- Offers amazing torque and power for ascending rocky mountain trails, features an 18 to 1 step-down to keep the motor from overheating but you still get a ~30 mph top speed depending on the gear being used
- Three battery size options to emphasize range or reduced weight, all are "worn" in the included EVOC Rucksack backpack which is handy for extra gear, water and tools
- Can be preinstalled on the award winning Santa Cruz V10.6 bicycle frame, the mounting plates and custom and very sturdy, weight is kept low and center for improved handling and the reinforced power cable is designed to "break away" in the event of a fall
- Noisier than most electric bikes, not legal on many trails due to high power and speed, very expensive depending on your options and the bike being used, very basic display (three colored LED lights) and no pedal assist, just throttle mode
Warning, in some configurations this electric bike kit is classified as a moped or motorcycle and may not be ridden on cycling trails or paths. It may require licensing, insurance and lights when used on public roads.
Kranked ERIDES is an electric bike kit distributor and manufacturer that has been around since mid 2011. They offer some of the most powerful and extreme systems I’ve seen, perfect for back country freeriding in national forests and other private wilderness. Most downhill riders who use traditional pedal-powered bikes either hike up, take a chairlift or rent a helicopter. This works fine but it does limit how far you can go, what mountains you can explore and what kind of budget you’ll be able to fit. Kranked systems have similar restraints… they aren’t cheap (nor are the recommended bikes they’re designed to work with, the Santa Cruz V10.6 in this case) and not all mountains allow motorized vehicles. For the moments when this system is a fit, you get something totally unique and empowering. The Kranked E Squared was custom engineered to go further, overheat less frequently and match speeds that are comfortable to pedal with as compared to the Kranked branded EGO 2400 or 3400 kits. These systems are louder than most ebikes I’ve tested, the backpack-stowed battery changes body weight and positioning a bit and the throttle-only activation with limited display readouts leaves something to be desired but it’s still one of a kind and super fun to ride. If you enjoy the feel of motocross, power at your fingertips, but appreciate a lighter weight platforms and love unassisted descents with only the sound of your tread smacking the trail then this is one of just a few truly capable climbers. I literally rode straight up steep mountain paths in Whistler BC taking on rocks and roots without issue. It made the climb almost as much fun as the descent and completely changed the way I was approaching the mountain.
The motor driving this kit is a gearless canister drive optimized for high RPM. In order to get the torque and brute force required to climb steep hills a 9.5 to 1 planetary gearing system steps down the speed… and this is complimented by a secondary 2:1 step-down system using a belt drive. I spoke with the founder, Bjorn, about this decision and he was very excited with the speed and consistency being achieved. Rather than going faster than the older EGO kit, this new kit slows things down and makes pedaling along more natural and effective. Rather than further emphasizing pure force, this system is designed to go further and run at top speed for extended periods without the tendency for overheating that other systems have encountered on similar terrain. This is not to say that the E2 is weak or slow in any way… it’s still a Class 4 “off road” style kit with top speeds in excess of 30 mph, it’s just not a sprinter 40 mph kit like the EGO. I really appreciated the sturdy build quality of the bottom bracket mounting design and protective plating. The secondary chain looked very strong and I was able to pedal and ride unpowered very comfortably, balance was good because the ~12 lb motor is low and center. My only complaints about the motor system are that it produces a loud buzzing noise under power and that it definitely adds strain and wear to the primary chain and gearing system of the bicycle. You can limit wear by easing off the throttle before shifting however and this is one benefit to not having pedal assist, it’s a lot easier to care for the drivetrain using twist throttle only.
Powering the system is an awesome Lithium-Manganese battery brick that plunks down into the EVOC Rucksack backpack and connects via an umbilical style power cord to the controller. It’s a unique design to be sure and there are definite trade-offs in balance. The bike is very balanced with the mid-drive mentioned earlier but the added weight of the pack adds stress to your legs, knees, back and arms on rough terrain. I’m not sure there’s a obvious “better place” to put the battery, especially one that wouldn’t further limit bike compatibility. Ultimately, it’s great to see Lithium-ion cells like the Samsung 26F’s used in this pack getting lighter and more energy dense with each passing year. The pack does give you you more space to bring food, water and tools which is nice and the break-away cord stays out of the way when riding. I didn’t take a fall during my demo rides but my feeling is that the battery is well protected by the backpack and your body shouldn’t get too beat up by the 12 lb weight thanks to integrated padding. If you’re coming from the motorcycle world everything here is going to feel super light weight but if you’re into downhill mountain biking it might feel heavy and restrictive. I was too distracted by the power and fun of riding over boulders to think much about the pack and I attribute some of this joy to the long travel suspension and light weight of the Santa Cruz V10.6.
I can’t comment too much on installation because I didn’t install this kit myself. Kranked mostly sells it preinstalled but this raises a question about converting back to “human powered” on occasion. I’ve installed other bottom bracket kits and there are a few unique but affordable wrenches and tools that can come in handy. You might be able to work with a local shop to do this while getting a tuneup but it’s definitely not as easy as a hub motor. The benefit is zero addition to unsprung weight, increased efficiency and torque by leveraging the rear cluster and a more rugged design. In addition to the motor and mounting bracket (which can be swapped for an EGO bracket to fit more bikes) you’ve got the twist throttle up top but that’s about it. To operate this thing you simply charge the battery which takes ~2 hours from empty then don the backpack and plugin near the saddle mount at the seat post (this is where the power cable was zip-tied on my demo bike). Next you push the on/off switch toggle button mounted right on the twist throttle and the bike is live. The upside to limited displays is that there’s less to reflect in your face, distract you or break if the bike tips and the universally understood “twist to go” variable speed throttle performs as expected. the only question marks I have are around arm and hand tension over long rides. You have to steer and handle the bike while delicately adjusting power output with the throttle. This is true of motocross bikes as well but they don’t buck as much due to their heavier weight. The long travel suspension on the Santa Cruz V10.6 helps and overall I was satisfied. The throttle is sensitive though so consider riding on smooth, relatively flat and predictable terrain to get the hang of things before blasting off-road.
If was more into downhill riding I think I’d be obsessed with kits like this… The Kranked E2 delivers the power and speed of a a thrilling downhill bike without impacting handling and weight in a drastic way. It’s a lot of money to spend and the motor noise can be annoying but the rush cannot be denied. If I owned a bunch of land up in the hills this thing would definitely be on my wish list. It’s still a lot quieter and easier to service than a gas powered bike… not to mention lighter. As always… with a kit this powerful and fast, please be considerate of how and where you ride. You could seriously injure or even kill another rider or pedestrian at high speed while that’s true of human powered bicycles to some extent (especially b-lining down large hills and mountains) the risk is ever-present with a 30+ mph ebike “all the time” setup like this.
- Designed to handle high torque, high power environments over longer distances with more traditional pedal cadence and because it has a total of 18 to 1 step down ratio the motor is less likely to overheat
- Built to interface perfectly with the Santa Cruz V10.6 World Cup winning downhill bike and turn it into more of an enduro all-mountain platform
- Because you wear the battery pack with this kit (in a backpack) you don’t have to modify the frame as much as some other kits and the weight that you do add is kept low and center for improved handling
- The motor mounting plate is custom designed specifically for use with the Santa Cruz V10.6 bicycle and you can order it pre-installed from Kranked, they also sell an EGO bracket that’s compatible with ~70% of other bike mountain bike frames
- As a mid-drive motor, this system leverages any sprockets you’ve got in a rear cassette (10 on the Santa Cruz V10.6 I tested) so you can optimize for torque or speed by shifting gears traditionally
- Given the type of terrain that this system is designed for (rugged off-road) the motor casing is super sturdy and you get a solid two year warranty that’s all inclusive
- Capable of climbing up to 80% incline or 40° degrees slope, that’s more than any other kit I’ve tried to date other than the Kranked EGO kit
- This kit isn’t able to offer the same acceleration or top speeds as the EGO kit but is more natural to pedal, goes further with the same battery size and is less likely to overheat
- The kit is very expensive compared to lower speed options, especially if you also get the premium Santa Cruz bike, but there are three battery sizes to choose from to reduce price slightly
- There’s no advanced display with speed, distance, time, power, estimated range or remaining battery level so you either have to install a secondary cycle computer or deal with the basic “green, yellow, red” battery charge estimator
- Due to the higher top speed and enormous power of this kit it’s not classified as a low speed electric bike and therefor not legal on most traditional paths and trails
- As you can hear in the video, the motor makes a loud sort of buzzing noise… it’s not as bad as most gas powered motors but definitely louder than most other electric bicycles
- Batteries are contained in a backpack which means the weight is higher up and may impact your comfort and ergonomics of riding at 10+ pounds varying by size
- This system only offers throttle on demand, it’s variable speed and quite responsive but you end up using your wrist and arm muscles to control bike handling as well as speed which can take a toll over rough terrain, a pedal assist option would be nice to see