Bike Review: Yamaha Crossconnect
Already well-known for their firm footing in the e-bike market for their widely spec’d series of e-bike powerplants, the iconic motorcycle brand Yamaha has now jumped into the e-bike market with a line of bikes that cater primarily to commuters.
We had a chance to ride the pre-production version of this bike a year ago, and it was impressive. Getting our hands on a production version means we can see if the bike lives up to our initial impression.
Yamaha’s CrossConnect comes with a hydro-formed aluminum frame and added a SR Suntour NCX fork to take out the bumps in the road with 63mm of travel. While the CrossCore and the CrossConnect models look similar, they’re two separate platforms, with the latter running sans a suspension fork.
The CrossConnect has bosses for water bottle cages on the seat tube, a rear rack and a kickstand. It comes in a diamond frame only, with no step-though option.
The bike itself has great fit and finish, with a light feeling to the handling, thanks to the narrow, 700x35mm wheels that maintain low-rolling resistance. Front and rear thru-axles ensure that the wheels mount confidently.
All of Yamaha’s e-bikes have the magnet for the speed sensor built into the rear brake rotor, with the speed sensor itself integrated into the frame near the rear dropout. This makes for more accurate speed calculation, and you never have to worry about losing a wheel magnet. If you’ve ever lost one or had one shift away from the sensor, you know that you’ll no longer have much, if any, power from the motor. It’s interesting, because we’ve seen more companies start to do this. It’s great to see in a relatively inexpensive bike.
Fitting the bike properly is paramount. Yamaha designed it so that the geometry changes slightly on larger sizes to make fitting a bike properly very easy for shops.
The seatpost binder requires a hex key to raise and lower. Considering you’ll likely not be adjusting it much unless you switch riders often, this is a good security feature. When you lock your bike up, thieves who would want to steal your seat would have to have tools for it, and it’s a two-bolt system, so it would take a little effort.
Shimano hydraulic disc brakes actuate the 160mm rotors, which provide ample stopping power with three-finger levers. Shimano Sora components make up the 2×9 drivetrain. Small frames come with 165mm cranks, medium and large frames use 170mm, and all have plastic platform pedals.
Integrated lighting is included. The headlight is small, bright and mounted on the handlebars. The taillight is a point of contention, though, as it’s plastic, mounted on the very rear of the rack and very fragile. We popped the connector out of it accidentally. It’s something you have to be careful around when moving the bike around or mounting cargo on the rack.
Yamaha has been selling e-bike motors for 25 years—a ton of them. In fact, Yamaha claims they’ve sold over 4 million units worldwide over the years.
We love the PWseries SE motor. Like its predecessor, it has very smooth power delivery with a really natural feel. When you approach 20 mph and above, the power tapers off all but unnoticeably. Unlike its predecessor, if you prefer high cadence, it can go above 90 all the way up to 110 rpm. It’s also smaller and lighter. It offers 70 N/m of torque, which is plenty enough for the steepest of hills.
Torque sensors work in conjunction with the speed sensor to calculate how much power assist you’ll get. In Eco+, you’ll get the longest range and 50 percent of your leg power back in electric support. Eco offers 100 percent, Standard mode gives 190 percent and High mode gives you 280 percent extra beyond what you’re putting in.
The 500 Wh offers plenty of range depending on terrain, rider weight, etc. We don’t often ride in Eco mode, because the higher modes are just plain more fun! We had no range anxiety riding this bike. Modern 500-Wh batteries have taken that concern out of the equation. You’d only worry if you wanted to use this for long-range touring, but that’s not the target market for this bike. If for some reason you did want to do that, you’d simply need multiple batteries.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
The CrossCore is made for commuters and riders who want a bike that’s versatile enough to be a grocery-getter in urban environments. It’s set up for the bike path or bike lane and made for those who want to take a 3-mile drive in a car that takes 30 minutes or more down to a few minutes on a bike. It’s a solid platform that you can customize with standard parts.
Controls are laid out nicely, with a simple switch controller for the motor’s modes mounted on the bars with trigger shifters to control front and rear derailleurs. The small bell comes in handy when riding among other riders or on shared paths, as does the headlight. We first rode the bike with the motor turned off just to get a sense of how it rode. Although there’s virtually no drag from the motor, the bike’s roll still felt slightly heavy.
Switching to Eco+, which is the lowest power setting, made the bike feel lighter in a way. Bumping up to Eco was even better, but we were in Standard most of the time. High was excellent for steep hills, but Standard was still plenty for most hills we rode up. There’s plenty of power to climb anything, and with a 500-Wh battery, we never had range anxiety, not even once.
There’s some motor noise, but the PWseries SE is one of the quieter mid-drives on the market. It doesn’t interfere with the riding experience and makes about as much noise as the tires on pavement.
Because it’s an aluminum frame, plus higher-pressure/lower-volume tires, the ride can be bumpy, especially on places with imperfectly maintained roads. The fork and the locking ergonomic grips made a difference; they were soft and comfortable on longer rides. If we owned one, we’d likely fit it with a suspension post to help alleviate
some of the shock and bumps from the road that transfer through the frame.
Power delivery is instantaneous but very natural-feeling. It isn’t a kick, but you feel the power coming in, making you feel superhuman. It gets you to its maximum speed of 20 mph swiftly and easily. Once over 20 mph, you don’t notice that the assist level drops. It’s so subtle, and they’ve programmed it to be so gradual that it just feels natural. Some systems feel like the power drops off a cliff, but not the Yamaha PWseries SE. If you’re going somewhere in a hurry, it works well to help you get going quicker. We found this really helpful on urban bike lanes when riding with traffic.
The CrossCore is a lot of bike for the price. The included bike rack, fenders and kickstand make it a really versatile bike for getting around town.
It feels like a more expensive bike than it is, with good looks and versatility and plenty of power to get you to work or wherever you want to go without breaking a sweat. The motor system is elegant and rock-solid dependable. As a commuter, it’ll get you to work much quicker than a regular bike or, in many cases, a car.
Motor: Yamaha PW Series SE
Battery: Yamaha 36V, 500Wh
Charge time: 4-5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph
Range: 30–50 miles
Drive: Shimano Sora, 2×9
Brakes: Shimano M315 hydraulic disc with 160mm rotors
Fork: SR Suntour NCX 63mm, mechanical lockout, 30mm stanchion, magnesium lowers, adjustable air sleeve
Frame: Yamaha hydro-formed and butted aluminum tubing
Tires: CST Sensamo Sumo, 700x35c.
Weight: 49.8 lb. (medium)
Color choices: Storm Gray or Polar White/Crimson
Sizes: 54cm, 56cm, 58cm
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