Flux Trail E-bike—Living the Dream.
I am always so excited to meet electric bike makers that are bike riders. So many E-bikes come out of the world of business, not from the world of people that actually ride bikes. Not only does their enthusiasm rub off on others, it really rubs off in the best way to the E-bikes they produce. Such is the case with the crew at Flux, Pete and Rob ride the bikes they have designed and make, so when you ride them you will be as pumped as they are.
I had a great sit down with Pete this week when he allowed me to ride one of the three E-bikes they are presently offering on a Indiegogo crowdfunding site. The twenty four hours of time I had the Flux Trail, netted me close to 6 hours of riding, plenty of time to get a feel for everything it could do for me (and you). This particular bike is a hard-tail mountain bike, yet they also have a full suspension one (the Attack), and what I am sure would be my favorite, their road / commuter E-bike (the Roadster).
All three pretty much share the same electrics and motor, so let’s dive into that first. Note that the bike I tested is a pre-production model. Pete has been trashing it heavily (and several others they have on hand), and letting prospective customers ride it too. That has allowed him to make sure the delivered bikes can stand the test of time, and have just the right pieces and features that will make for an awesome riding experience. I will point out as we go what you can expect that is different from this bike, including one suggestion I offered.
The Bofeili 250 watt mid-drive motor is one sweet unit. This bike had their gen 2 on-board, yet the production model will have the gen 3 that pumps out some extra oomph (climbing torque). It is as smooth and quiet as they come in the mid-drive category. Driving the power though the chain and rear gears, it is a real stump puller, with a decent top-end too. Of course having it mounted in the middle of the frame (complementing the frame mounted battery), allows the balance of the bike to be right-on. This isn’t quite as important on a street bike, yet for their 2 mountain E-bikes, this is a game changer.
I found the control system to my liking, having a cadence-sensed 5 level automatic pedelec controlled from the button array next to the left side hand grip. A right side thumb throttle will be part of the package, even though my test bike didn’t have one. The motor comes on with just maybe a ¼ rotation of the pedals, so getting assist on a steep surface will be immediate. The power rolls on smooth and strong, yet with no jerkiness or overpowering blast. 250 is the wattage listed on the motor, yet the full feature display unit showed it pegging at close to 550 when I needed full power.
Pulsing out of the battery is 36 volts at 13 Ah (468 watt-hours). I expect most that order their bike from Flux will opt for the extended range battery, a 17 Ah unit (612 watt-hours). On those long rides it is always nice to have some reserve, and the larger batteries are gaining huge popularity in E-bike circles. The battery slides right in the frame, locks in place, and can be charged on or off the bike. The handy USB port might be helpful, so they included one that is easy to access. The smart charger will help you keep the battery in peak form for many years.
The Bofeili motor drives the power through 9 rear gears with a single front chain ring. Expect to see some nice drivetrain parts speced back there. The thumb shifter grabs the gears easily, and allows you to tailor your pedal cadence and motor power to your speed and terrain just as you would expect. With no built-in throttle interrupt during shifting, you may want to tap a brake handle or stop pedaling for an instant during shifting (to interrupt the motor’s power), yet if you don’t, the gears still change with minimal banging under power. Although a throttle interrupt can be nice, they drive up the complexity and price, so just one less thing to worry about it seems.
I found the Flux Trail to ride very well. I did some simple trail riding, yet didn’t get a chance to take it for any serious off-roading. Pete assured me it is awesome, and mentioned the full suspension Attack is even better. The minor jumps and curb-hopping I did showed me the balance is well thought out and made me yearn for more time on the bike to really hit some rough stuff. They designed it for major abuse, something I will try to deal out my next time aboard the Flux.
All three bikes share much, like a pleasing looking aluminum frame with a fairly low top bar. As I mentioned before, each will have the same electric assist system. They all ride on 27.5 tires and rims, yet with street tires speced on the Roadster. All share hydraulic disc brakes, the Attack having larger brake rotors than the other two. I am pretty sure I convinced Pete to use the two-finger brake levers on all the bikes when they hit production. He is a major mountain bike rider and agreed they are the best way to go with such strong bicycle brakes.
The Roadster is, without a doubt, the bike from them that would be more to my liking. The style, the more upright cockpit, and the street geometry are what I crave more than the mountain E-bikes. Everyone has different needs, yet I like to sit up a bit straighter. I can’t wait to straddle the Roaster to see if it is just as exciting as the Trail I was just riding. I get a feeling it won’t be too long as these bikes are headed to full production in a short time.
As I write this (4/4/16), the funding program on Indiegogo is still active. They were fully funded in just 14 hours. 3 months from now the bikes will hit the street. You probably know I am not too big on buying E-bikes online, yet this is a major part of the direction the industry is going. I could tell from my time with Pete, that if any issues do arise, they will deal with them quickly and fairly. In the big scheme of things, Flux E-bikes are straightforward and not overly-complicated, so I think all will be fine. Two facts I can see are—you can spend a whole lot more—and you could do a whole lot worse. These E-bikes look and ride very nice.
Congrats to Pete and Rob. They are seeing their dreams of a cool E-bike company coming to reality. Turbo Bob.
“Bicycle means simplicity and simplicity means happiness”—Mehmet Murat ildan.
Here they are on the web, Facebook and their Indiegogo page.
Here are the two videos I took of the Flux Trail