Riding The Haibike SDURO Hardnine
Light and snappy. The Sduro comes equipped with the new Yamaha PW-system, 36v 250w, center mounted motor. This configuration lends itself to a very balanced center of gravity on the trail, light cross-country feel, and a very moderate effect in the way the bike handles the added weight of the motor and battery. The hardtail helps keep weight in check and acceleration maximized. As expected, the 29” wheels do roll easily and carry momentum over flowing trails. Surprisingly, the bike handles very well in all conditions, but is challenged on advanced technical or downhill terrain. No doubt, it is best suited for moderate conditions and really excels on flowing fast tracks. Haibike put together a great combination of components for this budget-level mountain bike.
When the motor is engaged in the eco+ mode (level one), the assistance is barely noticeable. It makes the bike feel like a regular pedal bike. Since the motor senses torque, the power is delivered in a very natural and measured response. The harder you pedal, the more the assist. Spec for spec, 250w sounds anemic. Not so. The Yamaha is very torquey and strong. Center drive dramatically improves power delivery over wheel mounted designs. Power delivery is proportional to demand. It is not a motorcycle. No matter what power level you select, delivery is measured and consistent, never jerky or unexpected.
The RC comes equipped with components that would be expected at this price point. The front fork is sufficient, but not outstanding. The brakes, at 180 front and rear, work well, not exceptional. On rough washboard, the hardtail combined with the entry-level fork, make for a very jittery and hard to control ride. It’s not meant to be a race bike. However, once out on the smooth cross-country trails, the bike performs like a dream. The Yamaha motor is smooth, quiet and very efficient. On a 20-mile ride, I barley used 50% of the 11ah battery. And, although the High mode is a lot of fun, I found the eco mode (level two), one more than eco+, the best all around. Even in the corners, I never felt the bike to be heavy or push the exit.
In tight, technical spots, the 29” wheels are a hindrance and the assist annoying. However, by no means is the Sduro RC unbalanced. I could do track-stands all day. The center of gravity is low and feels like the pivot point is right on the bottom bracket. But, at slow speeds, the assist is programmed for trails and engages unnaturally, surprising the rider in slow, technical sections, even at the lowest setting. Admittedly though, this not what the bike is designed to do.
My overall assessment is that the Sduro, with the Yamaha motor, in the Hardnine RC trim level, on this 29er is a fantastic electric-assist cross-country bike. At this price point, and this equipment, no other electric mountain bike can come even close. The handling is superb for its purpose. All of the Sduro lineup provide true mountain bike performance, and the RC 29er is no exception.
Randy Archer, President, Archer’s Bikes
Copyright 2016 ©
Riding The Haibike XDURO All Mountain 8.0 (Demo In Stock - $6,999)
By Randy Archer
I took this new Haibike out on its first trip to some of the gnarliest trials in Mesa. Rocks, sand, steep climbs, fast swooping downhill curves, it had it all. I really took it to the limit. Clearly some sections favored the bike's design, such as the Plus size tires and long travel. Sand and rocky descents were a breeze. It felt planted and predictable, especially in slower technical sections. The fit and finish is top quality. I renamed the bike: Mountain Goat. It climbs and corners like an Arizona Big Horn.
But before I begin, a note on courtesy. I always pull over for equestrian users, yield to pedestrians, letting them pass me with no less than a polite greeting. As well, I move over for oncoming traffic and do let others get by from behind. And lastly, I never go blasting up the hill or pass others in haste. We all share the trail, so be polite and courteous to others, setting a good example for e-bikes.
Fork: Magura Boltron air 150 / Fox Float DPS - Moving mass is important to small bump compliance. Magura came through with a great design in the Boltron, providing good trail feedback, combined with super tracking and compliance over the chop. With the Plus-size wheels, the added stiffness of the motocross inspired design, makes these a perfect match. It would be nice to have damper control for the climbs, but is not an issue with an e-bike. The rebound is very positive and provides a lot of clicks for fine tuning. I ended up at six-clicks out for a solid track. This combines with the Fox Float for a very good combination. I did try the damper selector climb and trail positions, but ultimately found that the descend position is fine everywhere (mainly due to the pedal assist). Again, rebound on the shock was set at a well-dampened, five clicks out. SAG front and rear was set to a plush 30%. I did go over a few drops and ledges, checking the bottom resistance, and found my SAG setting on the lighter side of the manufacturers chart (60lbs up front and 160lbs in the back – I weigh 175).
Brakes: Magura MT7 (203/180) - I’m a Shimano XT/XTR fan. I think there the best. Given that position, I gave the Magura brakes a real test. I did take care to bed-in and adjust the brakes for optimal performance. After that, I rode hard, used one finger on the lever and gave the MT7s a real workout. I expected they would be no match for Shimano, but found they performed just as well. The levers were a little large and reach to the bar could be closer. But a few adjustments made them very comfortable. Lever feel and modulation was superior. Stopping power felt solid. The four piston caliper and 203/180 disc were sublime. No fade and no squeal. After that, I had to admit, Magura has made a great brake system. Sweet.
Drive train: Sram EX1 (1X8 11-48) - Everyone is going to the extreme, such as 1X11. The problem is durability throughout the drive train. With pedal assist, the drive train can take a beating. This new setup, 1X8, solves the durability issue completely. It is solid. Shifting is precise and snappy. Most notable, the chain is robust and ready for torque. If you ride without pedal assist, it is a bit "gappy" – you need more gears. However, I ride with assist, so the gaps are not perceptible. I could always find a gear keeping me in the sweet spot, 60-80 rpm. Rear wheel strength is enhanced too, as the wheel does not need as much dish. I was skeptical at first, but on the trail, this setup is perfect. The front chain ring is integrated to the Bosch motor, so the tooth count up front is not relevant. On the trail is the real test. With the 11-tooth cog, I did have plenty of "big gear" and never felt a need for more climbing potential with the 48.
Wheels: Plus Size Schwalbe 3” mounted on DT Swiss XM1501 (27.5) - The tires were a breeze to setup tubeless. Once inoculated with four ounces of Stans, these tires popped into place in a snap (literally). After experimenting with a few pressure alternatives, I settled at 12psi. That seemed to be just right for efficiency, grip and no bounce. Schwalbe makes a good tire and these are no exception. They are very grippy and felt predictable. Some tires roll at the sidewall at lower pressure, but the DT Swiss rims are wide and provide a solid base for the sidewall, making corners fast and stable. The final tire/rim combination is light and feels a bit conservative, not lively, but planted and in control.
Plus size tires are heavy and stodgy. They do give a bit of over steer and want to stay in a straight line. The advantage is, they roll over anything. In the rocky Arizona desert terrain, they are good at taking the extreme edges found on some trails. Once I got used to the feel, I did begin to test the boundary of traction. They don’t slide like a 2.3, but do give a predictable track and connection to the trail. Tubeless and lower pressure is the only way to go. You get much better performance and freedom from most flats.
Drive Motor: Bosch Performance CX - The Bosch motor is the highlight of the entire bike. Bosch has created a motor and software package that is far superior to any other design. The RPM sweet spot (60-80rpm) is broad and versatile. The torque sensor is exquisite. At lower levels of assist, technical terrain was a dream. However, Turbo mode is way too much for tight, slow sections. I did try out Turbo, but found that it was best suited for flowing cross-country runs.
The wide pedal profile, about an inch wider than most mountain bikes, takes a bit of getting used to. It is harder to squeeze past rocks without catching a pedal. But that is the sacrifice for a center drive. The reward is center of mass. It’s incredible. When you ride, the extra weight is imperceptible. Most of the weight gain is right at the center, so gives little in the way of the unbalanced feeling of other configurations. In fact, center drive is the only configuration that provides a mountain bike feel and ride. Other setups are for casual rides.
The most incredible software programming in the CX is the shifting. It is amazing. On hard climbs, with full torque applied - without letting up - I downshifted. Normally, this abuse would be met with a dropped chain or worse. In this case, the shift was smooth and precise. What the heck? How can this be? Remarkable, yes, but it is all in the programming. The Bosch motor senses the shift and changes the torque instantly, then ramps back up. That is sophisticated programming.
If I had a complaint, it would be the speed limit of 20mph. Going downhill, when you hit the limit, you really feel the motor disengage. Admittedly though, there is no reason to need pedal assist over 20mph. After a while, I got used to the motor fading out at full assist, and anticipated the letup with more pedal power from me. 20mph is fast, but on many trails it is easy to hit that limit. And, there is plenty of gears left at the top to pedal over 20mph (one-way, closed course, prepared race route).
Overall, it is the Bosch motor that makes this bike stand out. Everything else is great, but the CX is beautiful. It’s incredibly crafted, solid as a rock (thanks to its automotive pedigree) and very efficient – I barely used the battery life on a grueling 20-mile ride. Overall, I would rate this as the best all mountain e-bike available from any manufacturer: The Mountain Goat.
UPDATE: The stock Schwalbe tires are great for the loam, but not so good on the hard pack and desert terrain. I changed to the WTB Trail Boss TCS Light. The WTB has a more compliant sidewall and round profile, combined with a closer knob pattern, making a significantly improved linear feel in the corners. These tires run better at a higher pressure,18f & 16r (cold), which does go up 2psi once you get out in the heat. The WTB performs way better on the flowing, fast, sections. I also added air to the rear shock (175), lowered the fork (55) and run mostly in the "Medium" shock position. The tires soak up the fast chop well, and I do have the setup very plush (rebound at 5 - front and rear), so I put the "Open Mode Adjust" at 3, to keep the shock higher in the stroke over rough sections. This helps eliminate that wallowing feel on turns (due to excess rebound) and makes the bike feel livelier on faster courses. Fox calls this a slow compression adjuster, basically adding progressive compression (more at 3, less at 1), especially in the open mode. Remember that an e-bike has more static weight than a regular bike, so your weight shifting (body English) does need to be more dramatic to have the same effect as on a lighter bike. I prefer the extra rebound to help control the bike (5). Fox recommends a lot less rebound at 175psi (8, in this case). But a faster rebound gives the bike an unbalanced feel with the front fork and it's a bit bouncy. The Magura Boltron fork is fantastic. It's really strong and predictable. Specially designed for e-bikes, it is a very good match with the Fox Float shock and the Haibike Xduro weight. It's exceptionally stiff, but with less un-sprung weight, very compliant, and has great bottoming resistance.
Randy Archer, President, Archer’s Bikes
Copyright 2017 ©
Our Best Selling Models Are In Stock Now
In this price level, I have found no other bike to compete. The Sport is fast, light and a delight to ride. In the under $1,000 price point, especially as a commuter, the Sport is amazing. A very stylish bike - and surprisingly peppy - is perfect for urban riding, commuting, casual rides and is available in three frame sizes and three colors. Wiring is internally routed, resulting in a very clean look. It even has two USB charging ports for a quick connect of your phone or an LED light. Even with the 36v, 7Ah battery locked in place, the bike only weighs 36 pounds. The geared hub provides superior torque, revving up to a top assisted speed of 20mph, very quickly. I especially liked the display and easy access to the pedal assist level control. I even rode the Sport uphill without assist and was surprised at how easy it was. Normally an electric bike is super heavy to ride without the battery. Not the Sport. It rides like any pedal bike. The key to the Sport's efficiency is its emphasis on a clean design, leaving off all the heavy accessories. This also means there is less to maintain and less to repair.
If you are looking for a clean, light and affordable commuter, ride the Populo Sport before you make your buying decision.
Randy Archer, President, Archer’s Bikes
Copyright 2017 ©
Though, I was skeptical on my first ride out, I rode from the trailhead to the first waypoint, without any motor assist. I thought the bike would be heavy, unbalanced and a challenge to ride, especially without the motor assist. Wrong. The bike pedaled up and down hills, handled even aggressive terrain, just like my regular mountain bike.
The suspension was plush, predictable and compliant. The weight balance, perfect. The biggest surprise was that, once acclimated, it did not feel heavy or sluggish. The gearing was more than adequate. True, not as fast and flick-able as my trusty, full-suspension, carbon racer, but darn close.
Now it was time to turn on the motor. One word: wow! I started out at the lowest assist setting. The power delivery, due mainly to the Bosch mid-mounted geared motor, with torque, cadence and speed sensing, came on subtly and was simply a gentle companion. It smoothed out the inclines, making any weight gained from the motor and battery, unnoticeable.
Next up, the big climb. My first attempt at a steep incline was astonishing. In Eco mode, the lowest assist setting, I still had to work and crested the hill winded, but it was no more or less strenuous than my regular bike, In fact, all the terrain was very normal feeling with the motor set on the Eco mode. You do have to pedal, even in Turbo mode. But then, if I didn't want to pedal, I would ride a motorcycle.
Descending the hill, the bike felt planted, predictable and stable. I hit several jumps and found the balance very centralized around the bottom bracket. The 27.5 wheel size was a perfect match for the bike, tracking corners precisely at speed, while maintaining good control in the slower technical sections. Being a motorcycle dirt bike rider as well, I pushed the limits of traction, just to see how well the suspension handled the chop and how it came out of the corners.
The wheels were not flexy and the frame was stiff when I pushed the bike over, deep into the turn. The bike digs in, does not push the corners or under steer and, with the sag set at 30% (front and rear), exists the turns comfortably.
With 203 front and 180 rear rotors, there is ample braking power. I was concerned about the extra weight. Being cautious, after a particularly long decent, I stopped to check the hydraulic brake calipers. They were only warm. I never felt any softness or fade as they tackled the downhill. I expected some packing of the front fork during braking, given the extra weight and big front rotor. But the Rock Shox are sweet, with excellent small bump compliance and superb adjustability on the rebound. Equally, the Fox Float rear was never nervous or spongy and never faded from the demand.
Interestingly, after 25 miles of riding, in all modes, over the course of three hours, the battery was still at 50%. With the motor at 36v/350w, and an 11ah battery, I expected either a lack of power or diminished range. Performance tells it all. Bosch has come up with the perfect balance of weight and power. Don't get caught up in the battery or watts spec game.
This is a very strong motor and power combo. Mid-mounted motors, especially the Bosch, are far superior to wheel mounted configurations. The Bosch design uses the power efficiently and effectively, feeling smooth and natural, even in the Turbo mode.
In summary, no doubt, this is the next big thing.
Electric is the future and technology is at the point that it can be mainstream. The Xduro is definitely not a motorcycle or even and electric bicycle. It is a competent and environmentally compatible addition to the mountain biking sport. Ride one for yourself. I'm confident you'll agree.
Randy Archer, President, Archer’s Bikes
Copyright 2016 ©
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Populo Sport Electric Bike Review
Riding The Haibike XDURO Fullseven (Demo In Stock - $4,499)
By Randy Archer
The transition has been made and Electric Motors are the future. Call it motor assist or a helper motor, either way, the Haibike Xduro is the next big thing. No longer is an electric mountain bike an unusual, awkward, and often failed, combination of motor and bicycle.
The bike is absolutely a pure mountain bike, which happens to have a motor. It is complete with all current features, such as hydraulic brakes, air fork and shock, tubeless ready and 650b wheels.
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