Bafang Ultra Mid-Drive Fat Tire Ebike Review - Etek Hunter

mail_e36

New Member
Hey everyone, after several years of riding a standard no-frills 500W Hub-Drive Fat Tire Ebike, I've finally decided to upgrade to a mid-drive.

Below is the review I wrote for the Etek (or 'E-Tek') Hunter Bafang-powered Ultra Mid Drive Ebike.

Please let this forum know your thoughts on this ebike configuration, in the thread below (both good and bad):

Intro:

If you were considering the Bikonit Warthog MD1000, but can’t fathom spending nearly 8K on an ebike, you’ve found the right alternative with the Etek Hunter, for about half that cost, with some notable feature differences (lack of Internally Geared Hub, or IGH, along with mid-level features such as dual-piston brakes in lieu of the super expensive quad-piston brakes, a no-frills mechanical drivetrain, etc.)

As the saying goes with anything in the luxury realm, you’re not buying the ‘product’ itself on its merits alone, you’re in fact buying the ‘seller’, and making a decision based on their reputation, best you can discern it.

If you call the vendor during business hours to ask questions, a United States based human actually picks up the phone. And they are friendly, as well as overall knowledgeable, at least in my personal experience. As always, your mileage may vary.

I should mention, if you’re paying 3.5K-5K USD for an ebike, chances are this is not your first ebike. You’re probably upgrading from an entry-level hub drive ebike, which probably cost around 1.5K or less, which you’ve likely outgrown, in no time at all. Suffice to say, this mid-drive ebike is a MAJOR upgrade from an inexpensive hub-drive ebike, once you take into account a few important caveats. This is definitely NOT an entry-level ebike.

I’ll break the review down into pertinent sections:

Motor:

The massive 1,000W Bafang Ultra motor (which peaks at closer to 1,500 watts under load) is just incredible. Best I can tell, this is the UART version of the G510.1000 / M620 electrical motor, based on the round-type of plug which goes into the screen. This means that this version of the G510.1000 / M620 electrical motor is likely programmable / customizable, albeit I haven’t tried the programming cable yet. The CANBUS version of this motor, which nowadays ships on the super-expensive Bikonit Warthog MD1000 is not currently customizable, to the best of my knowledge. This is likely a major advantage of the Etek Hunter over its (significantly!) more expensive cousin.

Although there does not appear to be a gear-shift sensor on the Etek Hunter, I am unsure that one is necessary on this Bafang Ultra motor. My shifts, even under moderate load, are smooth and no noticeable noise or grinding of the gears is heard.

Just in case, I’ve gotten into the habit of using the left hand (front) brake level as a ‘clutch’ of sorts when shifting gears (the brake lever definitely disengages the motor temporarily, by design, so you are not fighting the motor when attempting to brake), but again I don’t think it’s necessary.

However, you do feel a bit like you’re riding a motorcycle this way when engaging a ‘clutch’ (even if it’s really the placebo effect), which makes it kind of fun to ride… albeit certainly not necessary, best I can tell.

The motor is both torque sensing and cadence sensing, which is a major plus, compared to simpler Bafang BBS02 / BBSHD type mid-drive motors and most hub-drive motors, which are usually just cadence sensing.

And yes, because the bike has a motorcycle style throttle (on the right side), you could theoretically ride it like a motorbike, albeit you’ll definitely be putting wear-and-tear on the mechanical components, especially if you’re always starting from a full stop in a high gear. On any mid-drive ebike, this is absolutely 100% expected.

Display (DPC18):

The full color display allows you to set all kinds of features of the motor via an open-secret combination of keys (Google is your friend here), including the ability to adjust motor settings to ‘off-road’ mode, if you’re planning to use the 80 lbs plus ebike on exclusively private trails where the speed limit is only constrained by your common sense :)

Seat:

The seat is a super comfortable Justek Saddle with a suspension seat post… albeit the suspension is super-rudimentary. This is a $50 seat suspension post… not the fancy $250 seat suspension posts you can get online… so while it’s certainly better than an entirely stiff seat post which most ebikes in this price range come with, don’t expect miracles. The seat itself has good springs in it, and has a fairly upright riding angle/position, which is perfect for this bike. The sitting angle is more ‘cruiser’ than anything else, which is perfect if you want to take in the scenery, but perhaps not so great if you’re doing super technical and narrow offroad downhill trails with cliffs all around you… which you’re definitely not doing on a heavy ebike like this.

Lighting:

The headlight is controlled by the central motor controller and internal battery, and is really a “to be seen” type of light, rather than a “see” type of light, as it will not illuminate your way on a dark country road. However, it is perfectly suitable for slow evening riding down bike paths in a quiet park.

If you need better visibility at night consider upgrading to the Lezyne Macro Drive 100 headlight via aftermarket sources, which will also integrate nicely with the central motor control unit and switch. The stock light is perfectly adequate for daytime and early evening riding.

The bike does not come with a tail light, and it’s unclear how easily a rear light can be wired into the main wiring harness / 30 amp battery, although I’m sure there is a way, if you’re handy with electronics. The quick solution is to buy a battery operated tail light, $10-$20 online. Some come with brake sensing “stop” lights, by using a sensor to determine braking. Not a bad idea if you’re riding in traffic.

Battery:

Unlike inexpensive and prior generation ebikes which use the 18650 cell type, this ebike uses the advanced 2170 cells, which are both higher capacity and physically smaller.

My understanding is that Tesla had something to do with the development of the 2170 cell types in the industry, thus it’s a fairly -accurate statement that the bike has ‘Tesla’ batteries, although of course they’re made by a third party (Samsung / LG).

An important note that both batteries are integrated nicely into the frame, and do not stick out whatsoever.

This gives the bike a very fluid look, if that matters to you. It’s important to note that the two batteries are keyed differently (you get two keys for each battery, resulting in a total of four keys with the bike).

The batteries are apparently removable, but the removal mechanism is not intuitive, and thus my quick attempt at getting the two batteries off the bike was not initially successful. I’m sure there is a trick to the mechanism, but either way this is not the type of bike you want to leave chained up (even with the batteries removed) in a less-than-safe neighborhood.

To the untrained eye, it looks like a motorcycle, and thus would attract attention. You’re best off garaging the bike and not leaving it vulnerable on the sidewalk, with or without the batteries on it… if you can manage to remove them.

Another important consideration is that each battery must be charged individually. The ebike comes with a single 2 amp charger, thus I would recommend spending another $25 online to buy an identical charger, so you can juice both batteries simultaneously.

If fully drained, you’re looking at an overnight charge time with the 2 amp chargers. Online they sell quick 4 amp and 5 amp ‘smart’ chargers, but at that price, the juice might not be worth the squeeze…. no pun intended.

It should be noted that there is (what appears to be) a centralized charging hole/port on the frame, but it’s not connected to anything internally, it appears.

I imagine a future generation of this ebike type may be able to charge both batteries simultaneously, but not with this generation. Not a big deal, really, as long as you buy a second charger online.

Based on research, while riding, the two batteries alternate inusage. The system automatically tracks the charge states of both batteries and switches between them when it detects a charge difference of five percent. This ensures that both batteries are discharged and used in an equal manner, which apparently significantly prolongs the service life of the batteries. If necessary, you have the option to use just one battery, although you’ll have a gaping hole in the frame, and the connectors would be exposed to the elements. In this case, it doesn't matter which unit the battery is attached to. I should mention, the two batteries can be charged directly on the bike or detached and charged on an external charger.

It is important to note that unlike on cheaper ebikes, the battery percentage indicator does not jump around under load, this is a huge Battery Management System (BMS) improvement over cheaper bikes. If you’ve ever felt the stress of riding an inexpensive ebike with the battery-remaining percentage jumping around like crazy under load (during a hill climb), you’ll appreciate the accuracy and serenity of this stable BMS configuration. Major bonus points here.

I am unsure of the range of this ebike, as I have never come close to draining the battery, and in any case, fully draining an ebike battery (or batteries, in this case) is undesirable from a longevity perspective, based on research posted online.

Tires:

26"x4.0 CST BFT Puncture Proof Fat Tires come with the bike. They are quiet on pavement, but have a decent amount of grip for moderate trail and gravel riding. You are unlikely to scale mountains on these tires… but that’s not the use case for this ebike, although the crazy-powerful Bafang Ultra motor certainly won’t hold you back from it, just make sure you have adequate life insurance… or buy an actual mountain bike!

Mechanical Drivetrain & Transmission

This review would not be complete without examining the mechanical drivetrain and transmission. In order to keep costs reasonable, the vendor chose to install the very much entry-level Shimano Tourney TZ drivetrain on this absolute gem of an ebike.

This is the same drivetrain you’d find on sub-$500 ‘non-enthusiast’ manual bicycles at the big-box stores.

Don’t get me wrong, it certainly gets the job done, and chances are good that with the massive Bafang Ultra motor you’re not going to be doing much manual peddling anyway, unless your batteries drain entirely… which at 30 amp total capacity, is rather unlikely for most people.

The Shimano Tourney TZ drivetrain’s hill climbing ability without electrical assist is nearly non-existent on this very heavy ebike.

In summary, most purchasers of this ebike won’t care about the entry-level manual drivetrain, since it’s merely an afterthought when you have 1,500 peak watts plus of electrical power… just don’t run out of juice, or you’ll need a tow if your trip home involves anything more than very modest inclines!

The cassette is Shimano HG 7 speed, 14-28T. Again, nothing particularly fancy, but at least it’s ‘branded’ Shimano, versus the unbranded stuff some ebike manufacturers put on their bikes

For those who may want to upgrade the drivetrain, per insights from a Local Bike Shop (LBS), the rear free-hub (made by Quando) is compatible with an upgrade to SRAM X5 9 speed, with the trigger shifters replacing the clunky (but fully functional) Tourney shifter. The cost for an LBS to swap out the Shimano Tourney 7-speed drivetrain for the SRAM X5 9 speed drivetrain is ~$250, parts and labor. I was told it is not compatible with an 11 speed manual transmission… which would be overkill anyway since you have the electric assist.

Handlebars:

At about 29 inches long, they are quite wide. If you’re planning to load the bike inside a smaller SUV with the seats folder, just be aware that it will be tricky. You’ll likely need an ebike-rated rear rack to transport the bike on any regular basis, or a flat-bed pickup truck.

Bottleholder:

In short, there is no bottle holder, thus you’ll want to order a velcro-attached bottle holder online, which fits nicely on the ebike, or carry a small backpack. No big deal, but you’ll want to stay hydrated.

Cable Management:

The cable management is perfect, zero complaints here, nearly everything is neatly tucked away.

Helmet:

Considering the speeds this ebike can achieve if unlocked to ‘off-road mode’ via the semi-secret menu on the display, your 20 year-old $20 helmet from Kmart may not be sufficient… consider an upgrade. A full-face helmet may not be a bad idea, if you can stomach the look of it.

Horn / Bell:

There is none, you’ll want to spend $10 to buy one online.

Suspension Fork:

Mozo air shock fork feels great over bumps. I’m unsure which precise Mozo model number this is, or how many mm of travel it has, but it feels and rides great. A suspension stem (which never comes with ebikes out-of-the-box) is entirely unnecessary on this ebike, thanks to the great air shock suspension.

Chain:

KMC chain, I’m guessing it’s ebike rated. It looks and feels great.

Kickstand:

Standard adjustable ebike kickstand, which is sturdy enough to hold this heavy bike with zero issues. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s mounted out of the way of the pedals, thus you can maneuver the bike around with the kickstand down, without getting ‘pedal-lock’.

Front Chainring:

Best I can tell, this is a 52 tooth Narrow-Wide Bafang OEM chainring. Some reviews of this ebike have alluded to the fact that a smaller chainring swap would provide more torque on the low end (which you pay for with a slight reduction in top end high speed), but the way I see it, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Overall Safety:

You may want to purchase reflective 3M tape for additional visibility at night, and perhaps a review view mirror if you’ll be riding in the evenings. Both can be had for under $20 online.

Pedals:


Standard Wellgo BMX-style metal pedals with yellow reflectors. I’ve seen these exact pedals last 3,000 miles on other ebikes with little abuse. No complaints whatsoever, although $40 online could buy you a nice (but unnecessary) upgrade to higher end pedals.

Rear Rack & Mud Flaps:

The ebike comes with a solid-feeling and color-matching rear bike rack (which you have the option of not using, of course), and color-matching mud flaps. The mud flaps are partial coverage, but at this price range usually ebikes don’t come with any mud flaps at all, so consider this a nice freebie, if you choose to use them.

Standover Height:

Anyone under 5’10” should take note of the high standover distance. You’ll certainly be comfortable, albeit getting on and off will take a little bit of acrobatics/balance skills. Not unlike a motorcycle.

Anyone under 5’6” will simply not be able to mount and dismount from this bike safely in a quick emergency stopping situation, period.

Shorter riders, definitely look elsewhere, this is not the bike frame for you, due to its high standover height.

Brakes:

Tektro dual-piston brakes are whisper quiet and provide plenty of stopping power. They are a massive upgrade from noisy mechanical disc brakes you may find on cheaper bikes, albeit probably not as perfect as the super-expensive quad-piston brakes you find on 6K - 8K USD bikes. Zero complaints here.

Summary:

Overall, for the 3.5K to 5K USD range, you’d be very hard-pressed to get a deal this good on a Bafang Ultra ebike (especially one that is potentially UART programmable) with two fully integrated batteries totaling 30 amps, and a sleek look (no ugly ‘dolphin’ or ‘bottle cage’ batteries), as of mid-2022.

While not absolutely perfect in every possible way, the Etek Hunter ticks all the boxes (and then some!) in this price range, and thus is highly recommended for your first premium/luxury mid-drive ebike.

(I was not compensated for this review in any way, shape, or form, nor do I have any association with the retailer/manufacturer, other than being a happy customer.)

Please let the forum know in the thread below regarding your thoughts on this ebike, and whether this bike is worth the price.

Good, bad, and indifferent feedback is well welcome.

Thanks!
 

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Pine_marten

Active Member
Region
USA
Pretty sure i would not care for the 80 lb. weight of this bike. I have found a 750 BBS02 to have plenty of power for urban use in my hilly city.. And the drive train wear with this thing is sure to be an issue. Be interesting to try one out though. Perhaps all that power would prove irresistible?
 

mail_e36

New Member
I really want an FLX blade but this might just be the ticket for half the cost
The FLX Blade looks super interesting, but likely has an entirely different target audience, more of a mountain bike type of layout, rather than the cruiser layout, which is what this one is.
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Petaluma, CA
Adding to a bike is easy. Pairing down is the hard part. I like to keep my mid-drive builds under 40 pounds.
 

mail_e36

New Member
Yes, 100%, ElevenAD.

The bike has several names, including Bikonit Warthog (MD750 / HD750 / MD1000), Juggernaut Ultra Beast 2, Etek Hunter (the one I revived), Steamoon Spectre-X direct from Asia, and other unbranded look-alikes from the 'Leili' China-based supplier.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
... the drive train wear with this thing is sure to be an issue.
If the builder did the building right, increased drivetrain wear doesn't happen so long as the rider does their part. Mid drives up the ante on the competence of the builder and the rider. Heavy emphasis on the former. The ugliest results are conversions from hobbyists who didn't think them through. A manufactured bike very likely has the rookie moves dialed out.

 

mail_e36

New Member
If the builder did the building right, increased drivetrain wear doesn't happen so long as the rider does their part. Mid drives up the ante on the competence of the builder and the rider. Heavy emphasis on the former. The ugliest results are conversions from hobbyists who didn't think them through. A manufactured bike very likely has the rookie moves dialed out.

That's a wonderful point, and thanks for the link m@Robertson.

 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
Pretty sure i would not care for the 80 lb. weight of this bike. I have found a 750 BBS02 to have plenty of power for urban use in my hilly city.. And the drive train wear with this thing is sure to be an issue. Be interesting to try one out though. Perhaps all that power would prove irresistible?
I think the power proves irresitible when trying to maintain commute speeds going up a hill that is more than say 5% slope. None of the 250W EU spec'd motors can sustain anything close to 20mph without a huge effort from the rider which impacts avg speed and that matters when using an ebike for urban mobility. I understand that an EU spec'd ebike can go up those hills without a lot of rider effort but only if you are OK going much slower and geared down to the lower gears for rider input.
 

Pine_marten

Active Member
Region
USA
If the builder did the building right, increased drivetrain wear doesn't happen so long as the rider does their part. Mid drives up the ante on the competence of the builder and the rider. Heavy emphasis on the former. The ugliest results are conversions from hobbyists who didn't think them through. A manufactured bike very likely has the rookie moves dialed out.

Enjoyed the article. Made good sense.