- An aggressive road bike with 28 mph top electric-assisted speed, drop bars and sport saddle, you get Shimano Ultegra rear and 105 front derailleurs with 22 gear combinations to work with
- Shimano hydraulic disc brakes offer powerful stops and tend to stay cleaner than rim brakes, all-Aluminum frame is lightweight and sturdy but doesn't absorb vibrations as well as Steel or Carbon fiber
- Available in four frame sizes for better fit, sold through Giant dealers worldwide so you can get setup right and rely on knowledgeable technicians for tuneups and any warranty support
- The Yamaha mid-drive system is relatively quiet but still very powerful, it doesn't provide as wide an RPM range so I find myself pedaling slower than I'd like at times, LCD display is not removable
The Giant Road-E+ is a unique electric bike because it’s designed for performance. In the US, the ebike space has traditionally been dominated by commuter products with some cruisers sprinkled in for recreational riders that want to feel young and avoid overheating or struggling to keep up with friends and spouses. The Road-E+ by contrast is aggressive and sporty… Rather than limiting you to 20 mph like the majority of e-bikes, it delivers up to 28 mph assisted top speed making it a Class 3 product (not permissible on many trails and some paths in California and other states). This is an electric bike that fits perfectly on the shoulder of the road and can help you earn the respect of cars starting off the line and ascending hills. I was thrilled to give it a spin for this review because I love road bikes and know that Giant has a great reputation for quality at value price points. My takeaway is that it would ease some of the knee pain I experience on longer rides with lots of climbing, allow me to jump into more dynamic rides on the weekends even though I cannot train as frequently as my friend (and am thus in limited shap by comparison) and offer a good alternative to my non-electric road bike when my muscles need a break. Some of the challenges I experienced were the heavier footprint at ~44 lbs, stiffer all-Aluminum frame and limited motor RPM range. I have tested and reviewed other electric road bikes with drop bars and the Road-E+ is well priced by comparison but it’s still not cheap. At $4k you’re getting decent components (Shimano Ultegra and 105) with a 22 speed drivetrain (many others are 1×10 or 1×11) and I love that there’s a vast network of dealers selling and servicing them, helping to honor the two-year comprehensive warranty on offer.
Driving the bike is a 250 watt nominal, 500 watt peak mid drive motor from Yamaha. Those numbers aren’t as important as torque in my opinion and the SyncDrive offers 80 Newton meters… which is a lot. Bosch’s mid-drive, by comparison, offers 63 to 75 Nm and is not compatible with multiple front chainrings. The Yamaha motor is quiet and smooth but doesn’t quit spinning as quickly as Bosch. It measures the same wheel speed, pedal cadence and pedal torque signals and allows you to shift gears smoothly if you ease off a bit before pressing the paddles. I love how integrated the motor is at the bottom bracket, how nicely it fits into the purpose-built frame and that it keeps weight low and centered as opposed to a hub motor system (popular with lower-end ebikes). One of the biggest benefits you get from a mid-motor is normal wheels and hubs that are easier to service and remove for transport or flat fixes. In addition to some plastic and frame surrounds, the motor also has a skid plate on the bottom that’s designed to protect it. Notice that the chainrings hang down lower than the motor and would take damage before it would in most cases. The only big compromise I experienced with this drive system is a limited RPM output that requires frequent shifting to hit higher top speeds and sometimes leaves me wanting to spin faster before shifting. The problem with this scenario is that if I want to spin faster I end up doing it all on my own (and pushing more weight plus the normal wind and wheel friction). It’s difficult to raise the speed of the bike all by yourself and when the motor isn’t able to keep up you simply have to shift gears to go faster. For many people, the bike is simply amazing and works flawlessly but this is one area that I sometimes struggle with on the Yamaha motor compared with Bosch and it’s why I love that you can go to a shop and take a test ride before buying.
Powering the motor is a custom 36 volt 13.8 amp hour battery pack named “EnergyPak”. I’m not sure what brand of cells are being used here but I’d guess they are higher quality (Samsung or Panasonic). With nearly 500 watt hours of capacity, this is a larger than average battery that Should take you 50+ miles depending on the level of assist chosen… As with all speed-pedelecs, as you ride above 20 mph the efficiency and range of the bike really drops off due to wind resistance. For me, it’s a reasonable trade-off and an area that’s addressable with the included 3 Amp charger (faster than the average 2 Amp I see on many other ebikes) or the upgrade 4 Amp charger option. I did not see this optional fast charger so cannot comment on price or availability but it got me excited. Specialized offered a similar fast-charger option with their ebikes a couple years back and they tend to be larger and heavier. Again, the three amp charger seemed great and wasn’t too large. I do like that it has a metal plug, that the charge port on the battery case is covered well with a rubber flap and that the battery locks securely to the frame but can be charged on or off so you could top it off at the office perhaps or maybe while eating lunch in the mountains at the half-way point during a ride. The battery design is simply beautiful and I love how they sort of integrated it with the downtube so the bike doesn’t scream “I’m electric” like some others do. The one area that isn’t so great is handling the pack. There’s literally no handle or loop to grab onto. With replacement packs costing upwards of $800 this is not something you want to drop…
Operating the Giant Road-E+ is pretty easy. Just mount the charged battery (I love that it clicks in without the key being necessary) then press the power button on the control pad. The display comes to life showing a precise charge level infographic and there’s even a percentage readout AND dynamic range estimate. Depending on the level of assist you arrow up or down to, the range estimate will change. It’s great to have this kind of feedback at your fingertips vs. guessing so that you can plan your ride for maxiumum fun. On this note, please make sure you always check your tire pressure because as with traditional road bikes, the narrower tires here can get snake-bite punctures easily if you hit a curb or let the PSI drop too low. This is a heavier bike after all and unlike many other e-bikes, the tires are narrow. So anyway, the display offers three levels of assist to choose from and gives you access to trip stats like range, trip distance, speed and max speed. If you’re someone who likes to use Strava on your phone or use a Garmin device, you can do this easily with the Giant Road-E+ without having to run the juice down because there’s a little Micro-USB port on the left side of the display. One area of concern or question is where and how to mount your device given the already large LCD display. Also, the display is not removable so parking and storing the bike could present more opportunities for scratches which is a bummer. Consider putting a towel over… This and many other parts of the bike are smart and modular so if they are broken or lost, your Giant dealer should be able to help with a fix.
At the end of the day, there are only a few choices when it comes to electric road bikes and of course, you’d want a speed pedelec with drop bars. Beyond that, the four frame sizes, dealer network and beautiful integration seen here really impressed me. For $4k I feel like you get a lot of value and could have a blast with this bike. I love that in addition to bottle cage bosses, they added threaded eyelets and a mounting provision at the rear for a kickstand and some mounts for fenders. There’s no rack mount but this really isn’t a commuter setup… frankly, I’m not sure how well fenders would really work but the holes are there. Giant sells a wider range of electric assist bikes in Europe and it’s wonderful to finally see them in the US. This is a refined product, despite being “new” to this market and I could tell that they had ironed out a lot of the kinks and compromises that other systems had not when they first arrived. This thing uses a smart, reliable drive system that can work with you to achieve new types of rides and because it’s from a bigger more recognized brand, I feel like it might garner more respect as well (at least in the USA where ebikes are still catching on). Because the frame is all Aluminum (including the rigid fork), one thing I would consider is a seat post suspension from BodyFloat. Their systems tend to be highly responsive, offered in lighte-weight materials like Carbon fiber and Titanium and are adjustable to rider weight. You might also benefit from a suspension stem like the ShockStop.
- It’s rare to see electric road bikes with drop bars that are also speed pedelecs (28 mph top speed vs. 20 mph) and this one comes in four frame sizes which makes it accessible to a wider audience
- Giant has a vast network of dealers and is a larger more reputable bicycle company than most, seeing a product like this (with the complexity of electric systems) feels more reliable
- The Yamaha mid-drive system is one of the quietest and most responsive motors I’ve tested, while it does have a more limited RPM output (requiring more shifting to fully optimize) it works well and the torque sensor lets you shift without mashing just by easing off the pedals as you might with a non-electric bike
- I love how integrated the battery pack looks but also that it’s fully removable (reducing overall weight by ~7.5 lbs), worth taking off when carrying on a car rack or doing service
- Hydraulic disc brakes are the way to go with a heavier bike like this and should perform well if the road is wet or dirty as they tend to stay cleaner than rim brakes… they also stay out of the way when taking wheels off for quick service
- The frame is completely purpose built, cables are internally routed and the battery and motor are streamline, I love that they managed to squeeze in bottle cage bosses despite the much larger downtube
- You get 22 speeds on this ebike vs. just 10 or 11 on some of the other mid-drive system and the component groups (Ultegra and 105 from Shimano) are pretty good, this adds up to a more natural and wide range of pedal cadence options, in short, I believe it’s a compact double setup as you’d see on a non-electric bike
- The battery charger puts out 3 Amps which is above average so you should get faster charge times, I like the rubber cover on the charge port near the base of the battery pack but would suggest being careful not to bump the cable with the left crank arm when it’s plugged in
- The motor assist is highly adjustable so you can still get an excellent workout, for people with a hurt knee or leg, those with heart conditions or people who want to take a break between strenuous rides this would be an excellent platform and it lets others draft, great for a cycling coach or others looking to maximize availability without straining muscles too much
- I like that the display panel has a Micro-USB port on the left side where you could charge a phone, run some lights or use other portable electronics for longer periods relying on the large main battery
- In addition to range approximation (based on the power level chosen and remaining battery capacity) there’s a good battery info-graphic with battery percentage! Many ebikes just show a 5-bar graphic with 20% drops… Giant went above and beyond with percentage here and I think it’s useful
- As someone with a crowded space and rented walls… I appreciate that there are threaded eyelets on the left chainstay for adding a kickstand!
- The motor and battery weight are kept low and centered on the frame helping to optimize handling and even lifting if you have to carry the bike up stairs or mount it on a rack
- Yamaha is a large reputable company and their motor is compact, quiet and well integrated here but it doesn’t offer as wide an RPM as some other mid-drives like Bosch, this means you have to shift more actively to hit the top speed
- Given the all-Aluminum frame and fork, there’s not a lot of foregiveness going over bumps (especially at high speed), people tend to ride ebikes further and at higher average speeds so I’d consider using a Thudbuster or BodyFloat suspension seat post (look for 30.9 mm diameter) and maybe even a suspension stem, perhaps future Road-E+ models will offer a Carbon fiber fork?
- The display is easy to read and navigating the menus is intuitive but you can’t take the display off which means more sun damage and possible scratched when transporting the bike or parking it outside
- The battery pack weighs 7.5 lbs and doesn’t have a handle or great ridge for securely gripping and carrying it… so be careful not to drop it! I like that it can be left on the frame to charge
- While the motor is very responsive to your pedal torque, there is no built in shift-sensing protection system so you could mash your chain if you don’t shift consciously
- Official Site: https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/bikes-road-eplus
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/8grCGoTHDedpkJLx7