Specialized is one of the most popular brands among cycling enthusiasts, both on race bikes and MTBs. The American brand kept clear from the electric mountainbike world, but it recently decided to join in.
Specialized decided to use Brose motors for its ebikes, appropriately modified under its own directions.
A few days ago we talked about Brose motors, which are still hard to find, as they have been available so far only on Rotwild or BH Bikes electric mountain bikes.
With this move, Specialized draws apart from the market’s leaders, such as Haibike, which use Bosch or Yamaha motors.
Brose system for Specialized ebikes
As far as we know, the motor used by Specialized has been developed by Brose, but it’s not the same as the standard motor Rotwild and Bh Bikes use for their bikes. It looks like Specialized requested some specific alterations.
We guess that they’re about the power output or some structural alteration to better fit Specialized frames.
Anyway, these are 250W motors with a 25km/h maximum speed, with three levels of assistance (not many for offroad cycling in our opinion; 4 or 5 levels would have allowed for a more precise control of power and range).
Of course, the power output is managed by a torque sensor: to put it simply, the more the cyclist pushes on pedals the more the motor will help him (click here for more info about pedalling sensors).
The motor weighs 3,4kg, it provides a maximum torque of 90Nm and it has a 530W peak power.
The battery is either 460 or 504Wh, detachable, water and dust resistant and tested to IP67 standards.
What about the display?
There’s no display! Specialized decided to go a very different way from Bosch, that increased its display dimensions and features with the Nyon display. On Specialized electric MTBs there simply will be no display at all, and no handlebar controls either!
“We think that the majority of our customers are not interested in having a big display on the handlebar”, said Marco Sonderegger, Specialized product manager.
The whole control system is integrated within the battery pack, on the down tube. There are only three buttons to switch the system on and off, select the levels of assistance and a few other options, and ten green LEDS to monitor your battery life (every LED is a 10%).
The bikes are in any case equipped with many sensors; data like speed, pedaling rate, motor powerin real time, can be displayed on a smartphone through Bluetooth or on other devices like cyclo computers through the ANT+ standard system.
This is a very interesting choice, and we agree with Specialized on this one. This way, you’re not forced to use a standard display and you can choose your favorite device, the one you’re used to. Moreover, with fewer components there are fewer chances of breakage, especially when we’re talking about e-mountainbikes with all the falls, mud and rain.
The only issue is that if you don’t use a smartphone or cyclo computer to control the bike, then changing the level of assistance is not simple: you have to leave the bar and reach the side of the battery. From the video we watched, the buttons don’t even look like they’re easy to use: these procedures would be hard to complete while pedaling.
Their Mission Control App has some interesting features. The Smart Control allows you to input the distance you want to cover: the system will regulate the motor output, reducing it if the battery output is too high to reach the destination. It’s a very interesting idea, but what really counts offroad is the elevations: we’d like to know if the system takes into account the orography of the surrounding area. You can also change the power output from the app.
- the magnet that measures the back wheel’s speed is secured to the brake disc. It’s impossible for it to move as it often happens in electric MTBs.
- with the Brose motor you can use two chainrings. Specialized decided to focus on a 1×10 transmission (or 1×11 in the full version, 10-42).
Whoever tested these bikes witnessed a very silent motor and a more natural feeling if compared to what the competition offers. We’ll see.
Specialized e-mountainbike models
There are six Specialized electric mtb models equipped with a Brose motor:
- 4 front:
- 27,5+ men’s
- 29 men’s
- 27,5+ women’s
- 29 women’s
- a 27,5+ full, available in three different variations with three different mechanical components
- a fat ebike, with 26 x 4,6″ tires
The 27,5+ standard is the latest mountain bike “trend”. These are 27,5 tires, larger than normal tires, but not so large as to fall under the “fat” category. Some bikers think they’re useful, some think they’re not. We think that they make more sense in an electric mountain bike than in a regular mountain bike. We will talk about this more in depth in another article.
The fight to dominate the expanding electric mtb market is growing more and more intense. Let’s summarize Specialized’s “weapons”.
- Branding: Specialized is a popular brand, which means quality to many customers. Specialized is positioned higher than its competitor Haibike, that was almost unknown to cyclists before its interest in electric mtbs.
- A large and trusted sellers network.
- An original system, different from all the other ones, with a more natural feeling to it.
The downsides are that Specialized was late to jump on the e-mountainbike wagon, which didn’t allow the brand to grow more experienced in this field (if compared to other brands). The system wasn’t tested on the long run by independent users so we don’t know how it performs over a long period of time (we just have some first impressions available).
An electric mtb is often priced at more than €2000: whoever wants to spend that kind of money, which one will choose? A tested system like Bosch or Yamaha, or a system that looks better but is far less known?
Either way, the consumers will gain from it.
Photos courtesy of Specialized