- A high-speed 28 mph commuter style electric bike that comes in four frame sizes and three styles (high-step, mid-step, and step-thru), it offers excellent weight distribution (motor and battery are positioned low and center)
- Beautiful aesthetic with hidden wires, an internally mounted battery, and a smaller motor casing, the Brose TF motor is quiet and smooth because it uses a Gates carbon belt system to transfer power internally vs. all gears
- Large LCD display panel is easy to read, removable for protection, and features a Micro-USB charging port on the base, integrated LED Lights and reflective tires keep you visible in dark conditions, fenders and chain cover keep you clean
- The fenders can rattle a bit on bumpy terrain, the motor doesn't have shift detection and could strain the drivetrain if you don't shift carefully, the tires are a bit more basic (less puncture protection), and the wave model can flex a bit and have speed wobble depending on rider and cargo weight/position
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The BULLS Lacuba EVO E45S is a versatile speed pedelec with all the bells and whistles. That means you get fenders, a chain cover, a rear cargo rack, integrated lights (with a rear light that goes bright when you pull the brakes), and bottle cage mounts. A very similar ebike model, called the Lacuba EVO E45, was introduced into the US market by BULLS in 2017 for $500 more, and the big differences between that one and the new 2018 option are fewer gear combinations, cheaper tires, and a bolder paint job. There are still four frame sizes to choose from to maximize fit as well as multiple frame styles to improve accessibility or emphasize performance. And for this review, I got to test ride the wave step-thru model, which is the most approachable of the three. Considering that this electric bicycle will assist you up to 28 mph, I think I’d prefer the stiffer mid-step or high-step frame options that reduce frame flex and feel sportier. Bulls has another model that is very similar to the Lacuba EVO E45S called the Lacuba EVO E8 that tops out around 20 mph and costs $100 less. That would be my go-to with the wave low-step frame (though it also comes in mid-step and high-step), and it uses the same battery pack and motor as this bike, just specced down to go slower, so you’d probably get even better range per charge. The EVO E8 has nicer tires with puncture protection lining, a slower internally geared hub drivetrain, and an adjustable angle stem for comfort. Honestly, it’s very impressive to me that Bulls has been able to price the Lacuba EVO E8 and E45S models so closely. Whether you want the extra speed or not, the frames both look beautiful and weight is kept low and center to maximize stability. Many of the touch points have been upgraded (such as the locking ergonomic grips from Ergon and wider gel saddle from Selle Royal). The wheelset on the E45S has quick release skewers for easy maintenance and flat fixes on the go, and the rack has pannier hangars with standard gauge tubing to work seamlessly with a wide range of bag options (for your tools, the charger, and work or trekking gear). It’s an exciting product, one that operates smoothly and quietly, and blends in extremely well with non-electric bikes. Those in Europe may recognize the 45 as alluding to a 45 km/hr top speed, which translates to roughly 28 mph. If I were buying it for myself, I’d probably get a 30.9 mm suspension seat post like this to reduce back and neck sensitivity when riding over bumps. The tires on this bike are a bit narrower and even with the upright geometry, there can be some discomfort on rough roads.
Driving the bike is a proven Brose TF mid-motor, which stands for “trekking fast”. It’s compact, exceedingly quiet, smooth, and dynamic. Some cheaper motors rely purely on pedal cadence and will only help you up to a certain pedal speed. The Brose motor controller, by contrast, listens for rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque to deliver a natural experience. It’s smooth and natural, but still very capable, offering up to 90 Newton meters of torque (compared to 60, 70, or 80 Nm on most other motors). It does not incorporate shift detection like Bosch and some Impulse systems, but you can shift thoughtfully by easing off of the pedals to reduce mashing. I like the trigger shifter setup on this bike, which allows for two-way action on the little trigger (to go to higher gears) and multi-shift action on the big lever (for lower gears). The drivetrain is lightweight and quick but a bit messier and more vulnerable than an internally geared hub (seen on the EVO E8). I appreciate the Shimano Deore component group and want to call out the little grey lever that can be clicked upward to tighten the chain. This feature is usually reserved for mountain bikes, which ride on bumpy trails, but is equally useful at higher speeds.The chain on this bike shouldn’t fall off easily, even if it is bouncing around, because there’s just one sprocket up front and a sturdy alloy chain guide (two plates that sandwich the chain). Compared to the 2017 EVO E45 that had two derailleurs and 20 speeds, this bike has fewer pedal cadence options but weighs less and will require less maintenance. More and more e-bikes are going with one-by drivetrains and I was able to pedal comfortably from 1 mph all the way up to 28 mph with the simpler 10-speed setup here. Coming back to the motor performance briefly, this thing will assist with pedaling up 120 RPM, which is the highest that any system I have tested offers, and that means you don’t have to switch gears as frequently to go faster. If you’re willing to pedal fast, this motor is willing to support you all the way. I tried to show this on the video review above, you can see me spinning fast and still hear the motor contributing. Finally, the Brose motor is very compact and very quiet because of the belt drive system inside. The TF model seemed a bit louder than the standard 20 mph T, but still produced less noise than the Bosch, Shimano, or Yamaha systems I have seen on other products.
Powering the bike, it’s beautiful backlit display panel, the integrated Micro-USB port at the base of the display, and both front and rear LED Lights, is a high-capacity Lithium-ion battery pack from BMZ. This thing offers nearly 650 watt hours (compared to ~500 wh on most ebikes I see for 2018) and it mounts upwards into the downtube of the frame to be protected, low to the ground, and hidden. The first Lacuba EVO E8 model I reviewed in 2017 had a foam sticker underneath the battery pack, to keep little rocks and dirt from nicking the plastic casing. The newest design has a tougher rubber coating that protects more of the casing and blends in a lot better. The battery seats securely and can be charged on the frame, through a port on the top side of the downtube, near the locking key port. This charging port has a re-designed rubber cover that seats in well enough to keep dust and water out, and when you plug the charger in, it uses a magnetic EnergBus Rosenberger standard (RoPD) connector that will simply pop out if snagged vs. bending or tipping the bike. This port is actually on the battery pack itself, only a cutaway in the frame allows you to reach through, and of course, the battery can be charged when taken off of the bike too. If you decide to do this however, be careful, because the battery weighs ~1 lb more than competing packs due to its higher capacity. And, since it comes out downwards below the frame and doesn’t have an integrated handle, it can be a little awkward to take off. Avoid dropping this pack because replacements cost upwards of $900. I usually remove battery packs when storing them, to avoid extreme heat, cold, and rain. I may also remove the pack to reduce weight when transporting the bike with a car rack, and this is one area where you might need to spend some additional money, to get a sturdy platform rack like this, unless you get the high-step Lacuba EVO E45S frame and are okay lifting it up and hanging it from the top tube. In summary, I think the battery is pretty great overall, it should provide excellent range with the efficient mid-drive motor if you shift gears thoughtfully, and there’s even a range menu in the display that can help you estimate how far until a charge top-off is needed.
The LCD display panel that comes with this electric bicycle is quite good. It’s much larger, brighter, and more feature-rich than a lot of competing products… even from Bulls. I think this is because the Lacuba EVO models were designed with urban environments in mind and could be used for commuting or trekking where you need more feedback. This isn’t a mountain style ebike where you’d want to keep the handlebars clean and streamlined in the event of a crash. The BULLS CI display panel stick way up high, is very easy to see and read, and can be adjusted to angle directly towards you or up a bit to reduce glare (though you cannot easily swivel it without tools once it’s locked into place). You can navigate all of the different menus in the display without taking your left hand off the grip. Simply reach your thumb over to click the little button pad. Powering the bike on requires a press on the top-edge button, activating the lights requires a press of the little top left-side button, walk mode is the lower left-side button, and then there’s a + and – rocker that let you add power. You can navigate through four levels of assist with the display, designated by four boxes, to receive a 50% to 320% boost. The higher you go, the more zippy the bike will feel and the easier it will be to reach the maximum 28 mph top speed. You will probably need to be in the highest level of assist and shift up to the higher gears in order to pedal that fast, but the motor can match you at higher pedal speeds. This is a Class 3 electric bike, so there’s no throttle mode, you simply have to pedal, but it is widely accepted in America and European countries, and cities like New York where throttles are not currently allowed. And again, because the motor and battery are so hidden and quiet, people might not even notice that you’re riding an electric, which can be good if you don’t enjoy answering questions or interacting with strangers on a daily basis. As someone with a sensitive knee, ebikes like this one have allowed me to continue commuting to work in a timely manner while achieving a healthy stretch, all without feeling pain. And if you are commuting, it’s very handy to be able to remove the display panel for protection. I like that this display has a little Micro-USB port near the bottom to charge your portable electronics, such as a smartphone for GPS navigation. And there’s quite a bit that you can adjust in the settings of the display by holding the light button for a few seconds. This lets you change units, brightness, and light function (though the lights are set to always-on by default since that’s a European requirement for speed pedelecs). Back to the button pad for a moment, there’s one more interaction point here that looks like a circle with two overlapping boxes inside, and this is the menu button. It’s the only touch sensitive button on the bike and it allows you to cycle through the readouts like trip distance, odometer, max speed etc. as well as range. Range is cool because it helps you plan longer rides, without running out of juice on the way there or back. But I must say, I struggled to figure out the menu button at first because I though I had to push down on it and hear a click like the + and – buttons. It’s easy to activate the menu button accidentally when trying to arrow up or down on assist because it senses touch, and it may be difficult to use at all if you have full fingered gloves. This is one area that I feel Bulls could rethink or improve in the future. In closing, one other handy feature of the button pad here is that it provides walk mode, so you can get some help pushing the bike through crowded areas, through sand, or with a flat tire.
There’s a lot to praise and celebrate with the 2018 BULLS Lacuba EVO E45S electric bike. It’s almost like three bikes in one because of the frame and sizing options. I love that the key for locking the battery here comes with a code card so you can order maching locks from ABUS that will use the same key cut, and avoid clutter. I appreciate the overbuilt chain guide, the little flick bell, and the premium Ergon ergonomic grips. Yes, these parts do cost more, you can get less expensive city style electric bikes from other companies… but they won’t go as far for each charge or last as long in general. Brose is an automotive company that makes very reliable motors, and with the Shimano drivetrain, BMZ Lithium-ion battery with fast charger, and the good fenders and rack, the only concern I’d have is the tires. I think Bulls is offering a ton of value here for a very reasonable price, and even at ~55 lbs, I feel that the bike is not heavy. Remember, it has a higher than average capacity battery, reinforced frame with integrated wires, a rear rack, fenders, lights, larger gel saddle with bumpers, and kickstand that all add weight. Thankfully, they also add a ton of utility. And, stopping the weight of this bike should be easy, even if you have weaker hands or smaller hands, because it comes with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with extra large 203 mm rotors that can cool easier. I was a little surprised that the smaller frame size (the one I tested) didn’t come with 26″ diameter wheels vs. 28″ because that would have lowered the frame and offered a stopping advantage. But what you get instead is that lower attack angle to smooth out cracks and higher air volume to provide more give. It’s the same direction they went with for the Cruiser E model. However, cmpared to that bike, I found the Lacuba EVO models to be quieter and suffer less from speed wobble and frame flex. I still might save $100 and get the EVO E8 for slower riding and a lower frame, but the high-speed EVO E45S is exciting and capable in mid-step and high-step builds. I like that the rear fender connects to the cargo rack here, and that the rack is positioned further back so that the saddle can be lowered way down if you have shorter legs. The hydraulic disc brake levers are also adjustable for people who are petite, so the levers can be brought back further. I’d like to thank Bulls for partnering with me on this post, and providing their entire 2018 lineup for me to explore back to back so that I could get deeper insights. As always, I’ll try to answer questions in the comments below and I appreciate your own thoughts and feedback to help others, you can also engage in the BULLS ebike forums to share your own pictures etc.
- Accessorized for comfort with a gel saddle, gently swept-back handlebars, name-brand ergonomic grips, and a suspension fork, it doesn’t have an adjustable stem or wide tires like the 20 mph lower-speed EVO E8 model
- Available in four frame sizes and three different styles! You can aim for stiffness with the high-step or approachability with the mid-step and wave models, the wave will experience the most frame flex however, which can be unsettling as you reach higher speeds
- Beautifully integrated motor and battery system, you can hardly tell it’s an electric bike at all given how compact and seamless the systems are, the motor is also extremely quiet
- The 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain is responsive and lightweight, the parts are mid-level and should handle the added torque of the mid-motor well, it even has a Shadow Plus clutch to tighten the chain if you notice that it’s bouncing a lot, but it’s still best to ease off pedaling a bit when shifting to reduce mashing
- Full-sized fenders and a longer chain cover with chainring guide will keep your pants, skirt, or dress clean while riding, however feet and shins may still get a bit wet if you pass through deeper puddles
- I feel that the grey/red color combination could work well for any type of rider, it’s gender neutral, and I love that the tires and sides of the suspension fork have reflectors and you get integrated LED lights for safety, especially because the frame is a bit darker color and you can ride faster as a Class 3 speed pedelec
- It’s a minor praise, but I appreciate the addition of bottle cage bosses here, they could be use to transport fluids and make it easier to reach vs. using a trunk bag with a bottle holster like this where you have to twist and reach back to get your water
- The 647.5 watt hour battery capacity here is quite a bit above average compared to most of the electric bikes I see and test, which are around 500 wh, this will allow you to ride further on a single charge but the pack does weigh about one pound more at ~7.1 lbs
- Brose motors are quiet and smooth, the TF (trekking fast) model is very compact and hidden behind the chainring on this ebike, it doesn’t vibrate as much when pedaling
- Weighing in at about 55.6 lbs, I would consider this product to be lightweight given that it has the larger battery, fenders, rear-rack, lights, and a custom approachable frame, the high and mid-step models might be even lighter but I could not weigh them
- I loved how big and bright the display panel was, it’s easy to read and use while riding and I appreciate that it can be removed easily for protection when parked
- Extra-large Tektro Dorado hydraulic disc brakes with 203 mm rotors for maximum leverage and cooling, they have adjustable-reach levers that work well for small or large handed people
- The rear rack is setup to handle clip-on panniers like this and keep them from rubbing on the tires if the bike is bouncing around or the wind is pushing in on them, the kickstand is positioned well to stay out of the way and offers length adjustment
- The low-speed version of this ebike was one of the most popular models that Bulls sold in 2017 and a lot of people wanted a faster option to cut down on commute time, I love that the speed model is only $100 more because other companies seem to really jack up the price for their speed pedelec products and just don’t offer as many sizes or frame options
- This Bulls+Brose battery pack design has been improved since 2017, the base now has a tougher rubber guard to keep dirt and rocks from scratching it while you ride, and the locking core and charging port are positioned in a safer spot, I like that they still use a magnetic charging port to allow the cable to pop out if you trip over it vs. tipping the bike or bending the plug end piece
- I love that the display is removable because it’s so big and beautiful… I wouldn’t want it to get scratched or marred up by the sun and rain at the bike rack, and this display has a Micro USB port built into the base to fill your phone or other portable electronic devices on the go!
- The headlight is mounted up high and is sprung, this reduces rattling and bouncy flashy motion as the bike travels over bumpy terrain, the slower Bulls Lacuba EVO E8 has it positioned on the fork arch which is not sprung
- The deepest wave, step-thru, frame does experience some frame flex, this reduces pedal efficiency and may contribute to speed wobble of the front wheel depending on how much the rider weighs, how the body position is setup, whether the rear rack is loaded, and how fast you go, just keep both hands on the bars if you notice a bit of wobble on the front wheel at higher speeds
- The Brose mid-motor does not offer shift detection and could wear your chain, sprockets, and derailleur more quickly if you don’t ease off a bit when pedaling in the higher levels of assist
- The tires on this ebike seem decent, I love the reflective sidewalls, but I’m not sure if they have puncture protective lining like the Schwalbe tires on the slower EVO E8 model
- The stock pedals are a bit basic, if you are a larger rider with big feet or someone who is heavy and want a more sturdy platform, consider swapping them with something affordable but tough like these Wellgo pedals
- The plastic fenders do rattle around a bit if you ride on bumpy terrain, tubular Aluminum alloy fenders would be quieter but add weight and cost, and steel fenders could get scratched and rust, so I think these make good sense here and I love that the rear fender attaches to the rear rack for extra strength
- The battery pack detaches downwards and requires a bit of hand strength and balance to hold when unlocking, so just keep an extra close eye on it and make sure the bike is stable if you decide to remove the pack, most people will probably just leave it on the bike and charge that way for convenience, but it can reduce the weight of the bike and protect the battery from extreme heat and cold by removing it
- The center button on the control pad (located near the left grip) is touch sensitive… and I found that it was easily activated even when I really didn’t want to change menus, I think I prefer a standard button vs. the touch interface because its more intentional and probably works with gloves better
- The battery charger is a bit bulky and heavy, it weighs ~2.5 lbs but puts out 4 Amps vs. most standard chargers that just put 2 Amps, I do like the magnetic end piece but make sure not to drop it in the sand or little iron filings may stick to it
- Be careful when removing the battery pack because it drops out from the bottom of the downtube and doesn’t have any handle or extra grip area, it’s a more sensitive and expensive part on the bike and the ~7 lbs can seem heavy if you’re not expecting it
- Official Site: http://www.bullsebikes.com/product/lacuba-evo-45s-wave/
- More Pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/9NlKN7XEginOnHaw2