Zen Samurai Diamond initial review

PDB415

Member
Here is my review of the Zen Samurai that I picked up in Ashland Oregon this week:


Background: I have a cool fat tire Rohloff hub hard tail and a Pinion drive Priority 600 for my on and off road biking. My wife did not like riding with me because she had trouble keeping up. I bought her a Specialized Como early in 2020 and she has loved it so far. She went to not being able to keep up to smoking me effortlessly up hills in San Francisco. The two issues I have with her bike are that the frame is a size small and the seat cannot be raised high enough for me to ride comfortably and secondly she does not let me ride her bike at all as she thinks I am too hard on it. I rode it one and only one time and had a blast. I started looking in to Ebikes for myself and was trending towards the Reise and Muller high end bikes. With price tags of $10k+ I was not interested. I found the Zen page on the Electric Bike Forums back in late June and connected with Ravi. I really gravitated towards the components he was advertising and thought his bike looked like a low maintenance beast. Ravi kept me in the loop as the bike developed.

First Ride: I took the bike on a 22+ mile trip starting on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, around the Marin Headlands, across the bridge and diagonally across San Francisco. 90%+ of the trip was paved although some of it was more pothole than road. My assist level was 50% eco, 30% tour, 14% sport and 5% Turbo. I only used turbo when I was on a road known for heavy traffic and I did not want to get run over lollygagging up the hill.

Things I liked: This is by far the heaviest bike I own and as such it was rock solid. It handled great at speed which was really nice. The brakes were very competent and I only doubted them once. The assist levels are easy to switch through as needed and the Rohloff E-shifting is pretty damn cool. The headlight and brake lights are really nice though I was riding in broad daylight. The combination of the front fork and Kinect (sp?) seat made the bike feel like a full suspension bike as far as absorbing potholed and rough pavement. There was one hill on the Marin side that was 15% downgrade for 3 miles. Me plus the bike lock plus the bike had a difficult time slowing down. In all fairness the road bikers passed me but I was not comfortable with their speed. The brakes did a great job on every other hill and there were some steep ones. The Rohloff E shifter worked really great overall and I especially liked that it reset to 5th gear after a full stop. The handlebar grips were very comfortable.

Things I wasn’t crazy about: There was a little motor noise that was audible when I was on a road with no cars or wind. It wasn’t bad but it was there. As soon as there was traffic the motor noise was 100% gone in to the inaudible background. I have heard the noise goes away or gets lower with some breaking in. The noise was quieter in the mid gears and louder in the lower gears when I was ascending hills and the motor was working hard. I have a manual Rohloff bike with a twist shifter so I am already used to having to come off the pedal force to get a shift. This is especially true when going uphill. The Eshifter is cool but the same rules apply, you are going to have a difficult time shifting is you are putting torque on the pedal.

For some reason the Kiox display and my phone did not record my route but they did record statistics from the ride such as distance, time, max speed, average user power. I am confused as to how it got this information but not the actual path I took. I am sure this is user error and I do not put it on the bike at all.

Overall: This is a great Ebike and if you are looking for one I would buy this again. I look forward to riding the bike more and when I transfer closer to home I could see myself commuting on this great bike. I cannot overstate how solid and stable the ride was. I am a complete novice when it comes to ebiking but I won’t be for long. I hope this helps anyone who is on the fence.

Edit: I got home with a little over 70% of the battery left meaning I could have kept riding in brutal hill country for another 40 or so miles or 60+ miles in total. My legs would not have survived. If I would have stayed in eco mode I am sure I could have done 100+ miles as long as my legs didn't jump overboard and leave me.

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This is half way down a 3 mile 15% grade hill
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Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Really great to hear of your experience, @PDB415 !
All credit goes to the Zen USA team and any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
In regards to navigation and recording the route, the KIOX uses the smartphone to get the GPS coordinates and record the location information. This quick tutorial should help.
If it is not connected to the phone, then it will only record the ride statistics.


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FezUSA

Active Member
@PDB415 If I'm not mistaken about your brakes, these are at least mid-grade (if not better), 4-piston hydraulic brakes on a 203mm front rotor (180 rear). I know that they're favored by some downhill mtn bikes as an upgrade to stock brakes, so I'm a little surprised to hear you had a difficult time slowing down. That said the laws of physics remain, and a 15% grade for a few miles means you can get quite a head of steam going!! What kind of speed were you doing at max? Glad to hear you felt that the bike handled it well though!

I know I've been 35+mph on a downhill when a deer stepped out not too far in front, and once at 32 when a rabbit ran under my pedals and rear wheel. The former smoked the brakes, the latter was instant roadkill and thrown at the head of the guy behind me who almost fell off his bike dodging and laughing at me in equal parts. Picked up a new nickname in that group thereafter!!

Bike looks totally awesome, and happy to read your feedback. Keep posting as you rack up more miles!!
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Thank you for the report. Rohloffs are nice! Is it a 14-Speed? One thing about brakes is that they need to break-in. When new the pads have not meshed with the rotors. Let the guys and gals kitted out on road bikes pass on the downhills. You will pass them on the climbs and it is better to follow your gut as to speed on a long downhill ride to be safe.
 

PDB415

Member
@PDB415 If I'm not mistaken about your brakes, these are at least mid-grade (if not better), 4-piston hydraulic brakes on a 203mm front rotor (180 rear). I know that they're favored by some downhill mtn bikes as an upgrade to stock brakes, so I'm a little surprised to hear you had a difficult time slowing down. That said the laws of physics remain, and a 15% grade for a few miles means you can get quite a head of steam going!! What kind of speed were you doing at max? Glad to hear you felt that the bike handled it well though!

I know I've been 35+mph on a downhill when a deer stepped out not too far in front, and once at 32 when a rabbit ran under my pedals and rear wheel. The former smoked the brakes, the latter was instant roadkill and thrown at the head of the guy behind me who almost fell off his bike dodging and laughing at me in equal parts. Picked up a new nickname in that group thereafter!!

Bike looks totally awesome, and happy to read your feedback. Keep posting as you rack up more miles!!
Hi Fez,
There is no question that the brakes are really good and I didn't want to give the impression they were inadequate in any way. This was my first ride and really the first time these brakes were stressed at all. The other riding to this downhill was all either flat or uphill which did not require any braking. All the other hills including VanNess from Lombard to Market (steep Downhill with lots of lights) the brakes performed perfectly.

I did not have my phone and bike synced properly which has since been corrected so I do not know my top speed on the major downhill. I do know the app said my top speed was 34.7mph which I assume was the hill. I feel a little sorry for the brakes having to stop the 50lb bike, 260lb me, and another 20lbs of water and bike lock.

I have another ride planned after work tomorrow and I will update the thread when I get home. Hopefully I got the syncing user error issue fixed.
 

PDB415

Member
Thank you for the report. Rohloffs are nice! Is it a 14-Speed? One thing about brakes is that they need to break-in. When new the pads have not meshed with the rotors. Let the guys and gals kitted out on road bikes pass on the downhills. You will pass them on the climbs and it is better to follow your gut as to speed on a long downhill ride to be safe.
The Rohloff is a 14 speed and is super cool. I have one on a non ebike that I have used and abused and the hub is still perfect. From what I can tell the rules are the same from the unpowered to the powered in that the hub really does not like to shift under torque. The E-shift motor cut off is noticeable and very handy downhill and on the straights but uphill under pedal pressure the hub is not going to be happy trying to shift. This is not big deal as I was used to this already.

The pads were not meshed with the rotors in any way as that was the first major stopping action I performed on the bike. Prior to that I had been on flat ground or uphill.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
And so it begins....Congrats to the buyer and Ravi for a fine bike!

And OP, don't feel bad if your other bikes don't see much use for awhile, they are inanimate objects and won't suffer too badly.
 

PDB415

Member
On Friday I asked my wife to drop me off at work with my bike so I would have no other option than to ride it home. I would have to cross the Richmond-San Rafael bridge and the Golden Gate to make it. I ended up covering just over 35 miles in 2:26. Google maps had 1700' of elevation change. I rode 51% in tour and 46% in Eco. I am still working on solving the user errors associated with Kiox. The Kiox/iphone wanted me to take public transportation or ride across the Bay Bridge which is impossible for a bike. I ended up leaving the kiox navigator on in the background and using Apple maps to navigate to the Golden Gate.
About 5 miles in to the ride the wind picked up against me and it did not let up until I got home. It was not terrible but it was a constant opposing force. The bike in Tour mode really helped me knock the hills out. I still did 45% of the work according to bosch and worked up a nice sweat. I am pretty confident I would not have made it on one of my other bikes between the wind and hills.

I am still getting used to the Kiox Display. I have to turn off the "allow gps tracking when the app is closed" as the app tracked my location over 30 times on Saturday and Sunday. The brakes worked flawlessly and there were some pretty long and steep downhills I rode.

Overall I am still very happy with the Samurai.

Also I think I saw the step through frames when I was in Ashland and they looked amazing.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
On Friday I asked my wife to drop me off at work with my bike so I would have no other option than to ride it home. I would have to cross the Richmond-San Rafael bridge and the Golden Gate to make it. I ended up covering just over 35 miles in 2:26. Google maps had 1700' of elevation change. I rode 51% in tour and 46% in Eco. I am still working on solving the user errors associated with Kiox. The Kiox/iphone wanted me to take public transportation or ride across the Bay Bridge which is impossible for a bike. I ended up leaving the kiox navigator on in the background and using Apple maps to navigate to the Golden Gate.
About 5 miles in to the ride the wind picked up against me and it did not let up until I got home. It was not terrible but it was a constant opposing force. The bike in Tour mode really helped me knock the hills out. I still did 45% of the work according to bosch and worked up a nice sweat. I am pretty confident I would not have made it on one of my other bikes between the wind and hills.

I am still getting used to the Kiox Display. I have to turn off the "allow gps tracking when the app is closed" as the app tracked my location over 30 times on Saturday and Sunday. The brakes worked flawlessly and there were some pretty long and steep downhills I rode.

Overall I am still very happy with the Samurai.

Also I think I saw the step through frames when I was in Ashland and they looked amazing.

Thanks for sharing your experience.
From my own personal experience, the navigation maps /features offered by Komoot are not up to the mark in comparison with Google or Waze.


One alternative way is to map out the ride on Komoot on a desktop computer, picking the exact route you would like to take and transfer that route to Kiox. This predetermined route should yield much better results compared to impromptu route planning.