- A hardtail 29er electric mountain bike with powerful mid-drive motor (offering 73 Nm of torque and relatively quiet operation) driving a 10 speed Shimano Deore XT drivetrain
- Light weight RockShox XC32 Air suspension fork with 100 mm travel, lockout and preload adjust, frame available in three sizes for improved fit
- Fixed display panel but the battery pack is removable and can be charged on or off the frame, Class 1 20 mph pedal-assist only operation with an optional "boost button" for throttle mode up to 20 mph
- No mounting points for fenders or a rear rack if you wanted to use this as a commuter + weekend warrior, drive system does not offer shift sensing and may mash gears, solid two year comprehensive warranty
The Raleigh Tekoa iE is a powerful hardtail electric mountain bike that feels sturdy, well balanced and light weight thanks to its air fork and custom frame. I like the dark silver color scheme… and that’s good because it’s only available in one color and frame style (traditional diamond high-step). With three frame sizes to choose from and a two year comprehensive warranty from a well established company, the Tekoa iE is a solid option for off-road riding and since it’s Class 1 (pedal assist only up to 20 mph) it’s the most widely accepted type of ebike for use on trails.
I loved the power of the mid-drive motor and was impressed with how quietly it operated but that’s due in part to the more limited range of speeds that the motor can spin at. It’s more of a slow-steady motor vs. fast-responsive and that’s fine for climbing… I topped a major hill without standing up and did so in record time… One concern here is the lack of shift-sensing which makes changing gears while climbing a potentially damaging operation. The motor responds mostly based on pedal torque and there are no brake lever inhibitors so there were times where I reduced pedal strength (but kept pedaling to help gears tradition) only to have the motor kick in and mash the gears again.
The removable 6.1 lb battery can be charged on or off the bike and pairs nicely with the removable wheelset for easy transport or maintenance. The 29″ tires felt stable and raised the entire platform ~2 inches over the very similar IZIP E3 Peak which is a 27.5″ hardtail with the same drive system. I like that the E3 Peak has frame and fender mounting points and thru-axles vs. standard skewers on the Tekoa iE, my initial thought was that the Tekoa iE was more trail/mountain oriented and that’s why it didn’t have so many mounting options (perhaps this keeps the frame stronger?) but then to see standard skewers on it made me wonder why they hadn’t gone with the upgrades like the E3 Peak. In any case, they sell for the same price and offer the same warranty… the choice is easy if you’re tall because the E3 Peak doesn’t come in 21″ only 17″ and 19″.
The display panel is large, backlit (and light sensing so you can’t turn the light off) and while it does swivel it’s permanently fixed. You don’t get USB ports or anything super fancy but the button pad feels durable and water-resistant (though the buttons take more force to click sometimes). It’s easy to use with four levels of assist offering increasing power… and draining your battery quicker. There is a zero level and to access it you need to hold the power button for a couple of seconds in assist level 1 which isn’t super intuitive. You can switch from mph to kph by holding the box icon button. This is one of the TranzX systems that requires the battery to be switched on separately from the display so it takes longer (there’s even an 8 second countdown for the display) but once it’s on the system works well. If you add the $50 boost button you can activate it by pressing another power button then holding the 6 or blank buttons for 6 mph or 20 mph operation respectively. Note that this will transform the electric bicycle into a Class 2 and potentially limit where it can be operated legally.
- Extremely powerful motor offering 73 Newton meters of torque, I climbed steep off-road terrain in the lowest level of assist without struggling, to hit the top speeds you need to be in higher gears
- Because the top speed is limited to 20 mph and this is a pedal-assist only, it’s a Class 1 making it permissible on more trails but you can get the $50 boost button add-on if you want throttle mode and that will make it Class 2
- Solid M395 hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano are easy to pull and provide great stopping power with 180 mm rotors front and rear, the levers don’t have motor inhibitors and since this motor is a bit delayed for stopping and mostly relies on torque sensing there are moments when I wish they did
- Light weight air fork with preload adjust and lockout means you can ride the bike more efficiently on flat paved surfaces if you’re commuting or navigate comfortably off-road with 100 mm travel
- Quick release wheelset is easy to remove for transport and makes fixing flats on the trail or doing maintenance at the shop quick and easy
- While the frame is high-step only (for stiffness), it does come in three frame sizes to improve fit amongst a wider range of riders
- Because the motor is mounted at the center of the frame along with the battery pack, weight is kept lower which improves stability
- The center-drive system leverages your chain and 10 speed cassette to operate more efficiently for climbing or reaching higher speeds (though it’s limited to 20 mph to keep this Class 1), it offers better range than a similarly rated hub motor if you manage your gears properly but the high torque output is more limited than some comparable mid mid drives like Bosch
- Higher-end parts all around including Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with a larger 180 mm rotors for improved stopping power, Shimano Deore XT derailleur for precision shifting and large stiff platform pedals for stability and grip
- If you want even more ways to ride, a boost button can be added for $50 which offers two drive modes: a 6 mph starting speed (almost like walk mode, useful for helping you push the bike uphill) or full speed up to 20 mph acting as a traditional throttle, this will change the bike to to Class 2 rating
- The display panel and accompanying button pad can be a bit confusing at first, holding the power button icon for a few seconds when you’re in assist level 1 will take you down to zero (so you can use the display without the motor), it would be nicer if you could just arrow down to zero
- The display unit is not removable so it could take more damage when the bike is parked outside or crammed into your trunk driving to a trailhead, thankfully the battery is
- No bottle cage bosses on the seat tube here unfortunately but it’s pretty crammed there given the downtube-battery mount and most trail and mountain riders seem to use CamelBak packs for water these days
- The battery pack must be activated before the display unit can be powered on, it’s a two step process that takes extra time and can create confusion when going straight for the display on/off
- You get a lot of power with the high-torque motor but it’s not as responsive or dynamic (feels mostly like a cadence sensor in there) and the range is more limited than some of the other ebikes I’ve tested (estimate 15 to 30 miles per charge depending on the assist level you choose), there’s also no shift sensing so if you shift down while climbing at full power the chain, sprockets and derailleur will mash hard and could get damaged over time more easily