IGO CORE EDGE
The challenges of a hub-drive e-bike in the mountains
As we all know, there are an endless number of companies making e-bikes now, and it’s safe to say that picking the right one can be nothing short of a challenge given all the choices. If someone told you that a hub-drive e-bike won’t work in the mountains, they’re only partially right. It’s true that a motor in the hub as opposed to the mid-mount will take more abuse. This can be especially true in a hardtail like the Core Edge, but let’s be fair, this bike wasn’t built for hammering rough downhills.
We decided to really be certain it couldn’t handle thrashing downhills and came up with some interesting conclusions that contradict the word on the street. The iGO gave us a chance to really test a hub-drive mountain bike on terrain that it may never normally go through just to see if it could.
Weighing in at 58 pounds, the aluminum iGO is heavy even compared to some full-suspension e-bikes. We were happy to see an allotment of standard rack and fender mount bosses for the front and back end of the bike. Also, there’s one water bottle mount on the inner part of the frame. The brake and derailleur cables are hidden in the frame but quite lengthy in the handlebar area.
The 27.5-inch CST Rock Hawk tires wrap the aluminum house-brand rims. Braking power is supplied by Tektro hydraulic discs with 180mm rotors and a brake-lever-actuated power cut off the sensors. The seatpost is 30.4mm in diameter, which is good to know if you already have a suspension seatpost you want to fit on this bike. The 105mm-long stem has an adjustable 0–60-degree rise, and the 700mm-wide low-rise handlebars are narrow for modern mountain bike standards but sufficiently pair with this bike.
Shimano supplies the drivetrain with a Rapidfire 8-speed shifter and an Altus derailleur. The 11-34 cassette mates to a Prowheel 38t front chainring. Front suspension utilizes 100mm of travel with a basic RST Blaze fork that has a lockout. There is a small headlight that helps to be seen but is not optimum for seeing clearly at night.
The 500W motor provides up to 50 N/m of torque. The backlit display unit also contains the assist-level selector, along with a USB charging port. It will also provide you diagnostic codes, light switch, walk assist control, speedometer, average speed, odometer and trip meter. Electricity is supplied by a 576Wh, 48V, 12Ah lithium-ion removable battery.
With all these specs combined with a throttle, the Rock Hawk rates as a class 2 e-bike. You’ll find nine power modes to select through, which feels like too many to contend with when riding, but offer more dynamic range attenuation. A standard 110/220V smart charger is used for charging. These chargers are a universal spec seen unlike many big-name mid-drive units that all have brand-specific chargers.
“The bike works fine on smooth hills as long as they are not to steep and loose.”
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
We would rate this bike as an entry-level-rider-type bike. The Core Edge is for someone who wants to ride smooth trails with little to no steep climbing. The ability to have a relaxed position with an adjustable stem would be great for people with physical limitations. On iGO’s website, they say it’s “built to dominate,” but we think it’s a bit of a stretch considering it fits more in the leisure and cruising segment than extreme mountain riding.
Recognizing that price points play a role in any bike’s performance goals, any time a company categorizes their bike as a “mountain bike,” we take the claim seriously and feel that the claim (and bike) should retain some level of off-road viability. In short, it should be able to ride in the mountains! With proper tire pressure, the iGO was able to handle some gnarlier trails than we first expected. The bike wasn’t designed for what we threw at it, but we wanted to see how extreme we could get, as well as see how much abuse the hub drive could take.
Impressively, after hours of mountain, abuse the motor was the least of our worries. Having all that weight placed in the rear of the bike wasn’t ideal for downhills. The bike handled more than we expected when it came to the descents. Making the climbs, however, was a different story.
“Let’s be fair, this bike wasn’t built for hammering rough downhills.”
The brake-lever-actuated power cut-offs made climbing anything technical a real challenge. This again limits the bike to smoother trails without any really steep sections. Brakes can be necessary on uphills when cornering or trying to maintain balance. As soon as you do hit the brakes, you loose all your power and momentum instantly, making it tough to get going again. The bike works fine on smooth hills as long as they are not too steep and loose.
The iGO’s range was impressive, notably on some actual long mountain bike rides we did. With 2000 feet of climbing and about 15 miles, we only lost two of five bars of battery. That was us trying to conserve battery on flat sections and using all the power on hill-climbs. On the highest level of assist we ran the battery down much quicker, but still went surprisingly far in comparison to many hub-driven motors.
If it was the only bike we had we would modify a couple things. For instance, a dropper seatpost and/or a suspension seatpost, even a dropper with suspension travel built in. That and a shorter stem for added mountain-riding ability.
As we have experienced, bikes with hub-drive motors notoriously overheat on long climbs, especially if you aren’t helping it out with your legs. And, sometimes they will overheat even if you are exerting plenty of energy. We are talking about the extreme situations that many consumers may not ever put this bike through. While we never had overheating issues with the iGO, it is important for you to know what you are buying, and that it works for what you want to do. There is no reason this bike can’t get you outdoors having a good time, and for the money, we think the frame, motor and components are valued fairly.
iGO CORE EDGE
Fork: RST Blaze 27.5” e-MTB
Motor: GO Drive 500W hub-drive
Battery: 576 Wh
Display: LCD backlit
Charge time: 3 hours
Top speed: 20 mph
Range: 47 miles (claimed)
Rear derailleur: Shimano Atlus
Chain: KMC X8 EPT rust-resistant
Brakes: Tektro hydraulic
Saddle: Selle Royal Viento
Dropper Post: N/A
Rims: iGO double-wall alloy
Hubs: iGo brand
Tires: 27.5”x2.4” CST Rock Hawk
Weight: 58 lbs
Color choice: Forest green
Sizes: One size fits all