Yamaha Power Assist Bicycles has introduced the latest additions to their YDX MORO line of e-mountain bikes. At an event at the Skypark bike park near Lake Arrowhead, Yamaha introduced two models for Electric Bike Report to experience in a hands-on review, the Yamaha YDX MORO 05 and YDX MORO 07 eMTBs.
Following a technical presentation about the two bikes and the PW-X3 motor, journalists rode up the mountain to try the bikes on the well-sculpted terrain.
In broad strokes, the Yamaha YDX MORO 05 and YDX MORO 07 are Class 1 e-bikes with a maximum pedal-assist speed of 20 mph. The PW-X3 motor is a 250W mid-drive motor that produces 85Nm of torque. The controller features seven different modes: ECO, Standard, High, MTB, Extra-Power, Automatic and Walk Assist.
It’s easy to underestimate the power of a 250W motor, but when positioned mid-drive and turning with 85Nm of torque, there was no mistaking just how capable the PW-X3 was when we turned on a trail steep enough to make the front wheel rise off the trail. Even Standard mode felt like full beast mode.
The frame and suspension
Yamaha’s frame design for the YDX MORO e-bikes is called Dual Twin and utilizes a split top tube as well as a split down tube. Crafted from hydroformed 6061 aluminum, the frames are TIG-welded and heat treated for maximum strength and impact resistance. The shock anchors within the spit top tube and the battery sits between the two halves of the down tube.
While Dual Twin may look like a gimmick, Yamaha’s engineers took this approach to keep the eMTBs’ center-of-mass well-positioned. What they found was if they positioned the battery too low, the e-bike’s center of gravity became so low that e-bike became resistant to turning. Positioning the center of mass higher—roughly where a battery mounted on top of the down tube would be, the e-bike became easier to lean over for hard turns.
The YDX MORO 07 handled like a dream in the berms and switchbacks.
The YDX MORO models all use a Horst-link suspension design.
Thanks to the use of forged components and precision bearings—rather than bushings—this is a stiff and creak-free eMTB.
The Dual Twin design allowed Yamaha’s engineers to accomplish a few design needs. First, they were able to position the battery where they wanted to give the YDX MORO e-bikes the balance and handling they wanted as well as a way to protect the battery.
The YDX MORO lineup, which also includes the YDX MORO and the YDX MORO PRO are full-suspension designs aimed at aggressive riders. The rear suspension gives 150mm of travel while the suspension forks spec’d are designed with 160mm of travel.
Originally, the YDX MORO 05 and YDX MORO 07 were intended to be 2024, but Yamaha sped up their production timeline when they saw that supply chain interruptions would penalize them if they didn’t act quickly, so the two e-bikes are hitting the market more than a year ahead of their original schedule.
The YDX MORO 07 carries a suggested retail price of $6399 and is equipped with a Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain and Magura disc brakes (4-piston front and 2-piston rear) paired with 203mm rotors. The YDX MORO 05 goes for $5799 and mixes a Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain with Magura disc brakes (with the same 4-piston/2-piston setup) and 203mm rotors.
While the bike industry seems to be steadily moving more and more mountain bike designs to 29-in. wheels, the YDX MORO eMTBs are built with 27.5-in. wheels, which makes them a bit more maneuverable.
There’s a reason why all the truly serious eMTBs feature a mid-drive motor. Mid-drive motors apply power to the crankset rather than the rear wheel. What that does is allow a motor with relatively modest wattage—the Yamaha PW-X3 motor produces 250W nominally and peaks at 500W—to capitalize on the gears of the drivetrain.
One way to think of the difference between mid-drive motors and hub motors is to consider the difference between a single-speed bike and one with gears. A hub-drive motor faces the same challenge that a rider does on a bike with one gear. A mid-drive motor doesn’t have to be as powerful because it enjoys the advantage of multiple gears.
The YDX MORO 07 is nimble on twisting trails and tight turns.
The controller is simple and easy to read and the Assist display shows in different colors depending on the mode of use.
The switch to select PAS levels is an easy reach from the grip and walk mode can be activated by pressing a button on top of the mount and then holding the bottom button.
But a hub-drive motor that produces 1000W can go up most anything, right? So why pay extra money for an e-bike with a mid-drive motor? Well, a 250W motor weighs a good deal less than even a 500W motor. And a smaller motor doesn’t need a big battery. The combination of a 250W motor and a 500Wh battery results in an e-bike that weighs 51 lbs. and can cover more than 30 miles of trail riding on a single charge.
As if that wasn’t reason enough to make the investment in an e-bike with a mid-drive motor, there’s also the fact that mid-drive motors almost always use a torque sensor to apply power rather than a cadence sensor, which gives them a more proportional response to a rider’s effort.
With Yamaha’s PW-X3 motor and their controller, they have created a mode of operation called EXPW that staggers power output slightly, giving the rider more power in the dead spot of the pedal stroke and reducing slightly the output during the power phase of the pedal stroke in order to provide smoother, more consistent power application.
On the trail
I typically ride mountain bikes with 29-inch wheels and what I noticed with the YDX MORO 07 I rode was how in the bermed turns was a greater ease to turn in and I didn’t have to fight the bike to keep it leaned over and carving through turns. On several occasions muscle memory caused me to brake entirely more than necessary when entering bermed switchbacks. Rather than drifting high in the turn, I was able to keep it carving a consistent line.
Because I was riding a bike new to me and terrain I wasn’t familiar with, I kept my speed and air time in check. I mention that because there were occasional rollers where I scrubbed enough speed that I needed to take a few pedal strokes to get my speed back up for turns and to keep from holding up riders behind me. I mention this because with Yamaha’s mid-drive PW-X3 motor, the torque sensor applies so smoothly and quickly that in general, I only needed a single pedal stroke to get back up to cruising speed.
Spec’ing Magura 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes with 203mm rotors meant that the YDX MORO 07 stopped on a dime and left change.
Shimano’s XT drivetrain manages to balance low weight and high durability so well it’s a great choice for an eMTB.
I’ve ridden some eMTBs that felt like a boat anchor with a motor added. The center of gravity for the eMTBs was so far forward that it was difficult to get the front wheel off the ground without a pulling hard on the bar. With the Yamaha YDX MORO 07, what they told us about their work to make the e-bike feel well-balanced proved true. The e-bike never felt leaden or difficult to control. In fact, there were times where the YDX MORO 07 did the very thing I’ve always judged to be integral to a great bike, electric or not—it disappeared beneath me. That is, I stopped thinking about how the bike was handling and simply let muscle memory guide my actions.
Another telling sign of how well-balanced the Yamaha YDX MORO 07 is emerged in those aforementioned berms. Even at what I judged to be rather high tire pressure (more than 30 psi), the e-bike’s traction proved to be stellar. If the balance isn’t there, the tires will drift in turns, despite my best efforts.
If only …
The Yamaha YDX MORO 07 is by no means a perfect eMTB. Were the frame crafted from carbon fiber rather than aluminum, it would lose several pounds in weight, possibly as much as 4 lbs. However, it would also lose some of its durability and impact resistance. It would also pick up another $3000 to $4000 in retail cost.
The 27.5-in. wheels handle very well in a twisty bike park, which makes this e-bike more fun than some vacations I’ve taken. In areas where the dirt tends to be smoother, without a lot of rock, 27.5-in. wheels can be terrific. However, in places where rock is plentiful, 27.5-in. wheels don’t roll over rocks as easily as 29-in. wheels, which leaves them at a disadvantage. All this is to say, 27.5-in. wheels can be an asset or a liability, depending on where someone lives.
The Yamaha name is, for Americans at least, associated with motorcycles, not bicycles. What most of us Yanks don’t know is that Yamaha introduced their first e-bike some 30 years ago. They are one of the originators of e-bikes, whether they are credited with it, or not.
Based on my limited experience of reviewing the Yamaha YDX MORO 07, the company’s wealth of experience in making both e-bikes and world-class motocross motorcycles gives this eMTB a poise and balance that is as gratifying as it is surprising.
Dropping $10k on an eMTB isn’t easy for mortals like us. But spending $6399 on the YDX MORO 07 is a good deal easier to stomach given how well this eMTB rides. Sure, it’s easy to spend more on an eMTB, but the YDX MORO 07 is good enough to make me wonder if it’s really necessary.
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