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The harder you pedal, the bigger the boost, the faster you’ll ride—to a point. E-bikes let you hum along at a brisk clip, but they aren’t motorcycles. You’ll never jackhammer down the road at 45 mph. The motor is governed to stop propelling you further when you hit 20-28 mph, depending on the bike. So you’ll save time on your commute (I shave about three minutes off a five-mile trip) but still enjoy the scenery.
Focus manage to offer both one of the lightest all-mountain capable e-MTBs and also one of the greatest battery ranges. How do they do it? Simple. A smaller-than-most, 378Wh battery is integrated into the frame (the other bikes in this list feature a battery around 500Wh). Another, optional, 378Wh battery also attaches externally within the mainframe. It’s a novel idea, and the bike is noticeably more playful than some others in its lightweight guise.
This article first appeared in Electric Bike Report in June of 2013. Since then, we’ve made some changes to our motor selection - our Direct-Drive motors are now all High-Torque 6x9 wound, so they run slower (approximately 15mph at 36v or 20mph at 48v), and our Geared Motors have been replaced by a 500w version, (approximately 20mph at 36v or 28mph at 48v). The Direct-Drive is now our Heavy-Duty motor and the...
All models of the Turbo Levo use a frame made from M5 aluminum alloy, with the motor and removable battery integrated inside. The frame and fork use 148mm (rear) and 110mm (front) spacing. Specialized 6Fattie Purgatory (front) and Ground Control (rear) 3-inch wide tires are laced to 38mm Roval Traverse rims. Rear stays and pivots are beefed up to handle the additional weight (48.5 lbs) and torque, and bridges are added to the stays, over the non-motorized Stumpjumper. The front fork is a RockShox Yari XC with a 15mm thru-axle. The 135mm rear travel is provided by a custom Fox Float Performance DPS shock with automatic sag adjust.
This bike is named the GSD because with it you can Get Stuff Done. Twenty-inch wheels keep the center of gravity low so heavy payloads—it's rated up to 400lbs—are easy to balance and a short (for a cargo bike) 70-inch wheelbase, similar to a standard single bike, make the GSD easy to maneuver. Designed with the urban commuter in mind, the bike can easily break down to 60 percent of its original size to fit into the back of a car and the rear rack doubles as a stand that allows it to stand upright to minimize space inside tight apartments. Put two child seats on the back and take the family along, or drop the seat and let you kid take the bike out himself—anyone from 4'10" to 6'5" can ride this bike. Last but not least, the GSD gives you the option of adding a second battery to extend your range up to about 150 miles on a single charge.
Powered by a 250-watt Brose Centerdrive system, the Redux is capable of reaching speeds of up to 28 mph, which comes in handy when dodging traffic. Its 36-volt lithium-ion battery provides enough juice to give the bike a range of up to 80 miles between recharges, making it a great option for daily commuters. Raleigh even outfitted the bike with wide tires which provide stability and traction, even when the road gets wet. Other key features include a 10-speed Shimano crankset and shifters and a built-in LCD screen that displays all the usual information.
In the end, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie proved to be the tester favorite, offering the best downhill performance that felt the "most like a mountain bike" that the other models couldn't match. The Specialized proved to be the most nimble and agile by far, with the lowest center of gravity, shortest wheelbase, less rear wheel travel, and shortest reach, yet still managed to be confident and stable at speed. By contrast, the Commencal Meta Power Race 650B+, our Top Pick for Aggressive Riders, felt much more one-dimensional with its long and slack geometry and ultra plush suspension, excelling at speed, but sluggish at lower speeds or technical downhill sections. The HaiBike XDURO AllMtn 8.0 proved to be a less inspiring downhill performer, with a massive feel, rattling battery, and a generally unrefined feel, although it was good at going straight and fast. The Trek Powerfly 7 FS was our least favorite e-bike to ride downhill, with a less impressive component specification that held it back and didn't inspire confidence on descents.
We rode the Vado through the gauntlet, including some of the steepest hills in Palo Alto, and it easily handled everything we threw at it, maintaining a steady 20 miles per hour even on the most daunting of ascents. The bike also handles well on downhills and is both nimble and quick on city streets and paved trails. It’s even comfortable to ride for extended distances, which is vitally important for any bike built for urban settings.
The first step in deciding which Electric Bike is for you is to determine the right style for your type of riding. Want to take things off road? We have a full range of Mountain Electric Bikes, Hunting Electric bikes, and Fat Tire Ebikes that’ll have you going on and off trails with ease. Looking for a low impact but super fun ride? Our line of Comfort E-bikes, Commuting E-bikes, and even folding bikes will have you zipping around town, on the beach, or anywhere you can ride- no problem.