BIKE TEST: M1 SPITZING & PLUS
Super-powered German performance
The M1-Sporttechnik group is a German company with some serious expertise in the carbon and materials technology world. Their innovative engineers have taken on many projects to make athletes faster, including skis that have won Olympic medals and windsurfing boards that have won 15 world championships. They started building mountain bikes back in 1994 with their first-ever carbon, monocoque frame.
They bring that experience building high-performance sporting products of all kinds to the e-bike world with the Spitzing and Spitzing Plus.
Both of the Spitzing bikes are seriously high-performance machines, although designed to handle different terrain. They both use the same very high-performance mid-drive motors from TQ Systems that deliver up to 120 Nm of torque and up to 850 watts of power. The bikes are available in three different motor variations at 250, 500, and 850 watts, depending on how much you’re willing to spend and how fast you want (or are legally allowed) to go on the trails. Our test bikes were the big ones, with 850 watts and a max speed of 75 kph (or 46 mph).
Interestingly, a speed pedelec, also known as a Class 3 bike in California, is known as an S-pedelec in M1 terminology. They one-up the cool factor with these bikes, giving them race-sounding status with the moniker “R-pedelec.” And like an R-spec race car, these aren’t street- or bike-trail-legal, so you’ll need to use them on private land or motorcycle/jeep trails.
Both bikes come with a very modern mountain bike geometry that’s capable of handling gnarly trails, whether they’re pointed uphill or down. They also come with a very exotic-shaped carbon frame that’s lightweight, but also stiff enough to handle the power these bikes can deliver.
Both bikes come with a massive 84-cell battery pack with a 48-volt system that is mounted on the bottom of the downtube to keep weight centered and low. It can charge to roughly 80 percent in about an hour and to a full charge in about two hours. A typical charge lasts up to 25–30 miles when set to full power, although that can be dramatically increased if you choose to use one of the four other reduced power modes. The newest versions of the Spitzing bikes also feature a data-logging function that can sync to your GPS and heart rate monitor, allowing you to see exactly how far and how high you’ve gone.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR?
The Spitzing is available with two different wheel configurations and in three different power modes. Ultimately, Sporttechnik has built these machines to handle nearly any terrain, as well as any legal limitation on power. Our Spitzing bikes were only legal on OHV trails, so we were slightly limited on trail choices when we went out to test. The bikes are pedal-assist only and do not offer a throttle, so these are not what we would categorize as a mini motorcycle. Instead, these are seriously high-performance machines that can deliver plenty of power but still handle very much like a high-end mountain bike.
The standard Spitzing comes with 160mm of suspension travel, and the bike sports 2.4-inch-wide tires with plenty of travel to handle rough and rocky terrain. This bike handles much like an “enduro” mountain bike. It’s the better choice for technical terrain, especially when it comes to descending.
The Spitzing Plus comes with slightly less travel at 120mm, but also sports larger 3-inch-wide plus-sized tires. That combination of the larger tires and reduced travel improves traction on loose and soft terrain, and also makes the bike feel surprisingly efficient. While the plus sized version is slightly heavier, it feels just as fast as the standard version and is much less likely to spin out on loose terrain.
Both Spitzings are capable of rallying terrain in a way we’ve rarely seen. These are the kind of bikes that can literally leave other e-bikes in the dust. We found ourselves climbing the steepest fire-road climbs at over 30 mph without even breaking a sweat. The motor proved reliable and didn’t give us any issues during our test. It does generate a bit of heat when pushed for too long, but it wasn’t enough to cause an issue.
Our plus-sized version came equipped with Manitou suspension, which provided reasonable performance. The suspension duties were split between the fork and shock and the extra cush provided by those big 3-inch-wide tires. The lion’s share of this bike’s performance is in the impressive motor, but those big tires give you so much traction that you can claw your way up nearly anything.
The Enduro version of the Spitzing provided more travel that was handled by a Fox 36 fork and Float rear shock. This additional travel allowed us to better take advantage of the bike’s handling on the descents, especially on steep and technical terrain. The bike also comes in slightly lighter than the Plus version, and thanks to the reduction of rotating weight, feels lighter overall on the trail.
Both Spitzing bikes we tested delivered some of the best off-road performance we’ve ever seen from any electric mountain bike. They’re dialed with a suspension system that works well in nearly any condition and are built with German quality you can see and feel. These bikes are quiet and smooth, and have plenty of battery power to last for very long rides, even at full power. They are certainly on the high end of the price spectrum, but deliver performance that’s worth the price of admission.
Most of our test riders ultimately preferred the Enduro version of the bike rather than the Plus version. The smaller tire size felt lighter, and the suspension felt more effective. That said, both bikes take advantage of that huge mid-drive motor to propel you to the top of any climb and then enjoy the rip down the backside.
SPECS: M1 SPITZING & SPITZING PLUS
MSRP: $10,800 (Spitzing), $9200 (Spitzing Plus)
Motor: TQ Systems 880 watts
Battery: Spitzing 48V, 18.3Ah
Charge time: 2 hours
Top speed: 46mph
Range: 30–100 miles (tested)
Drive: Shimano XT 1×10, 11-36T
Brakes: Magura hydraulic disc
Fork: Fox Float (Spitzing) 160mm or Manitou Air (Spitzing Plus) 120mm travel
Frame: Carbon fiber
Weight: 26.76 kg/59 lbs.
Color: Iconic Blue, Race Orange
Sizes: M (45cm), L (50cm)