SURFACE 604 SHRED TRAIL BIKE
Surface is an early-adapter e-bike company based in Vancouver, Canada, and their bikes tend to have a burlier look and feel about them. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a bike from the consumer-direct brand, so we ordered up their new Shred mountain bike to see how it worked south of the border.
The Shred has an interesting diamond-shaped frame with a really high head tube that tapers down to a fairly low stand-over height near the seat tube. The aluminum frame has a battery that is semi-integrated into the downtube. The stock 10Ah battery sticks up a little out of the top of the downtube; ours came with a bigger, more obvious 14Ah battery for extra range. It has a USB Type-A port on the top for those who like to plug in their phone while riding.
The SR Suntour XCM spring fork offers a lockout switch and adjustable preload and 120mm of travel. It’s definitely good for the bumps in the road, but not likely good for more serious dirt trails.
There are bosses for a rear rack, something that would be likely quite useful on a bike like this, and the bike is pre-wired for a rear light. There are also bosses on the bottom of the downtube for a bottle cage.
The 27.5-inch wheels are mounted with balloon-like 2.8-inch CST Patrol tires that are a good starting point for grip. The SRAM X5 drivetrain keeps things simple with a 1×9 configuration and X5 trigger shifters. The 700mm handlebars are wide enough for good control, and the overall layout of instruments and controls is very rider-friendly.
“The head angle is 70 degrees, which is significantly sharper than most of the slack mountain bikes (64-66 degrees) we see today.”
To help slow you down from the 28-mph top speed, Tektro Dorado hydraulic disc brakes are fitted front and rear with ample-sized 180mm rotors.
The included Spanninga Axendo 60 LED headlight is a blinding 60 lux (300 lumens) and comes on automatically in the dark. As the light works off the internal battery, it has a dimmable feature via the keypad to tone it down and make it last longer, as well as increase your range.
The bike comes stock with a beefy kickstand mounted towards the back of the chainstay, so it stays out of the way of the pedals when you’re maneuvering it around your garage.
The Shred is powered by a Bafang 500W, 48V geared rear-hub motor that peaks at 750W output and 50 N/m of torque. It’s a Class 3, so you get pedal assistance up to 28 mph and throttle-only assistance to 20 mph. The bike comes with a torque sensor, not just a cadence sensor, which is a huge deal with a bike with a hub motor and at this price point. We much prefer a torque sensor for the natural feel and for the fact that it generally uses less battery power, since the system matches your leg output to its power output.
The stock 10Ah battery, which at 48V offers 480Wh, is less expensive than the 14Ah (about 672Wh). We’d recommend spending the extra $200 for the optional bigger battery, because you’ll want the extra range.
The full-color LCD screen elegantly starts up with a moving Surface 604 logo, then shows off the power-assist mode, speed, power level in use, trip and odometer. The latter two can cycle through other information, including miles traveled and trip time.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
While the bike is aimed at those who ride fairly non-technical dirt and gravel trails, it’s not a good choice for more serious mountain biking. The bike is made for riders up to 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds.
The first thing we noticed was how high the bars were in relation to the rest of the bike. It definitely doesn’t look
like a modern mountain bike. The head angle is 70 degrees, which is significantly sharper than most of the slack mountain bikes (64–66 degrees) we see today. Couple that with the 14.5cm head tube length, it’s taller than the Pivot Shuttle’s (for example) 12cm, giving you a more upright riding position.
The CST Patrol Plus tires offer great grip for both on and off riding, offering confident cornering on every surface we tried it on.
Hub motors are notorious for overheating on long climbs. We wanted to test this bike on some of the steeper residential streets in the Santa Monica Mountains and take it up to a trailhead, then get in some trail rides there. We had it in level 5, the highest setting, for much of the steep climb. The range definitely took a hit, and soon we were at 43 percent according to the display. As we closed in on the trailhead, the motor started cutting in and out. When we finally stopped riding, the range was suddenly 29 percent. Carefully feeling the motor, it was barely warm.
Well, we figured, that did it, there was no way to ride the trail and be able to make it home with battery left. Looking down at the display, it showed 43 percent again. Keep in mind that isn’t regeneration of power; this motor setup isn’t made for that. We had plenty to get home, so we took the scenic route through the urban jungle, and it was a nice ride. From that point on the range dropped at a far more reasonable level.
Despite the Shred’s home in Surface 604’s mountain bike category, we felt the bike is definitely more akin to a beefier-than-average commuter bike. While it is capable of off-road use, for the conditions where we (and our friends at sister zine Mountain Bike Action) ride, the Shred falls on the light-duty side of off-road use. Of course, price is always a consideration. For just over $2000, both the hydraulic disc brakes and big tires would rate as featured attractions.
It’s suitable as a bike for trails, but not technical terrain or steep climbs. If you’re in the Midwest, the Surface 604 could be worth checking out. If you’re going to do serious mountain bike rides, the fork, hub motor and overall weight of this bike are not optimized for that kind of riding.
SURFACE 604 SHRED
Price: $2099 ($2299 as tested)
Motor: Bafang 48V 500W rear hub
Battery: 48V 10Ah or optional 48V 14Ah (as tested)
Charge time: 3-6 hours
Top speed: 20 mph (Class 2)
Range: 20-40 miles
Drive: SRAM X5 1×9
Brakes: Tektro Dorado hydraulic disc brakes with motor cutoff switches
Controls: Surface 604
Fork: SR Suntour XCM, 120mm travel
Frame: 6061 aluminum with a tapered head tube
Rims: Aluminum alloy double-wall rim, 27.5”x13Gx36H
Front hub: 1-piece forged CNC with two sealed bearings, chromoly axle and alloy QR
Tires: CST Patrol, 27.5×2.8”
Weight: 57 lb.
Color choice: Matte black
Sizes: S/M (5’2”-5’7”), M/L (5’8”-6’6”)
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