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The Coolest New E-Bikes We Saw at Sea Otter Classic 2022
Apr 11, 2022
The arrival of the Sea Otter Classic each year means it’s new bike time, as many major brands use the annual mass gathering of racers, enthusiasts and industry folk as a great opportunity for a high-visibility bike release.
This year proved no different, and the event’s massive expo area was crammed with new releases (and even a few new brands) showing off the latest and greatest offerings in their lineups. We saw several new and newly-refreshed eMTBs and a not necessarily brand new (but new to us) electric commuter bike with one of the most interesting suspension designs we’ve ever seen.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of the new e-bikes rolled out at Sea Otter this year, but these are the bikes that caught the Electric Bike Report team’s eye the most .
The new Canyon Spectral:ON is a real looker and is fully made of carbon, which is a bit rare in the full-power eMTB category.
Canyon had the Spectral:ON “Frankenbike” on show. It’s the test rig the engineers used to test handling and design as the thought it out.
It’s hard to tell by just looking, but the Shimano EP8 motor is tilted up 30 degrees to make room for the battery.
Released just before Sea Otter, Canyon’s new Spectral:ON is designed to mimic the ride qualities and handling of a traditional mountain bike as closely as possible through careful weight distribution and crafty use of carbon fiber.
Oh, and they also gave it an absolutely mondo 900Wh battery.
According to the two engineers who designed the new Spectral:ON (Canyon flew them in from Germany), this eMTB has been in the works for three years. It’s a mullet bike, so it’s rocking a 29-inch wheel in the front and 27.5-inch in the rear, and it’s currently available in the U.S. in two spec levels with a third on the way.
But the real story of Canyon’s new bike is its monster battery, which Canyon’s engineering team designed from the ground up to lay flatter in the frame, thus shifting its weight lower towards the bottom bracket. According to Canyon, they did this by laying the battery cells parallel to the ground in the battery pack versus the more traditional vertical orientation. They also moved the battery lower in the downtube by tilting the Shimano EP8 motor up 30 degrees. That battery, though designed by Canyon, is supported by Shimano.
Aside from the creative engineering, the Vasst is just really nice to look at. It’s got a bit of a futuristic vibe.
The unique movement of the seatpost requires a unique tensioner system to keep the drive belt taut and functioning properly.
The battery is nested inside the oversized seat tube.
Through the fray of dozens of e-bike companies and even some very cool new releases, the Vasst E/1, in my opinion, stole the show as the single coolest e-bike I saw at Sea Otter this year.
The Vasst, at first glance, is a very uniquely designed step-through urban commuter bike built by a company best known for building magnesium traditional bikes. It’s powered by the Bosch Performance Line Speed motor, available in three more premium spec levels that range from Rholoff or Enviolo internally-geared hubs to a traditional Shimano XT/SLX drivetrain
But what isn’t obvious at first glance, is that the Vasst is a full suspension. Or maybe it’s not? I quite honestly don’t know how to accurately describe the suspension system built into the rear end of the E/1, but it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before and it’s exceedingly cool.
Unlike a traditional full suspension, which uses a linkage and shock system to allow the entire rear triangle of the bike to move, the Vasst’s suspension system isolates just the seatpost. The actual rear end of the bike is rigid, but underneath a shroud near the bottom bracket is a complex shock and linkage system the suspends the seat tube and allows it to move independent from the rest of the bike, creating the really unique and very comfortable levitation-like sensation.
In addition to that suspension, the Vasst also features an extremely unique and user-friendly seatpost adjustment system and a host of other cool features that I can’t do justice to in the short space of this roundup post. Stay tuned for (hopefully) a more in-depth look at the bike soon.
The Moterra got a geometry refresh and a new lineup of long-travel eMTBs.
There’s also new colorways, including this striking orange.
Bosch was definitely the dominating motor brand at the show.
Another fresh release at Sea Otter, Cannondale gave its well-loved Moterra eMTB lineup a refresh, tweaking the geometry slightly and adding a new LTE category of Moterras that feature bigger travel.
The standard Moterra Neo sports 150mm of travel front and rear and its drive system has been upgraded to the new and improved Bosch Smart System, which is a Performance Line CX motor and 750Wh battery. The new LTE models are now mullet bikes (the standard Moterra is a 29er) and sports 170mm of travel in the front and 165mm in the rear. It also comes stock with a coil shock in the rear, so it’s ready to shred off the showroom floor.
Cannondale made some small changes to the bike’s geometry, making the bike longer and slacker (as is everything nowadays), and updated the suspension kinematics. Cannondale’s handling theory is called “proportional response,” which, according to the Cannondale rep walking me through the bikes, basically means each size of the Moterra has its own unique suspension kinematics that are optimized for that specific frame size (kinda makes sense that a small would require some tweaks from a large, right?)
NOX Helium 7.1
NOX claims its Helium 7.1 is the lightest long-travel eMTB on the market, and at 46 lbs and 180mm of travel front and rear, there may be some truth to that.
The Fazua drive system is becoming a popular choice for those designing “SL” eMTBs.
Teh Fazua drive pack (which includes the battery and motor) can be dropped out of the bottom of the bike and the Helium can be ridden as a traditional MTB.
With 180mm of travel front and rear, NOX claims its 46 lb Helium 7.1 Pro is the lightest long-travel eMTB in the world. That’s a claim that’s tough for us to verify from the ground here at Sea Otter, but one thing is for sure — considering its mondo suspension specs, the Helium is a very light eMTB.
The German-designed Helium was recently updated for this year with the new Fazua removable drive system, which, when removed from the bike drops its weight to 39 lbs (should you want to ride it as a traditional mountain bike). They’ve also added a flip chip to the rear suspension linkage to either slacken out or steepen up the head angle and made some small changes to the bike’s geometry.
NOX also says they’ve moved the manufacturing of the Helium’s full-carbon frame to Portugal, which, according to NOX, makes the bike about 90 percent manufactured all in Europe.
The 250W Fazua drive system makes 58Nm of torque and is a member of the “super light” category of eMTB motors, which is designed for riders who want a lighter, more traditional eMTB feel.
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