An affordable price point, welded rear rack and a torque sensor: What’s not to love?
In this Surface604 Werk review, we take a close look at this Canadian-designed electric commuter bike to get a feel for how it performs in the real world. The Electric Bike Report review team put the Werk through a series of challenges designed to demonstrate how the bike brakes, handles, climbs and even how far it can go on a single charge.
The Surface604 Werk boasts a welded rear rack and a 500W Bafang rear hub motor that, notably, is controlled by a torque sensor that makes that motor more responsive to a rider’s pedaling. That torque sensor, plus a handful of other upgrades to the drivetrain, brakes and other areas, are what Surface604 says makes this e-bike worth a little more money than its competitors.
In a world where more performance from your e-bike usually means exponentially higher costs, can you balance performance and affordability to make an e-bike that’s better than the rest? Let’s find out.
Bike Category: Commuter
Bike Class: Class 2: PAS/throttle assist, up to 20 mph. Can be adjusted to Class 3
Surface604 Werk Video Review
The torque sensor makes the bike very responsive to pedaling. Unlike a cadence sensor, the bike’s power is relative to how hard you pedal.
The 20Ah battery gives the Werk exceptional range. In fact, it clocked the furthest PAS 5 range test to date.
The integrated rear rack and sturdy front rack make the Werk a capable cargo hauler.
The Tektro hydraulic disk brakes are plenty powerful for the bike’s power and weight.
The included chain guard is a small touch but an important one for a commuter bike. It’ll help protect your pant leg from the greasy chain.
The 500W Bafang hub motor punches above its weight, producing 65Nm of torque.
The only frame size option is fairly large at 19-inches. The Werk may be a bit oversized and unwieldy for smaller riders.
On very tight corners (switchbacks and u-turns) the Werk suffers from a little understeer when cornering in a neutral position.
ELECTRICAL SPECS & FEATURES
Battery: Our review bike had an upgraded 48V, 20Ah (960Wh) semi-integrated battery. The stock battery is a 48V, 14Ah (672Wh) unit
Display: Full color LCD display
Motor: 500W Bafang geared hub motor
Peal Assist: Five PAS levels, dropout-type torque sensor
Range: Up to 65 miles with the upgraded 20Ah battery or up to 45 miles with the stock 14Ah battery
Throttle: Thumb throttle
Weight & Dimensions
Claimed weight: 63 lbs
Maximum rider weight: 285 lbs (payload capacity)
Maximum load on rear rack: Unlisted
Components & Accessories
Brakes: Tektro Auriga hydraulic disk brakes, 180mm rotors front and rear
Fenders: Front and rear
Fork: SR Suntour XCM, 80mm of travel
Frame: 6061 aluminum alloy
Drivetrain: Shimano Alivio 9-speed
Grips: Faux leather, stitched
Saddle: Selle Royale Free Way comfort saddle
Handlebar: Alloy riser bar
Tires: Kenda Kwick 27.5” x 2.6”
Surface604 Werk Review: Bike Overview
The Werk is an electric commuter bike with a utilitarian bend. In addition to its mid-step frame, the bike also comes with a sturdy welded rear rack that should be plenty for just about any cargo you’d want to throw at it.
But, most notably, the bike comes with a torque sensor. This is actually a hallmark of Surface604 e-bikes we’ve reviewed, which specs all of its bikes with the more sensitive motor engagement device.
It’s got a 500W Bafang brushless rear hub motor that makes 65Nm of torque, which is what in part gives the bike its snappy and hard-accelerating ride feel. That motor is engaged via a dropout-type torque sensor, which is a strain-gauge type sensor that measures the amount of torque your legs are creating and applies power accordingly.
The Werk comes stock with a 48V, 14Ah (672Wh) semi-integrated battery that promises a range of up to 45 miles. But the bike we reviewed was actually spec’d with Surface604’s upgraded battery, a 48V, 20Ah (960Wh) unit that claims a range up to 65 miles. We put that claim to the test, the results of which we’ll share later, but to sum it up the bike can has an impressive range on a single charge. The battery upgrade option will run you an extra $300, which is notably affordable for a battery that large.
Connecting the rider to the motor is the mid-tier 9-Speed SRAM X-5 drivetrain, a component package that represents some of the additional cost you see in this bike over some of its other competitors. X5 is somewhere in the middle of the SRAM drivetrain ecosystem — it’s not top tier, but it’s certainly not at the bottom of the totem pole. Notably, Surface604’s product page for the Werk advertises that the bike comes with the Shimano Alivio 9-speed groupset. The X5 components we got on our review bike are comparable to the Alivio drivetrain, but it is worth keeping an eye out for should you get a bike with a different groupset.
This groupset is going to give the rider the ability to more finely tune their gear ratios, and the shifting will be crisper and more reliable than some cheaper drivetrains. Investing in a nicer groupset I think proved to be an incredibly wise move from Surface604, as I found myself really wanting to fine tune my cadence and gearing choice to really make the most of the more sensitive torque sensor.
The Werk ships with a set of Tektro Auriga hydraulic disk brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear, a powerful setup for this Class 2 commuter that we’ll put to the test in our braking section.
And finally this bike rolls on a set of 27.5-inch wheels with Kenda Kwick semi-slick tires. They hook up well and have not flatten over our extensive course of testing.
There’s no shortage of space for cargo.
The SRAM X5 9-speed drivetrain is a step up from the 7-speed groupsets we often see on more affordable e-bikes.
The Tektro Auriga hydraulic disk brakes and 180mm rotors are plenty powerful.
Surface604 Werk Review: Motor Performance, Speed and Acceleration
The Bafang-made 500W motor is a tried-and-true unit we see quite often. It makes 65Nm of torque, which is on the higher end of what we typically see from 500W motors, and that power definitely shows — It’s grunty on hills and accelerates very quickly.
Pair that power with the Surface604 dropout torque sensor, and you’ve got a drive system that feels very responsive and does a good job of complimenting a rider’s pedaling. This bike ships as a Class 2 e-bike with the throttle and pedal assist limited to 20 mph, but it can be unlocked to a Class 3 setting should you choose to and your local regulations allow for it.
We did most of our testing on the local bike paths in our area, so we kept the Werk at its stock Class 2 limits. We found this to be a really nice speed profile for the bike and its 500W motor. To test this, we put the Werk through six hot laps on the Electric Bike Report test circuit in each of its five PAS settings, plus one lap with the motor completely off. This gives us a sampling of the bike’s power in each assist level, how well it pedals with no help from the motor and an idea of the bike’s performance in max assist.
All around the bike performed well, but we were particularly impressed with the torque sensor’s responsiveness and how well the bike maintained speed.
One note on that torque sensor, though: While it’s generally accepted that torque sensors are superior to their cadence sensor counterparts due to their sensitivity and ability to respond to how hard or soft a rider is pedaling, they do require you to use your legs and pedal a bit. I’m personally a fan of this sensation, as I like my legs to dictate speed rather than being overpowered by the motor, but it is going to be a different sensation if cadence sensors are what you’re used to.
The Surface604 Werk is a nice handling e-bike. It feels stable at speed and fits taller people well.
The Bafang 500W rear hub motor makes 60Nm of torque.
The upgraded 48V, 20Ah battery is semi-integrated into the downtube of the frame.
Surface604 Werk Review: Range Test & Battery Performance
As you may expect from a bike with an upgraded 20Ah battery, range is one of the Werk’s strongest subjects.
Not only did it break one of our distance record’s, the Werk nearly broke another record for the highest average speed in a low-power range test. In PAS 1
We did two range tests on the Werk, one in PAS 1, the bike’s lowest assist setting, and another in PAS 5, the highest assist setting. In PAS 1, the Werk went for an impressive 61.31 miles at an astonishingly quick average speed of 15.07 mph (the second highest average speed we’ve recorded). On PAS 5, it went for a record-setting 45.88 miles before dying at an average speed of 17.2 mph.
Both of the Werk’s range test results are impressive on face value, but the fact that it broke a distance record and nearly broke a speed record really is astonishing. Not only does it have endurance, but this bike has speed — a combination that together makes the Werk quite a formidable long-distance commuter. It’s refreshing to see an affordable e-bike with a PAS 1 that doles out a useful amount of power, as most bikes we’ve reviewed like it do not.
Surface604 Werk Review: Hill Test & Drivetrain Performance
Uphill, the Surface604 Werk climbs nicely. The 60Nm of torque made by the Bafang 500W rear hub motor is higher than many of the 500W e-bikes we’ve reviewed recently, and you can feel the difference.
We took the Werk for two laps up our test hill Hell Hole, a third-of-a-mile long climb with an average gradient of 12 percent. On the first lap we only used the throttle and on the second we put the bike in PAS 5.
In the throttle only lap, the bike cleared the top of Hell Hole in 1:53.00 with an average speed of 9.6 mph. In PAS 5, the Werk considerably improved its time and got to the top in 1:11.00 with an average speed of 15.3 mph.
While the throttle-only time ranks about in the middle of all the other 500W e-bikes we’ve tested on Hell Hole, the PAS 5 time is among the best. Aside from the torquey motor, I think that result is mostly to the credit of the torque sensor. It’s remarkable how well that sensor matched my pedaling.
The 9-speed SRAM X5 groupset was also hugely helpful on the hill, especially since the torque sensor entirely relies on how much force you’re creating with your legs. The broad gear range helped me fine tune my cadence and really stay on top of the Werk’s power.
Heading down for another lap of Hell Hole.
The 80mm SR Suntour suspension fork dampens road bumps nicely.
No rolled pant legs needed: The full-coverage chain guard is a nice touch.
Surface604 Werk Review: Brakes, Handling and Cockpit
The Werk’s cockpit is fairly typical of what we’d expect at this category and price point. It has a set of alloy riser bars and the nicely-appointed full color Bafang LCD display. There’s also a thumb throttle and a small touchpad that allows you to select PAS level, control the headlight and turn the bike on and off.
Braking is handled by a set of Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear. These brakes performed well in our braking test, coming to a stop from 20 mph in an average distance of 16-feet-11-inches. That’s a little further than our current average braking distance of 16-feet-2-inches, but not enough to be concerned.
The brakes themselves are plenty strong, but we found the Werk had a tendency to skid under hard braking, causing the slightly longer stopping distance. This is something we see common in commuter bikes with powerful brakes and semi-slick tires.
The handling works well, too. I’m a growing fan of 27.5-inch tires on commuter bikes, as they make the handling feel a little snappier in tight situations. Overall the Werk is a good handling e-bike that’s stable at speed and in corners, but my one caveat to this is in very tight low-speed corners such as u-turns and switchbacks. In those situations I noticed the front tire had a tendency to want to slip or push through the corner unless I applied some body english to get the front end around — a tendency otherwise known as understeer.
It’s not a massive problem, nor is it something you’re likely going to notice unless you’re really having to turn the bars hard, but it is there and it’s something to note.
Surface604 Werk Review: Ride Comfort and Extras
The Surface604 Werk is a physically large electric bike. It’s only sold in a 19 inch M/L frame for riders between 5-foot-8-inches and 6-foot-6-inches tall.
That’s perfect for my lanky self, but smaller riders beware: This probably isn’t the bike for you. If you do fall inside the Werk’s relatively tall height envelope, you’ll likely find it to be a pretty comfortable e-bike. The cockpit is spacious and, unlike some of the smaller step-through style e-bikes I’ve reviewed recently, I didn’t have to absolutely max out the seatpost to get a full leg extension (I’m 6-foot-1-inches tall with long legs).
The Werk’s welded rear rack is a big pro for me, which Surface604 says can easily handle 50 lbs before the bike’s performance is affected. This should be plenty for everyday use, and it’s likely a rack this sturdy can handle more weight, though the heavier you go the more you’ll strain the motor and feel it in corners.
Surface 604 also specs the bike with front and rear lights, full coverage fenders and our review bike came with a front tray rack.
The Bafang color LCD display is fairly standard on Bafang-equipped e-bikes, and that’s a good thing — it works well.
The Selle Royale Free Way saddle is cushioned and comfortable.
The welded rear rack just looks burly. There are no obvious weak spots like bolts or joints.
The front rack looks equally burly, simply bolting to the head tube.
Surface604 Werk Review: Summary / Where to Buy
If you’re looking for a slightly higher-end yet still affordable commuter bike, the Surface604 Werk is one I’d highly suggest taking a closer look at.
Over the course of our testing we’ve been very impressed with the bike’s ultra-responsive motor and torque sensor, it’s nicely utilitarian rear rack and its category-leading range, at least if you choose to add the upgraded 20Ah battery we reviewed — which I’d highly recommend.
Though it’s still affordable, the Surface 604 Werk is a handful of hundreds more than some of its competitors, but if you can swing that price step it really does offer a component package and ride characteristic that’s worth the extra investment. It’s hard to undersell the difference a torque sensor can make; add that in with the nicely appointed 9-speed Shimano drivetrain and you’ve got one helluva electric commuter.