BIKE TEST: BULLS LACUBA EVO E8 & E45

Two bikes, one purpose

Two shining stars in the Bulls commuter stable are the Lacuba Evo E8 and E45. Similar as they appear, they each have their own advantages.

THE BIKES

Both bikes rely on beefy aluminum diamond or step-through frames. The components on the E45 are a little more burly, partly to handle the higher speeds. The E8 has a belt drive and an internal-shifting Shimano Nexus hub for extremely low maintenance and very quiet operation with a 250-watt Brose mid-drive. The E45 features a traditional chain drive, external shifting and a 350-watt Brose motor.

They both have relatively relaxed, upright riding positions, Suntour suspension forks and very sturdy rear cargo racks with a pump in a holder integrated into the design. Both have Ergon grips, with the E8 coming with Ergon GP3 grips with short bar ends to allow for even more riding positions to reduce fatigue on longer rides.

The Gates belt drive and Shimano Nexus eight-speed rear hub provide an almost silent drivetrain, and it’s relatively maintenance-free.
Short bar ends on the Ergon GP3 grips provided respite from a repetitive riding position on longer rides.
Both Lacuba bikes have the same headlight. It’s good for short night rides, but serious riders will want to upgrade.
We love SKS fenders because they keep us dry in the wet and are durable.
The Selle Royal Respiro saddle is very comfortable on long rides and provides airflow, as well as padding, where you need it.

Displays on both are from Bloks and are very easy to read in any lighting condition. The display includes a USB port on the bottom for charging your phone or upgrading the bike’s firmware, and it’s removable, as well as having an I P67 rating to protect against rain. Speaking of rain, both bikes also feature full fenders from SKS.

The E8 has an adjustable stem that can be loosened with one Allen bolt to change riding positions for either a more comfortable or more aggressive angle. The Ergotec stem on the E45 is also adjustable, but it takes an Allen wrench to loosen four bolts on the back of the stem and four on the handlebars. That’s not something you’ll likely do mid-ride.

The E8 shifts with a grip shifter on the right side of the bars next to a handy bell. Lighting is internally powered, with a strong 60-lux headlight that’s great for daytime visibility as well as night. E45 shifts via a trigger shifter for front and rear derailleurs on 3×11 gears.

WHO THEY’RE MADE FOR

Both bikes are aimed at commuters and tourers. There are a few subtle differences, like drivetrain, and one major one, that of the top-assisted speed. The E8 is a Class 1 bike that tops out at 20 mph, while the E45 is a Class 3 speed pedelec that tops out at 28 mph. The former is good for short commutes and even longer rides on bike paths. The latter is capable of hitting top-end speeds closer to that of vehicular traffic.

THE RIDES

Thanks to the belt drive, the E8 is noticeably quieter. One nice thing about an internal hub is that if you forget to downshift when you come to a light, you can do it without pedaling. The motor is plenty powerful, and of the four available levels, 2–3 is more than enough for all but the steepest of hills. The difference between power levels is gradual and equal. Getting to 20 was quick, and it didn’t feel like it cut off at 20 mph.

With the 650-watt-hour battery, the Bull’s range is very impressive. It isn’t likely to run over 100 miles as Bulls claims, but in the real world, it’s still a good setup for shorter touring. The display can show expected range, and we found it incredibly inconsistent. It showed longer range in the third power setting than on eco, and that changed based on the terrain. It seems like it’s calculating it too often. For example, Bosch systems calculate their range based on the last 1.5 miles of riding, and it feels like this system is calculating it for the last 100 yards or so.

The 700c wheels with the big, balloon Schwalbe Big Apple tires provide extra bump relief and really great traction, even cornering on slippery, sandy pavement. Those tires have reflective side strips for night safety and Schwalbe’s K-Guard technology with Kevlar reinforcement to help prevent flats.

Even with American-spec motors, the E45 comes with a Euro-spec license holder and taillight mounted on the rack.

FASTER PLEASE

The E45 is quicker off the line, with a 350-watt motor that has a whopping 90 N/m of torque. You definitely feel the power. It will get you over 20 mph quickly; the low-to-mid 20s is a sweet spot for commuters. Getting it to 28 requires a lot more effort, and though it gradually drops off in the last couple of mph, it becomes very noticeable, especially if you were in level 3 or 4 when you got there. An easy cruising speed of 23–24 mph gets you where you’re going quickly—perfect for a work commute—and it may just beat the car traffic if you live in a gridlocked area.

The 2–3-level power modes are great, and with the wide range of gears, hill-climbing or descents are all covered. The saddle is a Selle Royal gel type with ergonomic body design and an interesting vent detail to allow airflow through the middle channel that we found very comfortable even on longer rides.

Wheels on the E45 are also 700c, but this bike runs narrower, 1.75-inch tires—less rolling resistance and a little more energy transfer from bumps. The Schwalbe Plus tires also have reflective side strips, and we found that they kept the bike confidently planted even when cornering hard-on-hard, semi-slick pavement. Large 203mm rotors and Tektro Dorado hydraulic disc brakes allowed us to stop on a dime, which is really helpful when you’re on a speed pedelec. The big four-finger levers help bring the braking power.

We like that both bikes come with kickstands located by the rear axle. The one on the E45 was a Euro-style that automatically flips up when you stand the bike upright. Sometimes this is convenient to save you a step when taking off, but we find it can be a nuisance when you’re simply moving the bike around.

Both bikes get a bottom internally mounted 17.5-amp-hour battery for tremendously long range and a really clean look.
The Bloks display self-adjusts to lighting conditions. We never strained to see it, whether it was bright or dark.
The Lacuba Evo E8 hides a tire pump in the cargo rack.
The two bikes offer the same 63mm of bump-smoothing travel on two differently spec’d SR Suntour forks.
The Ergotec stem is adjustable like the E8’s stem is, but it’s beefier and requires adjusting eight different Allen bolts to set it up.

THE VERDICT

Both bikes are very capable, solidly built commuters. Ergonomics are similar, as are many components. Both offer a diamond or step-through frame. Where they differ mainly is in top-assisted speed and price. If you’re more cost-conscious and love silence, the E8 is worth a look. It has a lot of quality bike parts for the buck. If you want more performance, some beefier components and a speed pedelec, take a test spin on the E45. Our preference is the E45, because we like speed pedelecs for this type of bike. Even if you only go a little over 20 mph, it’s nice to have assistance up to 28 mph. Either way, both are bikes that perform well and should last years of long, fun rides.

SPECS: BULLS LACUBA EVO E8 & E45
MSRP: E8, $3899/E45, $4099
Motor: Brose 250W/Brose 350W
Battery: Brose 37V, 650 Wh (both)
Charge time: 4.5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph/28mph (with assist)
Range: 137 miles (claimed)/118 miles (claimed), 35–55 miles expected
Drive: Shimano Nexus internal 8-speed/Shimano Deore XT, 3×10
Brakes: Shimano BR-M395 hydraulic disc brakes 180mm/160mm/Tektro Dorado HD-E715, hydraulic disc 203mm/203mm
Controls: Brose/Bloks (both)
Fork: SR Suntour NCX-E LO Air 63cm with lockout/Suntour MT-E45 CTS 29, 63mm, 1.5-inch taper steer
Frame: 7005 aluminum
Tires: Schwalbe Big Apple K-Guard 50-622/Schwalbe Energizer Pro RaceGuard 47-622
Weight: 56 lb./61 lb.
Color choices: Charcoal
Sizes: Men’s 45, 48, 50, 53, 58cm/50, 55, 60cm
www.bullsebikes.com


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