Bike Test: Pedego Elevate
We’ve ridden a lot of Pedego bikes. They have a similar feel, because most of them are beach cruiser-ish, feature a 500-watt Dapu rear-hub motor, a big battery mounted on a rear rack and monstrous, swept-back cruiser bars. Oh, and a throttle.
Well, last December we were invited to Pedgo’s dealer meeting where a first look was granted for the next model year’s bikes. When they revealed three different bikes with mid-drives, our jaw hit the floor. When they revealed three different motors, we were shocked! The City Commuter Mid Drive Edition has a Dapu mid-drive (tested in the August 2018 issue) and does have a throttle. The Conveyor incorporates a Brose mid-drive with a Gates belt drive (hence the “conveyor belt,” get it?). Finally, we get to the Elevate, Pedego’s first-ever full-suspension mountain bike.
The Elevate looks aggressive. And it is. It certainly doesn’t look like some first-time mountain bike, cobbled together from sourced parts. Pedego, specifically with avid mountain biker and product manager Paul Auclair and his team, prototyped this thing quite a bit to get it to its current form. Officially, however, they started in August of 2017. To have a production model in less than a year from starting concept is pretty amazing. It’s a good-looking bike in everyone’s favorite color—black—with a few accents. The only Pedego logos are on the head tube and the bottom of the downtube.
They tested all their bikes with multiple motors, and for the Elevate, they ultimately chose the hottest motor on the market right now—the Shimano STEPS E8000. It’s a properly modern full-suspension mountain bike, with thru-axles and Boost hub spacing for great rigidity, 140mm of travel from the RockShox Sektor fork and 130mm from the Rockshox Monarch in the rear with tubeless-ready 45mm Alex rims mounted with Maxxis High Roller tires.
Shimano’s STEPS E8000 motor is becoming the go-to motor for a lot of manufacturers. Its compact size, power, and Shimano’s willingness to let manufacturers use Shimano’s off-the-shelf batteries or configure their own is attractive to a lot of manufacturers. This allows for longer ranges or lighter weights to be set up, or a combination of factors, including the shape of the battery for frame integration. This is a win for designers, as they can design the geometry for a better ride instead of being tied to a narrow window of configuration.
For the consumer, this is also a win, as the eTube app allows for customization of power levels. Also, with 70 N/m of torque and 250 watts of power (peak at 500 watts), there is power for days! We also love that Shimano uses mechanical levers to shift power level up or down instead of +/- buttons.
The display is small and located behind the bars to keep it safe. It’s very easy to see everything you need—speed, battery capacity, mode and more. You can toggle it to show cadence, range remaining
The 14-amp-hour battery is externally mounted on the top of the downtube. It works out to a pretty standard 504-watt-hour capacity, which should offer over 25 miles of serious climbing in Trail mode with some time spent in Boost. In our experience on this bike and others, especially at the stock power settings, Boost lives up to its name. It’s like running nitrous—you don’t use it all the time, just those few seconds when you need it!
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
This is a pretty serious trail-riding machine. It will definitely handle anything a beginner or intermediate can throw at it, and we had some of the office rippers, who are expert level and above, toss it around a little on local trails and they liked it too.
Another plus is that if you’re going in to a Pedego dealer to buy another bike for someone else in the family, you can pay for them or finance them all at once. Here’s where we think it’s brilliant that they now have a bike like this in their line, as they tend to sell bikes to families quite often.
We actually were invited to test ride one of the preproduction models a few months ago. We were impressed! It rode so well that we couldn’t wait to get our hands on a production model. They dropped off one of the first to hit our shores, and we got to work.
The bike has a low stand-over height and a dropper post, which make it easy to mount and climb around on when riding. Controls are all in great, ergonomic places on the bars. The WTB Volt saddle, however, is rather uncomfortable; a virtually unpadded brick whose saving grace is that it’s on a full-suspension bike.
We’re big fans of plus-size tires, and Maxxis makes outstanding tires in this range. The High Rollers have a good, aggressive knobby pattern that hooks up on a variety of surfaces, and they’re resistant to punctures in situations where we’re not running tubeless. The big volume means you can run lower pressure, which offers massive grip on any surface, including sand and deep, loose dirt.
Speaking of grippy, the Race Face Chester platform pedals kept us sure-footed, even when the going got rough. They have adjustable pin height for a custom feel. We’d suggest running them moderate to high for plenty of bite, and then wearing a shin guard, just in case. They’re not ultra-flat, but they’re flatter than most regular parallelogram platforms. Race Face Aeffect handlebars at a nice, wide 780mm allowed us stable steering and a very confident ride, with Pedego-branded grips with a soft spiderweb pattern.
We love the configurability of the Shimano motor via the eTube app. There are three power modes: Eco, Trail and Boost. Eco gives a little more help than just overcoming the weight of the bike and is good for a workout. Trail is about double that; from the factory it always feels like 30 percent. Boost is the full-beans, 100-percent power. The steps between Trail and Boost are too big, and Boost is usually more power than we need. We dialed up Trail to be more in the middle and set Boost back to about 80 percent for a much more controllable ride and better range. Your mileage may vary, depending on what you’re climbing. You may want all Boost, all the time just for the fun factor!
The 1×11 drivetrain felt perfect. We never ran out of gears climbing or descending. Shifting was easy, even under load, making climbs easier. There’s no shift detection, so it is advised to let up on the pedals as you shift. We didn’t on several shifts, and it was okay, but we wouldn’t recommend doing that all the time.
One of our riders took it out and did some laps around a local loop. He did the first loops with the suspension locked out. Then he opened it up. He never used all the suspension, even on bigger stuff. The RockShox Sektor fork is e-bike-specific with thicker stanchions, and it’s more progressive to handle the added weight. When the suspension on this bike was set correctly, it had good small-bump compliance and was very forgiving over bigger stuff.
The tires gripped like crazy on climbs, but didn’t spin or make the bike loop out on steep climbs, something we confirmed on a local steep hill. The geometry helps, especially on super-steep stuff. It didn’t feel like it wanted to loop out, ever. You can lock out the suspension if you want, but even wide open it stays where you want it. Descents were a total blast! We couldn’t get enough, and climbing back up is always fun too.
Paul and his team really knocked this one out of the park. It’s a bike we’ve been riding a lot during and after work, and it seems to like the abuse. In its price range, we’re really impressed at how good it is and how confidence-inspiring it is to ride, especially with the geometry and the plus-size tires. We’re honestly impressed.
If you’re a good rider, it’ll make you better. If you’re not a good rider, well, it’ll still likely make you better. The bike has a two-year, comprehensive warranty. Pedego has a pretty good warranty and customer
SPECS PEDEGO ELEVATE
Motor: Shimano STEPS E8000
Battery: Shimano E8000, Li-ion, 36V 14 Ah
Charge time: 4–5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph
Drive:Shimano SLX, 1×11, 11-42t
Brakes:Shimano SLX, 203mm rotor
Controls: Shimano E8000
Fork: RockShox Sektor, 140mm travel
Rear shock: Rockshox Monarch RT3
Frame: 6061 aluminum
Tires:Maxxis High Roller, 27.5×2.8”
Sizes: M, L
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