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Eskute Netuno Review 2022
Oct 13, 2022
Eskute Netuno Review: Overview
The Eskute Netuno we’re revieweing here is effectively the updated version of the Eskute Voyager which we reviewed in 2021. It’s Eskute’s take on a trail e-bike that looks to give value for money and allow you to get out and about off-road. Whilst Eskute call it an e-mtb we feel this is a bit of a misnomer – it’s not a bike for tackling any off-road hill or trail in the way classic mtbs are. It’s more of a bike that is pretty off-road capable and gives you plenty of bang for your buck, unlike much pricier true e-mtb offerings that will tackle the most challenging terrain out there. This is not a criticism, just an outline of what you can expect from an off-road e-bike at this price point built to an EU 15.5mph assist / 250W motor rating spec. Within the brief of being an EU spec trail bike the Netuno acquits itself well overall.
So what’s on offer with the Netuno and how does it differ from its predecessor? Apart from a price rise from £999 to a currently discounted price of £1199 (not unexpected in today’s inflationary world), there is a 9% battery capacity boost to 522Wh, which is great news, plus a new large and striking handlebar stem-integrated display complete with USB charging port for your phone.
There’s a similar, maybe even identical, Bafang rear hub motor rated at 45Nm of torque, and budget steel-sprung front forks and cable-operated disc brakes. The seven-speed derailleur gearing also looks to offer the same gear ratios as on the previous Voyager model.
All in all the spec is pretty much what you would expect to see at this kind of price point, though the now larger 522Wh battery is certainly a nice bonus to have over the previous model. Of course, the actual testing and performance are what distinguish one budget e-bike from another so let’s get on and see how the Eskute Netuno stands up to our standard battery of tests.
Bike Category:Budget trail e-bike with rear hub motor
Bike Class:Class 1: Pedelec up to 15.5 MPH (European/UK spec)
Eskute Netuno Review Video Review
Good value overall
Respectably sized battery
Decent hillclimbing ability
Hardwired, powerful front light
Knobbly tires perform well off-road
Attachment points for rack and rear mudguard if required
Power delivery a little choppy
Handlebar stem-integrated display design means stretched out riding position
There are five power levels and these are related to speed – level one only assists up to a few mph whilst level five keeps you breezing along at around the legal EU assisted maximum of 15.5mph. In practice, that means in most conditions most riders will probably dial the power up to four or five and leave it there most of the time. The lower levels are more useful where you don’t want speed – for example manoeuvring slowly whilst amongst lots of pedestrians.
Acceleration in levels four and five is good once the power has kicked in. We were a little disappointed that the power takes quite a while to arrive once you have started pedalling (and a similarly long time to stop once you cease turning the cranks). We’ve tried quite a few
budget e-bikes that are capable of delivering timely and smooth power and it would have been nice if the Netuno were up to their standard.
This is an EU spec e-bike and only for sale in Europe and the UK and that means the cut out limit for pedal assist is 15mph. There is no notable sudden ‘cut out’ of power at around 15mph, as the power progressively reduces, meaning you can cruise along at this speed without the sensation of power cutting in and out that you can get on some e-bikes.
Over our standard hilly off-road course featuring plenty of tracks, trails and canal towpaths the Eskute Netuno returned a range of around 37 miles for a 70kg rider on a very warm summer’s day, ascending some 3954ft in the process. At around 14Wh per mile that’s reasonably efficient.
We have have given 37 miles as the effective ‘full-power’ range as the battery icon started to flash at this mileage and the power delivered dropped off noticeably; however there was still a small amount of power left, allowing a ‘get me home’ last couple of miles with a bit of assist as long as the terrain isn’t too challenging.
This was using the power level most appropriate for the conditions, in other words just enough power to get a moderate workout. We estimated that with the same rider and in the same conditions but leaving full power on all the time 30 miles would have been a more realistic mileage.
The EBR UK test circuit is a 1.25 mile loop with a small hill, four turns and a couple of narrow sections where slowing is required. A test rider does a lap at each pedal assist level starting with the motor off. Not only does this give an idea of average speed at each assistance level, it shows the difference in assist a rider can expect between all the PAS settings.
The Netuno’s level one and two weren’t a huge improvement on having no power at all as they only assisted at pretty low speeds. The top three levels showed a marked improvement in lap time as the motor was now assisting above 10mph and the bike was travelling above that speed the majority of the time. Not surprisingly the test rider was more out of breath on the lower levels and climbing was pretty easy in the top three levels.
The times show power levels are quite well graduated, but it would be nice to have rider-customisable power profiles, which neither the display itself or the accompanying app appeared to offer, though of course there is always the possibility that Eskute will upgrade the app to make this a feature in future, as long as the on-board software supports it too.
The Eskute Netuno is a capable trail e-bike
New for the Netuno is the highly visible stem-integrated display
Shimano SIS gear shifters are easy and very effective to use
All UK e-bikes are tested over several runs on a 0.8 mile long constant road climb with plenty of 5% grade sections and the Netuno’s time of 3-minutes and 10-seconds was a few seconds off the pace of more powerful mid-drives and more on a par with some of the smaller sized hub motor e-bikes we have tested.
Despite this slightly slower than average time, climbing felt easy and the test rider never really had to put any large degree of effort into the pedals. The power just kept on coming smoothly as long the pedals kept turning.
On our ultra steep hill climb with a 15% plus gradient in the middle, the Netuno made it all the way up at about 5mph on the steepest sections with the rider pulling moderately hard on the bars. Although slow here, at least it shows there is a decent bit of torque to the motor at low speed. Some smaller motored e-bikes with limited gear range just won’t make it up at all.
As long as the terrain doesn’t require a lot of stop-start pedalling (for example very technical off-road tracks) then the Eskute Netuno is a capable climber and will even manage shorter sections of very steep climbs, despite the fact the gearing isn’t that low.
Overall the handling of the Netuno was stable and reassuring. The bike’s elongated stem gave a leant forward, sporty ride position which was fairly well balanced on the bike. The frame geometry, 27.5” rims and Kenda knobbly tyres all combined to make the rider feel pretty confident in the bike’s handling abilities, both on and off road. The positioning of motor and battery on the bike meant it felt pretty well balanced too.
It would have been nice if the fork had a lockout for more efficient on road riding and to prevent ‘bob’ when out of the saddle and pedalling hard. However, the main inconvenience was the power delivery which didn’t stop immediately on pedalling and could make easy handling a bit tricky in some situations. This is covered in more detail in the Motor and Fork sections below.
The Netuno ride position is fairly leant forward and sporty for an average (5ft 8 inch) rider like this tester
Although only budget steel spring forks they certainly help on rocky terrain like this
Comfortable padded saddle
Eskute Netuno Review: Electric Components
The Netuno uses a ubiquitous geared Bafang rear hub motor. This particular model is the GO20, rated at 45Nm torque and about the same diameter as the 160mm disc brake rotor – in effect a ‘medium’ sized hub motor. It is rated at the Euro-legal spec of 250W and 15.5mph assist limit.
In testing it proved to be just as we expected – dependable and pretty effective. As witnessed in the hillclimbing tests, there was a good amount of climbing ability with a good speed maintained over steepish hills and even good low speed torque on much steeper hills. Not as effective as a good mid-drive and not the fastest hub we’ve tried up the hills either, but it gets the job done and that’s really what you are ater on a budget machine like this.
Our only real gripe was the power delivery; this is not really down to the motor but most likely how the sensing and control electronics are set up – but it’s covered here as it translates into how the motor performs at the end of the day. It took a few seconds for the power to kick in after starting pedalling and to stop when the cranks stopped turning. In start stop riding conditions it felt a bit awkward to use but we soon learned to feather the brakes to stop too much ‘run on’. Some riders might not be too bothered by this but it there plenty of budget machines around with more responsive cadence sensing power delivery, so it’s a pity Eskute couldn’t fine tune this a bit (cadence sensing is the more basic type of power delivery as compared to pricier torque sensing – cadence sensing can be made very smooth or it can feel a bit choppy as on the Netuno).
There are five ‘power’ levels but they are based on speed, so that level one provides assistance only up to a few mph and level five gives assistance all the way up to around 16mph on this EU spec machine. There appeared to be a connection for a throttle but no throttle was provided with the test bike so we can’t comment on how one might perform on the bike or on its legality, should you choose to buy one as an optional extra from the Eskute website.
The Netuno’s upgrade in battery size to 522Wh is very welcome for the extra range it provides. It’s a frame-integrated battery that locks into the top of the downtube securely with absolutely no rattle or movement whilst riding that we could detect – even over rougher terrain. It has a very solid alloy case with strong looking plastic at either end. In short, it looks very well made, at least from the outside.
The capacity is impressive and at least as much as you would expect on the average e-mtb or hybrid style e-bike. The brand is Long Ting and the battery label tells us it uses 18650 Samsung cells – a recognised quality name.
Display and App
The new design of central display is integrated into the handlebar mount and gives a very clear colour LCD readout, even in bright sunlight. There are just three elements on the display; speed readout, battery capacity and power level. If you want more info there is an app as described below which provides a few extra metrics.
On the downside the long thin shape means the handlebars are extended forwards leading to a sporty riding position. That’s fine if you are of average size and reach but there is no possible way you change the stem for a different one to give a different position as it’s effectively part of the wiring system of the bike and so some shorter riders may find the unalterable stretch a bit too much, especially given this is a ‘one size’ e-bike with no smaller option.
There are two buttons – on/off and power mode (to select one of the five power levels). The power level button only lets you go up a power level – meaning if you want to go down from 5 to 4 you have to scroll all the way though Off, 1,2 and 3. This arrangement is a little fiddly and a separate thumb control linked to the display that lets you scroll up and down without having to remove a hand from the grip would have been an excellent addition.
The battery icon is composed of a large number of capacity ‘bars’ and proved pretty accurate in measuring the gradual decline in battery capacity during a long ride and even though it flashed empty there was still a small amount of power left to ‘get you home’ – a useful feature.
There is a USB charge port at the bottom of the display which delivers around half an amp of power – that was just enough to stop a phone from running down rather than actively charging it (and that’s before turning on bluetooth or wifi), but still useful to stop you getting a flat battery on your phone.
The app was released as an iPhone version initially but I used the more recent Android version which appeared incomplete – there is a basic map tracking feature and readouts showing trip mileage and odometer mileage and a % readout of the battery. Unfortunately the % battery readout and the phone locking and unlocking didn’t work on the version I used, though Eskute say they should be added at a later date.
The Bafang rear geared hub motor is a dependable choice
Strong downtube construction with removable battery
Fork compression adjustment didn’t seem to produce a great change in fork performance
Very effective mechanical disc brakes
Eskute Netuno Review: Components and Accessories
The Netuno features budget seven-speed Shimano derailleur gearing and mechanical disc brakes as you would expect on a budget e-bike. Overall all components and accessories worked well given the keen price point, with a couple of cavills.
As a budget ‘trail’ bike the components suited the purpose . Moreover, the components spec was suited to the trail nature of the e-bike and the keen brakes and quick shifting gearing were standout features. As we’ve said before about budget bikes with a limited gear range, a lower overall range would have been nice, or even more gears – an effective and accurate budget ten speed derailleur setup would be a huge boon to e-bikes like this.
The Netuno uses Zoom mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors. These provided very powerful and effective braking. It was reasonably graduated, though if you squeeze the levers very hard and quickly they provide tons of immediate stopping power. UK riders should also remember the levers are mounted continental fashion, with the front brake on the left hand lever.
Overall, given more progressive and smoother high quality hydraulic disc brakes (like Shimano or Magura for example) are not likely to be fitted to an e-bike at this price, we felt decent mechanical discs were the optimum choice, providing more than enough braking power and avoiding the rim wear you get with rim brakes.
Our brake test confirmed their effectiveness in terms of power, with an average stopping distance from 20mph of just 11ft 6 inches / 3.5m.
The aluminum alloy frame is hybrid rather than mtb in its geometry, with a comfortably high front end and steeply sloping top tube. There is one size of frame which we measured at 19” – that’s about average size and the pretty long seatpost gives extra seat height for taller riders. As we have noted already though, smaller riders might not get on with that extended stem which throws the bars forward.
Every Eskute review we have tested features a very strongly constructed frame and the Netuno is no exception and in particular we were impressed with the very beefy downtube which houses the frame-integrated battery. All this strength no doubt adds to the sizable heft of the bike at around 54.23lbs / 24.6kg.
And like their other bikes of a similar design it has nice clean lines, largely due to the frame-routed cables which are fed through the downtube to the motor (which also houses the controller) with cables exiting at the bottom of the downtube and continuing unobtrusively along the underside of the chainstays.
The Zoom budget steel sprung fork performed pretty much in line with expectations and was pretty effective for riding the many rocky and unsealed tracks we took the Netuno on. The spring was set quite soft which suited the main test rider who weighs around 154lbs / 70kg. There was a bit of ‘bounce’ if the front wheel took off and landed strongly (ie a lack of damping), but in general the forks help smooth out the moderately challenging off-road tracks we took the Netuno on.
There were what we assume to be some compression adjustment dials on top of the fork crown but turning these didn’t actually seem to have any appreciable effect on the fork behaviour.
Again, with all the value going into the motor, battery size and brakes we would say this is an acceptable compromise and certainly some kind of front suspension can be useful on e-bikes you are likely to want to take off-road regularly on slightly rougher tracks.
Drivetrain / Shifting
As ever the shifting experience provided by Shimano’s cheapest seven speed derailleur setup was outstanding given its lowly price. In particular the ‘button and lever’ shifter is ideal for quickly shifting through several gears at a time and the ‘clockface’ dial means it’s easy to see what gear you are in at any given moment.
As we have commented already, lower gearing would be nice as we felt the need for a lower gear on the very steepest of climbs – this was especially so as the crank movement power delivery relies on keeping the pedals twiddling away at a reasonable speed.
The Netuno is at home on broad, fast but bumpy tracks
Seven speed gearing is usually adequate but lower gearing would help on steep hills
Good grip from the alloy castellated pedal construction
Contact Points / Comfortability
The friction fit rubber grips were very tactile and gave good traction with little risk of your hands slipping off. The seat was well padded and plenty comfortable.
The Netuno uses Kenda 27.5″ x 2.10″ (ETRTO: 52-584) knobblies. These felt fast and stable on-road and their excellent traction very likely helped the Netuno to get the impressive braking test result. Their off-road performance was equally impressive, with plenty of traction on grass and mud. The only very brief slipping that occurred was on a very hard, steep concrete surface (actually the climb up Manchester’s Werneth Low as described in the the video segment of this review).
The only downside was an apparent lack of puncture protection. We suffered one puncture whilst riding – to the rear wheel – and whilst removing rear wheel hub motors with derailleur gears can be a little fiddly, it was certainly no more difficult than expected and the tires themselves were very easy to remove from the rims.
Extras / Accessories
The Netuno’s hardwired front LED light performed excellently, even on unlit roads and through canal tunnels. There is also a battery powered rear light (red LEDs take far less power than white LEDs so this economizing makes sense, even if a hard wired rear light would have been nice). The Voyager Pro also comes with a kickstand.
It’s great to see that the Netuno would also easily convert into a serviceable commuter at a little extra cost as it’s possible to fit a rear pannier rack too and a full length mudguard at the back and a suspension fork style one at the front. It would also then take on new potential as an on and off-road tourer, emphasised by the decent range of that well-sized battery.
Plenty of grip from the Kenda knobblies
Nice clean layout if you want to add extra devices to your handlebars
TheNetuno is a great e-bike for country tours
Eskute Netuno Review: Summary / Where to Buy
If you are looking for an e-bike more for trails than full-on e-mtbing down highly technical off-road descents, and one that delivers decent performance at a good price, then the Eskute Netuno should definitely be on your list.
Discounted to £1199 at the time of writing the Netuno is undeniably good value for the UK market; the big battery, reliable motor, gearing and brakes and powerful front lighting are big plus points.
Even the cheapest mid-drives on the UK market are likely to be several hundred pounds more than the Netuno. Whilst there are several brands offering ‘trail’ bikes around this price (most being direct-to-consumer brands as Eskute are), the Netuno will trump many on battery size and the solidity of its frame, although some competitors might offer more gears or smoother power delivery.
If you are after a budget trail e-bike with potential to commute and tour on light off-road conditions, and don’t mind the slightly unsophisticated nature of the power delivery and the long reach handlebar stem, the Netuno is a definite contender.
‘Happy Riding, make sure to let us know if you have any questions down in our comments section or if you think we left anything out in this review of the Eskute Netuno.