Bike Test: Bulls Iconic EVO TR 1 Speed

BULLS ICONIC EVO TR 1 SPEED

Photos: Pat Carrigan

There are a lot of choices in the e-bike world if you are looking for a commuter. Most have a suspension fork and other amenities. With the condition of roads in many cities, usually filled with potholes and unevenness, we often recommend getting a suspension seatpost as a way to absorb the energy from the bumps.

There are very few choices for a full-suspension commuter unless you want to take a mountain bike to work. And putting on a rack to carry your stuff on the back of a mountain bike isn’t always practical. 

The first full-suspension commuter we rode and tested was the Riese & Müller Supercharger (EBA, June 2019). Bulls has its own contender in this race, the Iconic TR 1. There are two variants of the TR 1: the entry-level Class 1 model that uses a Bosch Performance Line CX motor, and this Class 3-designated TR 1 Speed that uses a Bosch Performance Line Speed mid-drive motor that’s capable of 28 mph.

THE BIKE

The roots of the Iconic TR 1 are in Bulls’ mountain bikes. The full-suspension design is born from the same DNA as their off-road-specific bikes. It’s designed as a short-travel (120mm) commuter bike based on Bulls’ cross-country e-mountain bikes. The beefy, 6061 aluminum frame is incredibly sturdy-looking and includes a frame structure that semi-encloses the rear shock to protect it from dirt and mud from the back wheel. The fork is a sturdy SR Suntour Lytro-34 air shock with 120mm of travel. Air pressure and preload can be adjusted. 

THE PARTS

Rear suspension is an SR Suntour Unair air shock with 120mm of travel. There are aluminum fenders and a rear rack that isn’t flat on top, but capable of handling a variety of different saddlebags to let you carry anything you need on your commute.

A Suntour Unair rear shock provides 120mm of rear travel, and the frame design helps keep mud and water from splashing on it.

 

At the front of the bike, there’s a cool-looking, boxy, fully adjustable stem by AS-SUVi. That’s where the Kiox display Fuxon F170 integrated headlight are located. Cabling on this bike is some of the neatest we’ve seen, with the exposed wires very neatly set up, and each one has its own unique hole in the frame/fork for routing. 

“Light control inputs are all it takes, and the geometry makes it both responsive and lively but simultaneously forgiving.” 

This is the first commuter we’ve tested with a dropper seatpost. Bulls went with a Limotec DP-01 dropper, which is not the most responsive one on the market (the plastic lever flexes a lot), but it comes in handy in stop-and-go traffic. It allows you to have full leg extension while pedaling, yet stand flat-footed at a stop without getting out of the saddle.

A Shimano 1×10 setup makes shifting simple yet robust.

 

The Bulls runs with Shimano Deore hydraulic brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear, allowing for ample stopping power and good modulation. The Shimano levers are very well-placed and adjustable for different finger reach. 

Wellgo plastic platform pedals with grip tape allow for a decent grip, even with your work shoes, though we would swap them for grippier and sturdier aluminum pedals if given the option. Ergonomic grips are very comfortable, and rounding out the touchpoints is the Bulls-branded saddle, which doesn’t look really comfortable but actually is, even on long rides.

THE MOTOR 

The Iconic TR 1 Speed is equipped with a fourth-generation Bosch Performance Line Speed motor. This motor is smaller and lighter than its predecessors and more efficient, while still putting out 350 watts and up to 340-percent support at the pedals and 75 N/m of torque. What this means is that it will get you quickly up to 28 mph in traffic. 

A forgiving head tube angle and Suntour Lytro-24 shocks make for a confident ride, even off-road.

 

The battery is Bosch’s new 625-Wh PowerTube battery, which is located inside the downtube. This is 25 percent more capacity than the most recent, standard 500-Wh batteries, including the ones Bosch has been making the past couple of years. It can be easily swapped for an extra battery if you need extra range and want to carry one with you.

The display on the TR 1 Speed is a Bosch Kiox, their top-of-the-line model, that features a bright, full-color LCD screen with several screens’ worth of information that you can toggle through, showing off speed, mode, battery life, range, watts you’re putting in, cadence, and you can even connect a heart-rate monitor to it wirelessly to monitor or improve your fitness. 

WHO IT’S MADE FOR

The Iconic is intended for commuters and will work equally well as a grocery-getter, or even as a touring bike with its comfortable ride quality and great range. It could very easily replace a second car in two-car families. 

THE RIDE

We put in some normal, fairly flat commuter miles to start off, and the bike rolled beautifully, even with the motor off. Light control inputs are all it takes, and the frame geometry makes it both responsive and lively but simultaneously forgiving. 

Engaging the motor, Eco is a nice place to start. It rolls off the line easily, and you can feel the torque helping you along. Because this is a commuter bike, we tried to get to our imaginary office sans sweat, so we frequently went into Tour and Sport modes. Turbo was entirely unnecessary for most of the trip. We just got into it a bit to test it on a long hill, but Sport was more than enough for that.

Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear provide ample stopping power in any situation.

 

We discovered halfway through the first ride that we hadn’t set the suspension sag. The indicator showed that even with the rough roads we’d gone over, we hadn’t used close to half of the available travel. Checking with a shock pump, the bike was given to us with 200 psi in the rear shock, and it still felt good. Dropping it down by nearly 50 psi, setting proper sag, it felt better. Even on the rutted, beaten, badly-in-need-of-repair streets of Los Angeles, the Iconic glides along like a 1980s Cadillac. You feel very little shock from the bumps. 

Stopping at a stop sign or light, you can use the dropper post to make you feel stable with your feet on the ground, but you can bring it up for full leg extension as you take off. With the power and speed of this bike, we had a street that had a stop sign at every block. We ended up drag racing a couple of cars, and they were often shocked that we beat them to the next sign.

This bike loves to cruise at around 25 mph. In urban environments, that can mean you’re out-pacing the cars around you. You have to be cautious that drivers making right-hand turns in front of you don’t misjudge your speed, as they often don’t expect a bicycle to be going that fast. We made full use of the Shimano Deore brakes a few times. In general, we found we out-paced most of the vehicular traffic on rides anywhere near rush hour.

There’s a lot going on here, but it’s neatly handled. Notice how clean the cable routing is? See also the adjustable stem and headlight.

 

Because the suspension is so plush, we decided to take it to a long section of unpaved road up in the mountains, with some serious climbs, gravel, dirt, ruts and even some mud. In 16 miles of that road, with 1900+ feet of climbing, we decided not to treat it nicely. We found a few jumps along the way, rode it in Sport and Turbo most of the time, pushing it far harder than a normal commuter. It never complained, not even once. And, it made it on less than half a battery. 

After riding this thing around with the Kenda Kadre tires, which our demo bike came with, we actually kind of prefer these to the stock Super Moto-X tires, depending on terrain. The Super Moto-X is fine if you’re never going on unpaved roads, but since we did, the extra grip of the slightly knobby tires offered superb grip. 

THE VERDICT

As commuter bikes go, this is now one we’d place at the top of our list. All the amenities, the plush suspension, the dropper post, the adjustable stem, and the lighting make this not only utilitarian, but downright comfortable as a daily commuter, especially if you have a long, urban commute with terrible streets. It is a long-range bike that can keep up with traffic or, in traffic jams, simply outrun it and get you to work faster and cheaper than your car-driving colleagues.

SPECS

BULLS ICONIC EVO TR 1 SPEED

Price: $5599

Motor: Bosch Performance Line Speed, 350W

Battery: Bosch Powertube, 625Wh

Charge time: 8.8 hours to 100%

Top speed: 28 mph (Class 3)

Range: 30–65 miles (tested)

Drive: Shimano Deore 1×10, 11-42T

Brakes: Shimano BR-MT200 hydraulic disc brakes, 180mm/180mm

Controls: Bosch Kiox

Fork: SR Suntour Lytro-34, LOR Air CTS Boost, 120mm

Rear shock: SR Suntour Unair TR LOR8, 120mm

Frame: Bulls, 7005 aluminum

Tires: Schwalbe Super Moto-X Snakeskin, 27.5×2.40

Weight: 54 lb.

Color Choice: Black Matte/Grey/Red

Sizes: 41/44/48/54

www.bullsebikes.com 


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