I wanted to post some initial thoughts on the new Surface 604 Shred. Mine came a few days ago, and I've been putting it through the paces. After some initial adjustments and tweaks it's turned out to be a very nice bike.
I'm a long time conventional biker, and first time e-biker, so I test drove a few e-bikes from the local shops to see what all the excitement was about. They were fun for sure, but I couldn't find one that really jumped out at me, so I began scouring EBR for that perfect set of features at a reasonable price point. The Shred bubbled to the top of my list so I took a chance and ordered one direct to me. I live in northern California and once they had them in stock, it only took about a week to get to me. It went together in about an hour. It would have gone faster, but it came with no assembly instructions. The closest thing was an online video that showed how to assemble one of their other bikes, which helped a bit. It does come with a manual, but it is pretty generic and only covers basic operation.
A quick spin around the block without the battery revealed a number of small adjustments needed to be done so after the initial setup, I charged the battery all the way up and gave it a full hour long road and trail test.
The first thing I noticed was that because the bike is heavy, I really needed to dial in some preload on the front shock. Lockout also works well when going fast. This gets rid of the nose down tendency on heavy braking. The brakes work very well. To get going fast, you have to go into the passworded settings and change the maximum speed. The default seems to be about 22 mph, I boosted mine up to 28. The default tire diameter was also set incorrectly to 26 inches, so I changed that to 28 while I was in there, presumably to more accurately display my speed. I have not tested the accuracy of the display.
One thing I love is the throttle. Unlike the pre-production bike that Court reviewed, the ones that are shipping now allow full power on the throttle even in assist level 1, up to 20 mph. What I really love the trottle for is when I need to take off quickly while turning. When turning, you can’t really pedal because the pedal on the inside of the turn might strike the ground, so the throttle is the perfect solution. Just love it. It works the same in assist modes 1 through 5, and it’s disabled in mode 0 (no assist). This is different than the pedal assist level which does top out at different speeds (mode 1 tops out at 14.5 mph, mode 2 is around 20mph, etc.) and each assist mode seems to provide a different max current draw, so mode 1 requires more work to go up a hill than mode 2 for example.
The motor is very quiet. I would say more quiet than any of the 4 or 5 other bikes I tested. Possibly the only thing quieter would be a direct drive hub motor which I did not test drive. The road noise from the tires on pavement is about the same loudness, and even that is pretty quiet. These tires are perfect for my use, which is a mix of pavement and trails. They don't have a ton of rolling resistance, and they have good traction when you are on a firm, but not necessarily even, surface.
The motor is quite powerful. There were some pretty steep hills on the trail I took, and it handled them all fine. I even took the steepest paved one and stopped on the steepest part and with throttle only was able to go up it from a standstill, albeit only around 6 or 7 mph. It obviously would go much faster if I helped by pedaling, or approached it with a little speed. I was quite impressed. I did a little off-roading with it also, and it’s a bit heavy so it does have more inertia when you are flying over gravel or small rocks, so it felt a little looser than my regular mountain bike, but not unstable or anything. It’s kinda cool actually; it feels just a touch like controlled drifting in a rally car. This might also come from the plus sized tires.
I noticed the charger got very warm when I charged it from completely empty (how it shipped) to full. It does run a little cooler when only doing a partial charge like from 40% back up to 80%. I was also disappointed that it was transported on empty (the battery indicator on the display was empty and blinking when I connected it the very first time). This is not good for the battery, although since there wasn’t much energy in it, maybe it was transported this way for safety reasons.
I kinda wish the trigger shifters had a readout for what gear you are in. This comes in handy when you ride with someone else, and you want to tell them to shift down to 5th gear for example. If they are on the Shred, they have no idea what gear they are in. I do like the sram multi shift feature, but don't use it all that much.
The best feature on this bike though, has to be the torque/cadence sensor. It beats all the other bikes I tested and they were all more expensive than the Shred. It reacts quickly and smoothly. You really do feel like Superman going up hills or taking off from a dead stop because the motor feels like an invisible extension of your legs. If you pedal gently you go slowly, but if you pedal hard, the thing really moves out (like you are 3 times stronger than you really are). There are no big clunks when it kicks it or turns off like you see on some of the other lower end bike video reviews. It's just super fun.
I'll check back in later after I get a few more miles on it to give you a more longer term impression.