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Bikes Electric Electric Bikes Mountain News

Turbo Levo – Next gen eMTB tech from Specialized.

So, here it is. The E-bike that you’ve all been waiting for. Its lighter, more efficient and looks even more like a “normal” bike.

Specialized have made some dramatic changes to the bike this year. For starters, they are now using the new Brose 2.1 motor which is a dramatic 400 grams lighter and a fair whack more powerful than the previous unit. Specialized worked very closely with Brose to help develop this new unit. So much so that other manufacturers are having to work their bikes around Specialized’s preferred bottom bracket placement.

The new motor is now the most powerful on the market. Whatever the situation. Whatever the cadence. It either betters or equals the competition. Another change for this year is the mounting method of the motor within the bike. It now bolts straight into the frame of the bike instead of into a cradle which then bolts into the bike. The most obvious benefit of this is a weight saving but it could also help eliminate unwanted creaks by reducing the amount of hardware and points of contact.

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Along with a new motor is of course a new battery, or two. The expert and S-Works models with be specced with a 700wh unit and everything else will have a 500wh version. And of course batteries are available to purchase aftermarket should you want to upgrade or just need more range. That’s not the only change to the battery, its now fully encased within the downtube of the frame giving better protection and allows for a stiffer, lighter frame design.

The brain of the bike is now situated on the top tube just behind the stem. Making quick glances at battery life and mode selection a lot easier. It now features a classy blue light system but in principal does exactly what the previous version did. This new unit also helps with updates and eliminates the need for a specific diagnostics tool as it has a port within it too.

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Although Specialized have insisted that a heads up display type computer is not essential on this type of bike. They have now brought an aftermarket screen to the line up. It provides stats including speed, cadence, power and also battery life.

The first thing that strikes you about the new Levo isn’t whats lying beneath but the aesthetics of it. It looks amazing. It incorporates the asymmetric “sidearm” of the latest Stumpjumper and reaps all the same rewards. Enabling Specialized to make the bike stiffer and lighter, thus giving a better riding and more efficient bike. The downtube diameter has also shrunk lending itself to a more traditional look. The new frame has made some huge advances in weight saving too. A massive 800 grams has been saved on the S-Works level frame and 600 grams on the alloy version.

The geometry of the new bike is also, well, new. Its now 20mm longer and 0.5 degree slacker. Making the Levo very much its own bike. Although it does borrow a lot of tech from the stumpy, Specialized have said the bike sits between the Stumpjumper and Enduro in terms of geometry.

6Fattie wheels are out and the humble 29er is in. Its hard to avoid it these days. But in most situations the wagons wheels are the best option. Most of the bikes we were able to see were running the in house Butcher tyres in a 2.6 with grid casing. A burley tyre for a burley bike. The bike is still 6fattie compatible for all you plus tyre lovers. And because the new Levo has the same flip chip as the stumpy you can adjust the bottom bracket height to help avoid pedal strikes.

Along with plenty of new hardware comes new software in the form of a new mode and app. The new mode is dubbed “Uplift mode”. As the name implies its for them boring, gruelling fire roads that give little reward. Putting the bike in uplift mode reduces the torque the motor puts out and gets it to focus on just pulling you up the hill with a very low amount of effort from the rider. The drawback is of course this drains the battery a lot quicker so its not a mode you’ll want to be using too often. The app is an updated version of mission control which is also backwards compatible with older Turbo models.

A bike is the sum of its parts. Lots of changes to the Turbo Levo, big and small have made it a completely different beast to what it was last year. This is what happens when the best gets better.

Available online now, click and collect in your nearest Hargroves store or have it delivered to your door. 

Words: Jack Ingram (Insta @jack.ingram4)

Categories
Bikes Buying Guide Electric Bikes

A Beginners Guide To eBikes

We have read a lot of very complicated guides to eBikes and there are a lot of conflicting bits of advice around battery life, legal issues and basically the best e-bikes to buy. We decided to write this plain common sense guide to buying an electric bike to try and debunk some of the myths.

What is an eBike?

An eBike is a bicycle that uses a motor powered by electricity to aid with pedalling. They are also known sometimes by the term pedelec. Originally they were normal bicycles with motor’s added to the rear or front wheel and batteries bolted to the frame. Most modern e-bikes however are custom designed and have an electric motor that directly drives the pedals (crank driven) and integrated batteries.

Cube Reaction Hybrid HPA Pro 400 - 2016 Hybrid Bike

You don’t need any specialist equipment as all of our e-bikes will charge directly from a mains socket.

In the UK the motor is only allowed to help ease the burden of pedalling and cannot drive the wheels without the rider pedalling the bike. The assistance is also limited to a top speed of 15.5mph, you can pedal quicker than this but at this speed the motor assistance will cease.

As the power source, the battery is a critical component of your electric bike and an important criteria in your purchase choice.

What kind of batteries do e-bikes use?

Most modern ebikes use lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries as they are super light and compact because of this can store a lot more power into a smaller space.You may find a few old lead acid (NiMH) batteries on older models (not on any of our bikes). These are cheaper but are also heavy, slow to charge and don’t last as long.

How far will a charge take me on an e-bike?

This is a real how long is a piece of string question as it depends on the size of the battery, the power of the motor and how much of the work you are doing vs the motor. A good rule of thumb is that an average rider on an average e-bike should get between 15 – 30 miles between charges. If you are in a hilly area then that number is more than likely to be closer to 15 than 30 miles as e-bikes really come into their own at helping you climb hills.

How often should I charge my battery?

Most people that ride their e-bike every day to work will simply charge the bike every evening and it doesn’t do the battery any harm. In short the time taken to charge the battery is related to how much charge it has left in the first place. Generally though the longest any battery will take to charge is around 5- 6 hours. Battery manufacturers (Li-ion) reccomend that to prolong battery life you should never let it fully discharge in fact for optimal performance you should recharge before charge drops below 50% capacity.

Where does the UK law stand on e-bikes?

There is a lot of misinformation from some disreputable sites out there but the law in the UK surrounding electric bikes is pretty simple.

The info below is taken directly from the UK Gov site…

“In Great Britain, if you’re 14 or over you don’t need a licence to ride electric bikes that meet certain requirements, and they don’t need to be registered, taxed or insured.
Electric bikes meeting the requirements are called ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs). They can be 2-wheeled bicycles, tandems or tricycles.”

EAPC requirements

  • The bike must have pedals that can be used to propel it
  • The electric motor shouldn’t be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph
  • The motor shouldn’t have a maximum power output of more than 250 watts
  • It must also display one item from each of the following:
    • The power output or manufacturer of the motor
    • The battery’s voltage or maximum speed of the bike

Where you can ride an EAPC

If a bike meets the EAPC requirements it’s classed as a normal pedal bike. This means you can ride it on cycle paths and anywhere else pedal bikes are allowed.

If you fancy making the most of the summer without breaking too much of a sweat why not have a look at our range of e-bikes all avalable at 0% finance.

Categories
Bikes Buying Guide Electric Bikes Mountain Bikes

Electric Mountain Bike Buyers Guide

What is an e-mountain bike?

An e-mountain bike or e-mtb (for those too lazy to type it’s Sunday name) is an electrically assisted mountain bike. An electric motor assists the cyclist when he or she pedals, the level of assistance is selectable and you can switch the motor on and off. Sales of e-mtb’s are really starting to grow this year and we are seeing more and more out on the trails.

Electric mountain bikes are a natural progression for the e-bike market (which was traditionally focused on commuters) and to be honest we think that brands like Scott, Cube, Specialized and Haibike are coming out with some trick looking bikes.

If you fancy seeing an e-bike in action, here’s a video showcasing Specialized’s answer to the e-bike, The Turbo Levo.

Types of e-mountain bike

When it comes to your choice of e-mountain bike the options aren’t really that different from regular mountain bikes. You still get to choose between full suspension (full sus) and front suspension only (hardtail). There are still a plethora of wheel sizes to baffle you but in the main 27.5 (also known as 650b) and 29ers are the mainstay. You can even find some pretty cool looking electric fatbikes and plus-size wheels if that is what you fancy.

e-MTB hardtails

If you are starting out, hardtails are generally cheaper and offer a more cost effective first e-bike. You can pick up bikes like the Cube Elite Hybrid C:62 29 Race 500 from as little as £2,999 and they are pretty tasty bikes that will cope with forest fun as well as give you an easier (and less sweaty) commute to work.

e-MTB full suspension

Full suspension e-mountain bikes are tonnes of fun. They are not cheap but if you live somewhere that doesn’t have an uplift and are forced to endure 20 minutes of uphill slog for 90 seconds of pure unadulterated downhill ecstasy, we reckon it’s worth every single penny!

For riders who still have the descending skills of a pro-downhill racer but lack the fitness of an XC whippet, the power-assisted motor can’t help but put a smile on your face as you pass your mates on the climbs.

electric-bike-rear-shock

A full suspension e-mtb generally has two shock-absorbers, one at the front and one at the rear. They are a little more complex to set up than a normal bike but if you visit one of our specialist e-bike stores in Southampton or Chichester the team will show you how and you will never look back.

e-MTB motors and batteries

If you are buying a good quality e-MTB then the motor will be of a mid motor design, this is where the motor is positioned at the cranks (pedals). This gives the bike better balance and smoother power delivery and generally makes it easier to ride on the trails. If you are looking at an e-mtb with a motor at the front or rear wheel then we would advise strongly against this.

There are only a few recognised manufacturers of motors that really have the torque and power to be effective on an e-MTB and most of the major manufacturers will come with a motor from either Bosch, Brose, Yamaha or Shimano e-step to name a few. Motors for ebikes are legally limited to 250W and will provide assistance up until around 15.5mph at which point the motor will cut out but you can still pedal the bike as normal.

There is generally a control unit mounted on the handlebars that allows you to control the level of assistance. Most have a pretty simple and intuitive design and we have yet to find one that we can’t ride.

electric-bike-controller

Remember though the more power an assistance that you use, the quicker the battery will run down. On most e-MTB’s the battery is either built into the down tube or placed on it. This placement keeps the centre of gravity low and means that the bike is still fun to throw round the trails.

Be careful however if you are looking at a smaller battery to save weight, if you are riding local or commuting and have somewhere handy to charge the bike then the weight saving is great but if you are out on a trail you don’t really want the battery to run out half way round. A good rule of thumb is always to go for the biggest and best battery that you can afford. You will generally find that most e-MTB’s come with a 400Wh or 500Wh (the higher the Watt Hours the longer the battery can deliver electricity for between charges).

e-MTB brakes and transmission (gears)

Most e-MTB’s will come with hydraulic disc brakes and you’ll generally find that they come with the usual suspects from SRAM, Shimano, Tektro (TRP) and Magura. They are pretty stock so you can usually use spares and bleeding kits that you use for your current bikes. The only slight difference is that in general because of their increased weight the disc rotors on e-mtbs tend to be a little larger.

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In terms of transmission (gears) you will find that most e-MTB’s have a wide range rear cassette (isn’t that true of most modern MTB’s) with 10 or 11 rear sprockets. If you can, we advise trying to find a bike where the largest rear sprocket has 40 teeth to help you with big hills.

e-MTB tyres

Most e-MTB’s come with similar stock tyres to most mountain bikes and they do the job just fine. Remember though that you are riding a much heavier bike with a bit more power than usual so you may want to adjust your pressures from those that you normally stick to. In general we would suggest going for a grippier tyre than you usually use until you get used to the ride.

Tyres are a very personal choice though and the reason we can’t give you a definitive answer is that we can’t even agree in the office.

If we have missed anything off this guide or you have some more information that we don’t then please feel free to send it to us here on marketing@hargrovescycles.co.uk and we will add it in.

Now get out there and try and little e-MTB riding!