EVELO created something truly unique, capable, and exciting with the Delta. I don’t usually gush like this, but it’s true! This is the first purpose built mid-drive powered electric trail bike that I have ever seen with a NuVinci continuously variable transmission, trigger throttle override offering full power, premium plus sized tires, an unlockable higher speed for off-road use, and multiple frame size and color options. The motor power and battery capacity are no joke, this thing basically maxes out the legal stats with a custom integrated BBS02 centerdrive rated nominally at 750 watts and a 48 volt 11.6 amp hour battery. Both components are positioned low and center for optimized balance and handling, and because of the semi-integrated battery concept, there’s even room for bottle cage bosses on the seat tube. Now, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows here… the trade-offs are a “unique” looking battery slot which was chosen to avoid a design patent on downward-interfacing batteries, and louder less-smooth cadence activated pedal assist. I guess the higher price tag is also a consideration, it depends on the e-bikes you’ve been considering. With a base price of $3.5k and an optional fork + hydraulic disc brake upgrade raising it to $3.9, it’s definitely not what I would call affordable. For those dollars however, you get some of the best customer service I have seen. Evelo offers a unique four-year 20k mile warranty with a sliding-price battery replacement option depending on how much use the bike has had when it comes time for replacement. This is a company that has been selling electric bikes since before I started EBR in 2012. You can call them and talk to a real person, visit the flagship factory store in Seattle Washington as I did, or connect with one of their local dealers! There are some impressive hills to test the bikes on and I was blown away by the performance. Yes, I only weigh ~135 lbs, but I have not experienced this level of power on any other Class 2 electric bike to date. Alex, a representative from Evelo, went on the test ride with me and demonstrated that a 240 lb rider can also climb effectively, though he did pedal along a bit while I was able to go throttle only. To me, throttle activation is one of the most exciting and useful aspects of the bike. Being able to zip off the line from a stop sign or traffic signal… being able to rest your legs on a long steady climb… or being able to catch up with a friend without having to look down and click up or down to increase assist (or even shift gears) is awesome. That said, Class 2 e-bikes are not allowed on quite as many mountain bike trails as Class 1 at this time because of concern for possible trail damage and adverse rider behavior. For those who own some private land, work on a farm, need an electric bike as a pit bike at a racetrack, or enjoy riding off-road on OHV trails, EVELO can actually unlock the display to allow for ~30 mph riding (depending on terrain, rider weight, etc.)
Driving the Evelo Delta is a Bafang/8Fun BBS02 motor system that has been custom-integrated into a metal bottom bracket casing. I have reviewed the stock BBS02, which is designed to bolt onto the spindle tube of a non-ebike, and it hangs forward in such a way ground clearance is reduced and aesthetics are compromised. It is still one of the most popular aftermarket kits available, but it isn’t winning any beauty contests. Messy cables and bolt-on battery packs are another byproduct of the stock BBS02, but all of that is overcome through EVELO’s custom solution here. Some cables to protrude at the bottom bracket but they are mostly hidden and the battery pack is not nearly as vulnerable… nor does it get in the way of that bottle cage or a triangular frame bag like this. This is part of what you’re paying for, a nicer look with less vulnerable cables and parts. The motor itself seemed to perform as I had remembered from my stand-alone BBS02 review in 2014. It relies on an on/off cadence sensor that isn’t especially fluid but does start and stop quickly. This could be a good or bad thing depending on your needs; you don’t have to push hard to make it start, but it could feel abrupt if the power is set to high and you’re going from zero. The motor can also be loud when riding in the highest levels of assist, especially in a lower gear. But one of the neat things about the NuVinci continuously variable transmission hub is that you don’t really have gears. Instead, there’s a smooth transition from faster cadence (meant for climbing) or slower cadence (meant for attaining higher speeds). You can shift at standstill and there are no clicks or bangs as you might experience with a traditional derailleur. This is an important point because the Bafang BBS02 motor does not offer shift sensing or torque sensing… easing off of the pedals a bit is not going to slow the motor down and if you were to shift gears this way, the chain, sprockets, and derailleur would all take a beating. In this configuration, EVELO is minimizing drivetrain wear, reducing the potential for chain drops, reducing chain bounce and nicks on the right chain stay, and allowing you to shift at standstill. The NuVinci N380 is not a trivial or inexpensive component, and it’s not lightweight. Note the higher price and slightly higher weight of the frame at ~56.4 lbs (for the small frame I reviewed). I believe the downtube of the frame is also heavier because of the unique battery interface.
The battery pack on this bike is above average in terms of size and below average in terms of weight, exactly what you want. It offers a more efficient 48 volt power flow vs. 36 volts and has an 11.6 amp hour capacity for over 550 total watt hours of energy. Inside, there are Lithium-ion cells which I assume are higher quality because of the raised energy density and outstanding warranty on offer. This type of cell is known for being durable but you can maximize the lifetime of the pack by storing it in cool, dry locations and making sure it is 50% full for long term non-use. The battery clicks in from the right side of the bike and has a single charging port also on the right side that is high enough to clear the crank arm and pedal! This is a big deal, if you forget that the bike is charing and bump the cranks, it won’t present the same opportunity for snagging and damage that so many other batteries suffer from. The charging port and charging plug are the exact same whether you’re filling the pack on or off the bike, and the battery design has a little indented handle at the top for safe transport. There are so many other battery packs that forego this type of design care, Yamaha and Bosch come to mind but their packs have been smaller in capacity and they aren’t offered on bikes with throttles. Honestly, in some ways, I find the Evelo battery slot to be ugly, but I have to admit that it looks well protected and offers all the utility I could ask for. It also slid in smoothly and produced an audible click so I knew it was secure, it didn’t rattle during my test rides either… but the bike was brand new so I welcome your feedback.
Operating the bike was familiar because of the commonly used King Meter display panel. EVELO has their branding painted on the display, but the LCD and button pad are industry-standards. I appreciate the size of the readouts and bright backlighting (that you activate by holding the up arrow for a few seconds). You get extra readouts with this display and can reach them by pressing the center Mode button once it is turned on… You hold Mode to turn the bike on and off once the battery has been charged and mated to the frame. Arrowing up or down, you can explore 0, and 1-5 levels of assist. With 0, nothing really happens and the throttle is not hot. This mode would be good for using the display as a trip meter and preserving battery on flats when you don’t mind pedaling. As soon as you click up into level 1, the throttle becomes active with FULL POWER, which is exactly how I like it, but possibly a bit advanced for people who are not used to throttles. For example, if you coast to a stop and decide to get off of the bike without either arrowing back down to zero or turning it off and then you bump that paddle trigger near the left grip, the bike will lurch forward. Keep this in mind when showing the bike to friends, loading it onto public transportation, walking it into your garage or shed etc. just be thoughtful. For someone with a knee injury like myself, or a person with MS, or simply a desire for a moped feel, the throttle is a highlight and is easy to reach and use while still grasping the grips. The button pad is simple enough, and also easy enough to reach, that I did not have an issue interacting with it. On the right grip, you’ve got a half-grip twist for raising or lowering pedal cadence as discussed earlier. Instead of numbers, there’s an infographic with a little stick figure person riding a bike and as you twist the shifter, the ground beneath him becomes flat or turns into a steep hill. The idea is that you match your terrain to the graphic, turn it to look like a hill if you’re about to climb!
I’ve done a lot of features explaining up until this point, but now I want to talk about ride quality. The Delta feels balanced and solid. I have become a fan of the Plus Sized tires that in this case, are 27.5″ x 3″ which is much fatter than the common 27.5″ x 2.125″ or 2.25″. The increased air volume acts as a sort of suspension and dampens vibrations. The wider contact patch provides traction and float over bumpy terrain. These tires decrease deflection on angular surfaces (gripping and riding straight over), and they require a custom fork and frame to work right. The fork here is either a SR Suntour XCR Air Suspension with 120 mm Travel or RockShox Reba Air Suspension with 120 mm Travel and Compression Clicker with Lockout and Rebound Adjust. Both of them have longer hubs which increase spoke bracing angle creating a stronger wheel. The spokes are thicker 13 gauge so even though the bike is rated at 350 lb max weight, I’m guessing it could handle a bit more. I want to compliment the choice of Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires which have reflective graphics on the side and come tubeless ready (to be converted if you like). These are going to last longer than other generic tires might. And, getting back to how this electric trail bike could be used, the rear rack bosses and fender mounts mean that you could ride this into work without having to wear a backpack or deal with the mess of wet streets. It’s an incredibly versatile platform that I thoroughly enjoyed testing. Again, it’s not perfect, but it is fun and capable. Big thanks to Evelo for partnering with me on this review, and their employee Alex who met me in Seattle and rode up a super steep hill while I filmed. This company has always been a leader in terms of support, but their latest generation of products have raised the bar and truly impressed me. If you like how it looks, appreciate power and a throttle mode, and can justify the slightly higher price… which is very reasonable given the drivetrain and custom frame, it could be a great choice. As always, I welcome your feedback and experiences with the product and company in the comments below or the forums here.
- The Delta offers a very unique and exciting combination of off-road capability with the larger tires and suspension, urban utility with the rear rack and fender bosses, and efficiency with the mid-drive motor and NuVinci continuously variable transmission
- The Bafang BBS02 motor is powerful but relies more on cadence signals than torque and can be harder on the chain and sprockets when using a derailleur… but that is completely alleviated with the NuVinci CVT hub, you can even shift at standstill
- Available in two frame sizes so you can optimize body position and fit beyond seat height and stem position, note the additional riser stacks and angled stem which can be flipped if you want to get super aggressive and forward
- Most of the Bafang BBS02 mid-motors I see are bolted to the bottom bracket of traditional bikes but this one is integrated into the bottom bracket, as a result, it has a much higher ground clearance and looks nicer
- Interesting upgrade path, you can improve the suspension fork quality and move to hydraulic disc brakes for $400 more, but in all cases, the fork has a sturdy 15 mm thru-axle with Boost (wider hub for improved spoke bracing angle) and the head tube is tapered for strength
- I love that even on the smaller frame size, Evelo was able to squeeze in bottle cage bosses so you can mount a holder, folding lock, mini pump or other accessory along the seat tube
- Very few mid-drive electric bikes offer throttle on demand, this is a useful feature for those rides when you have to start and stop a lot or maybe you need extra power briefly but don’t want to fidget with the up/down assist buttons
- Both brake options come with motor inhibiting levers, anytime you pull the brakes, the drive system will shut down immediately for safety
- One of the benefits to using an internally geared or CVT hub is that there is only one chainring and one sprocket, the chain stays tight and probably won’t drop or bounce down and nick the right chainstay, the shifting mechanism is also smaller and better protected than a traditional derailleur that would hang down on the right and possibly get bent if the bike tipped
- The plus sized Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires provide excellent traction with reduced deflection, you can ride across grass, over small rocks, and through soft forest type terrain more easily, the low pressure range lets you optimize squishy comfort and float without as much risk of pinch flats because of the large diameter of the tire (consider converting to tubeless for reduced weight and lower PSI, I believe that the tires are setup to allow for that)
- 48 volt 11.6 amp hour battery is much higher capacity than what I would consider average but it doesn’t weigh a lot, at ~6.4 lbs this thing is using nicer energy dense cells, you can remove it to reduce bike weight for transport or charging off the bike and the battery casing has a nice integrated handle to make it easier to carry
- The thick 31.6 mm seat post is stronger and sturdier, a more trail-capable hardware part than the 27.2 mm and 30.9 mm I usually see, you could swap this with a suspension post for improved comfort but might need a shim adapter for thinner suspension posts, here’s a perfect fit and relatively affordable one from SR Suntour
- Nice touch points, the Selle Royal saddle is active but more comfortable than a no-name cheap seat, the VP pedals are large and grippy, they feel solid and won’t bend the way cheaper cage style pedals might
- I was told that this bike is rated up to 350 lbs, and I believe it! The frame felt very sturdy and the spokes are thicker 13 gauge vs. the stock 14g or 15g on a lot of other e-bikes
- The frame and systems are purpose built, this means that cables are internally routed, vulnerable parts are reinforced, and the weight of the motor and battery are kept as low and centered on the frame as possible for stability
- Interesting point with the Evelo Delta, I was told that there is a way to increase the top speed of the bike and make it more of an “off road” product if you live on a farm or private property and want to use it more like a moped, it would not be street legal in this configuration
- EVELO offers three accessory packages to help you optimize the bike for comfort, safety, or commuting and in my experience with this sort of thing, the parts tend to look nicer and work better than if you try to guess on your own (and it costs a lot less this way)
- Minor mention here but I think the Schwalbe Nobby Nic logo on the tires is reflective so you can be seen a bit easier from the sides if you ride in low light around cars
- Weighing in at ~57.4 lbs, this is not an especially lightweight electric mountain bike, the NuVinci CVT hub adds weight and I am guessing that the unique mid-mount battery punchout had to be reinforced for strength and also adds some weight… but it’s actually not as heavy as I was expecting
- The cadence sensing pedal assist can feel a bit abrupt, it doesn’t matter whether you’re pushing hard or not, if you move the cranks the bike will take off… and it could take off hard if you’re in a higher assist level
- Minor consideration here, the bike doesn’t come with a kickstand, but there is a standard mounting plate behind the motor or you could get a rear-mount kickstand that would stay out of the way, something like this might work or maybe this kickstand
- The display panel looks beautiful, I love how large it is and appreciate that it can be swiveled forward and back to reduce glare… but it is not removable and could take more weather damage or scratches at bike racks, some people put their helmets over the display to help protect them when parking outside
- The BBS02 is not as quiet as some of the other mid-drive geared motors I have tested like Brose or Shimano, it does seem to offer more power (and is rated higher) but you may notice the whirring sound in the video, especially when I was in a higher gear and the highest leve-5 assist setting