Rode the Rockstar up a 14-er! Pikes Peak Group Ebike Ride

troehrkasse

EBR Webmaster
Staff member
Region
USA
City
Fort Collins
On the 4th of July I rode with Houshmand and the employees of Ebikes USA on a group ride to the top of Pikes Peak, a popular 14-er in Colorado. I got to pick any bike from their inventory for my ride and couldn't pass up the opportunity to try out the Rockstar!

It was a hell of a ride, much harder than I expected... I'm not sure why I thought it would be easier, I just haven't attempted a ride like this before and I was overly optimistic. The ascent was 19 miles with about 7,000 feet of elevation gain. Traffic was extremely heavy, that's what we get for doing this on a holiday, although we did start very early in an attempt to beat traffic.

The Rockstar did amazing. My dad rode one as well, and we were the only two riders with any battery left to spare at the end (me with 14% and my dad had 6%). Here's how all the ebikes fared:
  • Diamondback Current, battery died about 3/4 mile from the top. Rider walked it the rest of the way up as he was completely fried himself by that point.
  • SONDORS X custom build, died about the same spot as the Current and walked up to the top.
  • Me and my dad rode our Rockstars all the way to the top, but we were under 20% for the last couple miles and it was pretty brutal, motor power was pretty low once we got under 20% and the throttle did absolutely nothing.
  • Diamondback Response died about one mile from the top, rider opted to turn around and head down (smart because he avoided the worst of the incoming storm, more on that below).
  • Juiced CrossCurrent, made it about 10 miles up before the motor started overheating. Rider rode the rest of the way up in the shop van and then rode the downhill.
  • Two other custom modded SONDORS bikes broke down about a mile in, motor cutting out on one, fried controller on the other. Bad luck as the ebikes have about 10k miles each and have been to the top of several other 14-ers!
The weather was sweltering hot at the start, after about mile 10 it got cloudy and cold, the last five miles or so were brutally cold and windy with sprinkles of cold rain. The four of us that made it to the top were exhausted and rested too long up there, a thunderstorm rolled in and we had icy cold rain, hail, and wind for our ride down. That was a hell of an experience, I brought a jacket and gloves but they weren't waterproof or particularly warm. I'm a notoriously poor planner when it comes to extreme conditions 😬. Another rider had good gear but forgot it in the van, he ended up wearing a spare pare of pants as a makeshift jacket! I shot the below video with my chest mount, starting at the peak and ending at halfway down the mountain. Fair warning, I didn't edit the video at all, there's water on the lens for a lot of it, and an annoying backpack strap that kept falling in front of the camera, and sections of me leaning forward to minimize drag so you get nice blurry shots of the handlebars and ground. Once we got about halfway down the storm cleared and the sun came out, the rest of the ride was amazing with a light warm rain, but my camera was dead by that point.


Thoughts on the Rockstar
The Rockstar is one hell of an ebike. It looks and feels huge, weighs 83 pounds, but for me it was the perfect combination of stable and nimble. Keep in mind I'm a pretty big guy at 6ft 3in and about 200 pounds. It's ridiculously powerful, able to easily accelerate up the inclines on throttle (at least when the battery is high). During the ascent I doubled back about 2 miles to check on our broken down riders, and then repeated that 2 miles of the ascent to catch up with the other riders, maintaining ~20mph using level 5 assist and pedaling briskly. I regretted that excessive motor use later, when I was running out of battery near the summit... live and learn! I'm not a professional MTB rider by any means, so I can't evaluate the Rockstar from that perspective, but I can say it's the most fun I've had on an ebike in a long time. It felt incredibly well built, easily the best I've ridden from SONDORS (and I've ridden almost their whole lineup). I think it's impressive that it outperformed the Current and Response from Diamondback, both of which have efficient and expensive Gen 4 Bosch motors (Performance Line Speed). To be fair, the Rockstar battery pack is about twice the capacity of what's in the Diamondbacks... but still! The two Diamondback riders had to use lower assist levels on average, with no throttles.
  • I rode in level 3 assist for most of the ascent with occasional throttle use during the first half. I used gears 2 or 3 for the first half, most of the last half of the ascent was in first gear, and for the last two miles or so I bumped it up to level 5 assist, although it didn't feel any different than 3 at that point since I was below 20% battery remaining. I had to stand up on the pedals for the last half mile or so, my legs were just noodles by then.
  • I reached the summit with 17% battery to spare. The next 3% went to the few inclines on the ride down, I kept it at 0 for most of the descent but kept the display on so I could see my speed.
  • Speaking of speed: I hit a top speed of 59.1mph on the ascent down, during the second half of the descent when conditions were nicer (which I didn't film). It's insane to me that I was able to get going that fast and still feel safe! Seriously, the Rockstar felt rock(star)-solid stable, there was never any point where I felt even the slightest wobble or instability. I honestly had no idea I was going that fast, until I reached the bottom and checked my top speed record in the display settings. I ride motorcycles a lot and I think that contributed, I'm used to the feeling of high speed on two wheels. The next fastest rider was on the Diamondback Current and I believe he hit 47.3mph.
  • Brakes did amazing. I had to use them heavily on the descent, plus slow down in a hurry a few times due to clueless drivers deciding to perform a 37-point U-turn right in front of me.
  • Suspension was also awesome! I did quite a bit of riding on the shoulder and in the drainage ditch next to the highway, some intentional to bypass traffic, some unplanned to dodge car doors opened right in front of me. Passengers never seem to check the mirror before randomly exiting their vehicle!
I had one heck of a good time overall, would definitely do it again. Big thanks to Houshmand and his crew for making it happen and providing bikes for everyone!

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billmeek

Member
Region
USA
City
Summertown, TN
Nice ride report... but you're not done. Get back out there and do it again on the LX (and maybe the Cruiser). We need comparisons of the Sondors mid-drives.

It's your dang fault I have a LX on order from watching this video too many times:


I don't want to get the LX in hand and say, "Well... LX is better than the MXS, but is the Rockstar better for my riding than the LX?"
 

BigNerd

Well-Known Member
Awesome post. Nice to hear that the Rockstar did so well... it took a while but looks like Sondors made a quality bike at a decent price.

Good on your dad too... I would never attempt to bike up any type of mountain at my age so I'll just live vicariously through this story.
 

troehrkasse

EBR Webmaster
Staff member
Region
USA
City
Fort Collins
Get back out there and do it again on the LX (and maybe the Cruiser). We need comparisons of the Sondors mid-drives.
My dad was supposed to ride the LX, but it was having some motor problems :( no fault of SONDORS, his shop had a break in and the LX was one of the stolen bikes. The police were able to recovered it but the thieves damaged it.

From my experience on the LX I think it would also do great on this kind of ride, although it might not quite make it to the top since it's heavier and has those massive 4.9" tires. The downhill though would have been awesome!
 

voidedwarranty

Active Member
On the 4th of July I rode with Houshmand and the employees of Ebikes USA on a group ride to the top of Pikes Peak, a popular 14-er in Colorado. I got to pick any bike from their inventory for my ride and couldn't pass up the opportunity to try out the Rockstar!

It was a hell of a ride, much harder than I expected... I'm not sure why I thought it would be easier, I just haven't attempted a ride like this before and I was overly optimistic. The ascent was 19 miles with about 7,000 feet of elevation gain. Traffic was extremely heavy, that's what we get for doing this on a holiday, although we did start very early in an attempt to beat traffic.

The Rockstar did amazing. My dad rode one as well, and we were the only two riders with any battery left to spare at the end (me with 14% and my dad had 6%). Here's how all the ebikes fared:
  • Diamondback Current, battery died about 3/4 mile from the top. Rider walked it the rest of the way up as he was completely fried himself by that point.
  • SONDORS X custom build, died about the same spot as the Current and walked up to the top.
  • Me and my dad rode our Rockstars all the way to the top, but we were under 20% for the last couple miles and it was pretty brutal, motor power was pretty low once we got under 20% and the throttle did absolutely nothing.
  • Diamondback Response died about one mile from the top, rider opted to turn around and head down (smart because he avoided the worst of the incoming storm, more on that below).
  • Juiced CrossCurrent, made it about 10 miles up before the motor started overheating. Rider rode the rest of the way up in the shop van and then rode the downhill.
  • Two other custom modded SONDORS bikes broke down about a mile in, motor cutting out on one, fried controller on the other. Bad luck as the ebikes have about 10k miles each and have been to the top of several other 14-ers!
The weather was sweltering hot at the start, after about mile 10 it got cloudy and cold, the last five miles or so were brutally cold and windy with sprinkles of cold rain. The four of us that made it to the top were exhausted and rested too long up there, a thunderstorm rolled in and we had icy cold rain, hail, and wind for our ride down. That was a hell of an experience, I brought a jacket and gloves but they weren't waterproof or particularly warm. I'm a notoriously poor planner when it comes to extreme conditions 😬. Another rider had good gear but forgot it in the van, he ended up wearing a spare pare of pants as a makeshift jacket! I shot the below video with my chest mount, starting at the peak and ending at halfway down the mountain. Fair warning, I didn't edit the video at all, there's water on the lens for a lot of it, and an annoying backpack strap that kept falling in front of the camera, and sections of me leaning forward to minimize drag so you get nice blurry shots of the handlebars and ground. Once we got about halfway down the storm cleared and the sun came out, the rest of the ride was amazing with a light warm rain, but my camera was dead by that point.


Thoughts on the Rockstar
The Rockstar is one hell of an ebike. It looks and feels huge, weighs 83 pounds, but for me it was the perfect combination of stable and nimble. Keep in mind I'm a pretty big guy at 6ft 3in and about 200 pounds. It's ridiculously powerful, able to easily accelerate up the inclines on throttle (at least when the battery is high). During the ascent I doubled back about 2 miles to check on our broken down riders, and then repeated that 2 miles of the ascent to catch up with the other riders, maintaining ~20mph using level 5 assist and pedaling briskly. I regretted that excessive motor use later, when I was running out of battery near the summit... live and learn! I'm not a professional MTB rider by any means, so I can't evaluate the Rockstar from that perspective, but I can say it's the most fun I've had on an ebike in a long time. It felt incredibly well built, easily the best I've ridden from SONDORS (and I've ridden almost their whole lineup). I think it's impressive that it outperformed the Current and Response from Diamondback, both of which have efficient and expensive Gen 4 Bosch motors (Performance Line Speed). To be fair, the Rockstar battery pack is about twice the capacity of what's in the Diamondbacks... but still! The two Diamondback riders had to use lower assist levels on average, with no throttles.
  • I rode in level 3 assist for most of the ascent with occasional throttle use during the first half. I used gears 2 or 3 for the first half, most of the last half of the ascent was in first gear, and for the last two miles or so I bumped it up to level 5 assist, although it didn't feel any different than 3 at that point since I was below 20% battery remaining. I had to stand up on the pedals for the last half mile or so, my legs were just noodles by then.
  • I reached the summit with 17% battery to spare. The next 3% went to the few inclines on the ride down, I kept it at 0 for most of the descent but kept the display on so I could see my speed.
  • Speaking of speed: I hit a top speed of 59.1mph on the ascent down, during the second half of the descent when conditions were nicer (which I didn't film). It's insane to me that I was able to get going that fast and still feel safe! Seriously, the Rockstar felt rock(star)-solid stable, there was never any point where I felt even the slightest wobble or instability. I honestly had no idea I was going that fast, until I reached the bottom and checked my top speed record in the display settings. I ride motorcycles a lot and I think that contributed, I'm used to the feeling of high speed on two wheels. The next fastest rider was on the Diamondback Current and I believe he hit 47.3mph.
  • Brakes did amazing. I had to use them heavily on the descent, plus slow down in a hurry a few times due to clueless drivers deciding to perform a 37-point U-turn right in front of me.
  • Suspension was also awesome! I did quite a bit of riding on the shoulder and in the drainage ditch next to the highway, some intentional to bypass traffic, some unplanned to dodge car doors opened right in front of me. Passengers never seem to check the mirror before randomly exiting their vehicle!
I had one heck of a good time overall, would definitely do it again. Big thanks to Houshmand and his crew for making it happen and providing bikes for everyone!

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Awesome post! Very cool that both Rockstars made it all the way and with very similar battery levels remaining. Even cooler that it was with your dad. Keep the stories coming 👍.
 

troehrkasse

EBR Webmaster
Staff member
Region
USA
City
Fort Collins
Awesome post! Very cool that both Rockstars made it all the way and with very similar battery levels remaining. Even cooler that it was with your dad. Keep the stories coming 👍.
We may do it again next year! Houshmand and his crew go every year. It sounds like Longs Peak for the next one, it's supposed to be much more bike friendly.
 

Catalyzt

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
7,000 feet of vertical in 19 miles is jaw-dropping! Great ride report, great test!

I'm very curious about power-to-weight in this scenario... e.g., if similar altitude in such a short distance could be achieved (without overexertion for a reasonably fit person) in more of an SL or lightweight configuration-- lighter bike, lighter battery, smaller motor, slower speed.

Since my 46-pound Moto can do 4,000 feet in 30 miles with 10 or 12 miles of range to spare, I am guessing my theoretical limit for that bike would be a little over 5 grand in 20-- with a lot of rest breaks. (I say theoretical because I know it took months of training to do even 4,000, though on a different mountain with a gentler grade, I might have kissed 5 grand without dying.)

Of course, it all depends on how much work you want to do, I suppose!