2018 Bulls Estream AM3 review

#1
Bulls eStream AM3 review



I was an avid mtb Rider from the early 80s to around 2012, when I began road riding after a long hiatus. My renewed interest in off road riding started me looking at mountain bikes. I decided to update my 14 year old Santa Cruz Blur to a new 27.5 inch bike last year. The difference between the old and new bike was amazing.
This summer I added a Bulls EVO Estream AM4 after I suffered an injury in the early Spring.

The geometries of most popular emtb’s on the market this summer 2018, have an upright, riding position. This is fine for casual riding but when your goal is to ride mainly rough off road, a little more athletic and aggressive positioning makes clearing obstacles and difficult sections a lot easier. This drew me to the specs listed for the Bulls Estream series. Im about 6 feet with long arms and legs. I feel cramped on bikes with short top tubes. Due to a delayed, late summer arrival, I pre ordered the Estream AM 4 before its arrival on our shores. I guess you can say it was a gamble, since I bought the bike unseen, but I did my homework looking at the bike in video reviews and going over the frame numbers.
Turns out I made a good decision. The bike is nearly everything I had wanted it to be.

First the good: The Bulls has a modern geometry that is actually a little bigger in the top tube than my 2017 Troy. It also has a higher bottom bracket. They are both split pivot designs and handle very similarly. Which is to say Exceptionally well!! I have about 150 off road miles on the bike, and have the suspension pretty much sorted out now. All I can say is wow! The Geometry is spot on for me and the bottom bracket is high enough to clear most of the chunky, bouldery terrain we ride around here. I will say that I do not bash the bottom bracket on fallen logs for fear of damaging the motor. When big logs are an issue, I carry the bike over. The bike, at 60 pounds plus my weight, I’m not willing to risk damaging the motor far from home.

As for the motor, the Brose motor is nothing short of sensational. I think that for mtn biking, and time in the woods, the smooth power delivery and its quiet demanor make it the ideal choice for touring the woodlands. I liked the Yamaha motor in our road bikes too, but they are more brash and mechanical sounding. Fine for being on the road, around cars, etc. The Brose motor, to my mind, is far and away the best choice today, if you enjoy nature and want an Emtb. It also has a more natural pedal power delivery that is more suited to the needs of off roading. The battery life is amazing! Its rolling hills around here, the biggest climbs are around 400 vert feet, but even on long 20 plus mile rides, I have never used more than 20 percent of the battery. (I usually stay in level 1 nearly all the time.)

The gearing and the front 4 pot brakes are fine for my weight class. If you are heavier, or ride more enduro, you may want to upgrade the rear brake to 4 pot too.
The rims that come with the bike are OK. First thing I did was change the tires and convert the rims to tubeless. Bulls recommended 33 mm tape. I used 30 mm and seated them for a few days using inner tubes. 150 miles and so far no issues. I would use 33 mm tape if you can find it though.

Thats the good. Here’s the bad: I never got the AM4 I ordered 3 weeks before the container arrived. Bulls either misled, or failed to count the bikes that were sold against the number of bikes they shipped. The AM4 was a great deal. It’s spec’d with all high end components. Despite placing a my deposit with my dealer, and them confirming with Bulls, they did not have enough AM4’s to fill my order.
Instead, I had to accept an AM3 with significant compromises on the components. The 400 dollars in price relief was welcome, but didn’t come close to covering the difference in componentry. I remain unhappy with the bait and switch that Bulls Bikes should have been able to predict at the time I made my order.

Onto the bike itself: Other than the front fork, which I will probably upgrade next summer, there are only a couple issues. The way the rear shock is mounted, the dropper post cable housing rubs on the body of the shock. Its a wire cable so probably not a real issue but time will tell.

The Brose motor has 4 power levels. The first 2 are so close that its hard to tell if there really is a difference between level 1 and 2. If there is, its subtle. 3 is almost embarrassing and 4, the bike nearly pedals itself. If I could, I would reduce the power on level 1 by 20 or 25 percent.

The battery display on the bike has 4 segments and each segment is divided into 5 minuscule bars that are nearly impossible to decipher until only 2 or 3 remain illuminated. It would be much nicer if they just had a numerical display.

You can supposedly get a numerical battery readout on your phone via bluetooth with their App. Sadly, the App and blue tooth are hamstrung –
You can connect your phone to the bike…..but it does nothing! They do not work with the battery provided. This is infuriating!
The App states that you need a “GPS Battery”. WTF??
To add insult to injury, the app does allow for customizing the motor assist levels too –
IF IT WORKED!

All said and done, I love the bike. These bikes have come a long way in a short time.
Reading about next years bikes, this trend will only continue at a rapid pace.
More and more frames look like they will have new modern geometries and handle like the most capable modern carbon non-motorized bikes. Its a great time to be biking!

I can’t say enough good about the folks at Crazy Lenny’s. Cindy answered all my questions. Put up with all my back and forth, and all manner of minute details bike nuts like me are prone to ask about. The bike arrived in perfect shape, fully adjusted with no issues. The only one was a manufacturing defect from Bulls that was impossible to recognize until the grease settled / packed out in the head tube. The steering tube was cut a fraction of an inch too long. An easy fix with a bigger shim on the head tube stack.

A word about riding an emtb that weighs 60 pounds in the woods. Most of my riding has been on the rocky, rugged jeep and fire roads. Much of these roads would be impassible for an off the shelf pick-up or Jeep. They are OK for Quads and off-road motor cycles. They are a blast on the Emtb. I recently took the Bulls onto the tight technical single track that I grew up riding regular mtb’s on.

In tight terrain, these bikes are a handful. Somewhat because of the need for fine power control on slippery rocky, rooty, trails at very slow speeds. But also due to navigating between very tightly spaced trees. The momentum from having a 60 pound bike in these conditions, even going slowly, is a problem that is impossible to ignore. It makes for (in my case anyway) a much more timid and restrained approach to riding than on a 28 pound bike. To the extent that I walked many sections that I would have attacked on my regular bike.

As I finished my last review: If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up!
 
#2
Great review......I just picked up a 2018 hardtail am3. The welds and finish are a bit crude compared to say Trek or Specialized but other than that no complaints. I agree that the motor is amazing. Smooth and almost totally silent. Constant noise while riding is a major annoyance to me. So far running pretty much exclusively in lowest power setting........did a 44 mile 3400ft ride yesterday and just dropped to 2 bars as I got to the end.