- One of the quietest, smoothest and most powerful hardtail electric mountain bikes I've ridden
- Efficient 250 watt gearless hub motor offers 1,000 watts of peak output and multiple regen modes
- Quick release wheels - even with the hub motor, removable battery pack for convenient charging
- Shimano SLX hydraulic disc brakes and drivetrain, RockShox air suspension fork with remote lockout
The Focus Jarifa Offroad Premium XT (one heck of a name there) is like a dream bike. It’s got super high end components including Shimano Deore drive train and hydraulic disc brakes. A rugged build with 26″ wheels and Continental Race King tires. A light weight and capable RockShox Reba RL with remote lockout and a feature rich electric drive system that offers five levels of pedal assist, a walk mode, regenerative braking, two modes of regenerative riding and the option to set a custom regen speed… all without feeling complicated or clunky. Despite the seemingly weak 250 watt motor spec, it provides tons of torque and power with 1,000 watt peak output potential and it costs under $4,000! That’s the dream right there. And while it lacks a throttle, does not offer assistance over 20 mph and foregoes mounting points for a bottle cage, racks and fenders… it offers amazing ride quality. The biggest challenge is finding one to test out and buy in the US.
Focus is a German bike company and the Jarifa Offroad Premium XT is their high-end hardtail mountain bike offering. The electric drive system is by XION and includes the backlight display, battery, torque sensor and motor. It’s a package that rivals the Bosch mid-drive in my mind but is smoother, quieter and doesn’t interfere with the pedal drive system that the rider interfaces with. Of course, there is more unsprung weight since it uses a hub motor vs. mid-drive and you don’t get to leverage the gears with the motor or benefit from a centrally located mass… but I guess nothing is perfect. This system is very impressive and capable and more enjoyable on road or lighter trails since it’s so smooth and quiet.
The motor is a direct drive gearless 250 watt hub located in the rear. Unlike many other gearless hub motors however, this one is lighter and thinner providing space for a ten speed Shimano Deore XT cassette. Despite the lower continual watt rating, the XION system can reach a peak output of 1,000 watts which is very capable for climbing or reaching higher speeds. During my ride tests in San Francisco, CA I had no problem accelerating or climbing. Sadly, the motor cuts out at 20mph while bikes like the Specialized Turbo (which uses a strikingly similar motor) can reach top speeds of 28mph. The motor on the Jarifa Offroad has a built in torque sensor that’s responsive and fluid. Overall, this bike rides strong, smooth and very quiet as you can tell from the video review above.
The battery pack is equally impressive because it’s mounted low on the frame, where a water bottle cage might otherwise sit, and is locking and removable. They key system is solid but the key isn’t required to be left in when riding. Removable batteries are great if you want to reduce the overall weight of the bike for transport – especially if you’re going to hang the bike by the top tube on a car or bus rack. I love that you can charge the battery off the bike because that makes commuting much easier or perhaps charging with a car adapter on a mountain biking trip or in a hotel room! The front and rear wheels both use quick release which makes servicing the spokes, rims and tires much easier. You could swap the tires from slicks to knobby depending on how you want to ride. This is especially neat because most hub motor design ebikes have rear wheels that are very difficult to remove and use large nuts with semi-permanent electronic wiring. Anyway, the battery chemistry on this bike is Lithium-ion and the size is 36 volt 11.5 amp hour. This should provide at least 1,000 charge cycles before it begins to degrade (if you take care of it) and you should get anywhere from 40 to 55 miles per charge because you’ll always be helping along with pedal assist. I guess that’s one of the upsides of no throttle mode ;)
Further extending the range of this bike is regenerative braking and two regen modes that act as an engine brake when descending hills. Unlike an actual engine brake on an internal combustion vehicle, like a huge semi truck coming down from the mountains, the direct drive hub motor on this ebike actually recharges the battery. It doesn’t offer a whole lot of recharge since people and bikes are so light but it definitely prolongs your brake pads! Speaking of which, the Jarifa Offroad offers hydraulic disc brakes front and rear. This enables higher precision maneuvering and prolonged braking before fingers and wrists begin to tire as with mechanical brakes.
The Jarifa Offroad with XION drive system represents the next generation of high performance electric bikes in my mind. It’s agile, relatively light weight considering it uses a direct drive motor and has a front suspension fork (the bike comes in just under 50 pounds depending on the frame size you choose), it’s uncompromising in terms of components and build quality but it’s also reasonably affordable. With a few tweaks to the top speed and maybe the addition of a trigger throttle this bike would be nearly perfect in my mind. Hub motors have their time and place, even in an off road setting. While the weight distribution on this bike is decidedly rear-heavy it’s still one amazing piece of hardware and I love that it actually comes in three frame sizes to provide a comfortable fit. This is the real deal, it’s hard to describe the fit and finish of this bike with it’s beautiful LCD console and breakout control switches. They sit perfectly along side the trigger shifters and brake levers. This bike was engineered with quality systems that mate well, not just slapped together, and it really shows. One of the coolest features here (which is similar to what Bosch has with their kit) is a range estimator that approximates, in real time, how far the bike can go at the current pedal assist setting before the battery runs out. It’s pretty neat and so far ahead of the red, yellow, green LED battery indicator systems on some other ebikes.
- Available in small, medium and large frame sizes (48cm, 52cm and 56cm respectively)
- Five levels of torque sensing pedal assist, a walk mode, regenerative braking and two regen modes with speed adjustment settings
- Built in range estimator that approximates how far the bike can go at each level of pedal assist
- LCD computer console is removable for security and convenience
- Amazing direct drive motor is gearless but still very powerful and offers high 1,000 watt peak output (similar to what’s used on the Specialized Turbo)
- Shimano Deore XT drivetrain with three rings in the front and ten in the rear cassette
- Shimano Deore hydraulic disc brakes for precision use in off road settings, wont fatigue your hands
- Beautiful LCD computer console is easy to use, backlight and features remote menu navigation near the left grip
- Lithium-ion battery is durable, locks to frame and removable for charging off the bike
- Innovative quick release system for both wheels, makes servicing and fixing flats much easier
- RockShox Reba RL air suspension fork is light weight, offers 100mm of travel and includes a remote lockout on the left handle bar
- Solid two year warranty offered by the New Wheel in San Francisco
- Hub motor design creates unsprung weight in rear wheel that hampers performance (but this is true of any hub motor driven ebike)
- No twist throttle mode, only pedal assist here and top speed limited at 20mph vs. 28 as with some speed pedelec systems
- Very limited availability in the USA, harder to test ride and service as a result
- No fenders, racks or lights, no bosses or braze ons for adding your own and no water bottle cage mounts