I’m a fan of the Bosch centerdrive system given how responsive it is for mountain bike applications. It starts and stops almost immediately (as shown in the video review). The Gen2 design brings increased power at 350 watts for improved starting and climbing which is perfect for this 29er hardtail from Haibike. This is one of my favorite ebikes in their lineup because it’s the most affordable but still awesome looking with higher end components (including 180mm hydraulic disc brakes, RockShox Recon Air with 100mm of travel and 15mm thru-axle). The entire bike weighs just 45 pounds but is still rugged and truly trail ready. With four frame sizes (and two colors) to choose from you can match the bike to your body and enjoy riding as you would with a traditional mountain bike.
This bike can easily reach 20 miles per hour and freewheels efficiently beyond when dropping hills. The 350 watt motor sits at the intersection of the downtube and seat tube doubling as the bottom bracket. It’s got a protective plastic cover along its base (to defer damage from any rocks or stumps you might encounter). It keeps motor weight low and center on the bike frame (right where you want it for balance) and leverages the 10 speed SRAM cassette in the rear. One of the neat things about this and other mid-drive ebikes is that maintenance and service on the wheels is handle just like a regular bike. While it’s true that more force is put onto the chain and cassette with mid-drive, this motor is smart enough to sense when you’re switching gears and will automatically cut out to avoid mashing. The motor is a bit louder than some gearless hub designs (producing a soft high pitched whine shown in the video review) but it’s not as loud as some and when you’re on a dirt path the sound of your tread will pretty much cover it up.
The battery pack used with this system is a 36 volt 11 amp hour Lithium-ion configuration that’s light weight and long lasting. It’s removable for easy charging or multi-pack use on those long distance rides. Even though the official specs say 25 to 35 miles my experience is that it can go much further (depending on the terrain and level of assist). By leveraging the gears on this bike and always using pedal assist (there’s no throttle mode) you get excellent range. The battery has a nice LED indicator on the side that displays its charge even without turning the bike on (or even having it on the bike) which is nice. The pack mounts low and center, just like the motor, but does take up the space where a bottle cage might have otherwise mounted. I feel like they could have added bosses to the seat tube for a cage mount but it’s not the end of the world. You can always get CamelBak…
The display unit on the XDURO RX 29er is large and easy to use. The screen is backlit and shows speed, distance and assist and you can interact with it using a break-out console. This means you can keep your hands on the grips at all times (critical for trail riding on bumpy, dangerous terrain). While some electric mountain bikes rely on throttle only operation if I had to choose one I’d go with pedal assist. There’s no chance of accidental acceleration based on squeezing the grips harder for stability and the centerdrive is so responsive (using torque, cadence and wheel speed) that it cuts out as soon as you stop pedaling. One of the neat things about the Bosch display is that you can either lock it to the mount with a set screw or remove the screw and take the panel with you (to prevent tampering and vandalism). It’s nice that they give you the choice here though I’ve heard that removing screens too often can allow the contacts to get dirty and weaken if not cleaned.
The Haibike XDURO RX 29″ is my favorite in large part because I can actually afford it. Sure, $4K isn’t cheap but this is top of the line stuff and I prefer the soft feel of off-road tires and air suspension to commuter style bikes. This thing works great on roads, trails or true mountain settings and gets excellent range thanks to the mid-drive which leverages the 10 gears in the rear. It’s easy to maintain, has a solid warranty and just looks cool. Haibike was one of the first brands to produce a true eMountain bike in Europe and now it’s finally coming to the US with Currie (Makers of IZIP and eFlow) providing distribution and support. I’ve only had limited time riding this bike but had the chance to jump it, do stoppies (thanks to the hydraulic disc brakes) and power up large hills. This thing actually feels like a bike but took the edge off for my knees and weekend warrior lungs.
- Super light weight frame and components (at just 45lbs), well balanced drive system with motor and battery low and center
- Unique rear portion of frame brings seat stays and chain stays closer together for improved ride quality and flex
- Bosch drive system is efficient, smooth and powerful with removable battery for convenient charging
- Stiff cranks, decent pedals, rigid frame for good power transfer when riding
- Solid 10 speed cassette for climbing and bombing applications, good pedaling range
- Great customer support and warranty from Currie Technologies in the US (part of Accell Group which owns Haibike)
- Four frame sizes so the bike will fit and feel great over long distances (40cm, 45cm, 50cm, 55cm), two color options is kind of nice
- Centerdrive design makes wheel repairs on the trail much easier than hub motors which have extra cables and add weight to the wheel
- By placing the motor on the frame unsprung weight is reduced and frame geometry can focus on ride quality vs. strength
- The battery pack takes up the space where a water bottle cage might otherwise mount
- Externalized battery and larger bottom bracket make it obvious that this is an electric bike “less stealth”
- No throttle mode, this bike only uses pedal assist (like all Bosch powered systems)
- Only available in a high-step configuration but the top tube does curve down a bit for easier standing or bails (avoid racking yourself)