Haibike Xduro AMT PRO 27.5
The sportiest e-bike MTB yet!
We have to say right up front that the Haibike Xduro AMT Pro is an impressive mountain bike, and it is clearly more than the sum of its parts. And topping the parts list would be the new Bosch Gen 2 center drive system. No other e-bike brand has embraced the Bosch power units as completely as Haibike, and they will be the first company to enter the American market with the newly designed center drive system (due to claimed over-ordering, Bosch announced that the Gen 2 drive system will not arrive in the U.S. until April of this year)
Our test bike was built partly with Euro-specific parts, which won’t be used for U.S. production, some of which are just plain inconvenient, like using a 220-volt charger and having all the bike computer readouts in kilometers. More critically, other parts affect performance. In Europe, the power assist has to quit at 15 mph, and the system must actively resist going over that speed. In the U.S. version, the Bosch motor will have 350 watts instead of 250, and the assist will extend to 20 mph. In a world populated with hub motors, 350 watts may sound modest, but like other mid drives, the Bosch system gains the mechanical advantage of using the rear cassette as an 11-speed transmission to make better use of the available torque.
“The list continues with a Crankbrothers dropper seatpost, Avid disc brakes and Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires.”
BREAKING UP THE PARTS
Much of our praise for the German Xduro Pro can be traced directly to the quality of the actual bicycle. Haibike started with a beefy aluminum frame built from hydroformed tubes, with a pivoting rear suspension system that minimizes chain-torque effect on the suspension, which means minimal “pedal bob.” When you pedal, especially while standing, the suspension does not absorb the energy and slow you down. The size of the Bosch drive (compared to a normal bottom bracket) and the single 16-tooth front sprocket created unique challenges in the frame design. To get the rear suspension’s bottom pivot closer to the crank axle, the pivot was moved up and forward above the drive. That fixed issues with the suspension arc but made the distance between the suspension pivot and the crank axle too great, so chain tension would vary wildly and affect the rear suspension action. Haibike’s solution is a fix they call the S.E.S. (Sprocket Equalizing System), which mounts a protected chain idler directly to the pivot point. S.E.S. fixes the chain line, protects the frame and makes the rear suspension happy.
Fox is responsible for the rear air shock (with adjustable lockout) and the 34mm Talas air-sprung fork with Kashima-coated fork tubes to resist friction and tube wear. The fork has adjustable damping to deal with varying terrain and rider preference, and the fork travel is adjustable from 120mm to 150mm on the fly for climbing. All of the components of the SRAM 1×11 drive are quality pieces that do a great job melding human power and assist.
Crankbrothers’ 27.5 wheels with thru-axles pad the component list. The spokes don’t intrude into the rim area, so these wheels are great for those who want a light wheel that is a no-brainer to run tubeless. The list continues with a Crankbrothers dropper seatpost, Avid disc brakes and Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires. We would be more than happy to have a bike equipped like this Haibike, even without the motor.
Bosch packages the drive components into a self-contained, lozenge-shaped unit that requires a dedicated frame design. The Bosch drive adds significant weight, accounting for perhaps 14 pounds of the 47-pound total weight. A huge bonus to a mid-drive design is having the majority of the weight mounted low in the center of the bike. In comparison, the 5.5-pound battery case is fairly light, but even that weight is mounted low on the downtube. The result is a bike that never has “heavy” handling and always feels nimble and ready to react for any trail situation.
There is a button on the battery case, but the system usually powers up just by holding the power button on the stem-mounted Bosch cycle computer. In addition to the dedicated cycle computer, there is a handy remote switch next to the left-side grip that allows the rider to quickly toggle the assist up or down through the four available levels: Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo. Eco is for flat areas or those with enough willpower to pursue exercise. Tour was the more typical setting for us, and we reserved Sport and Turbo for more challenging inclines. For many normal trails, the top two modes make pedaling too easy.
Keep your cadence up and you will find that the Bosch drive has plenty of off-road performance, and it is especially effective conquering slow, technical climbs. That was true of the semi-Euro-spec drive in the Haibike we tested, and we are certain that more assist and more power will be a positive move.
As you gain experience with the Bosch drive, you realize the importance of the gear and power mode selection. It is easy to get lazy and stay in a high gear, then find yourself frantically downshifting and kicking up modes for an unexpected climb or switchback. You will get the most efficient support and best battery life by staying in a gear that keeps your pedaling cadence up. You don’t necessarily have to pedal hard, just spin so the drive motor stays in a happy place. That makes the drive fun and capable and keeps you from wasting the battery. As it is, the Bosch drive is not a battery glutton. If you are willing to pedal harder, and especially if you exceed 20 mph, the battery lasts a surprising amount of time.
NO DOUBLE LIFE
Everywhere we rode the Xduro, we were impressed with the suspension, braking and overall performance. The handling feels quick, like it was designed for aggressive riders. For long, fast descents, we turned the assist completely off and just enjoyed the chassis and suspension. We rode the bike hard on aggressive trails like we would any high-end all-mountain bike. We never had a single problem with the drive or the bicycle parts. Every part on the bike, even the handlebar switches, felt like they were built to last. Despite the performance, the Haibike is easy on the trails. It has no tendency to spin the tires, or at least no more than a human-powered bike. In fact, with more assist, you can often ease off and roll through sections where a guy pedaling is scrambling for traction and trying to maintain forward momentum.
We even had fun riding up routes we had considered descents. We never found any need to employ the suspension lockouts, either. We preferred to keep the suspension active and help the bike find traction. When descending was technical, we were happy for the dropper seatpost. We even did some jumping. It didn’t faze the bike. Six inches of quality suspension travel will handle just about anything you want to throw at it. On extreme climbs, a lower gear would be welcome. The Bosch unit’s single, smallish, 16-tooth front sprocket is designed to rotate 2.5 times for every revolution of the crank, so it is the equivalent of a 40-tooth ring on a bicycle crank. We understand there is a 14-tooth available, and that would be welcome when the going is extremely steep.
Like any serious all-mountain bicycle, the Xduro Pro isn’t great on the street as a commuter. The large knobby tires don’t roll well on pavement, and the assist that is so impressive on dirt trails and roads is fine on the road but nothing special. Commuting would be sort of a waste on a bike this capable in the dirt.
We were fortunate to get the Xduro in a wide variety of mountain bike terrain, and it proved unfailingly effective and always fun. The Bosch system is not totally silent, since it emits a bit of an electric whirring sound. It is certainly not offensive, and fellow trail and road users rarely spotted the Xduro as being anything unique. We see that as a positive. This bike isn’t anything like riding a motorcycle. It is a great mountain bike that happens to take the majority of the misery out of the rough climbs. The handling was crisp and accurate, and the suspension handled anything but extreme downhill or park riding. It will handle any jump or park obstacle other all-mountain or cross-country bikes will, but it still makes you feel like a hero on the climbs.
Sure, this is an expensive bike, but a human-powered version with this level of components and suspension is pretty expensive as well. Haibike offers lower-spec models with a lower price, but if you judge a bike by the smiles-per-dollar factor, this one is well worth the ticket price.
Motor type: Bosch mid-mount performance, 350 watts
Battery: Lithium ion, 36-volt, 400 Wh
Charge time: 3–4 hours
Top speed: 20-mph assisted (rider weight, rider input and terrain contingent)
Range: 15–25 miles with normal pedaling
Drive: SRAM XX1/ X01, 11-speed
Brakes: Avid X.0 Trail, hydraulic disc brake, 180/200mm disc
Wheels: Crankbrothers Iodine 3; front: 15mm; rear :142/12mm axle
Tires: Schwalbe Hans Dampf PSC, folding, 27.5×2.25
Handlebar/stem: Xduro Lowriser aluminum/eQ Alu, A-head
Controls: Bosch Intuvia multifunctional display with operation unit and push assistance
Fork: Fox 34 TALAS CTD Adjust FIT 120–150mm, tapered
Shock: Fox Float CTD Kashima BV LV 200mm
Saddle: Xduro Light MTB
Frame: Hydroformed 6061 aluminum tubes and cast parts, 150mm travel with four-link system, equalizing system
Cranks/pedals: The Hive, Exalite R forged aluminum/platform
Weight: 47 pounds (medium)
Sizes: Small, medium, large
This review appears in the February 2014 issue of Electric Bike Action Magazine. To order a copy or start a subscription, call (800) 767-0345 or click right here.