Don’t look now, they’re coming
If there is one style of bicycle design that has eluded the e-bike market, it’s the classic drop-bar-style road bike. While mountain and commuter bike designs have defined the e-bike market, Haibike was the first to introduce such a road bike a couple of years ago. Recently, both Giant and Trek have shown e-bikes with drop bars. Already available in Europe for the last few years, the 2017 Xduro Race S has been updated with some less pricey components to bring the price down and make it more amenable to the U.S. market.
The Race S qualifies as a Type 3 pedelec bike that has a top speed of 28 mph. There is no throttle. The Euro version comes with a license plate, which is required for all bikes in this category, while the U.S. version has the mounting points for it but is not included. Also, because of the Euro spec, it has daytime running lights that are on 100 percent of the time that the Bosch system is on.
Available in five sizes, the frame is made from hydro-formed aluminum, and the central load area around the motor is gravity cast. Like a contemporary road bike, the cables are internally routed. The motor is set up for semi-high clearance with a protective skid plate.
Bosch’s Performance Speed motor is optimized for a top speed of 28 mph. It samples speed, torque and cadence 1000 times a second to allow for an instantaneous and accurate response to rider input, making the assist power delivery almost seamless.
We initially rode the bike with the battery turned off to get a feel for how the bike felt as just a pure bicycle. Yes, it was heavy, but it handled well, and there was less resistance from the motor (turned off) than we thought there would be.
When we did power up, we stayed in Eco mode most of the time, occasionally stepping up to the more powerful Tour mode on steeper climbs. Unless it was a really steep hill, we almost never touched Sport and found that in those cases, Turbo mode provided no additional help.
Though the power cuts off officially at 28 mph, it does begin to taper off before that. The good part of that is that it’s less of a drag than when the power just drops off a cliff. Bosch motors can run with cadence up to 120 rpm, at which point they cut off. If you happen to be looking at the display while you ride, you can see a shift suggestion arrow when you get close to that cadence.
The SRAM 1x gearing was very well set up, especially over 11 gears in the rear. The 20t front chainring is a little taller than the usual 17-19 setup usually found on Bosch-spec’d mountain bikes.
The 700x32mm Schwalbe Durano E-rated tires were substantial enough that we didn’t worry about running over glass or such. They did have low-rolling resistance, which was also a plus. Haibike spec’d SRAM Rival hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors front and rear.
The Haibike’s 400-watt-hour battery life was good, and in Eco, we got up to about 30 miles of life. However, given the hilly terrain in Southern California, that was much less than the claimed 65 miles in optimal conditions. Models shipped later in 2017 will have the new 500-watt-hour Bosch battery, a 25-percent-higher capacity, but they weren’t available in the U.S. at the time we had the bike. The coolest thing about the new battery is that they’ll retrofit older bikes as well.
In Turbo mode, the range was properly awful, about seven to eight miles. In Eco, we estimate it was doing 60–70 percent of the work, enabling us to ride 5–6 mph faster than we would have on a regular road bike. That’s impressive, considering the bike weighs almost 42 pounds, easily more than 25 pounds heavier than our usual crop of test bikes.
We liked seeing the range indicator, which let us know when to scale back the power to better ensure that we’d make it home under power. With all Bosch systems, it bases range left on power level in use and how hard you (and it) have had to work in the last 1.5 miles.
There is a new charger coming from Bosch that will be 1/4 to 1/2 of the size of the current 4A quick charger, making it easier to carry to work if you’re commuting. It will take twice as long to charge, which shouldn’t be a problem for long commutes if you work a full day, as you should finish your shift just as the bike is fully charged. It’s just another option besides toting a boat-anchor-sized charger with you, or having to buy an extra charger to keep at work. Either of those is preferable to schlepping an extra battery with you as you ride.
Overall, the Haibike handled like an endurance-style road bike, albeit a heavy one. Haibike is known for making some of the best electric mountain bikes in the industry. The Race S takes what they know quite well about making great flat-bar bikes to make a solid drop-bar bike. Hard-core roadies may frown on it, at least until they ride one. It’s an excellent choice for a road rider who doesn’t want to ride his regular road bike to work and show up sweaty, and it’s a good training aid (ever try hill repeats on a 41-pound bike?!) or a good choice for someone who wants to keep up with much stronger friends in the group ride. Surprisingly, the price really isn’t out of line considering you get a well-spec’d road bike that also has an electric motor. Wait, what?!
- A lot of bike for the price
- Not for cheating
- A new way to commute
Weight: 41.5 pounds
Sizes: XS (50cm), S (53cm), M (56cm) tested, L (59cm), XL (62cm)
- Helmet: Giro Synthe
- Jersey: Rosti
- Bibs: Rosti
- Shoes: Gaerne
- Glasses: Oakley