BIKE TEST: BULLS DESERT FALCON EVO
The Bulls Desert Falcon EVO offers a dual-purpose promise
Given that RBA is a kissing cousin to the battery-powered loons over at Electric Bike Action, we often spy on their stable of bikes to see what’s new in the pedal-assist world. And while it doesn’t happen frequently, every once in a while we spot an e-bike with drop bars that perks us right up. And that’s how we discovered the new Bulls Desert Falcon EVO (yeah, quite a name isn’t it?).
Bring a menu of both pedal- and battery-assist bikes for a few years now. And with the arrival of the Bulls with drop bars, we jumped in with an extension cord to get the bike powered up.
The mid-drive Desert Falcon starts as an aluminum frame with a Bulls carbon fork and an integrated battery. Mid-mount motors are most commonly spec’d for pedal-assist mountain bikes. Hitting the scales at 41 pounds, the bike is over 10 pounds heavier than the more commonly found selection of rear-hub-powered e-road bikes. However, when it comes to a burly build, the Desert EVO is more than adequate. All cables are internally routed through the headset, which helps maintain a sleeker look.
“Recovery rides, rehabilitation, commuting and joyrides are not just on the table, but they’re for your benefit.”
Bulls went with a touring geometry that should be more comfortable on longer endurance rides. One detail we liked to see was the tire clearance, which would easily allow for bigger tires than the 32mm spec’d. So, between the beefier frame and tire clearance, there’s no reason to think this bike can’t be used as a gravel mount as well.
The Bulls uses the new Class 3 Bosch Gen 4 speed motor accompanied by a 500-Wh battery, which provides assist up to 28 mph. You’ll be getting 85 N/m of torque with really advanced cadence and torque sensors, which immediately and smoothly provide assist based on the power mode you’re in.
The Bosch Kiox display unit offers much more information compared to most other brands, especially for this price point of the bike. You have an on-board power meter, as well as heart rate, odometer, speedo and the ability to load routes through the Bosch app.
Drivetrain duties are owed to Shimano’s Di2 electronic spec with a 48-tooth chainring mated to a Shimano XT 11-42t cassette. Rounding out the package are a pair of Shimano hydraulic brakes with the gravel intended GRX levers and 180mm Ice Tech rotors. The carbon DT Swiss HE1800 wheels are mounted with 32mm Schwalbe E-One tires.
One of the first things we noticed with the Desert Falcon was how well the weight felt evenly distributed. The bike felt planted around sweeping corners, and almost rode itself as opposed to the handling traits of bikes with steep head angles that require a lot more rider input. However, owing to the extra weight and energy, when it came to abrupt, tight corners, it took a little more manhandling.
“A power meter that shows the watts you are putting down with no lag leaves plenty of opportunity for accurate training.”
Descents feel really secure around high-speed corners. Thanks to the big tires and the bike’s weighted stability, you can plow over the cracks and bumps with confidence. With that being said, it is a challenge to accelerate on a downhill like you would on a light bike. Luckily, the GRX brakes are so good that you have to treat them with respect.
A definite rival to some other big-name brands in terms of price, the Desert Falcon is definitely not under-built for the money. Whether you’re looking at the components or frame durability, Bulls offers plenty of bang for the buck. Something that sticks out is the weight of the bike and slightly bulky look of the downtube, though it’s a small price to pay for the added power and battery life that results.
We really liked the power meter that shows the watts you are putting down, which leaves plenty of opportunity for accurate training. Yes, we find no reason you can’t actually train on this e-bike. In fact, because of its weight, you can argue that it makes doing intervals even more productive. Like we always have to remind people, yes, the power assist is there for the taking, but that doesn’t mean you ever even have to turn it on!
If you’re intrigued with the concept of an e-road bike but put off here with the 40-plus-pound weight, Bulls is also introducing a new lightweight, carbon e-road bike that uses a detachable Fazua powerplant.
Of course, the flip side to everything just mentioned is that you don’t have to work too hard if you don’t want to. Owing to the Class 3 motor, the 28-mph assist can be an asset for recovery rides, rehabilitation, commuting and even group rides. With enough tire clearance to run up to 46mm tires, you would be fine using this as a gravel bike too.
• Road or gravel capable
• New 28 mph Bosch Gen 4 motor
• The weight is there
Weight: 41.5 lb.
Sizes: 50, 55 (tested), 60cm
Jersey: Pearl Izumi
Bib: Alpinestars Veta Pro
Shoes: Specialized Elite