Trek was an early convert to the e-mountain bike game. Four years back they brought out the Powerfly; when it launched the Powerfly was an advanced rig for the time. As time has moved on Trek have kept some of themain features of the frame, such as the Bosch motor, but have refined the new rig with a fully integrated, removable battery and now offer a carbon framed version. All Plus-tyred models are now rolling on sturdy, grippy Bontrager XR4 rubber and all Powerfly LT models feature powerful four-piston brakes. But, how does this new rig ride?
The location for the launch of the new Powerfly was set in Mammoth Lakes, California, USA. This isn’t meant to be sound like we’re boasting about escaping the NZ winter... But, to give it some context the village sits at about 2,400 metres above sea level. Being at this altitude can make bike riding a lot more difficult. The day for the ride was scheduled to take place on the mountain (higher than the village) and would only have one uplift. So, naturally I was excited but apprehensive about my lack of acclimation to the higher altitude.
The handful of journos quickly became familiar with our bikes and set off. The track out of’ the village zigzagged, and I quickly learnt about the power of the eBike and, that the trails we’re super dry. So, back off with the follow distance or choke on the clouds of dust! The track had a number of berms; normally you can’t rail berms going uphill but having the bike power me through them felt great. I mean, the uphill experience still felt difficult as you’re not riding a motorbike, and I was still peddling hard, but the added power of the Bosch motor meant I was going faster and the uphill was a little more enjoyable. We then made a quick descent and the trail twisted tightly around the pine trees. I thought the bike would feel a bit heavy and hard to move around, but I quickly got used to it.
We then climbed for another 45 minutes. The pumice surface was often rough and with few a rock garden sections thrown in it meant you had to be on your game. Thankfully, the grip of the new Bontrager XR4 tyres meant the Powerfly could handle pretty much anything the mountain had to throw at it. And, I quickly learnt the new Powerfly is a really confident climber. The steep seat angle and very long chainstays (474mm– more on this later) got me to the top of steep climbs. One steep fire road was over 25% (!) and was very loose; the Powerfly made it up there without a problem. I simply could not have ridden that climb without the assistance of an eBike. That was certainly an advantage of having an eBike – we could access trails without having uplifts or walking efforts to get to them.
We reached some amazing heights at Mammoth Mountain, and while I was feeling the altitude I wasn’t out of breath too much. When the trails pointed down the Powerfly felt very well balanced. But it wasn’t ultra-nimble in the tight switchback turns. I put this down to the longer chainstays making it more difficult to whip around the bends. I got hung up on a few switchbacks and lost most of my speed as a result, but the motor meant I could quickly gain speed within a few crank turns. I didn’t have to shift my body weight too much to grip and the bike felt predictable but on the other hand I did feel you need a little strength for narrow or super technical sections as the bike is on the heavier side so it helps if you can muscle it around, if you want to feel like you are really getting the most from the trail and the bike.
The clever engineering folk at Trek developed the RIB system (removable integrated battery). The battery and the cover are one solid unit and the 500 Wh Bosch Powertube battery can be removed from the right hand-side of the downtube. The new system makes more sense and most riders tend to throw down their bike on the non-drive side. You can see the simple system in us on the flick through images below.
Trek Powerfly LT pricing ranges from $7,499 - $9,499
Find more at: Trekbikes.com
Words & Images: Liam Friary & Margus Riga
Subscribe to our print edition for the best of New Zealand Mountain Biking.