BH Emotion electric bikes first hit the Australian market in 2012, and while Ebikereviews.com.au were the first owners of the Neo Jumper in Australia, it’s been over 18 months since we’ve actually rode a BH electric bike. With the release of the Evo series, we were curious to see how far they had come in three years.
The BH Emotion Evo Snow is the first all wheel drive electric bike available from an OEM in Australia, and possibly the world. It’s name tells us that it was built for the snow, but seeing it’s the middle of Spring, we’ll assume it’s also good in sand or any loosely compacted ground.
The most obvious difference compared to the first Neo series is the new slimline battery, external charge port, and a newly designed hydroformed frame. The Neo and Evo series still feature a long wheelbase and in combination with 29” tyres, the Snow can feel quite large, even though it’s a medium frame.
The included battery is 36v 11.6Ah providing 417Wh, which can be charged on and off the Evo, a feature not available on the older Neo series. The underside of the pack now also features an LED indicator to tell you how much charge is left.
The LCD still uses the same plastic mount as the Neo series, which we had issues with when the locking tab snapped off from fatigue on the Neo Jumper. On first appearance the LCD also looks like the older Neo series, but turning it on you’re greeted with a completely different interface. The battery indicator features a percentage readout as well as the horizontal battery gauge. The speed readout and assistance gauge have also changed slightly, and we now have a new range remaining display available. Unfortunately it’s not very accurate, as is visible below with 66% battery left and 4km range remaining.
The BH Emotion Evo Snow comes with two quick release levers for each motor … The benefit of having quick release levers on an All Wheel Drive electric bike is huge.
An excellent new and innovative feature for the Evo Series is the quick release for the front and rear hubs. Typically, front and rear hub motors do not feature a quick release because of the axle thickness. While a quick release axle is typically 9mm, a front or rear hub motor comes with it’s own axle that can be upto 18mm on much larger hub motors. The BH Emotion Evo Snow comes with two quick release levers for each motor. Each lever acts independently to the other, so if one lever somehow comes off, the wheel connection is still retained preventing full detachment. Each lever also features knurled teeth and a washer that sits within the recess of the fork and rear dropout. The washer on the cable side of both motors allows for the cable to be routed away from the levers avoiding any pinching, while the knurled teeth on lever bites into the washer preventing slippage. The levers themselves incorporate rotational washers with a spring release. As you’re tightening (rotating the lever), you eventually get too close to the forks that the lever hits and can no longer be tightened. Though because of the rotational washer and spring, the lever can then pulled, rotated past the fork, then released and tightened, and the process repeated till the lever can no longer be tightened. When the lever is pulled out, rotating the lever does not tighten it on the axle because of the rotational washers. This means that when you’ve fully tightened all 4 levers, you can then pull them out and rotate them, to line up all levers in the same direction.
The benefit of having quick release levers on an All Wheel Drive electric bike is huge, since it’s typical for many rear hub electric bikes to come with nuts, which of course require you to carry the right set of tools in case you need to replace your tube or tyre. For those that don’t have a bike rack you can now quickly take the front (or rear) wheels off in under 2mins and pop it in the back of your car.
Now this technology isn’t completely new to the world of electric bikes and we’ve previously seen them sold as additional accessories from specialty electric bikes shops around the world. BH however have vastly improved on the lever design, and as far as we’re aware are the first to offer these as standard on their Evo electric bikes in Australia.
Another vast improvement is the routing of cables on the Evo Snow. All the cables (except the front brake) are routed into the downtube through three openings but instead of them all coming out from beneath the bottom bracket, the rear brake cable and motor cable continue along the chainstay and come out close to the dropouts. We still have the front and rear derailleur cable coming out from beneath the bottom bracket which we had hoped were protected by a removable plate of sorts.
But definitely the most exciting feature of the Evo Snow is the All Wheel Drive mode.
The BH Emotion Evo Snow’s Pedal Assist System uses a torque sensor located in the dropout as did the Neo Jumper in 2012. The torque sensor detects flex in the dropout based from the tension placed on the chain. As you pedal harder, strain on the chain increases, and so does assistance. Like the previous Neo series, the torque sensor on the Evo series provides a smooth delivery of power in all situations.
But definitely the most exciting feature of the Evo Snow is the All Wheel Drive mode. On the LCD you have the option to choose between using the Rear Motor, Front Motor, All Wheel Drive, or Eco. Using All Wheel Drive, there is 500w available; 250w (electronically limited from 350w) from the rear motor and 250w from the front motor.
Both the motors are wound differently, and therefore have a different top speeds. Using only the rear hub, the Evo Snow feels like most other BH electric bikes. With the front motor on by itself, it feels under powered in torque, but provides a higher top speed than the rear hub motor. With All Wheel Drive mode on, the bike combines the benefits of both hub motors, with good low end torque we’ve come to expect from the Neo Jumper, and a higher top speed from a lower wound motor.
What this means is that off the line, the majority of the work will be done by the rear motor. Once you’re above 25km/h the rear hub motor slowly phases out, but the front motor continues to pull. Pedalling with a cadence of 80rpm, you’ll be sitting around 34-36km/h, and it’s the front motor keeping you around this speed, with the rear motor barely audible, which tells us it was outputting little if any power. Once our speed dropped below 27km/h, the rear hub then become louder, with an obvious feeling of torque coming from the rear once you’re below 25km/h.
When you’re offroad or on the beach, even though the front motor isn’t wound for torque, there’s an obvious benefit of having it there. Acceleration is quicker ever so slightly, there’s less emphasis on having to put more weight on the rear of the bike to climb steep hills, since the front is now almost 3kg heavier, and more importantly, there’s now more traction.
The Evo Snow has 4 assistance levels (30%, 50% 70%, 100%) plus no assist. On our paved test loop, using the highest level of assistance (100%) we achieved 38.9km before the Evo Snow read 7% battery capacity and limited assistance to 30%. The battery continued on 30% power till 41.7km. On our offroad test loop, the Evo Snow achieved 22.9km till it was limited to 30% assistance.
Of course we have to compare it to the climbing ability of mountain bikes equipped with Bosch Classic+ or Performance Line mid-drive. The BH Emotion Evo Snow features a triple crankset and a 10SP cassette giving you a large range of gears, and we often found ourselves in the largest chainring on the front, since anything less would send us freewheeling as both hub motors when on provided plenty of power. Shifting felt good, and the triple down shifter didn’t feel clunky. The BH Emotion Evo Snow accelerates faster off the line, offered more confidence in cornering because of the added weight and was faster in climbing hills less than 12% gradient; mainly because of 500w vs 250w. In hill climbs above 12% gradient however, the Bosch system still offers the best climbing ability as long as you’re in the right gear, even when competing with an AWD electric bike and using it’s lowest gears. If the front motor had been wound for torque, it may have been a different story.
There’s no doubt that BH have come a long way with their new Evo series. The BH Emotion Evo Snow features improved build quality, better cable routing, an improved LCD interface, and quality components. But it’s the new frame design, quick release levers and the All Wheel Drive mode that makes the Evo Snow exciting.