The CENTURION E-Fire Country F3500 was one of the first off-road step-through bikes on the market, setting the standard in 2018. Since then, CENTURION have made no changes to the eMTB. Can the only bike in the test with an external battery and Shimano motor keep up with the competition?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best off-road step-through bike of 2020 – 10 models tested head to head

Centurion E-Fire Country F3500 | Shimano STEPS E8000/504 Wh | 80/0 mm (f/r)
23.7 kg (Size L) | € 3,999 | Manufacturer’s website

External batteries have (almost) become extinct on eMTBs these days. That includes the bikes in this group test, with one exception: the CENTURION E-Fire Country F3500. In view of the rapid technological developments in the ebike industry, the external Shimano STEPS 500 Wh battery on the E-Fire Country F3500 seems slightly antiquated. However, the system also has its advantages. From a technical standpoint, it is much easier to design a suitably stiff closed down tube than is one with a big slot to remove an integrated battery. Functionally, there’s also still enough room on the down tube to position a bottle cage within easy reach thanks to the compact size of the external battery. The CENTURION is equipped with robust fenders, a bell, side stand and pannier rack (approved for up to 20 kg) for everyday practicality. The lighting system is one of the best in the test, making the bike suitable for year-round commuting. The maximum payload is above average at 126 kg and as the bike is approved to pull a trailer, there’s nothing to stop you from transporting your children or pets.

The spec list doesn’t betray the fact that the bike has been on the market for several years. On the contrary, you get an 80 mm dropper seat post with integrated suspension, wide mountain bike cockpit, adjustable air fork from Suntour with 80 mm travel and internal cable routing – excellent! Furthermore, Shimano’s electronic XT Di2 drivetrain delivers the best shifting in the test. However this drives up the price and in our opinion, a Shimano XT mechanical groupset would have been entirely sufficient. However, the cheap and sharp-edged Shimano SW-E6010 shifter is anything but ergonomic. You’ll find the same shifter on the left side of the handlebar used as a remote for the support levels. While we commend CENTURION for their love of matching components and looks, we would exchange both shifters for Shimano’s XT Di2 SWM 8050 models. For the brakes, CENTURION combine 1-finger brake levers with two-piston callipers and 180mm rotors. This makes the bike feel like a real eMTB but with that maximum payload of 126 kg, it would make sense to equip it with more powerful and reliable brakes.

Good position
The position of the bottle cage is essential on a step-through bike. CENTURION have placed it close to the head tube – thumbs up!
The stand doesn’t suit the bike’s purpose. Even on moderate trails, it sometimes folds out on its own, which isn’t only annoying but also dangerous.
Large and clear
Shimano’s E6010 display is large, easy to read and displays all the standard data, though it looks old-school.
Ergonomic flop
You’ll find uncomfortably sharp-edged Shimano SW-E6010 shifters on both sides of the handlebar, which take a bit of getting used to.

Centurion E-Fire Country F3500

€ 3,999


Motor Shimano STEPS E8000 70 Nm
Battery Shimano STEPS BT-E8010 504 Wh
Display Shimano STEPS E6010
Fork SR Suntour MOBIE45 80 mm
Rear Shock 0 mm
Seatpost PROCRAFT DS-SP.RI 80 mm
Brakes Shimano BR-M500 180/180 (v/h) mm
Drivetrain Shimano Deore XT Di2 1x11
Stem PROCRAFT AL Comp OS 90 mm
Handlebar PROCRAFT Riser Comp OS 640 mm
Wheelset 27.5
Tires Schwalbe Smart Sam Performance 2.25

Technical Data

Size S, M, L
Weight 23.7 kg
Perm. total weight 150 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 126 kg
Trailer approval yes
Kickstand mount yes

Specific Features

external battery
electronic Shimano Di2 drivetrain
combined suspension and dropper post

The 2.25” wide Maxxis Crossmark II tires are good enough for the city, on gravel and on moderate trails. However, to fully exploit the bike’s potential, you’ll need grippier tires for the trails.
Safety before integration
The semi-integrated battery makes it easier for CENTURION’s engineers to achieve the necessary torsional stiffness. It isn’t the sexiest, but it’s effective and practical.
Everyday practicality
The pannier rack, mudguards, side stand, lights and lock come as standard. In addition, the handling with loaded panniers on the rack is among the best in the test.
More is more
The dropper post is the longest in the test, providing a lot of freedom of movement and instilling you with confidence when stopping at traffic lights or on moderate terrain. Plus, it’s got integrated suspension – brilliant!
Jacket Meander Jacket | Helmet Bell Sixer MIPS | Glasses Oakley Latch Beta

n 2018, CENTURION revolutionised the world of step-through bikes. Today, the same ebike is the benchmark in terms of all-round performance in the category of step-through eMTBs

Climbing on board the CENTURION is super easy thanks to the low and generously dimensioned step-through frame and the bottle cage positioned high up on the down tube. Not even the external battery gets in the way. Thanks to the upright and comfortable riding position, taking on long days in the saddle is no problem at all. Going uphill, the bike is easily able to conquer steep climbs on gravel roads or forest loam thanks to the sensitive response of the motor. The smart and progressive Trail mode regulates the motor’s performance depending on rider input and terrain, from minimal support to maximum power. This suits the bike perfectly.

The CENTURION is a lot of fun to ride. It corners with immediacy and precision, feeling agile and manoeuvrable in city traffic and moderate off-road use. It always remains good-natured and predictable, benefitting beginners of all ages. The dropper post provides sufficient freedom of movement to emphasise the bike’s playful and sporty character. However, the plastic chainstay guard rattles on cobblestone paths, which gets annoying. In addition, those who often ride on moderate off-road terrain should remove or replace the side stand, as it’s not only noisy but it also folded out of its own accord several times during our test. That’s more than just annoying, this can be dangerous! When things get steeper, the tall front end instils you with confidence.

The 2.25” wide MAXXIS Crossmark II tires make for good all-rounders in the city, on gravel and woodland trails. Fit grippier tires and more powerful brakes and the CENTURION could easily match some hardtails in terms of trail performance. The Country E-Fire F3500 is one of the stiffest bikes in the test field, securely holding its line and thereby instilling you with confidence – there was no excessive flexing and it always remained composed. Even with an 11 kg load on the rack, the handling remains agile and precise. Riese & Müller had the only other bike in the test field that handled as well with a load on the rack.

Tuning tips: upgrade to Shimano XT Di2 SWM 8050 shifters | remove or replace the side stand for trail riding


In 2018, the CENTURION E-Fire Country F3500 defined the category of step-through eMTBs and it remains the benchmark in terms of all-round performance. Whether as a city bike, trekking bike or for off-road use on moderate trails, the CENTURION offers a well-rounded package, combining agility and composure and performing well in every situation. The handling is unaffected by the additional weight of loaded panniers on the rear rack, remaining composed and agile – it’s the best all-rounder out of the box and is thus our deserved Best in Test winner.


  • fun
  • agile yet composed
  • stiff frame
  • dropper post with integrated suspension
  • great handling with a loaded rack


  • side stand folds out by itself on moderate terrain
  • look of the external battery

For more info head to:

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best off-road step-through bike of 2020 – 10 models tested head to head

All bikes in test: BULLS E-STREAM EVO 1 WAVE 27,5+(Click for review) |CENTURION E-Fire Country F3500 | Corratec Life CX 6X Connect (Click for review) | FANTIC ISSIMO FUN (Click for review) | HNF-NICOLAI UD 3 (Click for review) | INFRONT IF-4 Wave (Click for review) | Kalkhoff Entice 5.B Excite (Click for review) | KETTLER QUADRIGA TOWN & COUNTRY COMP (Click for review) | Moustache Samedi 27 Off 2 Open (Click for review) | Riese & Müller Homage GT (Click for review)

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Words: Photos: Robin Schmitt, Jonas Müssig, Philipp Schwab

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