Friday, March 30, 2018

Adventure Tech: New eBikes From Yamaha

A couple of weeks back I was invited out to San Diego to test a new line of ebikes from Yamaha. The four models that I got the chance to take a look at were under embargo until just a few days ago, but now their final specs and pricing have been released, and I can talk about them a bit more, including my personal experience riding them.

Over the past few months I've covered the ebike scene fairly extensively for Digital Trends, and have gotten a chance to ride a number of different electric bikes. During that period, my opinion of them has changed dramatically. As a long-time cyclist and mountain biker, I enjoyed test riding the bikes, but often thought they felt a bit like cheating. After all, you were no longer doing the ride completely on your own, as the bike offered some level of assistance. Now however, I've come around on ebikes in general. They represent a great way to get someone who isn't a strong cyclist out on the road or trail, and they allow those of us who are getting a bit older to continue doing the things we love. On top of that, they are an awesome way to commute for those who would like to get some exercise – and leave the car at home – without getting too sweaty in the process.

Which brings me to the Yamaha Power Assist bikes. Quite simply, they are unlike any other ebike that I've ridden so far, in no small part because they actually feel like you're riding a traditional bike. In fact, I took the battery off one of the models and rode it around without the motor engaged, and while it was a bit on the heavy side, it still offered a nimble and fun ride. That hasn't always been the case with other models, which have been bulky, awkward, and way too heavy.

The Yamaha line of bikes consists of four different model – the commuter-friendly CrossCore and CrossConnect, a road/adventure bike called the UrbanRush, and a dedicated mountain bike dubbed the YDX-TORC. Each offered something different from one another that helped them stand out from the crowd. For instance, the CrossConnect comes equipped with cargo racks and a super-smooth ride, making it a great choice for cruising around town and running errands. Meanwhile, the CrossCore offers a more fitness oriented ride that is fun and sport, while the UrbanRush is the sports car of the line-up, providing plenty of speed and great climbing. The TORC on the other hand, is an off-road beast, tearing up trails like no other.

All of the model are powered by new motors from Yamaha, which invented the first pedal assist electric bike drive way back in 1993. This updated version has been fine tuned to provide plenty of power, even in their lowest settings. And the battery packs feature a 36-volt lithium ion charge that provides plenty of range. In fact, after riding all of the models in a variety of different modes, fo several hours, the battery indicator on the built-in LCD screen indicated that they still had plenty of life for at least another two or three similar length rides.

Other nice touches include built in LED lights on the road bikes, a handlebar-mounted lock-out switch for the fork on the TORC, and high quality cycling components across the entire line. Internally routed cables give the bikes very clean lines, and as much thought has been put into the geometry of each of the four models as the technology that drives them.

Best of all, these ebikes won't completely break the bank like some other options on the market. The CrossCore for instance sells for $2399, while the CrossConnect comes in at $2999. The sporty UrbanRush jumps up to $3299, while the TORC is the most expensive at $3499. Obviously all of them are still serious investments, but this is not out of line when compared to other quality bikes not he market, and it is substantially lower than most other ebikes. To top it off, Yamaha even backs the bikes with a 3 year warranty, which is something I haven't found from a lot of other bike manufacturers.

As for which of the four bikes was my favorite, it is tough to actually pick. I loved the CrossCore for its fun, agile ride, but the UrbanRush was a blast for pure speed and great climbing. On the other hand, the YDX-TORC had so much power that it allows mountain bikers to overpower trails with ease, helping them get through tricky technical sections. All were a lot of fun to ride, and truly you can't go wrong with which ever model you go after.

If you're in the market for a new ebike you can find out more by clicking here.

2 comments:

Adam said...

"The TORC on the other hand, is an off-road beast, tearing up trails like no other."

This is why no one wants e-bikes (aka motorcycles) on the trails

Kraig Becker said...

Apologies! That is a metaphorical "tearing up" of the trail. There was no indication that this bike had any more impact on the trail the a regular mountain bike, and it is far from a "motorcycle" on the trail. No one that has ever ridden a regular mountain bike, an ebike, and a motorcycle would ever confuse them.