- A powerful, well-balanced, trail or all-mountain style electric bike with 140 mm dual air suspension, available from one of the largest ebike dealer networks in the world with a great warranty and two sizes
- This is the first Class 1 pedal assist only electric bike from Pedego, the Shimano E8000 motor controller measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque for instant power and a more natural feel
- Boost hub spacing with thru-axles provides strength for the larger plus sized tires, extra-large 203 mm hydraulic disc brakes provide leverage for stopping at speed and they cool faster, nice Race Face pedals, stem, and handlebar
- Narrow-wide chainring, frame-mount plastic guide, and upgraded Shimano SLX derailleur with one-way clutch reduces drops and chain bounce, the motor supports faster 120+ RPM pedaling but does whine at speed, no shift sensing, larger and heavier battery charger, display readouts aren't as easy to adjust on the fly without removing your hand
Pedego is known for their throttle operated cruiser style electric bikes, and more recently, a trail bike and fat bike… with some smaller wheel size options (24″ and 20″ to bring the bike down for petite riders, and kids). This is a company that has built a reputation around the slogan “Hello Fun” and organically grown a vast network of independently owned dealers spanning the entire globe. They offer a great warranty, many of the bikes share similar hub motors and rack-mount batteries, but in 2018 they jumped into mid-drive systems from Dapu and the premium Shimano STePs E8000 seen here. This motor was developed from the ground up to be lightweight, compact, and narrow (offering a standard 175 mm Q-Factor). It positions the spindle (which is a Hollowtech design in this case) further back, to reduce the effective chain stay length and make the bike feel snappy. But, the motor can only go so far on its own. Pedego’s lead product manager, Paul Auclair has done a fantastic job surrounding the mid-drive with capable hardware. There’s an alloy skid plate to protect from rock and stump strikes on the base, a narrow-wide chainring with frame mounted plastic guide on the right, an 11-speed cassette with upgraded Shimano SLX derailleur and one-way clutch at the rear… and a long rubber slap guard to keep the frame looking good. And it does look good, all the details are there. The Pedego Elevate only comes in one color scheme, while most of their other ebikes offer different frame and rim colors, but it’s a color that I can appreciate for many reasons. The first is that it isn’t loud or gaudy. You’ve got gloss black, matte black, and some metallic grey accents. The bottom of the downtube does say Pedego, but it’s an understated look that communicates quality and confidence. By focusing on the details, going with black rims, spokes, crank arms, pedals, seat post, stem, handlebars AND all-black suspension (with anodized stanchions), the black motor and battery melt into the frame. Cables are internally routed, the display panel is extremely compact and minimalist by design. There are some trade-offs in usability, that I’ll discuss later, but the short story is an ebike that doesn’t stand out, even though the battery is frame mounted vs. frame integrated. It’s lighter this way and easier to take the battery off for transport or charging. The bike isn’t perfect, and you’re definitely paying for the upgraded drivetrain, Shimano motor, extra-large hydraulic disc brakes, frame size options, dealer support, seat post dropper, thru-axles with Boost hub spacing and plus sized tires… but it’s not overpriced for what you’re getting. It’s a very respectable full suspension trail or all-mountain electric bike. The geometry is a bit more upright, for taking downhill sections, and this plays into approachability and comfort for people who are using it for mostly trail and some urban riding. I’m talking about the shorter stem and top tube length… they compliment the higher-volume tires to create a stable, comfortable ride. It’s a bike that is fun, relatively easy to find and test ride in person, and one that delivers beyond the Pedego name and reputation. I’m saying all of this because I think it would be easy for some people to dismiss the bike based on what Pedego has made before, this is a new chapter for the company, and an exciting and well-researched and executed one.
Some of the best aspects and greatest considerations or trade-offs for the Elevate center on it’s drive system, the Shimano STePs E8000 motor. While I love how compact, lightweight, and well-designed this thing is… it does produce some whining noise at higher pedal speeds and when under higher power. Most mid-motors do, they are internally geared to create torque from a fast spinning canister drive at the center. The position of this canister has been pushed forward, along with the gearbox, so the spindle could be low and towards the back. This design raises ground clearance and shortens the effective chain stay length, which provides a more nimble ride feel. Shimano is a bicycle company, they make shifters, derailleurs, brakes, and some frame hardware parts… but they are purists. They don’t offer any throttles and don’t support 20+ mph assist. Only Class 1 for now, and my experience has been that the motor tapers off just before 20 mph while Bosch, Brose, and Yamaha tend to reach and maintain there. The E8000 offers up to 70 Newton meters of torque and ranges from 250 to 500 watts, but my qualitative take is that it feels about as powerful as the other e-mountain contenders. Activation feels more like zero to 100% than a smooth arc, and this can be good when starting on an incline. I’m a relatively lightweight 135 lb guy, so I never have trouble climbing with any of the mainstream ebikes that use mid-motors. As long as you start off in a lower gear, the motor will be empowered to help you get going and maintain a steady speed on even the steepest inclines. My biggest challenge is often balancing and keeping the front wheel down. And, with the Elevate, that’s an area of compromise due to the shorter stem and upright position. The E8000 does not offer shift detection, so you’ll also want to ease off a bit when changing gears. If you do not, the chain will make a chunking or pinging sound as it stresses the little metal teeth on the cluster of sprockets in the cassette, trying to jump from one to the next. The motor controller is very smart and fast, so it’s really up to you to shift thoughtfully.
Powering the bike is a standard Shimano STePs BT-E8010 Lithium-ion battery pack. I say standard, because some companies have designed their own internally-mounted packs. They do look pretty nice, but those bikes tend to weigh more because the frame has to be reinforced and have a door built into the bottom or side. I really like the default side-mount design of the BT-E8010 and appreciate how beautifully the downtube mates with the pack. Notice how the battery is somewhat inset and positioned lower on the downtube to improve stability and handling. Even though the pack isn’t invisible, it does blend with the frame pretty well, and is going to be easier to remove and eventually replace or rent/borrow. It’s important to remember that these larger Lithium-ion battery packs are usually not allowed on commercial flights. Some people, especially those who spend a lot on an expensive bicycle, may want to bring it along on their global adventures! Not being able to bring the battery, presents a bit of a challenge. By opting for the standard Shimano battery, Pedego has made it easier to find one to use in more locations and I feel that this was a smart move. Pedego dealers are renown for their rental and city tour side-businesses, and I suspect that many will be willing to rent just a battery for those who are in town with this fancy bike (most rental bikes are their cruisers and city commuter models). Okay, final thoughts on the battery pack: it’s relatively lightweight, offers great capacity for this generation (504 watt hours total), and clicks in easily with a spring mounted locking cylinder. The downsides include a large and heavy charger from Shimano that does go faster (putting out four Amps vs. just two), and a physical on/off switch near the top that must be pressed before the ebike display will turn on. This last point is important, you have to bend forward and reach down to power the bike on vs. having a switch within reach of either grip. This is where I start to rant about how Shimano may have gone too minimalist with their design strategy…
Indeed, the display panel is compact and stealthy. It’s the kind of thing that won’t draw attention or trail damage as easily in the event of a tip or tumble. However, it’s so small (and not adjustable or removable) that it can be difficult to read at times. First, you have to look way down below the handlebar to see it, and then, the text is very tiny and the shiny plastic cover could be glarign. Shimano has tried to address some of this by using color to signal their different levels of assist. In this way, you can memorize that green means eco… (the lowest level) and so on, without having to actually read. They have also created an annoying electronic beep noise for each button press. Navigating through the three levels of assist requires pressing trigger shifters mounted near the left grip, and these also click (like a real mechanical shifter would). It’s a cool design, one that is easy to reach and intuitive to use, and is an excellent example of a skeuomorph (a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues (attributes) from structures that are inherent to the original). I just wish that this much intention was put into some of the other aspects of the interface. Like that power button, or the little circular button on the base of the Di2 display that allows you to cycle through readouts like odometer, trip distance, dynamic range estimate (very cool), trip time, average speed, max speed, and cadence. You simply cannot navigate through these menus without taking one of your hands off of the grip and pressing the circle. This thing is tiny, about the size of a Tic-Tac, and can be difficult to press if you’re wearing mountain bike gloves. I feel that they could have easily duplicated this button on the housing of the electronic shifters near the left grip, within reach while riding. This would also make a great spot for a power button, a lights button, and maybe a Micro-USB port. Why would you need this? Well, Shimano does have a smartphone app. It’s not something I’d want to look at all the time, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable mounting my phone to the handlebar. However, it does allow you to tune in the assist mode settings and get feedback on the bike. It’s called the e-Tube app, and I haven’t spent much time with it. In short, almost all of the other current-gen Pedego electric bicycles do have a USB charging port, they all have power buttons and settings buttons within reach, and they all use much larger displays. This also goes for Bosch, Brose, and Yamaha. I feel like Shimano has some room for improvement here, or perhaps it is a way to differentiate their offering from the pack. They are purists, but that mindset has created some uncomfortable compromises when it comes to display tech this generation.
I really enjoyed learning about the Pedego Elevate from Paul and other Pedego team members, because it is such a pivotal product in the 2018 lineup. It really is something entirely new for the company, and it’s not for every rider. It brings them into a new space and commands respect (or at least, I’m giving it to them). For a company that still uses rear-rack mounted batteries that can compromise handling and induce frame flex, the mid-batter and mid-motor are a welcomed evolution. I don’t mean to hate on hub motors, rack batteries, or throttles here… it’s just not appropriate for mountain biking (and this is why the trail and fat ebike use mid-batteries as well). I respect that Pedego picks a format and goes with it for several generations, because it means that replacement parts are easy to come bike, can cost less, and are swappable between bikes. The Pedego Elevate stands on its own… no other Pedego model uses the same drive systems. It’s something entirely different, designed for true mountain biking, and it looks different. I am SOOOO glad that they didn’t make it bright blue or slap the bright white Pedego logo on the side. The bike actually looks cool this way and I’d be proud to ride it with a group of “bros” who are brand and image conscious without feeling like an outsider. The motor delivers instant power, provides higher RPM pedal support for fast spinning and less shifting required to maintain speed, and the battery should get you 30 to 60 miles per charge depending on conditions, rider weight, and tire pressure. I love that the tires come tubeless ready for easy conversion, that the top tube is angled and reinforced (to lower standover height without compromising strength), and appreciate the quick-release thru axles and those amazing brakes. Seriously, dual 203 mm rotors is a big win for any electric mountain bike. Just don’t touch the rotors or the oil from your hands could degrade the pads and make them squeak. There’s no kickstand here, so try not to set the bike down hard on either side (usually the left side is best to lay the bike down, to protect the derailleur, but the large disc brake rotors could be vulnerable to bending – so be careful). Also, store the battery in a cool, dry location to prolong it’s lifespan… and try not to drop it ;) Big thanks to Pedego for partnering with me on this post and Paul “the man” Auclair for taking me on a fun ride and providing a bit of first person footage to mix in. As always, I welcome your comments and experience feedback below and in the Pedego Forums, and I’ll do my best to reply and engage.
- Pedego has a bunch of electric cruisers, a trike, a city model, and some trail bikes with throttles… but this is their first true mountain bike and no compromises were made, it performs very well and can hold its own against higher end offerings from more performance brands like Haibike, Felt, Specialized, and Bulls
- Pedego has one of the largest electric bike dealer networks in the world, this means that you can go in and test ride the bike, compare the two frame sizes, get hands-on support, and take advantage of their two-year comprehensive warranty more easily than with most other brands
- The drivetrain uses higher-end parts including an 11-speed cassette with Shimano SLX derailleur that has a one-way clutch built in to reduce chain bounce and drops (push the grey lever into the up position to engage the clutch), the chainring up front uses a narrow-wide tooth pattern to reduce any slipping action and there’s also a plastic frame-mounted chain guide and large rubber slap guard… overkill ;)
- The Shimano STePs E8000 mid-motor is known for being compact, lightweight, using a more standard 175 mm Q-Factor (so the crank arms aren’t pushed out as wide as some other motors), and reducing the effective chain stay length because it positions the chainring towards the back
- Wider “Boost” hub spacing provides a stronger spoke bracing angle and supports the larger 27.5″ x 2.8″ plus sized tires, I like that the Maxxis High Roler tires come tubeless ready – so they are easier to convert if you want to save weight and run lower tire pressure without rising pinch flats
- Both wheels are setup with quick release for easier trail maintenance and improved portability (if you have to break the bike down for transport in the back of a car or truck bed)
- Compared with the other trail/mountain e-bikes that Pedego offers (the Trail Tracker and Ridge Rider), this one keeps weight lower and more centered on the frame, it’s going to be more nimble and responsive because of the advanced cadence sensor (measuring rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque)
- The bike just looks beautiful, black with black rims, spokes, fork and stanchions, with a subtle metallic grey pattern to add some texture and interest, by going with mostly black here, Pedego helps the battery and motor hide on the frame… and they routed most of the cables internally to further improve aesthetics and reduce snags
- Awesome hydraulic disc brakes with extra-large 203 mm rotors front and rear that provide increased mechanical advantage and leverage for stopping as well as staying cool, the Shimano Deore levers are super short (just two-finger) because you don’t need to pull very hard to get a smooth, powerful stop
- Minor pro, the pedals, stem, and handlebar are all made by Race Face, which is a higher-end brand that tends to make quality bike parts, note that the Race Face Chester pedals have adjustable pins, so you can dial in grip
- Paul Auclair, the Pedego ebikes product manager, told me that they chose a shorter stem and created a more upright geometry here to help with descents and also make the bike approachable and more comfortable than a more forward-leaning cross country/trail geometry… I’d classify the Pedego Elevate as a Trail/All Mountain electric bike
- Love that the bike comes with locking grips, a nicer WTB saddle, and a 125 mm seat post dropper… this is necessary for climbing and descending efficiently but also makes mounting the bike a lot easier
- I like that the motor has an alloy skid plate to protect the bottom from rock and stump strikes if you’re on a trail with lots of obstacles, it seems very sturdy and well protected here
- Weighing in at ~51.5 lbs, I feel that this ebike is on the light side for all-mountain full suspension setups, that may come back to the 6.35 lb motor, hollowtech Shimano spindle, and external plastic battery pack, I appreciate lightweight bikes because they are just easier to handle when riding and lift for transport
- I appreciate how the locking cylinder for the battery pack is spring loaded and that the battery tips out from the left side vs. going straight up and down because this is less likely to scratch the frame paint and allows for a lower top tube and thus, lower standover height
- It’s cool that Shimano offers a smartphone app that allows you to adjust the assist power levels and other bike settings, it’s not something I’d mount to the handlebars on a bike like this, but it’s still a cool feature to explore and use to tune the bike to your own ride preferences… you don’t need the app to ride the bike and use the basic pedal assist settings and I feel that the settings menu on the Di2 display is very intuitive (just hold the circle button to launch it and then explore settings by pressing the left triggers)
- One of the features that has always set Pedego electric bikes apart from other brands is that they always have a twist throttle, but that was removed on the Elevate in order to comply with Class 1 legislation that restricts throttles on many mountain biking trails, the bike still performs well and is very responsive, but there’s no throttle
- Minor consideration, this bike does not have a kickstand or mounting provisions to add one yourself… that’s how almost every high-end mountain bike is setup, but it can still be annoying at times when you are riding the bike around town and just want to stand it up quickly (be careful not to lay the bike down on the right side and bump the derailleur, or bump the extra-large 203 mm disc brake rotors because they can get bent more easily than smaller 180 mm or 160 mm rotors)
- There are some battery designs on the market now that are completely hidden inside the downtube, but they tend to weigh more because the frame has to be reinforced and I have found that they can also make it difficult to remove the battery for reducing weight or charging off-bike, I feel that the stepped-in battery design here is both convenient and good looking
- The Shimano E8000 motor offers great power from standstill but does produce more noise than something like the Brose S motor, neither of these two motors offer shift detection, so you’ll want to ease off a bit from pedaling hard when you go to change gears
- The Shimano ebike charger is on the large and heavy side, and it sticks out a bit length wise because you cannot remove the wall-side cable like with most other chargers, at least it fills a bit faster because it’s 4-amp vs. just 2-amp
- You have to reach down and press an on/off button located on top of the battery vs. having a reachable power button near the left or right grip, I like the trigger shifter buttons (that raise and lower assist levels) but feel that the little circle on the Shimano Di2 display panel is too far to reach and too small to be consistent (especially with gloves), I would love to see this circle button duplicated on top of the shifter housing near the left grip… and maybe a power button there too