Some of the first electric mountain bikes (e-mtbs) we tested were equipped with rear hub motors, such as the BH Neo Jumper, and the Bionx equipped KTM Lycan. We received a lot of interest from riders who were after a rear hub powered ebike that could be used off-road, but something that constantly came up was the price point. While we found good qualities on both these bikes, they were priced well above $3000 in 2013 (including the Lycan frame for the Bionx), and even more in 2015, since the value of the Euro went up. This is quite a lot of money to spend if you’re just getting into the world of e-mtbs.
The VelectriX Ascent+ e-mtb bike may not be an ebike you’ve heard about, and neither had we. Electric Bike Centre, run by Daniel Whiting out of the Sunshine Coast, contacted the manufacturers Leisger. The MD5 from Leisger is offered in several variations around the world, but EBC had the product slightly reworked and rebranded for the Australian market under their own name VelectriX.
What drew my attention to the VelectriX Ascent+ e-mtb was the price point.
Leisger have been producing electric bikes for over 15 years, and were most notably spotted at Interbike in 2014 with their latest ebike offerings. Das-Kit, designers of electric bike kits out of Germany, got together with Leisger who had been manufacturing bikes out of Suzhou China, to produce a ready to ride ebike solution, incorporating their D5 Das-Kit electric bike system.
But what drew my attention to the VelectriX Ascent+ e-mtb was the price point. It’s spec sheet read similar to the rear hub e-mtbs we had tested, and although it came in $1000-2000 cheaper, was it even going to be comparable when put to the test?
The VelectriX Ascent+ comes as a 650B (27.5”) ebike, in the one 48cm frame size and colour, and thankfully doesn’t look like an eyesore like a lot of equivalently priced ‘e-mtb’s’ imported from China.
The first thing you will notice is the battery mounted on the downtube, which to most is going to be obvious you’re on an electric bike. This battery placement has become quite common with the likes of Bionx, Focus and Bosch equipped bikes mounting their own batteries on the downtube. For some of the manufactures equipping their bikes with these drive systems, you’ll find that they colour code the battery to extend onto the frame’s artwork. This does help a considerable amount with the theme, instead of making the battery look like an afterthought. The mounting bracket takes its place on the downtube water bottle mounts, while the battery is secured via rails and a locking mechanism.
The next thing likely to grab your attention is the backlit LCD. On many ebikes we ride, it’s quite common to have either a basic LED type assistance and battery indicator box or a LCD that’s off centre with buttons taking up your screen real estate. One of nice things at this price is seeing an LCD this size, with centred mounts and just full screen real estate. It features a thumb controller that allows easy access to all the settings, with a power, set, and plus/minus button for changing assistance levels.
On the right of the handlebar is the thumb throttle for the walk assist function, and as you can see from its positioning, it’ll require you to slightly move your hand off the handlebar grip to engage it with your thumb.
You’re likely to look at the motor next and in the rear hub hidden between the rotor and the cassette is a Bafang 8fun CST geared hub motor. If you know ebikes you’ll likely know who Bafang are, as they’ve been producing motors and ebike kits for some time now and have built quite a solid reputation. Their motors are featured on many OEM ebikes and it was good to see a familiar name on a bike at this price.
The Ascent series also feature a bash guard in addition to the derailleur hanger. Bash guards are meant to offer protection from side impacts from large rocks, while derailleur hangers sacrifice themselves and break to avoid any damage to the derailleur.
Rolling along are the Schwalbe 650B 2.25” Racing Ralph Tyres. The front hub features a quick release but like the majority of rear hub e-mtbs, you won’t find a quick release on the rear.
The Ascent+ we had in for review comes with a 36V 13Ah battery giving 468 watt hours and weighs in at exactly 3.3kg. Having 468Wh might not seem like much, but considering the OEM rear hub e-mtb’s we’ve previously reviewed came with 9Ah or less, 13Ah is quite the difference for a bike that’s considerably cheaper.
The charger has a 42V 3A output, with two indicator lights, one to tell you that it’s receiving power, and the second light tells you it’s charging. It’s doesn’t come with a fan, so it’s completely silent to run, however it can get a little hot during charging, but nothing more than a Bosch or Impulse charger. It’s best to place it on a non-carpeted area to keep the air vents beneath the charger clear.
On all the ebikes we’ve previously reviewed, charging output has varied from 1.8A to 4A. While Bionx and BH both use 1.8A or 2A chargers, for an ebike such as the Ascent to feature a 3A charger, it’ll take you 5 hrs 24 minutes to charge a fully depleted 13Ah battery, instead of roughly 7hrs and 40mins if it were 2A.
On the side of the battery is a 4 LED indicator for the battery level. When the battery is charging from empty, each of the indicator lights will begin to turn on, with all lights turned on within two hours. The battery will still remain charging for several hours after this till the light turns from red to green on the charger. The battery LED’s when charging may not be 100% accurate, but while riding each level depleted when roughly 33% of total capacity was used.
The battery slides down onto a securing rail which has been bolted to the downtube via the two water bottle bolts. Once the battery is secured on the rail, turning the key in the battery pops up a small metal rod which pokes through the securing plate and locks the battery in place.
One of the great features on this bike is the LCD displaying the current battery voltage. When the Ascent+ is fully charged, the LCD displays 41.7v as read off the BMS. It’s quite standard for a BMS to read a slightly lower voltage than the full pack voltage of 42 volts.
The battery indicator consists of 5 bars and each bar is lost at the corresponding voltages below.
As we approached losing the fourth bar, we did find that power did begin to drop off with the Ascent’s assistance level feeling less powerful than it did at the start of the charge.
All of our ebikes are tested using the highest assist setting, with measured weights of the rider, bike and the camelbak. These weights are 96kg for the rider, 20.3kg (17kg bike + 3.3kg battery) for the Ascent+, and 3kg in a camelbak. Our test loop is essentially an offroad track made up of single trail and a fire trail with grades up to 25% in some sections. The e-mtb is run till the battery is absolutely flat, and this is determined by the LCD turning off or when no assistance is felt, whichever comes first.
We test all of our e-mtbs on the same offroad and paved track, so a comparison of watt hour usage per kilometre can be drawn between each bike in relation to weight, range, battery capacity, and average speed.
When we first hit the trails on the Bionx equipped Lycan and the BH Neo Jumper, we enjoyed what they had to offer, except the small battery capacity when using the highest assistance setting. On our offroad test loop using the highest assistance setting, the Bionx equipped Lycan achieved 19.6km (16.16wh/km), while the BH Neo Jumper achieved 24km (13.5wh/km). The Ascent+ achieved 30.9km (15.15wh/km) with an average speed of 16.3km/h, which lands it in the middle of both these bikes in terms of efficiency.
… it’s a great result for an ebike using a cadence sensor.
Because the Ascent+ uses a cadence sensor to determine when to give you assistance, the power it gives you isn’t dependant on how much effort you’re putting in. The level of assistance is either on or off, so you’re essentially consuming more power using a cadence sensor over the same distance (assuming the same cadence and gearing), compared to an e-mtb equipped with a torque sensor. This will be discussed in detail later on, but it’s a great result for an ebike using a cadence sensor.
On our paved test loop, the Ascent achieved 40.8km with an average speed of 22.65km/h. This figure could be improved on if we threw on some narrower tyres that offer less rolling resistance.
The VelectriX series only comes in the one 48cm frame size. I’m 183cm, and found the sizing maybe a tad small. I imagine someone under 175cm may want better reach or if you’re taller than 190cm you may feel cramped. If you find it too small or too large, there are certain components you could try adjusting or changing to try to make it fit right, such as the seatpost, stem, or handlebars.
It comes with a Selle Royal Lookin saddle and though it provides some cushioning, being a hard tail offroad a lot of the shock from riding off road will come up through the seat. As with all mountain bikes, when it gets rough, you’ll find yourself on the pedals, though luckily, the stock pedals on the Ascent+ offer excellent grip so you won’t be slipping.
The comfort between a hardtail e-mtb and its exact non-electric equivalent differs, even if they’re using the exact same components. If you’re on an electric bike you’re travelling at a faster average speed over rocks and roots. If you’re not standing up off the seat, a lot of the quick impact will come through the rear of the frame and resonate through the saddle and your legs, so finding the correct line to go through always helps, even on an ebike.
The Rockshox XC30 are a good entry level XC fork and feature 100mm of travel, lockout, and rebound adjustment. They handled fire trails and single trails well, with the set dampening adequate for easy single trails. It was only when we climbed over and down small to medium rock gardens at speed that the XC30’s were somewhat pushed beyond their limits in speed and travel. If you’re using these forks as an entry level mountain bike set on pavement, fire trails or easy single trails, there won’t be any need to upgrade.
The weight and balance of an e-mtb plays an important role in how the bike handles and responds when you’re offroad. The 20.3kg weight of the Ascent+ isn’t all that heavy when compared against other e-mtb’s available in Australia pushing 22kg, with some even closer to 30kg. There are significant weight savings from the frame, battery and motor on the Ascent+. Picking up the bike without a battery installed does feel a little tail heavy because of the hub motor, but doesn’t feel as heavy as the majority of the ebikes we’ve had to carry. It’s obvious when riding the Ascent+ that the bike feels much more nimble and less ‘boat like’ when maneuvering through tight bends or descending and braking.
There are a number of additions which make the integration neat.
Now the Ascent+ wasn’t specifically designed around a drive unit (like a mid-drive for example), but there are a number of additions which make the integration neat. On an e-mtb, the more wires you have running through the outside of the frame, the more prone they are to water ingress, corrosion and shorting, as well as the risk of getting snagged on branches if you get swiped on a single trail for example. The Ascent+ has a number of wires in front of the handlebars. The thumb throttle, thumb controller and ebrake sensor connect to the LCD. From the LCD you then have one cable going into the underside of the frame’s downtube. All the wires from the motor, battery and hall sensor disappear into an opening just above the bottom bracket. The only wires that remain along the frame are those for the brakes and gears. It would have been good to see a simple and small protector plate beneath the bottom bracket, to protect the wires from potentially bottoming out, but having said that we didn’t manage to strike the bottom bracket during testing as the clearance seemed sufficient.
It might not be the most attractive way to mount a battery, but it works for e-mtb’s.
The battery mounting plate is installed onto the downtube via the water bottle mounts, and comes with designated rails for the battery to slide and secure onto. Once the battery is sitting flush with the plate, turning the key in the battery pops out a metal rod which embeds into the mounting plate. On the bottom of the mounting plate is a black squared off section, which houses and waterproofs the controller. The housing is then hidden as the battery sits on top of it.
It might not be the most attractive way to mount a battery, but it works for e-mtb’s. We sped through small sized rock gardens to observe what would happen to the pack, and if the battery would somehow dislodge, or even if the plastic plate would fatigue and snap from repetitive movement. None of which happened. This might not seem like a big deal to some, but if you’re looking at an e-mtb around $2000AUD, which you will actually use offroad, you really need to look at what parts are prone to any movement, including vibrations and rattling when you go through the rough stuff.
Good brakes play an important role on electric bikes, especially on an e-mtb. I always recommend against purchasing mechanical disc brakes on an e-mtb because hydraulic brakes offer much more bite, responsiveness and less maintenance compared to mechanical brakes offroad. Mechanical brakes tend to require more frequent tightening when used on e-mtb’s since the levers are abused more often from faster average speeds and tighter trails. The Tektro Auriga Comp Hydraulic brakes are by no means the world’s best e-brakes, but they’re featured at the same price point where mechanical disc brakes would usually be used, and are used on much more expensive ebikes.
The Bafang 8Fun CST is a 36v 350w (electronically limited to 250w) rear hub motor. It allows the use of a typical mountain bike cassette, which makes finding and changing gear combinations in the future much easier. It weighs roughly 4.0kg and is partly hidden behind the 10 speed cassette and brake rotor. When the bike is rolled backwards you will may feel and hear the gears in the rear hub which is quite normal on a geared hub motor.
It’ll be hard to find a quick release on any rear hub bike unless it’s built into the axle from factory, since hub motors require their own axle to mount onto the dropouts. Removing the motor requires an adjustable wrench and disconnecting the 5 pin motor cable.
Hidden behind the chainring and in front of the Shimano Deore BB51 Hollowtech II Bottom Bracket is the cadence sensor. It features a high count 12 pole magnet ring with the hall sensor mounted in front of the bottom bracket. Cadence sensors generally come in 5, 8 or 12 poles, with the higher pole count giving the quickest assistance pickup. If you’ve ridden an ebike equipped with a 5 or 8 pole cadence sensor, you’ll know how slow they can be in picking up movement of the pedals, and generally require throttle to get you going.
The Das-Kit C6BBT LCD isn’t something you would normally see at this price. One feature the C6BBT has is the BMS voltage readout. It’s a more accurate way of determining the batteries charge level in addition to a bar battery indicator, which on its own may not properly reflect voltage drop.
On the side of the battery is the main power button, a USB port and a charge port. All ports come with rubber seals to protect the connections from the elements. On the bottom of the battery plate is a section which encloses the 17 amp controller.
If you don’t wear gloves and generally get sweaty hands you may want to change the handlebar grips. It wasn’t till we took off our gloves to test the bike on pavement that we noticed the Velo grips did get quite slippery when wet.
At this price point, the Ascent+ build quality does an excellent job at covering the basics of what’s required from an e-mtb.
The drivetrain features the Shimano M593 derailleur, Shimano HG62 10 speed cassette (11-34T), Shimano DyanSys Deore chainring (42-32-24T), Shimano SLX HG75 chain and the Shimano Deore M610 10 speed shifters. All well-known components that are common and are readily available for purchase as individual components from most bike stores. Being a rear hub, the motor isn’t dependant on making use of the 30 gears, however you will be able to add a significant amount of human input if you are in the right gear. This reduces overdriving the motor up hills and therefore reducing your watt hour per kilometre usage.
By simply looking at an e-mtb you’ll be able to see how the manufacturer incorporated components, which includes the battery, controller and the drive unit. There are many ebikes advertised as e-mtb’s, though when you take a closer look you may notice things that could pose problems if you do actually plan to use an ebike offroad. Things such as an exposed controller up or around the front or rear wheel, could be prone to damage if you get any debris flicking up from the tyres and lodging themselves in between the frame and tyre. Batteries mounted on the rear rack or behind the seat stay which aren’t tightly secured and rattle and move when it gets rough, and not to mention completely throwing the balance of the bike off.
At this price point, the Ascent+ build quality does an excellent job at covering the basics of what’s required from an e-mtb, and it doesn’t claim to be something it’s not. It didn’t leave us worrying about parts failing from short cuts the manufacturer may have took.
The Ascent+ is first turned on via the battery power button. Once the battery is switched on, pressing the power button on the thumb controller turns on the LCD and boots the system. You’re first greeted with ‘27.5’, indicating the set wheel size, followed by the LCD displaying your battery level and voltage, PAS level, power level, and speed.
In the bottom left corner there’s an odometer reading, two trip distance readings and the trip time. You can cycle between each of these readings by pressing set, while the plus and minus buttons allow you to toggle between PAS levels 0 to 6. Pressing the power button switches on the backlight. The trip time is reset every time the LCD is powered on.
Keeping your finger on the set button for 3 seconds brings up several more settings to toggle between, such as resetting your trip readings, changing units of measure and adjusting your power mode.
The Ascent+ has 3 levels of ‘power’, and within those are 7 levels of assist from PAS 0 to 6. Each of the 7 assistance levels is a set speed limit, so within the one ‘power’ level, torque will feel the same, except the maximum assisted speed will vary. The 3 available ‘power’ levels are Eco, Standard and Power. We decided to run a test on a 0% grade to see how different each level really was in terms of top speed.
For a bike at this price I really was expecting something to stop working or at least play up.
There’s an obvious torque difference between all 3 levels, and most the time we found ourselves testing it on Power PAS 6.
When we received the Ascent+, the speed limit was set to 25km/h, which means assistance actually began phasing out before 25km/h. We had Electric Bike Centre adjust it to 27km/h, which means assistance began phasing out at 25km/h. This also allowed for a smoother transition for assistance to come back on using PAS 6 once you dropped below 27km/h.
Next, we took the Ascent+ offroad, on a day which happened to be one of Sydney’s heaviest downpours, so as you could imagine the trails were quite wet. I always enjoy riding an e-mtb in wet conditions as long as the trail is officially open. Not only does it bring out the ebikes handling characteristics in the wet, but it also tests the electrical components. At one stage I was caught in the eye of the storm, and I purposely left the Ascent+ sitting against a tree while I took cover for a few minutes, to see if anything would happen to the bike when it got soaked. When the rain eased up, I jumped back on to see everything still operating. For a bike at this price I really was expecting something to stop working or at least play up.
The LCD was quite distracting in the sense that it’s great to look at, especially at night.
Then I headed off, set the Ascent+ on Power and PAS 6 and hit an open fire trail, being well aware that the e-brake sensor was on the left lever only. The e-brake sensor stops the motor from giving any assistance when the brake lever is pressed.
The LCD was quite distracting in the sense it’s great to look at, especially at night. Its speed readout is the largest unit displayed, and centred, making it easy to read. It was a little delayed with changes in speed, though quite accurate when compared to our own speed sensor mounted on the rear wheel.
The cadence sensor was quick to pick up on minimal movement within a quarter turn of the pedals, with assistance remaining active down to very low revolutions which we found to be excellent. The power you feel from when the cadence sensor picks up on movement isn’t related to what gear you’re in, nor does it ramp up assistance. So if you’re just getting on the bike and pedalling from a standstill in a very low gear, depending on how fast the pedals move, you’ll likely feel a sudden jolt in power, and may need to adjust the gears to correspond to the speed.
On this particular fire trail, as I first approached a short length 25% grade, I remembered how impressed I was when I first rode the Neo Jumper and Bionx equipped Lycan which got me up this same hill.
I shifted into the smallest chainring on the front and the 6th gear on the rear, the same combination I used on the Jumper and Lycan. I approached the hill, lent forward to stop the front wheel from losing traction, and pedalled.
Even with little momentum from the bottom of the hill, the 8fun got me up. I reached the top of the hill and my mind was running, comparing how it felt between all 3 ebikes. The Ascent+ comes in much cheaper than the previous two rear hub e-mtbs, so their performance should be worlds apart I thought, and in all honesty, I was expecting to bog down and stall, or at least have to stand up off the saddle.
I remembered out of the Neo Jumper and the 48V Bionx equipped Lycan, the Neo Jumper did feel like it had more torque, although the Lycan felt much lighter and nimble. But when it came to the Ascent+ I was surprised, and found it quite difficult to separate the power it had compared to the Neo Jumper. But yet it felt almost as easy to steer as the Lycan, because of the low positioning of the battery on the downtube, and the similar head angles used.
Next was the assistance pickup. The Neo Jumper and the Bionx both use torque sensors to determine when and how much assistance to give you depending on how much effort you’re putting in. But what’s it like mountain biking with a cadence sensor?
The Ascent+ uses a high pole count cadence sensor so it’s not detecting how much force you’re putting on the pedals, but the movement of the pedals. On some of the open fire trails we use, it can get a little bumpy, so we tend to stand off the pedals in some sections. Because the cadence sensor is quite sensitive in picking up small movements (which is great in most cases), if you’re standing on the pedals either going straight or downhill, and the pedals move slightly (qtr. turn), the bikes assistance will kick in and propel you forward. This can be quite fun if used correctly, since the pedals don’t need a full rotation to engage the motor. However you do need to exercise caution around any bends where you’re not already pedalling or not expecting a jolt of power.
Where it got a little more tricky was on single trails.
This is why the Ascent+ comes with an e-brake sensor on the left lever. The e-brake sensor is activated by slightly pressing the brake lever, without having to engage the brake. So as I was standing up on the pedals, if I didn’t want any assistance surprising me and shooting me forward, I would have the brake lever slightly recessed, while not engaging the brake so I don’t lose momentum. The e-brake sensor is also used to stop assistance from remaining on for a few seconds once you stop pedalling, since it doesn’t turn off the instant you stop pedalling. This is quite important in approaching turns or technical sections where you’re expecting the bike to slow down the instant you stop pedalling.
Where it got a little more tricky was on single trails. The single trail we use for testing is quite tight. Because of the 18 assistance levels available, it will take several runs to get a feel for how much power is available with each level to determine what is required for the trail you’re on. On our first single trail run, we had it set to ‘Power’, with PAS 2 which still overshot me on several turns. Even while constantly using the e-brake, because of the quick delivery of power, I always ended up too far wide, mostly into the shrubs. I learnt it’s best to have it on Eco, PAS 0-6 or Power, PAS 0. It was only when I made these adjustments, which still offer a very small amount of assistance, that the course become more manageable. To be honest, I could’ve done the whole course without having assistance since it’s mostly flat or downhill, but it was good to see how the bike behaved in a tight single trail situation.
Our single trail also features rocky descents, and seeing it had just rained, it wasn’t the safest conditions to be testing a rear hub powered e-mtb, but we did anyway. Like all rear hub powered e-mtbs we’ve tested, when trying to manoeuvre the bike between small to medium rocks on a descent, you can get the occasional side impact onto the derailleur. In this case the bash guard got pretty bashed up, protecting the derailleur and doing its job, but the downfall of having one is the possibility of it being caught on something. Luckily for me it didn’t.
The bash guard got pretty bashed up, protecting the derailleur and doing its job.
While descending over multiple rock faces on a very narrow single trail, I never have assistance engaged, irrespective if it’s a cadence sensor or torque sensor equipped ebike. This is because when you’re trying to manoeuvre around obstacles and it’s narrow, any sudden jolt in power whether big or small could be enough to put you somewhere you don’t want to be.
It outperformed the torque from the 48V Bionx equipped Lycan.
Rear hub powered e-mtbs always feel tail heavy, but did the Ascent+ rear hub feel any different to the previous rear hub e-mtbs we tested? Not really. The lack of rear suspension did mean you needed to stand up more and keep a steady foot on the pedals, but it also meant less fiddling with the rear shock in hill climbs. The 27.5” tyres also meant climbing and descending obstacles was made easier than with 26” tyres, which look to be slowly phased out on all new quality e-mtbs hitting Australia.
However, because the Ascent+ uses a cadence sensor instead of a torque sensor, with the 30 available gears, you do need to be quicker on gear changes in the event your cadence slows down and you go into a stall causing assistance to turn off. Off road we were mostly between the smallest and middle chainring, but while on our paved test loop, we barely dropped off the largest chainring unless we got into a steep hill climb. This is slightly different to the behaviour of a torque sensor, where it becomes more forgiving if you’re in the wrong gear, since you’re likely putting a huge amount of force through the pedals in a hill climb, allowing assistance to remain on.
After several days of testing were complete, we then decided to head out on a private bit of land to see how the Ascent+ performed when it was unlocked from its speed limit.
The PAS and throttle restriction were both removed, which meant the PAS would essentially give us as much power and speed as was able to be delivered by the controller and battery. This was the same case when using the throttle.
The 8Fun easily got to 35km/h, on the largest chainring, but then I needed to increase my cadence from 75rpm to 85rpm to push it above 40km/h on close to a 0% grade. This seemed like the absolute limits of the motor.
Because the throttle is legally only used as a 6km/h walk assist, it isn’t ideally placed on the handlebars to be used constantly while you’re on the bike. Having to move my hand off the handlebar grip to engage throttle meant I did lose some grip and control over the handlebars, which is a little scary going at 35km/h on a light front end bicycle. The throttle gives you a feel of the motor’s potential with zero human input, and was able to climb grades of up to 7%.
Although you’re not likely going to leave your e-mtb unattended on a trail, if you do happen to ride this elsewhere, the LCD is likely to get attention. Unfortunately it’s not removable, so you will need to be aware of where you’ve parked it and how secured the entire bike is, since it’s likely someone won’t just cut off the LCD.
The Racing Ralphs in 27.5” and pumped to 22psi felt like a fast rolling tyre, and didn’t feel like the bike was being dragged along. In dry conditions they offered excellent grip over gravel, rocks, and weeds. When it came to punching through trails in wet conditions, there’s sand, mud and clay to deal with, which the Racing Ralphs struggled to handle.
Even with the lack of sidewall protection, they held up quite well, and often enough I would land on the wrong side of a rock thinking I’ve just ripped the sidewall apart. They’re a solid performing tyre well known in the XC community.
The callipers offer plenty of bite, and it was quite easy to pull up from 40km/h.
The Tektro Auriga E-Comp hydraulic brakes are the same rotors and callipers used on the previously reviewed BH Neo Jumper, and the new BH Evo Jumper. They feature a built in e-brake sensor on the left lever only (E-Comp vs Comp) which deactivates the motor when the lever is recessed a few millimetres. The e-brake sensor is most helpful when there is any slight delay from assistance remaining engaged for a few milliseconds when you stop pedalling or if you’re standing on your pedals at traffic lights and don’t want to accidently propel forward.
After the pads bedded in, the callipers offer plenty of bite, and it was quite easy to pull up from 40km/h. If anything, they probably have a little too much bite that you can often find the wheels locking up from a half press of the levers. Modulation could do with more light braking to slow me down gradually instead of biting. In the wet, the Tektro brakes felt like they offered the same performance in dry conditions, though they become noisy, producing some squealing. In dry conditions we found little if any noise under heavy braking.
When I’m standing off the pedals either going downhill, or doing 40km/h over an uneven surface, I expect my feet to stay planted on the pedals at all times.
On every e-mtb we’ve reviewed before the Ascent+, the standard pedals included have always been terrible, and usually the first things we’ve replaced. Often with medium to high end non-electric mountain bikes, pedals are one of the components not included. Since rider requirements vary, it’s better to not include them at all than include a crap set that will be thrown out.
The Xpedo Face Off XMX15MC pedals are standard on the Ascent+ and feature 16 pins. For the first time on an e-mtb we’ve reviewed, we found they offered excellent grip in muddy and wet conditions, which gave us more confidence to pedal harder and faster.
If you don’t hear from me in the next hour, call the SES with this exact location.
I’ll never forget a few years ago when I got lost somewhere in dense bushland on my Neo Jumper one of the first times I went mountain biking. What I thought was a single trail actually wasn’t, and it quickly turned into steep 10-15ft rock drops where I had to lower the bike and scrape myself down without braking the bike or my legs. The frequency of these rock faces were increasing, and I had thought I would find myself on a cliff face sooner or later. I realised I had reached the point where I had gone too far down to go back, so the only way out was forward. As I slowly lowered (and dropped) the Jumper, I realised how lost I was, and with the sun setting in 30 minutes, panic set in.
I reached for my phone that had 3% charge, to quickly find my exact location and where I needed to head. I quickly turned on Google maps, and let the GPS pick up on my exact location, and then sent the location to my friend with a SMS “if you don’t hear from me in the next hour, call the SES with this exact location”. A bit dramatic I know, but not knowing where you are, in dense bush on the edge of steep rock faces, with the sun setting in 30mins is a little frightening. I tried to mentally capture the image that appeared in Google Maps to know what direction I needed to head in that would intersect with a familiar track. About 5 mins later the phone died. Luckily just as light disappeared, and with cuts and bruises all over my body, a track I was familiar with appeared roughly 50m in front of me down a 4m cliff face. I slid down the rock as if it were a steep slippery dip, grazing the bike and myself on the way down. I had never been so happy to find a familiar track even if I had to pedal in absolute darkness all the way home.
The 13Ah battery features a USB port to charge your phone or any other USB compatible device.
So what has this to do with accessories you might ask? I could’ve avoided the situation in more ways than one, but something which would’ve helped was having more than 3% charge on my phone. Luckily I picked the correct direction to go, but if I hadn’t, who knows what would’ve happened.
Even though mountain bikes generally come with few, if any accessories, one item many ebike manufacturers are beginning to include is the ability to integrate and/or charge a device via USB.
Although the Ascent+ does not offer any mobile integration, the 13Ah battery features a USB port to charge your phone or any other USB compatible device. Its output was measured at 1.5A, three times the output of the Bosch Intuvia’s 0.5A. Be aware that if you use the USB port on the battery you’re essentially draining the battery. The Ascent+ battery is 13,000mah, and most USB devices are anywhere between 1000 to 4000mah. We don’t think most people will wait for 1-3 hours for a device to fully charge, but will instead use it as a quick top up, which is still extremely helpful to have.
When I went looking for my first rear hub e-mountain bike in 2012, I couldn’t find any fully assembled low cost options that would allow me to use the bike on proper off road trails without falling apart. From batteries bouncing around, to poor brakes and terrible cadence sensors, to bikes weighing close to 30kg, most low cost options just didn’t cut it. For my first e-mtb, I wanted the simplicity of an off the shelf solution that came with warranty and support, while being under 25kg, giving me the ability to manoeuvre the bike on single trails, and not having to worry about things not holding up and constantly failing. To get that, I had to spend over $4000.
The Ascent+ has changed all of that.
Yes it’s obvious you’re on an electric bike and the battery isn’t integrated, but the mounting position of the battery isn’t going to allow it to bounce around when you’re hitting rocks. Yes it doesn’t include a torque sensor, and you do have to be careful on technical trails, but its pick up is quick, and the hall sensor doesn’t randomly cut out, even when wet and covered in mud.
It comes with brakes featured on higher end e-mtb’s double its price. The LCD is centred and backlit and the display is larger than most LCD’s we’ve come across, giving you all sorts of feedback, while offering a plethora of assistance levels.
It’s the torque of the Ascent+ against other high end EN15194 conforming rear hub options that really got us.
The brakes, tyres, pedals, and the hub motor are all well-known components, and the models aren’t just your basic throw away entry level type. The fact they’re featured on an e-mtb at this price point tells me the cheapest and nastiest unknown brand name parts haven’t just been thrown on this ebike.
But it’s the torque of the Ascent+ against other high end EN15194 conforming rear hub options that really got us. In terms of torque when compared to the 2012 BH Neo Jumper, which we considered the highest torque rear hub e-mtb we’ve reviewed so far, we found it difficult to separate both systems.
There are some choosing the DIY route for their first ebike, and finding an ebike kit and a frame might be your thing. But for others who are looking to get into the e-MTB scene without the headaches and steep learning curve, the Ascent+ is a solid performer and represents excellent value.