- A hardtail cross country style electric mountain bike with 3" wide plus sized tires and Boost hub spacing for improved wheel strength, adjustable 100 mm suspension fork with remote lockout
- Available in three frame sizes, relatively lightweight at ~47 lbs, high-torque Bosch CX motor with larger Bosch Powerpack 500 battery, beautiful battery integration on the downtube
- Large Bosch Intuvia display panel is removable and offers Micro-USB charging, rack bosses on the seat stays allow you to convert the Fuji Ambient into an all-road commuter or bring gear on backcountry adventures
- Pricier setup for a hardtail because of the fancy wheelset, tires, and Shimano Deore XT groupset, seat post didn't slide easily, CX motor uses energy faster, creates more noise, and produces some friction due to reduction gearing design but also offers shift detection to protect the drivetrain
The Fuji Ambient 27.5+ 1.3 is a hardtail, cross country style, electric mountain bike with a premium motor and battery from Bosch. It features some unique frame and wheel design features, comes in three sizes, and offers bosses for adding a rear rack that could be useful for weekday commuting as well as weekend adventure rides. I was impressed with its relative light weight, upgraded Shimano Deore XT drivetrain, and large 180 mm hydraulic disc brakes, but acknowledge the slightly higher price. Fuji was started independently in 1899 but is currently owned by Advanced Sports International, which also holds Kestrel, Breezer, and Oval Concepts. You may notice that the handlebars, grips, seat post, saddle, and wheelset are all from Oval Concepts, and are all quite nice. Fuji was named after Mount Fuji, in Japan, which is a symbol of strength and endurance… and those values are reflected in the quality of parts and comprehensive two year warranty. This ebike does something different than a lot of other hardtail mountain bikes I see, it has opted for the largest, 3-inch wide, plus sized tires that provide increased traction, float, and air volume for comfort. As someone who rides electric bikes frequently, I tend to go faster and further compared to non-electric. This translates into discomfort at times, because mountain trails are often full of ruts, uneven sections, and rocks. With 27.5″ diameter and 3″ width, these tires perform a lot like 29″ tires, lowering the attack angle and smoothing out the ride. With the support of a 100 mm air suspension fork and possibly a 30.9 mm aftermarket seat post suspension, this ebike can be very comfortable and a lot less complex, less heavy, and less expensive than a full suspension e-bike. Some considerations and trade-offs with this bike that I noticed are the larger plastic motor casing, compared to the tilted and compact Haibike and Bulls implementations of 2017 and 2018, and the increased noise produced when riding at high power settings. It appears that there was not enough room to squeeze in bottle cage bosses, and the seat post fit very tightly into the seat tube (which could have been a fluke with just this bike).
Driving the Ambient 27.5+ is a Bosch Performance Line CX mid-motor. This is the mountain-specific model from Bosch which produces up to 75 Newton meters of torque and 350 to 570 watts. It’s incredibly responsive, measuring rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque over 1,000 times per second. Rather than using a traditional sized chainring, like nearly all of the other ebike brands I have seen, Bosch developed a proprietary smaller sprocket range that rotates 2.5x for every crank arm revolution vs. one to one. The end result is an increase in chain grab with the possibility of increased chain suck if you get the drivetrain extremely muddy. I believe that the smaller chainring provides a mechanical advantage to the motor and may also start and stop quicker… which can be useful in rigorous off-road settings. In so many ways, this motor is fantastic. Yes, it weighs a bit more, produces a bit more noise in the highest levels of assist, and suffers from a bit of friction because of the reduction gearing (which is most relevant if you’re pedaling the bike when turned off or pedaling over the maximum assisted 20 mph top speed), but it’s one of the most reliable and consistent motors on the market. Note that Fuji has added a smooth alloy chainring protector to shield the 15-tooth chainring from your pants and brush. This chainring protector also keeps the chain from bouncing off track when the going gets rough. And, the Shimano Deore XT derailleur comes with a Shadow Plus one-way clutch to further reduce chain bounce and drops. Just click the little grey lever into the up position. I like this motor because it operates effectively at a wide range of pedal speeds, up to 120 RPM, while some competing products fade out around 120 or are limited to just 100. Basically, this means you can spin faster and reach higher speeds without having to shift gears. When you are shifting, the Bosch motor controller can actually detect changes in pressure and provides direction to have the motor ease off. This reduces strain on the chain, sprockets, and derailleur.
Powering this bike is the high capacity Bosch Powerpack 500. It’s one of the most compact, lightweight, and iconic ebike batteries on the market… in part because it looks exactly like the older Powerpack 400, which has been around in the United States since 2012! These two battries offer different levels of capacity (roughly 400 watt hours and 500 watt hours respectively) but they are actually interchangeable, using the same mount interface. This battery isn’t fully integrated and hidden in the downtube, but it is blended a bit. You can see near the top where the tube cuts in a bit and then down low where the frame comes up to meet the base. I like how it looks here, even though the frame color is more of a silver and the pack is black, Fuji has done an excellent job with stickers and paint accents to help the aesthetic. And, all of the shifter cables, electronic wires, and hydraulic brake lines are internally routed through the frame. When you take this battery off the bike, there’s a secure locking core and then a little handle at the top. The battery pops upwards, and when you go to put it back on, there’s an audible click. The battery on this particular review unit was a little loose, but this is something that most shops can adjust for you over time, especially if you ride off-road a lot, and this is unique to Bosch and some of the other fancy high-end battery designs. Charging the pack is pretty fast and easy with the proprietary plug and four-Amp charger. Some ebike chargers are bulky, heavy, and require dongle adapters… but not this one. It only weighs ~1.7 lbs and would be easy to stow in a backpack or trunk bag if you do opt for a rear rack. And, some trunk bags have bottle holsters like this, so you could solve the hydration issue in one fell swoop. For most bumpy trail riding however, I’d probably skip the rack altogether and get a hydration pack like this, which would also have room for the charger.
Operating the Fuji Ambient 27.5+ 1.3 is easy and comfortable with the Bosch Intuvia display panel and accompanying control pad (which is mounted near the left grip). Bosch has a few ebike displays now, and the Intuvia is one of their largest, making it easy to read. The one downside however, is that it could be vulnerable to scrapes and bumps in off-road environments. Compared to the smaller Purion model, the Intuvia offers some adjustability in angle so you can reduce glare, it’s removable for safe keeping, it shows more stats, and offers a Micro-USB port on the upper right edge for maintaining additional portable electronic devices. This particular electric bike does not have integrated lights, but many shops are capable of adding them to the Bosch system and there’s a light on/off button right there on the display. It may even be possible to downgrade the Intuvia to the Purion with the help of a shop, if you prefer the cleaner cockpit. What I love about the button pad here, is that the + and – buttons are easy to reach and reliable to click. This allows you to raise or lower assist power once the display has been turned on. You can ride in Off, Eco, Tour, eMTB, and Turbo mode, and the eMTB setting is unique to the Bosch CX motor. In this setting, the bike delivers a wide range of power and listens closely for how hard you’re pushing to determine how much it will activate. It’s incredibly to me, just how well this mode works! Especially when you consider that some other “everything” modes miss the mark or feel artificial at moments. Bosch is well known for their sensors (used in self driving cars and smartphones) and it’s cool to get a bit of smarts on an ebike like this.
I really liked the Fuji Ambient 27.5+ product. It looks beautiful, feels more comfortable than a lot of other hardtails because of the 3″ plus sized tires, and you could add a suspension seat post to take it even further. It’s not the most affordable ebike and I wish the motor looked a little bit sexier, but I love that they included rear rack bosses and went with a steeper top tube to lower stand over height. The rims are designed with plus sized tires in mind and come with reinforcement eyelets to improve strength. The fork offers remote lockout so you can save efficiency on hard pack and when climbing, by reducing bobbing, and both wheels have quick release so you can perform trail maintenance easily. The thru-axles felt sturdy and stiff but the narrower spokes, with fewer spokes, reduces weight and provides some flex and comfort that’s more like a bicycle vs. a lot of overbuilt electric bicycles. It’s the little things here, like the bulged locking grips that provide some ergonomics without begin so fat as to crowd mountain biking gloves. The two-finger brake levers work beautifully and can even be slid in a bit and used as one finger if that’s your preference. They provide great stopping power and are nicer Shimano brand vs. of the generic options. And, if for some reason you don’t stop quickly enough or just end up with a flat tire on the trail, the Bosch system has walk mode so the bike can help you out. I have used this to climb steps before, and to ascend steep rigorous sections of trail that might have otherwise been above my ride level to ascend and ended up being a real challenge to push a 50 lb bike up. Big thanks to Motostrano in Redwood City, California for letting me dig into their wide range of ebikes!
- This is one of the few hardtail models I have seen with larger 3″ plus sized tires and Boost hub spacing, the frame uses thru-axles for stiffness and strength, is fairly lightweight at 4.75 lbs, and comes in three sizes for improved fit
- High-capacity Bosch Powerpack 500 battery paired with the mountain specific Bosch CX motor provides excellent torque for climbing, both components are situated low and center on the frame to improve balance and handling
- The Bosch CX motor offers eMTB mode which allows you to focus on steering and shifting gears vs. selecting power modes, it offers 120% to 300% power output mostly based on pedal torque and feels more consistent than some competing systems I have tried
- The battery can be charged on or off the bike, uses a durable proprietary plug that doesn’t require a dongle adapter, and fills quickly with the included 4 Amp charger (while most other ebike chargers offer just 2 Amps)
- The kickstand is mounted perfectly, further back and out of the way if the left crank arm turns, it also offers some adjustable length without using tools (just twist the end) which can improve stability on different surfaces
- This is a more comfortable cross country platform with 100 mm of travel on the highly adjustable air suspension fork, the larger tires provide increased air volume for increased comfort, float, and traction
- Larger 180 mm hydraulic disc brakes provide smooth and powerful stops and the levers can be adjusted for reach,
which is nice if you’re a relatively large or small rider with different sized hands or maybe if you wear gloves
- My understanding is that Fuji is part of a conglomerate that owns Kestrel, Breezer, and also Oval Concepts which is why the bike has so many Oval Concepts components (grips, stem, handlebar, seat post, saddle, wheelset), and they all seemed pretty nice to me, the grips are locking which is good
- I love the Bosch Intuvia display panel because it’s large, can be adjusted forward and back to reduce glare, is removable for increased protection if you used this bike for commuting, and even offers a Micro USB port for charging a smartphone or other electronic device
- Nicer derailleur here, it’s a mid-level performance part from Shimano with a special one-way clutch that helps to reduce chain bounce when riding off road, just click the grey lever into the up position
- One of the coolest aspects of the Bosch motor systems for electric bicycles is that they provide some level of shift detection to reduce mashing and grinding of the chain, sprockets, and strain on the derailleur
- Minor thing here, but I like the pedals that come stock with this bike! They’re the wider, grippier, Wellgo Aluminum alloy platforms vs. cheaper, smaller, cage pedals
- Even though the Bosch motor isn’t tilted up or integrated as nicely as some of the new models from Haibike and Bulls, I do feel that the battery is situated nicely on the downtube and blends in at the base with some wider tubing
- There are no threaded eyelets for adding a bottle cage on this ebike, but at least the seat stays have bosses for adding a rack, this could transform the Fuji Ambient into a weekday commuter that’s still trail capable
- Schwalbe makes great tires that are known for being durable, but the tread here is very large and that surprised me given the cross country length of the suspension travel and hardtail design, I would have expected these tires on an all mountain or downhill bike, they will create more friction and noise on packed trails
- The Bosch Performance Line motors have a reduction gearing that spins the chainring 2.5 times for each crank revolution and this produces friction, it’s not a big deal when the motor is on but there’s a bit more drag when you pedal without assist (or try to pedal above the assisted 20 mph top speed), I was told that the benefit is increased chain retention and possibly a mechanical advantage for the motor which can stop and start very quickly
- Both the Bosch Performance Line Cruise and Performance Line CX motors produce more noise than a lot of competing mid-drives when used at high power and high speed, the CX is the most powerful and thus, also drains the battery more quickly
- The seat post felt extremely tight in the seat tube, I had difficulty sliding it down in and raising it… not sure if this is a widespread issue?
- Official Site: http://www.fujibikes.com/usa/bikes/electric/e-mtb/ambient/ambient-27-5-1-3-A
- More Pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZYwCWDBRoBXwR8h33