HAIBIKE XDURO RX29: THE SMILE MAKER

The ride experience of the XDURO RX29 is different than what I imagined it to be. The Bosch modulated pedal-assist utilized by the Haibike softens the edges of lengthy climbs and provides more control. Imagine a bike that senses exhaustion and compensates to maintain your speed.

Part I
THE EXPERIENCE
“Imagine a bike that senses exhaustion and compensates to maintain your speed.”

The ride experience of the XDURO RX29 is different than what I imagined it to be. The Bosch modulated pedal-assist utilized by the Haibike softens the edges of lengthy climbs and provides more control. Imagine a bike that senses exhaustion and compensates to maintain your speed. That wobbly dance up a local hill that leaves me in a heap of bones at the top became an optional part of my mountain biking, rather than an inevitability.

When most people first ride an eBike they’ll spend the first 5 minutes seeing how fast they can go. In the case of the XDURO RX29, I quickly recounted that 20 mph isn’t at all that fast – a relatively familiar speed on a bike. The transitive experience was when I realized that I could maintain that speed all afternoon.

The XDURO RX29 provides an instantaneous torque boost that you can adjust to make your next ride soul-crushing or soul-enhancing – your choice. It is a unique experience that is unlike other transportive modes. For novice riders, you’ll find the instantaneous torque helps in maneuvering steep grades and extending your trip with energy left in the tank for the rest of your adventure.

It still requires energy from the rider as it only provides a boost when you’re turning the pedals, but on the maximum boost setting, you’re using 30% of the energy you normally would – no matter what mountain gets in your way. Two-hour rides that would normally leave you exhausted for the rest of the weekend become 4-hour bike tours of exploration.
– Christopher Reynolds

Bosch’s superb mid-drive system is the distinguishing characteristic of the XDURO series. This system utilizes sensors that measure three parameters: crank-speed, torque, and overall bike speed 1000 times a second, and integrates the data to determine levels of assistance. The result is a seamless delivery of power that makes the rider feel as though they’re a beast on the bike. Haibike’s engineers position the 400w Samsung battery on the downtube where it contributes to the balance of the bike. The extra weight is noticeable only when loading or unloading, but not while you’re in motion. From smooth single-track to gnarly ascent, this is a perfect bike for any trail.

Part II
THE SMILE MAKER

Gabriel Zink, downhill demon and all-around nice guy, looks like Cheshire cat in “Alice in Wonderland” as he hands me back the Hardtail and exclaims, “It’s a game changer.” He has just ascended one of the steepest sections of the Harding Truck Trail at about 15 miles per hour. Shari Sullivant, who rides a couple of times a week when life doesn’t get in the way, laughs in delight as she accelerates to “turbo” mode. She says “it’s a mountain bike on steroids” and her grin is palpable. A card-carrying AARP member laughs heartily and visualizes an earlier, more robust self as he easily pedals along. What could elicit these and similar responses from all of the ten or so individuals who tested this vehicle?

Ponce de Leon scoured Florida while he searched unsuccessfully for the legendary Fountain of Youth, H.G. Wells imagined a machine that would permit time travel. Haibike does them both one better by making its rider feel as though he has traveled back in time and discovered the coveted elixir of youth. Their 29-inch XDURO RX hardtail, legally a Class 1 bicycle by California law, is an off-road master. While impressive in road testing, it really comes into its own off the beaten trail. The excellent Bosch mid-drive motor provides brisk acceleration to 20 miles per hour as a pedal assist system (PAS). This limit is an adequate, yet safe velocity for local trails. I was stunned by this bike.
-Bob Becker

In anticipation of the Sea Otter Classic and the new addition of the Electric Mountain Bike Race to the roster, we decided to test the Haibike XDURO hardtail MTB to get an idea of the types of machines that would be performing in this event. Sam and Kannika Townsend, proprietors of the Electric Bicycle Center in Fullerton, are responsible for graciously procuring the XDURO for us. Sam is an imposingly tall, but affable individual who is an unusually gifted raconteur. He regaled us with stories on a wide range of topics including how his business morphed from a gas scooter kiosk in the Irvine Spectrum. Sam and his wife are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about e-bikes and Sam is quite the consummate salesman. The Eskimos are fortunate that he deiced to sell bikes instead of ice.

Part III
A CASUAL CYCLIST’S PERSPECTIVE

The XDURO Haibike may be intended for MTB racers, but we were curious to find out how a newcomer would handle this powerful machine. Siobhan, a Southern California native, and sporadic bicyclist was eager to ride an electric mountain bike as her first entry into mountain biking. We took her to El Morro in Newport Beach where there are plenty of paved and roomy trails in the case of any mishaps. When she got on the bike to be in such a picturesque setting before sundown and she looked natural riding in the Haibike. “I think we may have a convert,” I whispered to Chris as she guffawed in delight soaring up and down the trails hills.”

When the ride was over, I asked her how she felt about the Haibike, “The assist made riding the terrain easier for me and it wasn’t as tiresome as I thought it might be. I like that you can set the assist to work for you in the best way. If you wanted to ride the bike for a workout, you can turn down the motor to give yourself more resistance. If you want to ride the bike leisurely, you can turn on the ‘turbo’ setting and have more help on the hills.”

I wondered if someone like her would be willing to ride with us on a regular mountain bike, “depends on where we’re going,” she hesitated, “but more than likely I don’t know if I’d have the confidence to keep up.” I assured her that she would have no trouble keeping up with me, as I have little to no experience on a mountain bike. “True,” she agrees, “but knowing that I would have the extra help in case I fell behind or couldn’t make it uphill, that would be different.”

Some cyclists argue that riding an electric bike won’t allow you the same experience as riding an ordinary bike would. However, Siobhan may not have had as much fun on our ride if she was worried about keeping up the pace, or fearing embarrassment of walking her bike up the hills because she was just too tired to pedal.
-Kelley O’Toole

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