It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say there are hundreds of makes, models and styles of affordable e-bikes to choose from on the market today. But for all those types of e-bikes, very few among them are built with off-road use in mind.
And when I say “off-road use,” I mean real off-road use. There’s generally good reason for this void in the affordable e-bike market — the parts, engineering and bicycle know-how it requires to build a bike durable and capable enough to regularly tackle anything more than a dirt shoulder aren’t cheap.
But nonetheless, some companies are figuring out how to make it work without busting the piggy bank.
This iGO Core-Edge review takes a look at one such e-bike that’s struck a balance between affordable cost and off-road capability.
With an MSRP nestled nicely under $2,400 and component choices that better fit the bill for off-road use, the iGO Core-Edge is designed to be a durable choice for fire road and dirt trail riding, but stops short of the definition of a full-blown eMTB.
Bike Category: eMTB
Bike Class: Class 2: PAS/Throttle assist, up to 20 mph
iGO Core-Edge Video Review
The Core-Edge does a nice job of balancing affordability and off-road durability.
The 32 pulse cadence sensor is one of the best we’ve reviewed. It’s ultra responsive and makes the motor power feel much more usable in tight terrain.
The 500W rear hub motor is notably grunty and climbs better than many 750W e-bikes we’ve reviewed.
The Tektro hydraulic disk brakes work spectacularly well.
Weight is important for a bike like this, and the 576Wh battery strikes a nice balance between being large enough for good range while small enough to remain light.
The CST tires grip well and give good control over variable terrain.
The Selle Royal seat is sportier than average, which we like for a bike like this, but it’s fairly hard even by our standards.
The kickstand and front light can bounce around on rougher terrain.
ELECTRICAL SPECS & FEATURES
Battery: 48V, 12Ah (576Wh)
Display: LCD Display
Motor: 500W geared rear hub motor, 50Nm of torque
Peal Assist: 9 levels of pedal assist (stock)
Range: Up to 47 miles
Throttle: Thumb throttle
Weight & Dimensions
Claimed weight: 59.5 lbs
Maximum rider weight: 220 lbs
Maximum load on rear rack: N/A
Components & Accessories
Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disk brakes, 180mm rotors front and rear
Fork: RST Blaze suspension fork, 100mm of travel
Frame: 6061 aluminum
Drivetrain: Shimano Altus 8-speed
Saddle: Selle Royal Viento
Handlebar: 700mm low-rise handlebar
Tires: CST Rock Hawk 27.5×2.4”
iGO Core-Edge Review: Bike Overview
The iGo Core-Edge isn’t a bike that’ll go absolutely anywhere you want to take it, but it will handily go more places than your average affordable e-bike.
iGo, a Canadian e-bike brand, bills the Core-Edge as a “durable trail bike” designed to handle “gravel tracks and … forest paths,” and I’d assess it about the same. It’s built in the image of an eMTB with flat bars, front suspension, knobby tires and a more aggressive frame. But its hub motor and more affordable componentry, among other things, cut its definition short of a full-fledged trail ready eMTB.
This bike will definitely do dirt, but it’s going to be much happier on doubletrack roads and relatively smooth gravel paths.
iGo went full eMTB for the Core-Edge’s looks. Instead of putting on racks and fenders they left the bike light and lean.
A full Shimano Altus 8-speed drivetrain handles gear changes.
CST Rock Hawk 27.5×2.4” tires keep the bike connected to the ground.
So, if you’re looking for a single track trail bike that’ll handle more technical riding, this likely isn’t the bike for you. But if you’re looking to explore some off-road environs that would be challenging in a car but more navigable on a bike, this is a great option.
The Core-Edge is built around a 500W rear hub motor that makes up to 50Nm of torque and a 48V, 12Ah (576Wh) battery for solid range even in more demanding off-road environments. IN its stock format, that motor is broken into up to nine levels of PAS for super refined motor assistance and is engaged via a remarkably responsive cadence sensor.
Nine levels of PAS is quite a lot considering many affordable hub-driven e-bikes have no more than five (and even that, sometimes, can feel like too many). For our testing we toned down the number of PAS levels to the more typical five to make the Core-Edge easier to compare to other similar e-bikes.
At a roughly $2,400 MSRP, the component kit is solid, too.
The drivetrain is a Shimano Altus 8-speed setup that works well off-road and the braking is handled by a set of Tektro hydraulic disk brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear.
Lastly, as any good off-road e-bike should have, the Core-Edge uses a RST Blaze front fork with 100mm of suspension.
iGO Core-Edge Review: Motor Performance, Speed and Acceleration
When it comes to motor performance, especially in the case of hub driven motors like the one found on the Core-Edge, it’s often not the number of watts produced or the amount of torque made that makes a good motor great. More often than not, Electric Bike Report’s review team finds it’s the motor’s sensitivity that really matters most.
This is especially true for e-bikes made for riding in off-road environments, where razor sharp motor engagement can be the difference between negotiating a feature and not.
And among the dozens and dozens of hub-driven e-bikes I’ve reviewed, the motor sensitivity of the iGO Core-Edge might be the best. There is virtually no hesitation between when you start pedaling and when the motor kicks on (or vice versa for when you stop pedaling). This makes the motor feel very fine tuned and usable in tighter terrain.
The bike’s 32 pulse cadence sensor makes its 500W rear hub motor arguably one of the most responsive hub motors we’ve reviewed.
Making 500W and 50Nm of torque, the rear hub motor isn’t the largest on paper but packs a grunty wallop of power in the real world.
The 576Wh battery is nested into the downtube of the frame. Though it’s large enough for good range, it’s still small enough to help trim weight.
Much of this performance can be chalked up to the bike’s 32 pulse cadence sensor, which is much more sensitive than average. For context, most cadence sensors we see are in the 12 pulse range, so the outfit on the Core-Edge is more than doubly as sensitive.
Aside from how quick it engages, the 500W motor on the Core-Edge is a nice size for off-road applications. There are larger motor options on the market, and most people tend to think more watts are better, but I’m actually of the opinion that 500W hub motors are about as big as you’d want off-road. There is such a thing as too powerful of a motor and the iGO strikes a nice balance between power and precision.
This motor makes 50Nm of torque, which isn’t a ton on paper but translates to good power on climbs and when accelerating in the real world. I frankly thought it felt downright grunty, but we did occasionally find its limits. Overall, though, I think this motor was a good choice for a hub-drive bike designed to go off-road.
As we noted before, the Core-Edge comes stock with nine levels of pedal assist, which is quite a lot. We changed that setting to five levels of pedal assist for our testing to make the bike a little easier to compare to its competitors.
iGO Core-Edge Review: Range Test & Battery Performance
iGO specs the Core-Edge with a 48V, 12Ah (576Wh) battery housed inside the downtube of the frame.
To test its performance, we put it through two separate range tests to get an idea of what sort of range you can expect in a conservative pedal assist level and what you can expect from full power.
What we found was a bike with a battery life long enough to handle most average-length adventures.
In the low-power test on PAS 3, the Core-Edge lasted 37.3 miles with an average speed of 12.81 mph. And in PAS 5, on the bike’s highest assist level, it lasted for 24.43 mi with an average speed of 16.9 mph.
We’ve seen eMTB-style bikes like this one put up bigger numbers in our range testing, but I’m not sure the average rider is going to need a greater range than that. I think iGO did a good job selecting this battery; it’s large enough to do a long ride on max power while still small enough to keep weight and bulkiness down. Batteries are often the heaviest component on an e-bike and by staying smaller they’ve kept the bike a little lighter and a little more nimble.
iGO Core-Edge Review: Hill Test
Hills is where the iGO Core-Edge’s 500W rear hub motor shines which, based on our previous test data of other similar e-bikes, is a little surprising.
That’s because, at least on paper, 500W motors we’ve tested in the past have not always fared well on our test hill Hell Hole, particularly in the throttle-only portion of our test. They usually make it to the top with the help of a little leg power, but on motor power alone Hell Hole’s length and 12 percent average gradient is sometimes too much for motors that size.
There’s also the fact that the Core-Edge’s motor makes just 50Nm of torque, which on paper isn’t that much. Torque, more than wattage or anything else, is the most important motor metric to pay attention to when considering an e-bike’s climbing ability.
Those factors together left me with dampened expectations for the iGO, especially in the throttle-only test.
But boy was I wrong.
The iGO Core-Edge proved an excellent hill climber both when using just the throttle and when pedaling in the max assist setting. Using just the throttle I made it to the top of Hell Hole in 1:38.00 with an average speed of 11.1 mph. Add in the help of my legs on PAS 5 and that time improved to 1:08.00 with an average speed of 16 mph.
Both of these results are impressive but the PAS 5 result was downright fast. As of this review’s publication, the Core-Edge’s PAS 5 time is the tenth quickest we’ve ever recorded up Hell Hole. Among other e-bikes with 500W hub motors, it’s the third quickest.
This all just goes to show that only so much can be gleaned from a spec sheet.
Though it’s definitely leaning towards off-road use, there are other features of the bike that hint at on-road versatility, such as bosses for fenders and racks and an adjustable stem.
The Shimano Altus 8-speed shifter.
The RST Blaze front fork stood up well in testing and its 100mm of travel certainly helps take the edge off.
iGO Core-Edge Review: Brakes and the Brake Test
Stopping the iGO Core-Edge is a set of Tektro hydraulic disk brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear.
Among affordable e-bike brake manufacturers, Tektro is arguably the best. Not only are they reliable and work well, they’re a brake most bike shops will recognize and be able to service should something need repair. Serviceability isn’t something talked about often, but it’s an important factor to consider.
We test many, many affordable e-bikes with brakes made by more obscure companies that stop well when they’re functioning properly, but don’t have any sort of clear instructions for how to service the hydraulic system. But the Tektro setup on this bike is tried, trued and will likely be with you for the long haul.
In our brake testing, where we bring the bike up to 20 mph five times and stop as quickly as possible, the Core-Edge and its Tektro brakes performed exceptionally well. The bike came to a stop on average in 10-feet-9-inches, which is far better than our current all-time braking average of 15-feet-7-inches.
iGO Core-Edge Review: Ride Comfort, Handling and Cockpit
The iGO Core-Edge is built in the image of eMTBs with flat handlebars, knobby tires and a forgiving but aggressive geometry. And though there are many reasons I stop short of calling it a full-fledged eMTB — including weight, power delivery and component durability — it certainly does handle like an e-bike designed to live off-road.
Its knobby yet standard-width tires grip very well while still being nimble, the RST front fork does a decent job of cutting though bumps (though it’s not something I’d suggest repeatedly taking off drops) and its neutral handling gives confidence on loose and variable terrain.
The LCD display is straightforward with two big buttons to control pedal assist and two small buttons for power and other functions.
An athletic seat fits the bike’s vibe but was a tad hard, even for those of us who spend lots of time on bike seats.
The Tektro hydraulic disk brakes performed very, very well.
Though the bottom bracket looks like it could house a mid-drive motor, there is no motor here.
The body positioning is fairly upright and comfortable, and there’s an adjustable stem which gives riders greater ability to adjust their reach and how upright they’d like to sit.
For those looking to take the Core-Edge on more technical terrain, be mindful that the rear hub motor shifts the bike’s center of gravity far further back than an eMTB or traditional bicycle. This causes the bike to fly funny (you’d be surprised how often even novice MTBers get their wheels off the ground, even for short distances) and that extra mass can cause the rear end to buck unexpectedly hard off rocks and other objects. If you’re using the bike how it’s intended — on fire roads and smooth gravel — these aren’t issues you should encounter often, but be wary should you push that envelope.
In many respects, the Core-Edge is an e-bike with one foot in two worlds. Some component and design choices hint at off-road exploration (such as the knobbies, fork and frame design) while others are more reminiscent of on-road commuters and cruisers (such as the adjustable stem, kickstand and hub motor).
This mix works well for those who want something affordable and capable for dirt road and gravel path exploration.
iGO Core-Edge Review: Summary / Where to Buy
Overall we’ve been really, really impressed with the iGo Core-Edge.
It’s performed very well in our testing, and iGo seems to have made some very crucial design choices that push this e-bike over the edge from paved path cruiser to dirt trail killer. For me, the most standout feature is its ultra-responsive and grunty rear hub motor.
Due to weight distribution and limited ability to manipulate how power is delivered, hub motors aren’t the typical choice for off-road e-bikes. But in this instance, where affordability is weighted equally with performance in the dirt, I think they did a fantastic job of making it work. Key to making that hub motor usable off-road is its supremely sensitive cadence sensor and the fact that they chose a small yet torquey motor for the build, which minimized weight in the rear end and gave the powerband a grunty eMTB-like personality.
It’s a fun bike, and as someone who’s spent most of their life playing on bikes in the dirt, I’m really happy to see quality electric trail bikes being sold at price points that may be more stomachable for beginners or those on a tighter budget. The off-road segment of e-biking (and cycling in general) has long had one of the highest financial barriers of entry, and bikes like this help break that barrier down.
If you’re a rider looking for an e-bike to explore the dirt trails, two-track paths and fire roads in your backyard, I’d highly recommend taking a look at the iGO Core-Edge. It can be bought online and shipped to your door or from one of the brick-and-mortar dealers spread across the U.S. and Canada.
‘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 iGO Core-Edge.