We're fortunate to be having a visit from Bob Pelland of Currie Technologies this Friday Morning, August 1st. He will bring the first Bosch mid-drive bike by for us to see and ride from 10:00-12:00 (or later if we can persuade him to stay) at Piccadilly.
Here's this summer's Electric Bike Review of the bike, with a video at the end if you want to have the virtual experience:
The XDURO FS RX is a full suspension “cross country” electric mountain bike that’s comfortable and stable on serious terrain. With 120 millimeters of travel on the front and rear suspension elements (RockShox and Fox respectively), a remote lockout feature, 15mm thru axles and massive 203mm x 180mm M615 hydraulic disc brakes by Shimano you don’t have to hold back. I’ve ridden other light-weight eMountain bikes and had the suspension fail which surprised me. Those bikes used SR Suntour and were really meant for very light trail riding. The FS RX 27.5 by comparison isn’t as cheap but the components hold up and support is good (going through Currie Technologies in the US). With 27.5″ 650b wheels you get improved traction, momentum and attack angle but still have enough room for the long travel shocks (and avoid clipping your toes during tight turns). The centerdrive system is ideal for full suspension because it reduces unsprung weight on the rear arm and a unique chain tensioner keeps things on track when the going gets rough.
On flat terrain this bike easily reaches its 20 miles per hour top speed and freewheels efficiently after that. 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 shield along its base (to defer any damage from any rocks or stumps you encounter). It keeps motor weight low and center on the bike frame (right where you want it for balance) and leverages a 10 speed SRAM cassette in the rear. This means you can climb easily without draining the battery as long as you shift into a lower gear. Another neat thing about this and other mid-drive ebikes is that maintenance and service on the wheels is handle just like a regular bike. More force is put onto the chain and cassette with mid-drive motors but this one is smart enough to sense when you’re switching gears and will automatically cut out to avoid mashing. The motor produces a soft whining sound (shown in the video) but is mostly covered by tread and trail noise when riding.
The battery pack used with this system is a 36 volt 11 amp hour Lithium-ion configuration that’s light weight and durable (expect 1,000+ charge cycles if you take care of it). It’s removable for easy charging or multi-pack use on longer distance rides. Even though the official specs say 25 to 35 miles my experience is that it’s capable of going much further (depending on the terrain and level of assist). 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). The pack mounts low and center, just like the motor, but does take up the space where a bottle cage might have otherwise been mounted. Given the full suspension design of this bike there’s really nowhere else to add a cage so consider getting a CamelBak or other hydropack.
The display unit on the XDURO FS RX 27.5″ 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 or dangerous terrain). While some electric mountain bikes rely on throttle only operation, if I had to choose one I’d go with pedal assist. This drive system eliminates the chance of accidental acceleration based on squeezing the grips harder (for stability or in a tense moment) and the centerdrive is so responsive (using torque, cadence and wheel speed combined) that it cuts out as soon as you stop pedaling. One of the neat things about the Bosch display panel is that you can either lock it to the handlebars with a set screw or remove the screw and take the panel with you (to prevent tampering or 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 screen and accompanying system are water resistant and modular so if something does break you can get replacement support and keep on riding.
For an extra $900 the FS RX 27.5″ offers full suspension over the XDURO RX 29er and only adds three pounds of weight. I’m a big fan of the drive system, frame style (which comes in two colors and four frame sizes for the perfect fit) and reputation of Haibike. These guys were leaders in Europe and one of the first companies to put a mid-drive system onto a mountain bike. I’ve only had limited time riding this particular model but had the chance to jump it, do stoppies (thanks to the hydraulic disc brakes) and power up large hills which are shown in the video review. This thing actually feels like a bike but takes the edge off my knees, neck and back. The cables and wires are all run through the frame and the unique curved top tube makes standing over the bike easier (and racking yourself on a quick bail less likely).
- Super light weight frame and components (at just 48lbs), well balanced drive system with motor and battery low and center
- Centerdrive system is perfect for full suspension, reduces unsprung weight in the rear, tensioner / guide keeps chain on track with rear frame travel
- 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 with remote lockout for reduced bobbing
- 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
- Extra large hydraulic disc brakes with 203mm in the front and 180mm in the rear for stopping power
- 650b wheel size provides momentum, improved attack angle and traction but still allows for long-travel suspension with 120mm in front and rear
- 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)
Haibike XDURO FS RX 27.5″, Rated 5 out of 5
Updated June 1, 2014 by Court Rye