of charge, and the chosen level of assist. This helps to make up for the 5-bar charge indicator which isn’t as precise as a 10-bar or percentage readout seen on some competing displays. I’d suggest that you strive to keep the battery above 20% to avoid straining the cells and avoid extreme heat and cold while storing it. Back to the Purion, on the lower edge of the control pad is a walk-mode button. Press it once and then hold the + button to have the motor slowly assist you when walking the bike. It’s useful for crowded non-bikeable areas, or if you get a flat tire, and not all companies have it enabled. I like that Bulls has left it open, and found that it’s useful even for climbing stairs with the bike.
In conclusion, the Bulls Cross Mover Speed is one of my top pics for Class 3 commuter platforms in 2018. It almost seems too comfortable to be a commuter; the saddle is wider than I’m used to seeing and the riser stem doesn’t exactly match the traditional “high speed” ebike… which is usually more forward-leaning. In practice, I think it all works very well. I felt stable riding at 28 mph and even tried no-hands for a bit. The tires struck that balance of efficiency and stability, and the bike didn’t wobble. The wave frame is going to be more flexy if you go that route, but the suspension adjustments and mid-frame battery position really help. If you compare this layout to the other wave frames from Bulls with rear mounted batteries, it’s a lot more capable at speed. Keep in mind that for this review, I was on the medium sized mid-step frame and that I am a 5’9″ fit male, weighing ~135 lbs. A few other details that I wanted to share here are the nice trigger shifters, which allow for two-way action on the higher shifter and multi-step on the lower shifter. The headlight produces a bright beam and has cutouts on the sides so it helps you to stand out more than others. There’s an extra long reflector just below the saddle (attached to the seat post) which could be blocked by the back of a jacket or a trunk bag, but would otherwise help increase your visual footprint. And, the fenders did rattle when I rode over bumpy sections of road, but the rear fender appears to be attached to the rack and secured well. Big thanks to Bulls for partnering with me on this post and providing a bunch of demo bikes back-to-back for comparison. This was one of my favorites for many reasons, and it does cost a bit more, but I still think it offers tremendous value. Just a few years back, you could hardly find any Bosch powered e-bike for under $4k, let alone one with so many great accessories and a beautiful aesthetic. I’ll do my best to answer any questions in the comments below, and you can connect with customers and enthusiasts in the Bulls Forums as well.
- Beautifully integrated motor, battery pack, and internally routed cables, the drive system really blends into the frame nicely, creating a premium look
- Excellent weight distribution, on all three frame styles the battery is mounted low and center on the frame, even stepped in a bit for added protection and a beautiful look
- I think it’s awesome that this electric bike is being produced in four sizes as well as high-step, mid-step, and the low-step wave… this makes it approachable for people with knee and hip sensitivity and just a better fit overall
- All three frame styles include bottle cage bosses! this is often skipped for mid-step and step-thru designs because there is less open room, but Bulls made it work for the Cross Mover Speed
- Excellent tire choice, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus has a tough puncture resistant liner as well as reflective sidewalls, they compliment the integrated lights well, keeping you visible at night
- Lots of utility on offer here with the plastic SKS fenders and rear rack, note the mud flaps on the fenders and i-rack compatibility, spring latch, and pannier blockers on the rack
- Comfort becomes an important issue when you’re commuting regularly and riding faster with a speed pedelec like this, so I’m glad that they included a decent suspension fork, gel saddle, adjustable stem, and ergonomic grips, consider a 31.6 mm seat post suspension for even more comfort
- The smaller Purion display panel keeps the handlebars clear for phone mounts and other accessories, it’s less likely to get bumped or broken than some of the larger displays and is easy to reach while riding
- Decent 10-speed Shimano SLX derailleur with a larger 22 tooth chainring (55 tooth equivalent) to offer a slower comfortable cadence at high speed
- The Bosch Performance Line Speed motor is extremely responsive, it measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque 1,000+ times per second and also detects gear shifting to reduce drivetrain wear on the chain, sprockets, and derailleur
- The seat post clamp and both wheels offer quick release, which is great for maintenance and transportation, but you might want to get security hardware like this if you commute in a big city and park at public racks so that nobody messes with your setup or steals the nice gel saddle
- I really appreciate the tight plastic chain cover, it seemed sturdier than a lot of basic covers, it didn’t rattle around a lot while riding fast, and it should keep your pant or dress clean and snag-free
- The brakes on this ebike are very nice, you get larger 180 mm rotors, adjustable-reach Magura levers (for people with smaller hands or if you wear gloves), and they have brake light activators built-in! this means that the rear light goes extra bright whenever you stop
- Great kickstand placement (clear of the let crank arm and supporting the rear rack, I appreciate the flick bell… even though it’s pretty basic
- Awesome paint job, the combination of matte grey and gloss black helps the motor, battery, and wires blend in even more with the frame (not to mention the black fenders, rack, rims, spokes, fork, and other accessories)
- The Powerpack 500 isn’t as hidden as the new Powertube 500, but it weighs less, costs less, and is easier to find when traveling (since you cannot easily ship or fly with large Lithium-ion batteries), there are also many existing Powerpack 400 batteries which work with this same interface, so you might already have a backup pack to extend your rides
- The battery is extremely well designed, it charges quick with the included 4-amp charger, has a loop on top to make it easier and safer to carry, and has a 5-LED charge level indicator built into the left side
- Bulls is an international brand with growing presence in the US, they have a broad network of dealers, aim for mid-level prices emphasizing value, and you get a two-year comprehensive warranty
- The locking cylinder for the battery is made by ABUS and comes with a special code so you can order additional keys for the bike easily or get security locks (folding locks, u-locks, chain locks) that are keyed alike, so you won’t have to worry about multiple keys! check with your local shop to get this or visit the ABUS website to learn more
- The headlight is mounted to the suspension fork arch instead of the head tube or handlebar, this means it will bounce up and down as the suspension activates rather than being sprung and stable, I do appreciate the side cutouts however, so it shines in more directions than just straight
- It’s difficult to say just how well the adjustable stem will hold up over time, but I have noticed that they sometimes loosen and the locking teeth within can wear down, keep an eye on this part and tighten it quickly if you notice any rattling (this is especially relevant on a speed pedelec, which will take more energy from riding faster)
- The higher-end Bosch Performance Line motors tend to drain the battery quicker, produce more noise, and create some drag because of the reduction gearing, this only happens when pedaling unassisted or pedaling over the max speed (~28 mph in this case)
- The pedals aren’t especially wide or grippy, but they won’t cut your shins as much if you slip off, because of the rubberized tread, I would probably replace them with some lightweight Magnesium Wellgos like these
- Very minor gripe here, the grips are not locking which means that you can twist hard and they will slowly spin out of place, I might replace them with some sporty Ergon models like this with multiple hand positions for long-ride comfort
- The charging port on the bike frame is positioned very close to the left crank arm and that means the cable could get snagged or the connector could get bent if you bump the cranks while charging… just be extra careful or charge off-bike, and then make sure it clicks back on securely before riding
- It would be nice if the Purion display panel was removable, could swivel to reduce glare, and had an active Micro-USB port like the larger Intuvia panel, but some shops can help you upgrade to this other control system if you want and are willing to pay