After the introduction of the 2023 NOX EPIUM 7.1 Pro at the end of last year, we finally got our hands on one to put it to the test. The ebike makes quite the impression with its generous 180 mm travel, mullet wheel setup, and FAZUA Ride 60 motor. Read on to find out whether its performance on the trail can back this up!
The brand identity of NOX almost seems schizophrenic. On the one hand, the Austrian company with roots in Berlin refers to its long freeride heritage, which is reflected in their bikes’ looks. On the other hand, NOX are at the cutting edge of latest developments and were one of the first to introduce a light eMTB to the market in 2020, the Helium 5.9 All-Mountain.The EPIUM Enduro is NOX’s latest prestige project and is intended to demonstrate that trendiness, tradition, and local production don’t have to be mutually exclusive. To this end, it’s not just the carbon frame that’s produced in Portugal, but also the aluminium hardware that comes from Germany, all developed and designed in Europe. A look at the past further demonstrates the NOX’s regional ties. Focusing exclusively on ebikes since 2016, they have typically relied on motors from German manufacturers: BMZ (formerly Sachs), Brose, and FAZUA – as featured on the EPIUM Enduro – who are NOX’s preferred suppliers. In addition to the EPIUM Enduro, NOX also offer the EPIUM ALL-MTN. They’re based on the same frame, but the EPIUM ALL-MTN has 30 mm less travel, and is targeted at a different use case. The NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro on test can be yours for € 9,299 and weighs in at 20.78 kg.
Like an European road trip – The NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro in detail
The production chain as well as the parts list of the NOX EPIUM 7.1 Pro read like a European road trip. Starting with the frame production in Portugal, and the CNC machining of the aluminium components in Bavaria, Germany, we briefly head over the Brenner Pass to South Tyrol for the anodization, and then to final stop for the frames in Tyrol, where they are hand painted. Due to the hand painting, the frames don’t look identical, which further underlines the original character of these bikes. The European travellers then head home to the idyllic Ziller Valley, from where they head out into the world. The fact that NOX prioritise the durability of their frames and bikes is shown by the fact that all aluminium parts and inserts are replaceable. This means that in the case you strip any threads in the frame hardware, you can replace the hardware instead of having to replace the entire frame. You also get a 10-year warranty on the frame and a crash replacement discount, should anything break beyond repair.
As for the look of the frame, NOX have stuck with what they know. Thanks to the straight lines and the shock running parallel to the top tube, its NOX genes are undeniable. They’re calling the colour Mars, though we doubt they’re referring to the chocolate bar or the red planet, since the rather sand-like colour reminds us of neither. As usual, NOX have kept the frame nice and slender while integrating the 60 Nm FAZUA Ride 60 drive unit, and the down tube happily accommodates the 430 Wh battery. To remove the battery, you can simply remove the cover, which is held in place with a FIDLOCK latch, after which you can grab the battery by the integrated handle. No tools or unnecessary fiddling required, making it quick and easy to do. It is a pity that NOX placed the charging port at the lower end of the down tube, because this means they had to place the bottle cage bosses further up. As such, the water bottle collides with the reservoir on the shock. We tried all kinds of different bottles but couldn’t find one that fit. The motor gets controlled via FAZUA’s trusted combination of the minimalist Ring Control on the handlebar and integrated LED HUB in the top tube. While the remote is nice and discreet and intuitive to use, it’s got a rather cheap feel. The LED display in the top tube provides limited information, indicating the battery level in 20% increments and the support mode. At the bottom of the LED display you’ll find a hidden USB-C charging port. Neat!
NOX route the cables through the frame via cable ports near the head tube. However, this doesn’t avoid the nest of cables by the handlebar, robbing the bike of its otherwise clean look. At the rear, the chainstay is wrapped in a generously sized, rubber protector. It doesn’t just keep the paint job unscathed but also keeps the chain quiet when it slaps around on the trail.
The components of the NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro on test
The long 180 mm travel on the NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro is no coincidence. You’ve got a brawny FOX 38 Performance fork providing control and cushioning up front, but it can’t be fine-tuned all that precisely due to the simpler GRIP damper. While this is a drawback for setup nerds, it makes setting the fork up a whole lot easier for less experienced riders. The fork is matched with FOX DHX coil shock at the rear, which is partly responsible for the bike’s big hitter look. The spring rate varies depending on the frame size, so sizes S, M, and L come with a 500, 550, and 600 spring respectively. Particularly light or heavy riders will have to budget for a suitable spring when they buy the bike. The FOX Transfer dropper post completes the FOX components on the NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1. The travel of the dropper post ranges from 125 mm in size S to 175 mm in size L, increasing in 25 mm increments.
The brakes and derailleur are both taken care of by Shimano’s SLX range of components. The four-piston brakes perform reliably, offering the usual snappy bite point. That said, you might need to upgrade the rear brake if you’re heavier than average or want to tackle long descents. The 180 mm rotor is too small for a bike with this much travel that’s intended for gravity riding, meaning they will quickly overheat and fade. The SLX derailleur performs reliably as ever, performing its duty just as you’d expect. As a mullet configuration, you get a 29″ wheel up front paired with a smaller 27.5″ wheel on the rear, supplied by DT Swiss. The alloy HX 1700 wheels are sturdy, high-quality, and always a good choice. The tires are a miss, unfortunately. These are a pair of Continental Argotals. They’re Continental’s all-rounders for loose and wet terrain, but in this case, NOX went with the flimsy Trail casing and the harder rubber compound, though designated as Soft. This doesn’t just come at the cost of grip but also results in frequent punctures on rough trails. We recommend upgrading to more robust versions before even leaving the shop.
NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro
Motor FAZUA Ride 60 60 Nm
Battery FAZUA Energy 430 Wh
Display FAZUA LED Hub
Fork FOX 38 Performance 180 mm
Rear Shock FOX DHX Coil 180 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer 175 mm
Brakes Shimano SLX 200/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano SLX 1x12
Stem RaceFace Atlas 35 mm
Handlebar RaceFace Atlas 35 800 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss HX1700 29"/27.5"
Tires Continental Argotal Enduro Soft 2.5"
Size S M L
Weight 20.78 kg
Perm. total weight 125 kg
Trailer approval nein
Kickstand mount nein
Other builds of the NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1
In addition to the NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro on test, there are two other variants to choose from: Core and Ultra. The Pro model represents the middle of the range in terms of price, going for € 9,299. The Core build, priced at € 8,699, comes specced with a coil shock from Marzocchi instead of the FOX DHX. The groupset is still supplied by Shimano, but using the lower end DEORE range, which means you can’t adjust the reach on the brakes without tools, among other things. The Limotec dropper post offers a maximum of 150 mm travel, even on the frame size L, thus restricting your freedom of movement on the trail.
For € 10,999, the Ultra is specced with top-end suspension from FOX, consisting of a 38 Factory fork and DHX2 coil shock, both featuring the fancy golden Kashima coating. The golden shine on the FOX Transfer dropper post also lets everyone know you’ve got the flagship version. Both the drivetrain and brakes come from Shimano’s XT family. One of the advantages of this is that the XT trigger allows you to shift down several gears at once. All three builds rely on the same inappropriate tire choice.
Gangnam style – The geometry of the NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1
Looking at the geometry table of the NOX EPIUM Enduro, we’re overcome with nostalgia about the Gangnam style song, Facebook parties that you’ve accidentally set to public, and flash mobs. How come? Because the geometry is from about the same era. Tall riders will be particularly bummed about the reach since it tops out at just 457 mm on the size L. There is no XL. What they saved in reach, the designers put on the seat tube, which measures 460 mm in size L, making it longer than the reach! This restricts your freedom of movement on the trail significantly, making the saddle come uncomfortably close to your crown jewels on the descents. More in keeping with the times, on the other hand, is the rather slack head angle of 63.6°. The 453 mm chainstays are on the longer side of the spectrum and the same length regardless of the frame size. As such, the chainstays are significantly longer than the reach of sizes S and M, shifting the rider’s centre of gravity far to the front. We’ll delve further into this when we get to the handling. The bottom bracket drop of just 4 mm is rather old-fashioned, too, but NOX claim that it’s significantly more at sag thanks to the long chainstays. The bottom bracket drop and head angle can be adjusted by means of a flip-chip on the shock mount. There is a flip-chip in the dropouts too. This is mainly used to vary between the 27.5″ wheel on the rear of the EPIUM Enduro and the full 29er setup on the EPIUM ALL-MTN, but you could also use it to lengthen the chainstays on the EPIUM Enduro, as unlikely as that might be.
|Top tube||596 mm||610 mm||636 mm|
|Seat tube||435 mm||460 mm||460 mm|
|Head tube||105 mm||115 mm||128 mm|
|Chainstays||453 mm||453 mm||453 mm|
|BB Drop||6 mm||4 mm||4 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,214 mm||1,242 mm||1,267 mm|
|Reach||416 mm||434 mm||457 mm|
|Stack||607 mm||619 mm||631 mm|
The NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro on the trail – How does the long-travel eMTB perform?
Heading towards the trailhead, the NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro puts you in a relaxed and upright riding position. However, you feel more perched on top of the bike than at one with it. For a light eMTB motor putting out just 60 Nm, the FAZUA Ride 60 offers plenty of assistance even when things get steep. The long chainstays are a bonus here, preventing you from looping out on particularly steep sections. We didn’t have to weight the front wheel to keep it planted either.
Once you reach the top and hit the descent, the first thing you’ll notice is the amount of travel offered by the suspension. The NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro simply bombs through rough terrain, swallowing up roots and rocks for breakfast. The long chainstays and slack head angle result in composed handling. Unfortunately, the suspension lacks the necessary mid-stroke support and rushes through the travel. As a result, the bike tends to bottom out, swallows the rider’s input when trying to pump it through compressions or boost off lips, and provides little feedback. Despite that, the small bump sensitivity isn’t great off the top, making the chassis feel nervous and resulting in a lack of grip at the rear. If you want to chuck the bike into a corner, it feels a little like you’re on stilts. This is due to the high bottom bracket, placing your centre of gravity higher up, not between the wheels. The result is a nervous and top-heavy feeling. The long chainstays and short reach also place your centre of gravity further to the front of the bike. While this should weight the front of the bike and offer increased cornering grip, it doesn’t pay off with the fitted tires, unfortunately. Due to the hard rubber compound, the tires hardly offer any grip – weighted or not – and thereby rob you of confidence, especially in the corners. You tread a fine line when pushing their limits, as the front wheel will wash away from underneath you without warning. The unusual weight distribution also plays a role in the fact that the NOX EPIUM Enduro 9.1 Pro makes it difficult to pick a different line. The front end will change lines willingly, whereas the long rear end needs a little extra encouragement. Ultimately, it lacks manoeuvrability despite the small rear wheel.
Who is the NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro for?
The NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro is a bike for enthusiasts. On the one hand, for enthusiasts of the NOX brand, which is full of tradition and conscious of its roots while also being innovative. And on the other hand, for enthusiasts of the Made in Europe ethos, who value sustainable, durable, and locally made products. Riders who want a bike that they can rely on to perform on (almost) every type of trail, that instils them with confidence, and motivates them to push their limits with its balanced handling should look elsewhere.
Conclusion on the NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro
The NOX EPIUM Enduro 7.1 Pro leaves us with mixed feelings. On the one hand, we are big fans of the Made in Europe approach, which NOX have implemented very consistently and from which other brands could learn a thing or two. On the other hand, it’s lacking in terms of spec and performance, and doesn’t deliver on the trail. The outdated geometry and unbalanced handling left us unable to recognise any specific use case. What remains is a bike for fans of the brand and of locally made products.
- completely European made frame
- replaceable frame hardware (inserts, mounting points, etc.)
- inappropriate tires and brake rotors
- unbalanced handling on the trail
- neither agile nor particularly confidence inspiring
For more information, visit noxcycles.com
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Words: Felix Rauch, Julian Schwede Photos: Peter Walker