HUSQVARNA MOUNTAIN CROSS 7
A legacy moto brand jumps into the race
Assuredly, it’s been a handful of years since we first laid eyes on a Husqvarna at the Eurobike show in 2017. Professed fans of all things throttle-twisting that we are, it was exciting to see a company with such a storied legacy in off-road motorcycle history looking for a groove in the e-bike world.
Well, the time has finally come for us to throw our two cents in on the latest version of their all-mountain effort. Along with the Mountain Cross 7 at $5999, you’ll have the option of a lesser-component-build Mountain Cross 5 for $4399. Husqvarna didn’t leave out the other two major mountain bike categories with downhill- and enduro-specific models. In short, it’s e-bikes full steam ahead for Husqvarna, and they even have a 24-inch wheel kids’ e-bike.
Shimano took their already-smooth e8000 STEPS drive unit and made it more powerful and packed it into the new, lighter EP8 shell. They’ve increased the assist to 85 N/m in the second power mode (Trail), which will require more torque from your legs in order to get the 85 N/m. This motor is 300 grams lighter and should stay a little cooler with the new magnesium cases. The Mountain Cross will feature a 630 Wh battery compared to the previous 504 Wh max Shimano offered.
An aluminum frame and rear triangle make for a strong and relatively squeak-free ride experience. The battery is integrated into the downtube with an easy-to-remove cover and key for removal. A simple thing that is normally over-thought yet not practical enough is the location of the charge port. Husqvarna placed theirs out of the way of the cranks near the bottom of the downtube with a rubber cover that is uncomplicated to latch.
“We found the 630 Wh never left us worried about how much range we had left.”
The Mountain Cross 7 was designed with a “biggie smalls” 29-inch front/27.5-inch rear wheel combo. A chainstay length of 439mm across all sizes of the Mountain Cross in part because of the smaller 27.5-inch rear wheel and 65-degree head tube angle. Husqvarna went with a 440mm seat-tube length on the medium. The sloping top tube helps maintain a lower stand-over height that will give people with shorter legs an option to go up a size if they want.
The Mountain Cross 7 rides on the big chunk-approved DT Swiss H 1900 rims, which is DT Swiss’ second from their top-of-the-line e-mountain bike rims. Fitted with an XC-style 2.5-inch Maxxis Recon on the 29er front wheel and a 2.6-inch Recon on the 27.5-inch rear wheel. We think most people would want something more aggressive; although, they get the job done in most cases. For suspension, the Husky utilizes the latest 150mm-travel Fox 36 Factory E-bike+, Grip 2 damper, and the shock is the Fox Float DPS Factory with 150mm of travel.
The Mountain Cross will come stock with 160mm cranks even though our test bike has 170mm cranks. Pedal strikes have not been excessive, even with the longer cranks. A 34t front chainring drives the Shimano CS-M6100, 10-51t 12-speed cassette, which made it easy to get a high-enough cadence to climb any challenging climbs we found. The gear shifter is a mid-tier Shimano SL-M6100 and operates the Shimano Deore XT derailleur. On the left side of the handlebars, though, you’ll find a Shimano SW-EM800-L electronic shifter for switching power modes in the motor. Slowing down in a hurry will be no problem with Shimano Deore XT brakes and 200mm Ice-Tech rotors. The house-brand 780mmwide bars are held to the steerer tube with a 35mm stem. The dropper seat post is a Husqvarna 31.6mm with 150mm of travel, which we had no issues maintaining a smooth operation even when adjusting the seat post up
A four-bar-link active rear-suspension design is paired with Fox’s latest DPS Float Factory with 150mm of travel. You’ll get a three-position compression lever, as well as another three positions of adjustment for making it even more plush or stiff. The rebound adjustment is easy to adjust on the fly as well. The 150mm-travel Fox 36 Factory fork comes with high- and low-speed compression and rebound, which can be a bit of a mental overload to set up. If you’re a tinkerer, the Fox Grip2 damper is hard to beat, though, and when set up properly it’s a dream to ride.
The Mountain Cross finds itself between the trail/all-mountain category, which is fitting for the way this bike handles. Uphill flow trails with tight corners suit the Husky well. Any time we’ve tested a mixed-wheel bike, it usually means tight corners are easier to manage. The Mountain Cross was no exception, and when it came to getting over obstacles going up the trail, the bike felt very lively. When hopping over logs or going up technical rocky sections, the rear end cooperated with us. The bike seemed willing to lunge forward with ease, helping us manage some pretty technical segments.
The Shimano EP8 motor is growing on us by being so smooth and quiet when climbing long fire roads. It has plenty of torque, and the power is as natural and immediate as any assist system available for Class 1 e-mountain bikes. The 630 Wh battery never left us worried about how much range we had left. One test rider got 4000 feet of climbing in Boost mode the whole time and came back with range to spare.
This bike really shines on tight, twisty downhill sections, particularly on slower speeds where you’re just picking your way down. There’s a feeling of being able to push right through chunky sections. Although a little flexible on the big hits, the Fox fork offered more compliance and comfort through rougher turns compared to bikes with 38mm forks.
“This bike really shines on tight, twisty downhill sections, particularly on slower speeds where you’re just picking your way down.”
It was noticeable that really high-speed rough sections didn’t feel as confident as some of the all-mountain bikes that are available now. Maybe it was the mixed-wheel setup, but jumping was more comfortable, even for some of our test riders who don’t particularly pursue jumping regularly.
UPGRADES AND MODS
We would be interested to see what the difference a beefier fork, such as the Fox Factory 38 or a RockShox Zeb, would offer this bike. There’s always a trade-off, but the fork upgrade would give the Husky added big-hit ability. We feel the Maxxis Recon tires didn’t do as much justice to the Husky as much as maybe a Maxxis Minion or something more aggressive.
The rider wanting to get more dynamics out of a ride can count on the Mountain Cross 7. It’s a bike that can do many things. Comments like, “It had a very balanced feel,” was a phrase stated by a few test riders.
The bike has plenty of battery range to get through more riding than the majority will even want to ride. We liked having enough range for a full day at the bike park without recharging. The skid plate was surprisingly tough and useful as we splatted it on a few logs and rocks with no problems. A price of $5999 gets you a really nice build and handling that rivals bikes with a much higher price tag.
Motor: Shimano EP8
Battery: 630 Wh
Controller: Shimano SC-EM800 display
Top speed: 20 mph
Drive: Shimano 10-51t, 12 speed, 34t front chainring, Deore XT derailleur
Brakes: Shimano Deore XT brakes with 200mm Ice-Tech rotors
Wheels: DT Swiss H 1900
Tires: Maxxis Recon
Fork: Fox 36 Factory E-bike+, Grip 2 damper
Rear shock: Fox Float DPS Factory
Seatpost: Husqvarna 31.6mm
Weight: 54.19 pounds
Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL