Mountain Biking

Is This Mind-Bending E-Mountain Bike a Vision of the Future? – gearpatrol.com

You don’t become known as “Croatia’s Elon Musk” without operating well outside the lines. Mate Rimac earned that nickname by unleashing two of the fastest-accelerating cars ever (both electric) upon an unsuspecting world. Then he launched what you might call a pet project, an electric mountain bike brand called Greyp. And it’s intriguing as hell.

I know because I attended a virtual press preview of the new, four-bike G6 line and was kinda blown away. Rimac and his chief operating officer, Krešimir Hlede, were quick to concede that no one is competing with brands like Specialized and Canyon in terms of e-bike weight shavings. At the same time, they believe no one can compete with Greyp when it comes to technology.

Steve Mazzucchi

Considering all G6 bikes come complete with a T-Mobile-powered 4G eSIM card for continuous internet connectivity, a GPS chip, front- and rear-facing 1080p cameras and a USB-charged handlebar mount that turns your smartphone into a next-level dashboard, they make a pretty strong case.

Naturally, I had to see if such wheels could be mountain biking’s answer to Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit. So I test-rode the base model G6.1 Bold FS all over New York City and out to a mountain bike park in Queens, aiming to more deeply evaluate this brain-melting melding of the technological and the technical.

What We Like

I’m the first to admit that I can be a bit of an analog man. For instance, I had my doubts about electric motorcycles, and I only recently used a bike computer for the first time. But upon testing, I quickly got super stoked about both of those product categories, so I’m not quite a Luddite. All of which is to say, I was wary of even engaging in the process of pairing my tester with the Android phone Greyp sent (iPhone compatibility is coming!). But once I actually did it, I was pretty damn impressed.

Steve Mazzucchi

Not unlike auto brands realizing that the best dashboard screen is the one that just lets you access your phone (for free!), Greyp wisely chose to focus its attention on developing a kickass integrated app, rather than reinventing the touchscreen. The result is a fun and functional interaction that lets you do a number of cool things, like take still photos, track and log your rides, “lock” your bike and receive notifications. The latter even applies when you’re off the bike, meaning it can let you know if someone is messing with it. The cameras film continuously and save the last 20 seconds, so if you accidentally pull an epic descent, you can grab and share it on social media.

What I found most compelling, however, were more practical features. Yes, any handlebar-mounted smartphone can help you map out where you’re going. But paired with the bike, you can continuously charge the phone, and the Greyp app can also annotate a map, giving you a look at how far you can go based on current battery life and level of power-assist. There’s a real-time element, too: you can adjust your power-assist level on the fly and watch the projected distance change.

That feature was particularly handy for me, because as I mentioned in a previous mountain bike review, I ride 16 city miles just to get to my “local” mountain bike park. Playing around in the higher power-assist range, I was able to get there in well under an hour, significantly less time than it normally takes, and with significantly more human energy to hit the trails than I normally have. I also enjoyed toggling power on the way home to squeeze just about every ounce out of the battery, reaching my destination with just five percent left in the tank.

Steve Mazzucchi

(It’s worth noting that with proper power management, this bike can take you more than 60 miles, Greyp says. Considering that I rode 32 city miles roundtrip — plus probably 10 miles over a few hours in the park — and regularly employed the higher power assist levels, I’m inclined to trust that claim.)

Having waxed ecstatic about the technological, I would be remiss not to discuss the technical. There’s much to love here as well. For city riding, I tended to tighten up the shocks to maximize efficiency, and I was pretty stoked to blast past 20 miles per hour with the 700-watt motor set to the higher power-assist levels. In New York, you know you’re going fast when you’re dusting battery-powered food delivery bikes, and I savored picking them off one by one.

That extra juice also meant plenty of joy when it came to climbing. When the wind is blowing in your face while you’re ascending the Queensboro Bridge from Manhattan to Queens, life can kinda suck, but I just coasted right over with a smile. And of course that power made a difference at Cunningham Park. While the place is not exactly packed with challenging climbs, it was nice to tackle even the most vertical ones while barely breaking a sweat.

Descending on the Bold FS can be pretty fun, too. It’s surprisingly nimble for its weight, and with 27.5-inch wheels, beefy Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance Line tires and nearly 6 inches of Rockshox travel in the front and rear, it’s more than capable of sucking up big bumps. There’s also a dropper post, which comes is nearly indispensable on steep drops.

Watch Out For

When I was zipping along streets and trails, I didn’t think too much about this bike’s weight. And as I said, Greyp makes no claims to low poundage. But when I did hit the occasional jump, pulled up on the handlebars and still felt the bike get sucked down toward the ground, I was well aware of it.

I happened to hit the mountain bike park the day after a big rainstorm, and the extra weight created problems navigating a few slippery, angled log features that normally aren’t that challenging. And when I carried the bike up five flights of stairs to my apartment, you’d better believe I felt every one of its 55 pounds.

Steve Mazzucchi

Additionally, as stoked as I was about the SRAM EX1 1×8 drivetrain, I did find the shifting to be a bit janky at times. There were moments when I felt like it was only running smoothly in maybe six of the eight gears, which caused some crunchy moments on climbs. For its part, Greyp’s reps say this kink is fixable with a few turns of the barrel adjuster — and something Greyp is addressing so bikes that go out to consumers are kink-free.

Last but not least, it is rather pricey. (Kinda goes without saying, but I said it anyway.)

Other Options

There’s nothing quite like this bike on the technological side. But for technical performance, I’d drop it squarely in the middle of the latest iterations of a couple other electric mountain bikes I’ve tested, the Haibike XDuro NDuro 2.0 ($4,600) and the Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert ($8,225). It just so happens to fall between those two on price point as well.

Verdict

Are you a tech fiend, an early adopter, a visionary like Mate Rimac? He has certainly looked into the future with the G6, a worthy approach to crushing both city and country miles without leaving its rider in a pool of his or her own blood, sweat and tears. I’m still personally a big believer in human-powered bycling, but I can see the appeal of a ride like this one, which offers a level of technological capability no battery-less bike can approach.

If you’re looking for a well-built electrified city commuter, you can find other options for less. Same if you’re looking for an effort-saving e-mountain bike. But if you seek a forward-thinking spaceship of a bike that can do both, the technology-focused first half of the “What We Like” section left you salivating and you don’t live in a fifth-floor walk up, the Greyp G6 just might rock your world.

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