The First Long-term eMTB Test Update

We’ve come to the middle of the season and it’s about time to give you an update on our long-term E-MOUNTAINBIKE test bikes. The feelings and experiences of our test riders are mixed and not just because many of them are still waiting for their bikes. Read on to find out about our honest impressions over the last few months, from the best of times to the bitter disappointment that we’re still waiting – as everyone else – for some of our bikes to arrive.

Before we get into the review, we would like to tell you about our new print edition. Consisting of around 240 (!) pages, the 2019 E-MOUNTAINBIKE Print Editon offers a ton of inspiration, buyers advice, and eMTB know-how as well as reviews of the hottest bikes of the year. Our premium magazine is aimed at experienced eMTBers and beginners alike. Click here for more information (new window) or order it directly in our shop or on!

Let’s get to the bad news first: both Christoph and Robin are still waiting to receive the YT DECOY and the Haibike FLYON. Even though we’re generally the first to receive new test bikes for reviews, we’ve been struggling with availability just as much as everyone else. We hope that Christoph and Robin will be able to hit the trails soon, especially as there’s not too much left of the season! Delayed, but rather late than never, Valentin has finally received his Riese & Müller Supercharger and he’s been commuting on it every day since.

Felix, Sarah and Toni have been diligently racking up the miles and the patina of wear and tear showing on their bikes couldn’t be more different. Below, you’ll find out how they have tuned their bikes, which parts have needed replacement and the first impressions of their respective rides. For more information about our test team, you can read the first instalment of our long-term E-MOUNTAINBIKE test here.

Specialized Turbo Levo Expert – Felix

As our hardcore tester, Felix doesn’t do anything by half measures, staying on the gas through the worst rock gardens and roughest terrain. As you might expect, his Specialized Turbo Levo has started looking a little the worse for wear. However, Felix has been riding the bike for a good six months and the strains on a mid-motor driven eMTB are immeasurably higher than on a regular mountain bike. So, after having covered 1736 km, Felix has gone through one SRAM GX cassette, two sets of rear brake pads and a chain – who could have guessed? That’s just what the 410% maximum support from the Brose Drive S Mag can do to a chain and cassette. Apart from that, the wheels have also taken quite a beating and are now so dented that they’ve started to resemble the crater-ridden moon as it wobbles around the earth. As we said, Felix loves pushing the limit 😉 And it was pretty much inevitable that he would quickly have to say goodbye to the Specialized Butcher tires: both casings were shot through on the first day. Felix replaced them with a WTB Trail Boss Tough on the rear and a WTB Vigilante High Grip up front. After an unfortunate crash on asphalt (shit happens!) he had to say goodbye to the original saddle and handlebar. He replaced the former with a Selle Italia X-LR Carbonio Superflow and the latter with a Beast Components Carbon model. In retrospect, saving weight on the saddle might not have been the best decision. It only lasted two months before one of the saddle rails broke. Since then, Felix has opted for the sturdier X-LR TM Air Superflow model without any carbon.

After six months of hard use, the Specialized Command Post dropper needed some love as it had become somewhat sticky and uncooperative. However, the problem was solved within 30 min with a little grease and basic servicing skills.

Felix didn’t only replace parts that wore out or broke and also added a few upgrades, such as the Supernova M99 MINI on the handlebars allowing him to ride long into the night. He also installed the Sahmurai S.W.O.R.D. tubeless repair kit in his bar ends and he put on a set of Renthal Push-On soft grips. To achieve optimal performance on the fork, Felix upgraded the RockShox Pike with a Deaneasy ABS fork tuning kit. We’ll go into the details of the kit, what it does and who it’s for in the next instalment.

Total cost of broken parts approx. € 742

Specialized Alloy Low Rise Handlebar (€ 52), Specialized Phenom Comp (€ 93), 2x Specialized Butcher GRID (approx. 90 €), GX Eagle Cassette (€ 220), GX Eagle Chain (€ 32), 2 x CODE brake pads (€ 15), Selle Italia Carbonio Superflow (€ 240)

Replacements Handlebar, saddle (crash), Selle Italia Carbonio Superflow (€ 240), chain, cassette, tires, 2 x rear brake pads, Roval Traverse Fattie 29 rear
Service/Upgrades Renthal Push-On Soft grips, WTB Trail Boss Tough on the rear, WTB Vigilante High Grip up front, Supernova M99 MINI headlight, DeanEasy ABS fork tuning kit in the PIKE, Sahmurai S.W.O.R.D.
Kilometres 1736 km
Duration 6 months
Review Specialized Turbo Levo Expert review

Canyon Spectral:ON 7.0 WMN – Sarah

Compared to Felix’s Specialized, Sarah’s Canyon Spectral:ON is doing a lot better. While Sarah rides her eMTB much more gently, she certainly hasn’t been riding less! Thanks to her regular commute and after-work rides, Sarah is scratching at the 1,000 km mark after only 3 months. Considering that, the bike is in surprisingly good nick. To be honest, it’s still in perfect condition! Take it out of the box, put it together and ride off: it doesn’t take much more than that when you buy a bike from Canyon. The bike arrives in its box almost completely pre-assembled – all you have to do is attach the bars, install the battery and wheels, set up the bike and go.

We’re keen to see how Sarah carries on and we hope that her Spectral:ON remains as trouble-free as it has been so far.

Kilometres 920 km
Duration 3 months
Review Canyon Spectral:ON 7.0 review

Riese & Müller Supercharger Rohloff HS – Valentin

Valentin has been able to ride his bike for about two and a half weeks now, but he’s really been going at it. The Riese & Müller – with its panniers on the side – has literally taken a big load off his shoulders, and thanks to the motor supporting him up to 45 km/h, it also makes his daily commute that much quicker, saving him valuable time. But, here’s the problem: before you consider buying yourself an S-Pedelec, first check the route that you would take to work. Legally speaking, S-Pedelecs are regarded as two-wheeled motor vehicles, which means you’re not allowed to ride them on bike paths, forest service roads or the like. This can become a problem if you haven’t got the right infrastructure. Valentin faced quite a challenge figuring out a route to commute from Stuttgart – Germany’s car city – to our offices in Leonberg. Just as important as it is not to race an S-Pedelec through your local woods, you also have to have insurance. If you’re riding an S-Pedelec without insurance or a registration plate, you’re not only risking lifelong indebtedness due to a lack of coverage in case of an accident, you’re also riding illegally.

Once you’ve dealt with all of that, commuting is an absolute breeze. Thanks to the generous 1,000 Wh battery feeding the Bosch Performance motor, you can cover long distances without having to worry about charging points. However, the range is heavily dependent on the support level, your route and your riding style. Unlike regular pedelecs which only support you up to 25 km/h, the motor of an S-Pedelec is always working, which inevitably comes at the expense of battery life. The electronic Rohloff drivetrain takes some getting used to, but it’s worth its weight in gold for daily commuting, seeing as it’s pretty much maintenance-free. The Rohloff also allows you to change gears while standing still, which is a great feature when you’re in the city and have to start up a slope. The fact that it automatically shifts down at traffic lights or for short stops is just as helpful. However, you will have to get used to the rather sluggish shifting and that you can’t change gears under load. You shouldn’t really be doing this anyway, but here planning your shifting ahead of time is vital. The only point of criticism for Valentin is the MAGURA MT4 brakes. Besides not being powerful enough to reliably bring the 30 kg bike to a standstill, the rotors have discoloured after only two weeks of use. He’ll probably have to upgrade these soon.

Kilometres 500 km
Duration 2 ½ weeks

LIV Intrigue E+ 1 Pro – Toni

So far, Toni’s LIV Intrigue E+ 1 Pro has been working like a dream. Defects or problems? Zero! The bike just keeps soldiering on, regardless of whether it’s her commute to teach at school or her after-work rides. The only thing Toni has had to do was bleed the brakes after they started feeling a little spongy. Over the last few weeks, the LIV has not only managed to convince our test rider, but also a bunch of her friends who have repeatedly hijacked the bike for a test ride. Toni’s highlight: a week of island hopping in Greece, riding the LIV Intrigue across the islands in the day and crossing between them by boat in the evenings. The only annoying thing here was having to carry the special adapter needed to charge the battery off the bike. Her holiday would have been ruined if she hadn’t thought of it at the last minute and searched the house in a panic.

Over the next few weeks, she’ll have to replace the chain, the brake pads and the rear tire – ordinary wear and tear that you should check regularly on an eMTB. The total costs will come to around € 120, not counting labour, since Toni will be doing it herself.

Service/Upgrades Bleeding the brakes after two months
Kilometres 1200 km
Duration 7 months
In-depth review LIV Intrigue E+ 1 Pro review

This article is from E-MOUNTAINBIKE issue #018

E-MOUNTAINBIKE Magazine is published in a digital app format in both English and German. Download the app for iOS or Android to read all articles on your tablet or smartphone. 100% free!

It's finally here: The 2019 E-MOUNTAINBIKE Print Edition, our timeless annual issue! Consisting of around 240 (!) pages, the 2019 E-MOUNTAINBIKE Print Editon offers a ton of inspiration, buyers advice, and eMTB know-how as well as reviews of the hottest bikes of the year. Our premium magazine is aimed at experienced eMTBers and beginners alike. Click here for more information (new window) or order it directly in our shop or on!

About the author

Valentin Rühl

“One guy for everything” is probably the best way to describe myself. Whether I’m busy as a copywriter for tests, as a photographer for the magazine and website or driving the van for a production — there’s nothing I won’t do. When I'm not standing behind a camera hiding in the bushes I love riding fast man-made trails with big jumps and shredding my home trails around Stuttgart.