Most important aspect of EMTB, motor or bike ?


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2:02 PM
Jul 31, 2020
Would the most important aspect of a e-mtb be the motor and software, or the spec and geometry of the bike ?

Like with the Levo, I like the Motor and software, and the geo and spec are ok for the price and type of riding I do. The Meridia eone sixty 800 has better spec and geo for me, but I don't like the shimano Steps motor and system as much. I could get the Merida about $500 cheaper too.

Test ride the candidates. IMO, any "major" system is adequate (with maybe a slight edge to the Brose). For me, the most important aspect would be how I fit the bike.
All about the overall package and ownership experience, if you're buying as opposed to renting or demoing.

Your first purchase will be a big learning experience if you don't do too much research. I think things are way too subjective to offer advice. Just pay attention to the words of the reviewers and sweat the details. Can't really sum up ebikes in such a simplistic manner. I know this, and I went cheap for my first, just to get exposed more in-depth. There's sooo much data I gathered that I don't expect anyone could relate to, unless they also rode the bike.

I really like the Shimano system, personally, but Specialized's ownership experience is pretty valuable. It's easily worth more than $500 if that's the only significant difference--you can't change the chassis, but you can change the spec, and the geo to a degree. What are you basing your bias regarding the geo, spec, and motor and software off of anyways?
Absolutely, the bike must fit you.

For example, I am 6 feet but extremely long torso with short legs. The pole or geometron would fit me perfectly with their long reach but not available. The Scott E genius would be the ok with a slightly shorter reach, if not for way too low a stack that there is no way to correct for my body type. Levo has an even shorter reach but closer stack to what I need. So I bought the levo switched out the 60 mm stem for 90 mm, raised the front with a 170 mm lyric fork plus 30 mm of spacers, and a 40 mm rise handlebar, flat pedals, and it works. Not perfect, but it works. Yes the electric assist takes getting used to but you'll run into that with any system. Frankly, coming from a 24.5 pound custom stumpy build with 160 mm fork, the increased weight of the bike is what has given me fits rather than anything else, but gradually adapting to it. You really can't throw these big heavy bikes around the same way.

You must get the best reach and stack for your body type, or you'll never understand what a propery fitting bike can feel like.

Of course, I'm still waiting for that bike, obviously. Would love a bike with a long enough reach that I could run a 30 mm stem. Can only dream at this point, ha ha.

Be patient, take your time, and make sure of the fit before you buy.
Going to re-word my post above: best to ditch the bias and test ride both. I think they are both solid choices worth a look. Judging by your initial post, you seem more like a Spec guy, based on how knowledgeable and resourceful you are. The Merida seems more for enthusiast types that know what they want, who ride fast and hard. The Spec seems far more friendly to mainstream and casual riders.

No harm in waiting if you're indecisive. They've got a lot of room to improve and new options may appear.
Hmm, if I recall correctly, the original setting had Trail mode in low and boost in medium. I felt that there was very little difference between eco and trail, besides the torque sensing, and a huge difference between trail and boost. Boost was way too boosty before I got used to the system, only finding it usable on easier fireroads (not on singletrack).

I switched to med Trail, and low boost and it felt better. After 900+ miles, I'm debating trying the old settings again. My legs have become accustomed to treating the motor's power as my own, and pedaling the beast of the bike without or with minimal assist. Eco feels like too much boost at times, as if it were adding 50W on top of what I already have. Trail has torque sensing, and it's barely any more controllable than eco when set to med. I don't think I got stronger, since I'm still slow on my normal bikes, so I'll just say I became better adapted. xD Maybe low and low on both, sacrificing on cheating ability; still gonna be significantly faster than reg bikes on climbs, and not planning to rely on boost to help me escape live danger (e.g. wild predators or hostile people).
Varaxis, you're almost correct. Close enough :)

Default is Trail=Low (1/7), Boost=High (7/7). I agree, Boost is too boosty at max (7/7). I'm running Trail@4/7 and Boost@5/7. I've ridden a few seasons with the Yamaha PW motor, mostly at the highest assistance level. That was fine, but the E8000 at max was not. I'm sure it would work better with enough practice though.

A video showing the options for adjusting assistance
I rode the Yamaha at max too. It was on the Haibike Sduro. It was my first emtb experience--I found it was an exhilarating memorable experience, but kind of quirky. Even on DH, the motor would kick in a little from the suspension kickback (chain growth). The geo was too upright and casual, and the cables were touching my legs at times. Was set up to be playful, rather than stable, and I was getting sideways quite a bit. The fork bushings were super loose too, which is telling from the abuse it got from demos. Someone else on an Xduro demo tagged along and I dropped them easily. xD Waited up for 'em, but didn't see 'em until I finished. I even backtracked, but he claimed to have had a flat.

Geo and spec matters more than I thought, learning from my initial purchase. Being more on the enthusiast side of things, I'd take the Merida or Commencal over the Motobecane I got, if I could choose again (can't get Merida in the US). If Focus weren't so pricey and had dealers nearby, I would've considered them too. I figure YT and other enthusiast brands would join in too, in due time.
Even on a moto, the geo is more important than the motor.

I buy bikes for how they ride, the motor assist is helpful for climbing, but not as helpful for technical riding, so I'd suggest you pick a bike that suits your riding requirements and has a motor.

My wife has a Levo FSR. It rides fine for her, she's an intermediate rider, but when I ride it I find that the weight and long chainstays not so much fun.

I ride very short chainstay bikes (Wozo and Fatillac), I like to ride tech, DH, and I jump quite a bit, so my preference would be a bike like the Pivot; lighter weight, short chainstays.

One of these days, e-bike mfgs will build a high end bike that has a smaller motor and battery, emphasis on non powered rideability, providing less power with reduced weight and cost.

One more thing: No motor is ever going to feel natural, the system simply can't anticipate when to start and when to stop, so there will always be a delay unless you add a manual clutch.

^ anyone thought of trying that? I'd run both brakes to the right side, left side clutch with a power button :)
I'm looking forward to that day too, when we can buy an ebike with a smaller motor and battery. I'm currently running a Shimano motor with Boost set as low as possible. I'm already running a less powerful motor, now if I could just have the weight savings too...! Focus is sort of going in that direction, selling their Sams'n Jams with a 384Wh battery pack.

I think a motor can ruin the bike, even though the specs/geo is perfect. I rode an Impulse 2.0 a few years ago. I had to give up on tech trail riding. Not enough support in the medium setting, uncontrollable at max assistance. And the shift sensor kept kicking in when the chain was getting slapped around. I lost power in steep climbs countless times.

Motors such as Shimano E8000, Yamaha PW and PW-X, Bosch Performance CX won't have such issues. But they're sort of different, and the Yamaha PW forced me to alter my riding style due to how the motor engaged and how it prefer low cadence. Brose+Panasonic I haven't tested.
Finally getting used to riding our extremely technical trails with the levo using the following technique: using the specialized app, reduce eco-to 15% max power from the 20% stock setting, and use this on technical downhill trails for the inevitable short steep ups, or a few pedal strokes up and over big log piles, or large single logs. At 15% the power kick-in is not so obtrusive as to upset the balance and handling but still overcomes the additional weight of the bike. I should point out that I only weigh 145 pounds and a heavier rider might need higher assist settings.

Left the trail mode at 50% max power but learned to feather the rear brake on moderate-to-steep technical climbs if the power started to carry me off the trail or adversely affect handling. Considering lowering it in the future to 40% or 45% to see if that works better. (Also rarely may need to feather the rear brake for the downhill trails when needing to pedal in eco-mode).

This is the real key for the electric assist bikes. Feathering the rear brake, only when needed-not continuously, keeps the power from ruining your handling and balance on technical trails, where you need to go slow in tight turns and tight spaces between trees. This won't overcome excessive power assist settings, but the specialized app lets you control these beautifully.

The top mode on the levo, boost mode-100% of battery power, is a blast for wide-open very steep uphills but if it's more technical again you must feather the rear brake to control it or stick to the weaker trail mode and muscle it up.

I was really discouraged with the motor's interference on technical trails initially but I find with continued practice I am adapting nicely with the above techniques.

The switch for changing power mode on the left side of the handle bar of the 2018 levo is amazingly useful for sudden quick changes needed in the power assist. I have gotten so familiar with it that I don't have to look to hit the plus or minus buttons instantaneously with a thumb, which is important in that you simply can't take your eyes off the trail in those instances. One of the main reasons I bought this bike and it has paid off in spades.
Not sure if you have played with the “acceleration “ setting but it has a greater impact in technical terrain than the boost level. I find this especially true for lighter weight riders who are not putting as much torque on the pedals as a heavy rider. Setting the acceleration to normal or less allows the power to come on in a more natural pedal motion, no rear brake necessary.

The Shimano motor seems to fill in my deadzone, spinning after a downstroke for about a quarter rotation. Is this also how the Levo's motor acts?