- Sporty urban electric bike available in metallic grey or glossy white, premium fenders and front rack add utility, mounting points for a rear rack and bottle cage, quiet Brose Drive T mid-motor
- Beautiful stitched ergonomic grips and leather saddle from Velo, unique brown tires with whitewall sides and reflective striping for visibility, premium integrated lights from Supernova
- Reliable and quiet drivetrain that can be shifted at standstill, internally geared hub with trigger shifters from Shimano, powerful hydraulic disc brakes with adjustable levers
- Clean cockpit, simple display panel with Micro-USB charging port, extra-large battery capacity at nearly 650 watt hours, comes with a fast 5 amp charger, sold through a vast network of global dealers but commands a higher price
To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This in-depth review was sponsored by BULLS North America. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of BULLS products.
My first look at the Sturmvogel platform was in 2016, with the E EVO model. It used the high capacity battery (with a slightly different casing), the same smooth-quiet Brose motor, and the same powerful hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano. With the 2019 EVO Street, BULLS has included beautiful alloy fenders, a front-mounting porteur rack, upgraded Supernova lights, and raised the price $300… which is impressive. This is a sporty, but functional, urban electric bike with reliable Shimano Alfine internally geared hub. Benefits include: being able to shift at standstill, going longer between tuneups because the drivetrain is so durable, enjoying quieter rides than if it had a derailleur and cassette. Though this model does not offer a suspension fork or suspension seat post, it does come with comfortable Schwalbe Fat Frank tires that are 2.35″ wide. I love the reflective sidewalls, the high visibility white frame option, the fact that even the rims are paint-matched in white, and that the lights both run off of the main battery pack. This is a nice bike, it’s efficient, quiet, and should be reliable because the components and drive systems are all name-brand. You do pay a bit of a premium at $4k, but the battery offers higher than average capacity, and you could easily add a rear rack to make this into a daily commuter. A couple of unique features that I want to highlight here are the faster trigger shifters vs. twist shifter (that many other internally geared hubs use), the two color options (metallic grey hides the motor casing and cables nicely), the two frame size options, and the unique fork with extra-strong 12mm thru-axle vs. traditional 9mm skewer). For just a bit extra, you could swap out the 31.6mm rigid seat post for a suspension post to take the edge off on bumpy roads. This is a Class 1 ebike that’s allowed in most environments, with a top speed of 20mph in North America and 25km/h in much of Europe. Bulls offers an excellent warranty and is a massive company with an extensive dealer network covering a two year comprehensive warranty. That’s part of what you’re paying for, and it comes in handy when you really rely on your bike.
Driving the bike is a quiet, smooth, mid-drive motor from a German company called Brose. It offers between 250 and 530 watts of power but more importantly, is capable of putting out up to 70 newton meters of torque. This allows for zippy starts and efficient climbing. For comparison, many of the competing mid-motors I’ve reviewed offer 60 to 75 newton meters, I’d actually call the Brose T higher than average in this department. In 2018/2019, the company launched a Drive S and S Mag (magnesium) for off-road performance riding, but they tend to increase pricepoint. For urban riding, the Brose T (which stands for Trekking) is still an excellent choice and one of the most compact and smooth geared mid-motors I have reviewed. Inside the housing is a gearless motor that spins through a reduction gearing system and transfers power through a Gates Carbon belt. This takes the edge off, reducing vibration and dampening some of the noise that you might notice from competing products. BULLS has done a wonderful job integrating this motor, tipping it up and blending it into the downtube. The frame on the Sturmvogel EVO Street is high grade aluminum alloy, but there’s some plastic and a rubberized guard running along the base of the downtube and motor for protection. As you pedal, a network of sensors measure rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque for quick starts and stops. The motor feels natural, it’s not as jerky or overwhelming as some of the others, which might not be as impressive during a back to back test ride comparison, but is something that I prefer long term as an owner… especially for this type of bike. BULLS has stocked an alloy chainring guide, which is almost unnecessary given the single cog and internally geared hub at the rear, the guide protects your pant legs while ensuring the chain won’t drop off when encounter large bumps. Without a derailleur hanging down at the back, you don’t need to worry so much about bike tips or clashes with other bikes at public racks. The drivetrain is tough, but internally geared hubs do weigh more. The size medium Sturmvogel EVO Street weighs roughly 58.2lbs, which is about 4.2lbs heavier than the older E EVO, becasue it has the rack and fenders. The Shimano Alfine internally geared hub weighs roughly 3.68lbs compared to 1.5lbs or 2lbs for most derailleur cassette drivetrains.
Many of the Brose powered electric bikes from BULLS have higher-than-average battery capacities, and this is a highlight for me because they don’t actually weight that much more than an average 500 watt hour pack. Looking at 7.1 lbs for a 647.5 watt hour pack is impressive when you compare the 500 watt hour Bosch PowerPack at 5.8 lbs or their heavier PowerTube at ~6.15 lbs. You’re getting 30% more capacity for a 22% increase in weight… and that’s comparing to the lighter PowerPack. You can do a lot with 150 extra watt hours of juice, especially on an efficient mid-drive setup. Remember, whenever you shift gears to empower your own pedaling, the motor also benefits. This battery pack is not perfect however, seating up into the downtube vs. down from the top, the pack sort of flops out when unlocked vs. having a two-step button like the Bosch Powertube. This pack is contained in plastic vs. tougher aluminum alloy but does have a thick rubber guard all the way along the bottom. This is another upgrade from the 2016 Sturmvogel E EVO which had a foam pad instead. I cannot say for sure whether all of the older packs would be interchangeable with this new design, but they do seem roughly the same, so it’s possible that you could swap batteries or double-up if you own multiple BULLS models with the Brose drive system. The charge port on this battery is fancier than the older 2016 model, and interfaces with the same BMZ high-speed 5 amp charger for quick refills… but I have read that this can stress the cells more than slower 2 or 4 amp charging. You can protect any lithium-ion battery from premature wear by storing it in cool, dry location vs. extreme heat and cold. It’s nice to be able to remove the battery for reduced weight when getting a tuneup or transporting it, but you don’t have to remove the pack from the bike to charge it. This could reduce the potential for accidental drops and just saves time removing and then re-attaching it. I found the pack to be surprisingly heavy when the weight is instantly transferred into your hand or you’re even pulling it down from the downtube if it’s stuck in a little bit. A final not about the battery pack and charging interface is that it’s magnetic. This is a protection mechanism that allows for the plug to pop out vs. tipping the bike. There are actually two charging ports on the battery (one that interfaces with the bike and one for charging on the bike) and you can plug the charger into either one to fill when it’s off the bike. This was a question that was raised in one of my other BULLS reviews and I confirmed and tested it on site with BULLS for this batch of coverage. Another tip is to keep the battery between 20% and 80% filled to minimize stress, and store it at 50% for long periods of disuse.
Operating the bike is very straightforward. You don’t have to press the power button on the battery to get it started like you used to. Now, that power button is more of an LED power indicator readout. To get the main display switched on, just press the little button along the top edge of the control pad (which is mounted near the left grip) and it bursts to life. Your current speed, battery charge level, and assist level are shown… and that’s it. You don’t get the additional stats that most larger displays offer such as trip distance, average speed, max speed, or range estimate, but the space savings and simplicity are appealing. The display uses a transflective LCD that looks great in harsh sunlight and goes backlit whenever you interact. It’s a functional design, and even though it’s a bit further to reach and click, and the readout is smaller than most competing LCD units, the readouts are big enough to read comfortably. To interact, you simply click up or down on the display itself to increase or decrease assist power. You can feel it click, thank goodness, because the assist level indicator graphic is fairly tiny. Four boxes communicate off, level 1, 2, 3, or 4. Little squares appear to show what level you’re in, and this display is actually called “BLOCKS” which makes sense. Along the left edge of the display, there’s a walk mode button, which can be useful to activate in crowded spaces or in the event of a flat tire (just hold walk mode to activate, must be in one of the four assist levels). If you’re in a low gear, as I was for part of this review, then walk mode is going to be very slow. The display panel is a great compromise in a world with lots of bulky, overdone, glaring screens… but it is not removable. One of my favorite features here is the Micro USB port built into the base of the display clamp. This is useful for maintaining portable electronics as you ride. I frequently use my smartphone for GPS, so it’s nice to tap into that big ebike battery to keep my phone from running low. There’s also a light button on the left edge of the control pad, which activates the two Supernova lights, or changes your units from MPH to KM/H if you hold it down. The headlight is mounted to the fork, so it points where you steer and won’t be blocked by the front basket. The rear light is built into the fender, so it won’t be blocked if you add a disc brake compatible rear rack. It’s all very well done and these are high quality, extra bright lights here. Both have alloy housings vs. plastic.
My take on this ebike is that it’s a professional looking, sporty, urban platform with lots of utility potential. The battery and motor are beautifully hidden, wires are internally routed, the hydraulic brakes require minimal hand effort and stop smoothly. I find the design to be appealing for both men and women, and the two frame sizes make it approachable. BULLS used to offer four sizes in North America, but seems to have narrowed down to the two most popular for 2019 to keep the price as low as possible. I love that they’ve chosen an adjustable kickstand that stays clear of the left crank arm. They include a bottle cage mount on the downtube for carrying fluids or mounting lock and mini-pump accessories. The front rack is designed to carry up to 11lbs of cargo and is made by Standwell (name brand, recognized in the space). It’s mounted to the head tube of the bike vs. the fork and stem, so it doesn’t impact steering and won’t tip when you park the bike. Even the headset itself, being tapered, is an upgrade that allows for more fork choices, if you wanted to swap in a suspension fork like Lauf Grit someday… that would be really cool. BULLS entered the North America market in 2015 and has been widely accepted and praised in the comments here and the forums. There are a few minor grips around battery charge port cover having no leash (making it easier to set down and forget)… just be careful, and take your time removing the battery. There’s always a balance between aesthetics, weight, and usability to consider with these products. I try my best to show how it all comes together in the video review above.
- Comfortable to ride, I enjoyed the swept back handlebars, sprung saddle and ergonomic grips… even though this bike doesn’t have suspension, the larger tires reduce some of the vibration while still rolling efficiently on paved surfaces
- I like the miniaturized display panel, it’s transflective and backlit, so it should work in bright or dark settings, is easy to reach and doesn’t take up much space on the bars
- Wonderful to have both front and rear LED lights that are integrated, running off the main battery pack, they don’t rattle or take up much extra space, the battery itself offers a LOT of capacity at nearly 650 watt hours
- Excellent Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, they are easy to pull and use without much wrist or forearm strength and have adjustable levers that can come in close for smaller or gloved hands
- I really like the two color options, especially the white, notice how the rims, tire sidewalls, and front rack all match, white will really stand out at night for added safety
- Lots of potential to customize this bike with storage accessories because it has eyelets to mount a mini pump or bottle cage on the downtube and bosses on the seat stays for adding a disc brake compatible rack like this, it already comes with fenders and a front basket
- Despite only having one sprocket up front and one in the rear (since the bike uses an internally geared hub) they put a chain guide on the chainring so you shouldn’t have any problem with dropping the chain or snagging your pants or a dress while pedaling, the drivetrain is solid and you can shift at standstill which is nice for hilly conditions and start/stop riding, the alloy guide might even protect the motor from rock strikes or other impact since it extends below the bottom bracket
- I was really impressed that the front wheel uses a 15mm thru-axle, this adds extra strength and it’s nice to have quick release for easier flat fixes or lighter transport, even though the rear wheel doesn’t offer quick release because of the internally geared hub
- The weight distribution on the bike is excellent with both the motor and battery positioned low and center, a bit of the black on the battery shows below the downtube for the white one, and there’s a protective rubber shield there to keep rocks and other debris from damaging the pack, if you opt for the black frame, everything just blends together perfectly
- The Brose mid-drive motor is super quiet and smooth because it uses a little nylon belt inside to reduce vibration, in my opinion it’s one of the leading drive systems out there (quiet, compact, but still powerful), it offers up to 120 RPM pedal support so you won’t lose power when shifting to lower gears to climb or spin quickly
- The top tube on the Sturmvogel is extra sloped so riders can more easily mount the frame and stand over it while stopped, this is great for riders with a shorter inseam
- It’s nice that you can get the bike in two different sizes, that allows for better fit and a more comfortable safe ride, I also like where the kickstand is mounted (out of the way of the left crank arm) and how the front basket is attached (to the bike frame vs. the handlebar or fork)
- I love that there’s a little Micro USB charging port built into the base of the button pad so you can charge a phone or run extra lights if you want, it’s convenient and doesn’t take up much space
- BULLS updated where the rear light is mounted (at the base of the rear fender) so it won’t get blocked by a rack or anything, and despite the stock photo above, the headlight is mounted to the fork so it actually points where you steer vs. being fixed to the basket
- Excellent weight distribution, low and center for both the battery and motor, this improves handling and reduces frame flex when turning
- The pedals are decent, stiff and relatively wide, but not my personal favorite given the rubber pad on top, consider an upgrade to something with more traction if you ride in wet conditions, Wellgo sells some white ones that are made from Magnesium if you want to get super fancy and lightweight
- The motor does not offer shift sensing, but because this ebike uses internal gearing there’s less mashing potential and in my experience the cadence + torque sensing response is something you can learn to shift gently by reducing some pressure as you shift so it won’t over stress the chain etc.
- The bike is built around a fully rigid frame vs. having suspension, and even with the larger 2.35″ wide tires it can be bumpy on rough terrain, especially if you’re riding at the 20 mph top speed for a long time… consider getting a 31.6 mm seat post suspension like this if you have a sensitive neck or back, also make sure the seat tube collar is tight so the post doesn’t slide down and consider the smaller version here if you need to keep the seat super low if you’re a shorter rider
- I love that the battery is removable for convenient charging and reduced weight… but the rubber cap that’s designed to protect the charging interface doesn’t have a leash and could easily be set down and forgotten… then lost
- Where the charging port is on the downtube, if you mounted a bottle cage it might get in the way and require you to take the pack off each time in order to charge… it seems like maybe you could mount the holder further up to make it work though
- Once the battery pack is unlocked, it sort of flops down and could be easier to drop than if it had a catch mechanism like Bosch has designed for their PowerTube, it’s an expensive and heavy part, so take extra care
- Official Site: http://www.bullsebikes.com/product/sturmvogel-e-evo/
- More Pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/b1ZujCNuoDukQaiz9