Bike Review: Bulls Urban EVO

Bulls has an expansive line of bikes. They cover traditional and electric bikes with everything from hardcore mountain bikes to trekking bikes to commuters. The Urban Evo is by name aimed squarely at city dwellers who want to get around.

THE BIKE

The Urban Evo cuts an imposing figure, with mostly black graphics with only a couple of silver/chrome accents. It offers a choice of upright or (with adjustment) a slightly more aggressive position, with flat bars that are far narrower than, say, a modern mountain bike. The narrow bars allow for easier maneuvering when splitting lanes between cars and allows the bike to feel pretty nimble.

An aluminum frame transfers all the energy from the road right up to your butt, and on long rides that can be, well, painful. The tires themselves provide ample grip and very low rolling resistance, even at higher inflation values. 

THE MOTOR 

The Urban Evo features the Bosch Performance Line Speed motor set up to provide pedal assistance at up to 28 mph using a 350-watt motor. We love Class 3/speed pedelecs like this for commuting, as it allows what we think are safer speeds in traffic. The motor is mounted inline with the downtube to save space and improve looks, as well as allowing for shorter chainstays.

Interestingly, Bulls opted for two pistons in the front and four in the back for braking power with 180mm front and rear rotors.

This is the first bike we’ve had with the PowerTube. It was introduced to the public last fall, though in trade shows they only had dummy batteries. This is the real deal. It’s a more integrated design that puts the battery cleanly inside the large downtube that protects it from dirt and water ingress while looking nicer than an external battery. It’s solidly held inside, even if you unlock it with a key, you have to release a catch to pull the battery out. It’s mated with a piece of metal to complete the downtube and protect the battery, but the combination there makes the setup heavier than the external 500-Wh battery. I’m sure we’re going to see some innovation here soon.

Supernova taillights serve dual purposes—good lights for visibility, then super-bright brake lights when braking.

The display for this bike is the Bosch Purion. Smaller than the removable Intuvia, it’s an integrated display/controller that isn’t removable. It has two main buttons, plus a power button and an info button, and different combinations of these buttons allow you to customize the display, turn on the lighting or engage
walk mode. 

WHO IT’S MADE FOR

This is definitely an urban commuter bike. It does have longer range capabilities than most commuters would need. Even in Turbo mode it can do 25 miles carrying your work stuff at full clip.

It is also a good long-distance trekking bike, especially with an extra battery or two. It has a standard Bosch 4A charger, so if you do take it to work, even if the battery is completely flat, you can fully recharge it in just over four hours.

The Supernova headlight is powerful as well as compact. It’s not only a good performer at night, it’s great for daytime visibility.

THE PARTS

The Evo rolls with an SR SunTour air fork with 63mm of travel, plenty enough to take out the road bumps. Tires are Schwalbe Marathon 28×2.0-inch tires, which offer plenty of volume to allow a rider to adjust the air pressure to their liking for grip, comfort and rolling resistance. If you do like running the pressure higher for lower rolling resistance, we suggest looking for a suspension seatpost, especially if you’re going to spend significant time in the saddle.

The cables are mostly routed internally past the handlebars. They go into the head tube and disappear, offering a very clean look.

Supernova lights, front and rear, provide compact yet powerful lighting for daylight or night, and there are switches on the Magura MT4 brake levers that actuate the rear light as a bright brake light for added safety.

The rear rack is set up for panniers, not for stacking anything on the rear rack itself. This helps keep the load lower for stability.

Bulls certainly thinks that their consumer will replace the pedals on the bike with something clipless (or, at the very least, much better), because like most of their bikes, this one comes stock with some pretty bland, cheap pedals. Plenty enough to get you going, but a nicer platform pedal would be a good start. It makes some sense that they’d expect many who buy their bikes already have shoes with cleats and matching pedals.

“In Los Angeles’ legendary rush-hour traffic, this machine is such a better choice than a car to get around!”

Full-coverage SKS fenders will keep you drier in wet conditions, and they’re plastic so they won’t rust or bend. They can make a little noise, though. A rear rack is set up for panniers, and there are two bottle-cage bosses in the front triangle for bottles, locks or whatever else you’d like to carry on the bike itself.

THE RIDE

Ergonomics are great on this bike. As we mentioned before, the narrow 25-inch-wide handlebars offer good clearance to scoot between cars in heavy traffic. That came in handy. The bars have ergonomic grips locked on that are very comfortable all day long.

We like the feel and adjustability of the Magura brake levers, because they were always where we expected them. The brake combo was unusual in that usually if a bike has one quad-piston brake and one dual-piston one, the quad is in the front. The Urban Evo has the dual in the front and the quad in the back. Either way, 180mm rotors and those brakes kept us out of trouble and were very easy to modulate. 

A somewhat relaxed head tube angle and an SR SunTour NRX-E air fork offer a perfect amount of front-end suspension for the road.

The bike is very comfortable at speed, and even in Tour mode it accelerated quickly (though not quietly) to 25 mph and was able to stay there easily. Higher levels were needed to comfortably get it going faster, and there’s a noticeable drop-off of power around 26–27 mph as you start transitioning to pedaling through the internal gearing of the motor. Gearing was well-chosen on this bike. With the 22t sprocket in the front and 11-42t in the back, we never ran out of gears at either end. 

It was a blast flinging the thing around in traffic. In Los Angeles’ legendary rush-hour traffic, this machine is such a better choice than a car to get around! We saved time and money by not having to look for or pay for parking, and splitting lanes between vehicles made drivers jealous as we passed by hundreds of them. 

The Class 3 motor is mounted inline with the downtube, allowing for shorter chainstays.

On one ride, we happened to ride across a broken bottle on the ground. We rode around most of it, but one small sliver made its way right through the tire, causing a near-instant flat. Considering the rating of the Schwalbe Marathon tires with level 5 out of 7 puncture protection, we’d never have expected such a small shard to completely penetrate the tire. It did, and the tire proved extremely difficult to remove from the rim to fix the flat. After this experience, we recommend not only carrying at least a patch kit and sturdy tire levers with a good edge to get underneath the really tight bead, but perhaps a spare tube and lining the tires with some tube liners. Nothing will kill your commute like a flat that’s hard to fix.

THE VERDICT

Overall, the Urban Evo is a fantastic bike. We could commute at 25 mph comfortably, keeping up with the traffic for safety. It rides well, is very comfortable for commutes, and we’d definitely add a suspension seatpost (like the BodyFloat) for comfort if you’re planning on long rides. It’s stylish (although the signature black finish is getting pretty tired), affordable if you think of it as a car replacement, and versatile for fun, commuting or touring.

SPECS

BULLS URBAN EVO

Price: $4400

Motor: Bosch Performance Line Speed 350W

Battery: Bosch PowerTube, 500 Wh

Charge time: 4.5 hours 

Top speed: 28 mph (with assist)

Range: 35–75 miles

Drive: Shimano Deore, 1×10

Brakes: Magura MT4E hydraulic disc brakes, 180mm/180mm

Controls: Bosch Purion

Fork: SR SunTour NRX-E LO DS, 63mm

Frame: 7005 aluminum

Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Supreme HD Speedguard 50-622 28×2.0”

Weight: 52 lb.

Color: Black

Sizes: 48/52/56cm

www.bullsebikes.com


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