At Outdoor Demo this week I got a chance to ride the Haibike XDuroRX29 electric (assist) mountain bike on the trails at Bootleg Canyon. This was my first ride off road on an electric mountain bike so I won’t be able to draw comparisons with other electric bikes but in many ways, this was one of the most eye-opening experiences I had at Interbike this year.
The Haibike XDuroRX29 is an electric assist bike meaning there’s no throttle–the electric drive motor simply enhances your pedal power between 70% and 270% depending on the assist setting. In the US, the top speed is regulated to about 20mph and riders can expect to get between 40-100 miles out of a single charge depending on terrain and the level of assist. With the battery pack, the bike weighs in at about 42 pounds. A remote allows you to control the power setting and an integrated display gives you key stats like charge status, speed, and distance.
Aside from the battery and motor, the XDuro sports familiar mountain bike components: an SLX rear derailleur, RockShox fork, disc brakes, Racing Ralph tires, and internally routed cables through the aluminum frame. I even ran my CrankBrothers Eggbeater pedals during the test ride.
Out on the trail, the first thing I noticed was the seamless transition from zero assist (descending) to powered travel. There really is no learning curve to the Haibike 29er–it kicks in with a power boost when you need it and shuts down when you don’t. On climbs at 70% assist I just felt like I was having a really good day. Most of the riders around me didn’t suspect a thing either–they just assumed I was a really strong climber because the XDuroRX29 looks like a regular mountain bike.
In terms of handling, the Haibike 29er is actually pretty decent. During my test ride I did manage to get both tires off the ground once or twice–but just barely. The battery and motor are positioned as close to the crank as possible to keep the center of gravity low and, well, centered. Still, it’s a heavy bike and I hate to imagine pedaling this bike uphill in the event of a power failure.
As a mountain bike, the build is solid if not a little clunky in its execution and graphics. It’s not even close to being a cool looking mountain bike but as an electric bike it’s got decent mountain cred. The company also produces a full suspension model (below).
Electric mountain bikes like the Haibike 29er are still very new in the US and many riders will have strong opinions about whether bikes like this belong on the trails. Love it or hate it, the XDuroRX29 is an impressive piece of hardware that showcases the latest in both mountain bike and electric vehicle technology. If you get a chance to test ride a Haibike, do it and you may be surprised at how natural the bike feels on the trail.
Stay tuned for more in depth analysis of the electric mountain bike concept in the coming weeks.