Faster and farther: Bulls Cross E8 electric bike review

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Eric Bangeman

As the managing editor of Ars Technica, one of my duties is to monitor the everyday torrent of news tips and PR emails. The overwhelming majority of them is eliminated after a glance, and the news tips and story ideas are passed along to the fit writer. Sometimes a product announcement will catch my eye, and I will see through up. Once in a blue moon, I’ll say, “please send me one so that I may review it.” And that’s how I aimless up riding an electric bike around the Chicago suburbs for two weeks.

I’m one of the hardcore cyclists at Ars, along with Jay Timmer and his new-as-of-last-fall street bike as well as copyeditor Kerry Staurseth. I love cycling, and it was a foremost factor in my dropping 120lb over a 12-month period starting in the summer of 2009. My continuously rider/errand-runner is a 1998 Gary Fisher Marlin mountain bike. For bigger rides, I use my 2009 Trek XO2 cyclecross bike. I’ve made a few modifications to it, incorporating removing the bumpy cyclecross tires and swapping out the front 46-tooth chainring for a 50-tooth one. I recalled with a cross bike over a road bike because I’m yet a Clydesdale, and I like the slightly longer wheelbase of a cross bike. I’ve also in a nutshell owned a 2011 Trek Madone 5.9, which I sold not wish after I bought it due to severely screwing up my right knee.

But electric bicycles—e-bikes—are new sector for me. Broadly speaking, there are two basic options in e-bike land: power-on-demand and pedal-assist. With the whilom, the rider can control the speed with a throttle instead of just pedaling. Believe moped but with an electric motor instead of internal combustion. Pedal-assist, by contrast, demands the rider to do some of the work. The electric motor won’t engage unless the rider is pedaling.

The Bulls Shirty E8 Step-Thru is an urban bike—a bicycle often used as a primary craze of transportation for those who choose not to own a car. Priced at $3,099, it’s solid and durable. The aluminum state comes in three sizes (45cm, 50cm, and 53cm; I tested the latter). It’s got an eight-speed Shimano shifter and a Shimano Deore CS-HG50 cassette. Shimano is a grudging change for me, as my XO2 uses the SRAM Rival Double Tap shifter, and I really equal the action on that. It’s got a front suspension with 63mm of travel for a smoother harass, along with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. Cable runs are all internal, dreaming for a cleaner-looking profile. Rack, fenders, and a headlight all come standard.

Ton of you are likely here for the electric bits, though. Those consist of a 500Wh user-swappable Bosch Powerpack battery and a 250W Bosch Hyperactive Line Plus motor that delivers 37lb-ft (50Nm) of torque and speeds of up to 20mph (32km/h). The battery transcribes up to 4.5 hours to reach a 100-percent charge and offers a travel over of up to 134 miles. With the battery and motor, it’s markedly heavier than a comparable urban bike, weighing in at 46lb (20.8kg).

You quiet have to pedal

Laws on electric bikes vary from state to state, but in Illinois, where I be, they are capped at 20mph. And like every other pedal-assist bike, you force to pedal—there’s no free ride.

The electric motor settings are controlled via a trifling computer on the left handlebar. You can use it to turn on the headlights, switch from princelike to metric, and cycle through the four modes. Choose from Eco, Assignment, Sport, and Turbo, all of which provide various amounts of boost. I depleted belch up most of my time cruising around in Turbo mode.

When you accept the electric motor turned on, it engages with your first force of the pedals. The difference in acceleration is startling compared to any other bike I’ve jaunted. In Eco mode, I could sprint from 0 to 20mph in about 200 feet/65m. Lash to Turbo, and it’s about 150/30m feet. As I mentioned above, you still be experiencing to pedal. The difference with an electric bike is the feeling of getting numberless bang for the buck. And if you want to be lazy, you can. Stay in third or fourth clobber and you’ll be able to stay around 18-19mph with minimal effort. But if you want to go much faster than 20mph, you’ll call to work.

Apple Watch tracked one of my longer rides on the eBike.

Enlarge / Apple Watch tracked one of my longer rides on the eBike.
Eric Bangeman

At the top end, the 20mph further limit isn’t an absolute, like the speed of light. It’s just the most you’ll get from the motor. I was competent to get it up to 28mph on a flat road (there are no other roads where I live) in Turbo condition and 8th gear, but it took hard work to get there and maintain the speed. The easiest commensurability is my mountain bike, where I’ve hit 23mph on that same stretch of road—and that extracted a heck of a lot of effort. Exactly how much effort does it take to carried? I have a 15-mile route that I ride on both my mountain bike and cyclecross bike. According to my Apple Note, I generally burn around 1,400 or so calories on a brisk ride. I’ll as likely as not average around 13mph or so on my Marlin and between 16 and 17.5mph on my XO2. I averaged 14.9mph and ignited a hair over 1,000 calories with the Bulls Cross E8.

The other bicycle atoms are really good. I’m a fan of the Shimano shifter and cassette, as they provide a flush and easy shifting experience. I don’t have much experience with disc slow ups, but I was impressed with those on the E8.

What I found most interesting is how my recycling habits changed over my two weeks with the eBike, mostly for the preferably. In most states, cyclists need to come to a complete stop at pull up signs… and as anyone who has ever ridden a bike or shared a freeway with a cyclist knows, most cyclists generally do an Idaho A close if they believe it’s safe. I do it, too. Knowing that I could quickly get furtively up to speed with the aid of the electric motor, I found myself more content to sacrifice my forward momentum and come to a complete stop when there was a car approximating an intersection.

I also found riding on busier roads slightly more at ease, because I was able to go faster, easier. Most of the roads I ride on regularly have on the agenda c trick speed limits between 20 and 35mph, so I felt better being skilled to cruise at something approaching the speed of the cars.

I didn’t ride extended enough to drain the battery, but after one 30-mile ride, mostly in Turbo manner, the battery indicator showed I still had about a 60-percent charge.

The $3,099 MSRP is a bit cowing if you’ve not shopped for high-end bikes before, but it compares favorably with, say, Trek’s moving bike lineup. That said, you can get a solid urban/commuter bike without a motor for incredibly under $1,000. You can even score an e-bike for under a grand, but you’ll appropriate be looking at a battery range of less than 40 miles, along with lower-quality components.

I tenderness seriously about buying a Cross E8 after finishing my review. But three enormous is a steep price for a guy who works at home and already has two perfectly good bikes. And my daughter is affluent to be a college freshman next month…

But if you’re someone who loves riding, commutes to hold down a post on a bike, or has a gig that requires you to spend a lot of time in the saddle, you might hunger for to look at electric bikes. You’ll be able to go farther, faster, and expend less animation riding one. And if electric bikes are for you, look hard at the Cross E8 Step-Thru. It’s an incredibly well-made, well-thought-out energized bike. Strip away the battery, motor, and computer, and you’d still be fist with a really good cycle.

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