E bike full. E bike full

Hardtail vs. Full-Suspension Electric Bikes: What’s Different Which is Better?

Purchasing an electric bike, or even a traditional bike, typically requires you to make quite a few decisions. Things like what color you want, what frame size, your purpose for the electric bike, and frame type are all things to consider. While these are all based mainly on personal preference, one tough choice is whether you want a hardtail or a full-suspension electric bike.

If you’re wondering what the difference between a hardtail and a full-suspension electric bike is, we’re here to help! For now, we’ll give you the easy answer and then dive into the details a bit later. Hardtail bikes have only a suspension front fork, and the frame is rigid. Meanwhile, a full-suspension bike has both the front fork suspension and a rear suspension, and the frame is two separate pieces.

As we mentioned, deciding between the two comes down to personal preference and preferred riding style. Our goal at Bakcou is to give you the information you need to make the right decision. In this blog, we’re explaining the differences between a hardtail bike and a full-suspension electric bike. We’re also giving a breakdown of the pros and cons of each. From there, we hope you feel more confident in deciding on purchasing your new Bakcou electric bike.


Let’s start with hardtail electric bike frames. Hardtail electric bikes are what most leisurely bicyclists are most familiar with, as they are a bit more popular in the bike market. As previously mentioned, Hardtail bikes have only the front fork suspension and a completely rigid frame. Front fork resistance is provided by metal coils or compressed air. On a hardtail bike, the bumps and vibrations can only be absorbed by the suspension fork. The suspension fork can help improve the rider’s handling and steering while out on rougher trails. Hardtail bikes are often a popular choice for cross country riding, trail riding, and bikepacking and are the top choice for those who enjoy riding at a more leisurely level. At Bakcou, the Mule, our hardtail electric bike with a mid-drive motor, continues to be our number one selling eBike.

The frame of a hardtail electric bike is rigid, meaning it is one single piece. A hardtail frame is typically lighter than its full-suspension electric bike counterpart. This makes it a better choice for long-distance riders or those who climb high elevations often. Efficiency is increased on a hardtail because the rigid frame transfers power from the pedals to the rear wheel. The lighter weight means riders expend less energy to accelerate and maintain speed. On a hardtail, there is no pedal bob. As a result, more energy will drive the bike forward when pedaling. Both of these will increase the bike’s efficiency. On a hardtail, riders won’t lose energy compressing the rear suspension. As a result, a hardtail has a faster ride when climbing or navigating easy terrain.

Another important aspect is the design, mechanics, and durability of a hardtail bike. The design of a hardtail allows it to have a front derailleur in addition to the rear derailleur. This gives you more gearing options during your ride. We’ve already discussed in length the rigid frame design of the hardtail bike. This ties into the increased durability of a hardtail. A hardtail bike can withstand much harder impacts with little to no damage than its full-suspension counterpart can. On a hardtail, all of the tubes are welded together and there are no fragile linkages or pivot points. When it comes to the mechanics of a hardtail bike, they are much easier to repair and require less frequent maintenance. Easier maintenance and higher durability are important. It allows you to spend less time fixing your bike and more time getting out and riding the trails. All riders can agree that more time on the bike is the ultimate goal.

Good for Beginners

Hardtail bikes are the go-to bike for beginners for a multitude of reasons. First, hardtail bikes allow you to feel more connected to the trail because they provide more feedback. They also force riders to learn proper mountain biking techniques. Being forced to learn correct techniques can only benefit riders in the long run. The skills learned on a hardtail are transferable to a full suspension and contribute to being a better rider.

Compared to a full-suspension bike, a hardtail is more versatile and is more suitable for several riding types. In addition to their versatility, hardtail bikes are less expensive than full-suspension bikes. They are typically about 800-1000 cheaper.

Because a hardtail and a full-suspension electric bike are relatively the same, besides that rear suspension, most of the cons of a hardtail bike result from not having a shock absorber. A hardtail bike can be less comfortable and less efficient than its full-suspension counterparts. They can also be less capable as they don’t get as much traction and can’t handle the same drops and jumps. Finally, the last notable downside to a hardtail is the lack of adjustment options compared to a full-suspension bike.


A full-suspension electric bike has both the front fork suspension and a rear suspension shock. Both shocks work together to absorb most of the rocks, bumps, and uneven terrain and the vibrations that come with them. The absorber makes for a much more comfortable ride and more efficient on rougher terrain. The full suspension also typically improves traction, control, and handling. Full-suspension bikes are the better choice for all types of mountain biking – downhill, trail riding, enduro, and CX. In the Bakcou world, full-suspension electric bikes are also a good option for those whose hunts or backcountry adventures take them to the top of a mountain or rocky hill.

For experienced riders, full-suspension electric bikes can improve their riding experience. The suspension system ensures that tires maintain contact with the ground at all times, giving riders better traction and handling control. The same suspension system also absorbs shocks and dampens vibrations from rocks, bumps, and roots in the trail, which makes it much more stable and efficient. The bike won’t move around too much when you hit rocks and bumps. Not to mention, riders won’t lose their forward momentum on rough trails. The rear shock allows wheels to continue to roll over bumps, whereas on a hardtail, the wheels would bounce off the rocks and slow the bike down.

On a full-suspension electric bike, the frame consists of two pieces. The two pieces of the frame are the mainframe and the swingarm. The rear shock is integrated into the frame and attaches both frame pieces. Because more research and development is put into the engineering of full-suspension frames and shock absorbers, they are much more technologically advanced. An added advantage of a full-suspension bike is its adjustability. Rear shocks offer multiple adjustment points so riders can dial in the bike specifically to their liking.

Full-suspension electric bikes allow riders to reach and maintain higher speeds on technical trails because of the additional traction and shock absorption. Coupled with the ability to reach higher speeds is the capability of full-suspension bikes to hit drops and jumps because the suspension absorbs a lot of the impact when you make contact back with the ground. This impact is often hard to handle on a hardtail bike. These advantages make full-suspension electric bikes the better choice for all types of mountain biking – downhill, trail riding, enduro, and CX.

Like any fun, advanced product, there are always a few cons to go along with the pros. Let’s look at a few of the disadvantages of a full-suspension bike. The first, easiest downfall to get out of the way is the price. A full suspension bike is typically 800-1200 more than a hardtail. Even if you found a full-suspension for the same price as a hardtail, the hardtail will usually have higher-end components and design than a full-suspension for the same price.

Because full-suspension electric bikes are more forgiving, they are not a great learning tool for newer riders. A wider margin of error allows riders to ride above their skill level and can make up for the shortcomings of the rider. With the bike compensating for mistakes or lack of skill, riders can ride sloppily, roughly, or lazily and not know it. This compensation can lead to developing bad habits in their cycling skills, which can be detrimental in the long run.

Full-suspension electric bikes are typically about two to four pounds heavier than a hardtail. They’re also less efficient and provide less trail feedback, both of which can greatly influence your ride. Not to mention, they’re less versatile than a hardtail bike. Full-suspension bikes are better suited for mountain biking and rougher terrain, whereas a hardtail is better for numerous uses.

Finally, full-suspension electric bikes require more maintenance than hardtail bikes. moving parts mean that not only are there more parts that need periodic maintenance and tune-ups, but there are more parts that can fail or wear out over time. For less mechanically inclined riders, this frequent maintenance can be a headache.


Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple, cut-and-dry answer for telling you which one is best for you. As mentioned, choosing between a hardtail and a full-suspension frame is a matter of personal preference and riding style. Both bikes have benefits, and both bikes have their downsides as well.

The main things to consider when deciding are your budget and the terrain you plan to ride, plus your skill level. For experienced rider looking to spend more time riding rough trails, we’d lean towards a full-suspension bike. If you’re a newer rider or just looking to get out for some leisurely exercise with a few mountain trails thrown in, a hardtail bike will suit your needs (and then some) just fine.

When you’re on a tighter budget, you’re likely to have a wider variety of hardtail bikes available to choose from than full-suspension electric bikes. In this case, unless you need the rear suspension for the terrain you’re riding, we’d lean towards a hardtail with a few higher-end upgrades than an entry-level full-suspension.

The decision is also dependent on your level of comfort in handling the bike, riding different terrains, and maintaining control of the bike. Hardtails are a better option for learning, whereas a full-suspension bike will give you a more comfortable ride. Hardtail bikes are a little faster and more adept, but a full-suspension electric bike conserves your speed on rocky terrain. It all comes down to preference and what you want out of your bike.

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In the end, only you can decide what bike is best for you. Here at Bakcou, our goal is to lay out all of the options and advantages and disadvantages to our customers to help them make the best decision for themselves. We want our customers to love their electric bikes for years to come. We hope this has helped you learn more about the similarities and differences between a hardtail and a full-suspension electric bike. If you have any questions or are interested in purchasing a Bakcou electric bike of your own, reach out, and we’d be happy to help you out!

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Our brand new VoltBike Outback combines the best of five years of eBike full suspension development. With its exclusive specs, the Outback offers the ultimate mix between trail and city biking. This new Outback features all the power that the Yukon 750 has, along with a built-in rear suspension, and 27.5×3 Kenda Havoc tires. All this comes together to make for an exhilarating yet comfortable riding experience, all in a very well priced package. Redesigned for 2023 with a new frame, new suspension links and adjustable RockShox Monarch R rear-suspension this ebike is guaranteed to make your heart beat faster. It’s powerful Bafang 500w(750w peak) motor paired with a 48v 17.5Ah Li-ion battery (with optional 19.2Ah upgrade) ensures that your trip doesn’t come to an end on an uphill climb.

Please Note: Outback is currently in-stock and ships in 7 business days. Delays are possible.

We ship our bikes fully assembled with both wheels attached. Due to the size of the package, we are required to use LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers. Your bike will be shipped either with Vitran Express or Day Ross.

Our shipping rate is 49 as part of our online incentive. Local pickups from our Port Coquitlam, BC Headquarters is free of charge.

If you live in a rural area or further out of the city where commercial truck is having difficulties to operate then we ask you to provide a business/commercial address for the delivery. Alternatively you have a option to pick up your bike in a shipping terminal close to your location.


750W Peak Power

BAFANG is the world’s biggest manufacturer of hub motors for e-bikes. VoltBike Outback is using Bafang G06 series geared motor which provides 80 N.m. max torque and up to 750w of peak power. The Bafang G06 series is remarkable for its high efficiency and power thanks to the integrated nylon planetary gears. 32 km/htop speed

Samsung Battery

VoltBike Outback is using 48v 17.5Ah (840Wh) battery pack with Samsung INR18650-35E cells. The battery pack is assembled by Phylion which is one of the largest battery manufacturers for ebike batteries with facilities in China, Europe and India. Samsung SDI’s Li-ion battery cells are preferred by high-end e-bike makers and companies that lead the e-bike market. 60. 80 kmper charge

RockShox Rear Air Shock

The RockShox Monarch R is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Its lightweight design not only delivers silky smooth travel, but thanks to the DebonAir air spring, it also delivers a spring rate you’d generally only get from a much heavier coil shock. Fully adjustable shock capable of smoothing out the most aggressive trails, while simultaneously saving you weight for epic cross-country riding. Read more here.

Full Suspension

Get increased stability in the bumps and while descending.VoltBike Outback is a Smart choice for all types of riding including trails or in the city. Get better traction, control, and steering, minimizing the risk of mistakes on tough terrain.

Backlit Color Display

Large practical display located in the middle of the handlebar offers real time stats such as speed, pedal assist level, battery capacity, distance traveled and current load. You can also charge your cell phone through the built-in USB connector. New for the display is the lighting sensor which atomically activates your lights when it gets dark.

Hydraulic Stopping Power

Voltbike Outback using Tektro Auriga hydraulic front and rear disc brakes with 180mm rotors. Tektro Auriga comp disc brakes features an open system design using non-corrosive and environment-friendly mineral oil. Features dual piston design, melt forged caliper body with automatic positioning via front or rear adapters.

Adjust Your Ride

Adjust your bike as per your need. No matter what your style of riding, VoltBike has a stem with the fit, performance and style you’re looking. VoltBike is using stem Promax MA-570 with adjustable angle 35°. 145° and 108mm extension.

Simple Controls

Our redesigned cockpit includes large easy to read color LCD screen which shows all the important information like speed, battery level and current load. Get instant power with the integrated half-twist throttle with and on/off button which helps prevent accidental activation.



Frame Type

Motor Type

Battery Style




Frame Size

Bottom Bracket


Brake Lever



Derailleur Guard


Freewheel / Casette

Front Light




Rear Derailleur


Seat Post


Shifter Type




Rear Suspension

Wheel Hub
48v 500W (750W Peak) Bafang G06 Hub Motor
48V 17.5Ah Li-ion Samsung (840Wh)
Neco 910, 23.5mm 120mm 23.5mm
Hydraulic disc brakes front/rear Tektro Auriga HD-E500
Tektro Auriga with safety power cut
KMC Rust Buster
Aluminum Alloy-6061 44T Crank, 170mm with Outer Guard
Rear Metal Derailleur Guard
Zoom Vaxa 32 spring aluminum alloy suspension. 100mm travel. 32mm stanchions. Preload adjust.
Sunrace M2 Freewheel Super-Low 7 Speed 13-34T
Spanninga Kendo LED 30 Lux. Powered by the main battery and controlled from the keypad.
PROMAX ALLUMINUM ALLOY 31.8mm22.2mm680mm, 9 degree
Alloy 6061 Electric Motor
Wellgo LU-313 with reflectors
Shimano Acera RD-410 7 speed direct rear derailler
27.5 inch with 36 spokes
Promax SP-252 Aluminum 6061 Alloy, 31.6mm350mm
Velo Plush VL-6142
Shimano Tourney TX50R6CT Thumb Shifter Plus 7-Speed
Rear 13G, Front 13G
PROMAX MODEL MA-596 with adjustable angle 35°. 145°. 105mm extension with bar bore 31.8mm.
Kenda Havok 27.5×3, Wire Bead, 30 TPI casing, Weight is 1285 g. Tread 2mm in the center.
Air Shock RockShox Monarch R. Highly tunable DebonAir with rebound adjustment

Product Questions (11)

This is the brake sensor icon letting you know that it is stopping the motor from functioning while the brake is engaged. These bikes come standard with motor power cut inhibitors. There is a switch which cuts the power to the motor as soon as you engage.

Our bikes do ship fully assembled. Even the front wheel is attached. The dimension of the packing box in inches is 74x13x40. Weight is 80lbs.

The top speed on VoltBike Outback is electronically limited to 32km/h so it complies with local regulations. This limit could be adjusted (increase or decrease) through the LCD screen settings. Printed instructions on how to operate the LCD screen is.

How do the 3 inch tires that come with the VoltBike Outback stand up on pavement and are there road tires available for this bike?

VoltBike Outback comes standard with 27.5 x 3 tires Kenda Havok. Those tires are designed for light trails but could well work on pavement. They would also perform great in rain or snow conditions in the city. You may expect those tires to wear out.

VoltBike Outback is using 500w rear hub motor vs 500w mid-drive motor on Enduro. Each bike does have it’s benefits. For example, Outback comes with a powerful motor, fenders, rear rack and has a twist throttle (power on demand). Rear hub motors are.

The rear shock on the full suspension ebike Outback is set by default at 135-140 psi and for Enduro is 125-130 which is optimal for rider at around 200lbs. Please note that in order to change the pressure on the shock you will need high pressure shock.

The rear suspension on Outback does not have lockout. The rear shock is however adjustable depending of how much air pressure you put inside.

We don’t offer racks our fenders for VoltBike Outback. Because of the frame rear suspension it’s difficult to mount regular rear rack or full size fenders. The best option is to get clip-on fenders or clip-on rear rack which mounts directly on the seat.

HAOQI Cheetah Full Suspension Electric Bike. Dual Battery Version Available

Cheetah is our Flagship ebike that guarantees the ultimate riding experience with its Dual Full Suspension System. Boasting a powerful 48V 25Ah battery, you can effortlessly conquer up to 85 miles on a single charge. Its ergonomically designed frame and fat tires provide unparalleled comfort on rough terrains such as snow, beaches, rugged mountain roads, and hills. The hydraulic brake system ensures maximum safety, making the Cheetah the perfect ride for adventure seekers.

Discover unbeatable power and performance with our ebike’s raw reduction gear, providing up to 90NM of torque without deformation. The advanced chip ensures quick and stable signal processing that’s highly durable.

Discover unbeatable power and performance with our ebike’s raw reduction gear, providing up to 90NM of torque without deformation. The advanced chip ensures quick and stable signal processing that’s highly durable.

Ride with confidence on our ebikes, powered by high-quality Haoqi 48V 25Ah batteries that ensure long-lasting performance and efficiency. Enjoy 3 Years of Free Battery Replacement for this battery, ensuring your peace of mind and worry-free riding!

Ride with confidence on our ebikes, powered by high-quality Haoqi 48V 25Ah batteries that ensure long-lasting performance and efficiency. Enjoy 3 Years of Free Battery Replacement for this battery, ensuring your peace of mind and worry-free riding!

Rear Suspension

Engineered by FASTACE with a dual suspension system on bothfront and rear, it ensures effortless maneuvering on rugged terrain and seamless travel over bumps.

Front Suspension

Experience unbeatable comfort and performance with the front suspension fork, crafted from premium alloy material and featuring coil suspension, hydraulic lockout, and adjustable preload settings. With 80mm of travel, it guarantees a smooth and comfortable ride.

Aluminum Crankset

Experience unrivaled durability and protection with our ebike’s crankset, expertly crafted from premium aluminum and equipped with robust guards to safeguard the chainring and chainstay from damage. Enjoy effortless navigation on rough terrain.

Top Quality

Conquer any terrain effortlessly with our Haoqi motor, designed to power you up hills with ease. Experience unrivaled handling and a smooth, whisper-quiet ride.

Shimano Gear Shift

Revolutionize your cycling experience with our premium ebike’s Shimano 7-speed gear shift system and pedal-assist technology. Enjoy an effortless, efficient, and personalized ride like never before.

Hydraulic Brake

Maximize your safety control with premium hydraulic brake system. Enjoy efficient speed control and smooth, swift stops with a gentle pull of the brake lever.

  • Battery 48V 16Ah / 25Ah High-tech Lithium Battery
  • Motor 750W High Speed Brushless Geared Motor
  • Bike Frame 26” 18” AL6061 M Mode
  • Display KT-LCD10H E-bike Display USB
  • Charger US Standard 3.0A Smart Charger
  • Rear Cassette Shimano 7 Gears
  • Pedal Assist Intelligent 5 Level Pedal Assist
  • Tires 26” x 4”
  • Charging Time 6~9 Hours
  • Product Weight 73 Ibs
  • Recommended Rider Heights 5.5” ~ 6.8”
  • Total Payload Capacity 400 lbs
  • Brake lever Alu alloy comfort grip levers with motor cutoff switch
  • Chain KMC chain
  • Freewheel Shimano 7 speed gear shift system
  • Brake Hydraulic Disc Brake
  • Stem Promax MA-400 SSABK
  • Crank 170mm Forged Alloy
  • Gearing Shimano- 14-28T BROWN/BK
  • Front Fork RST Alloy front suspension fork with lockout and adjustment
  • Rear Suspension FASTACE A8 / 850Bls / 185mm Length. Travel 50mm
  • Throttle Half twist throttle
  • Pedal Alloy pedal with reflectors
  • Bike Frame 6061 Aluminum frame
  • Headlight 48V LED light
  • Handlebars Premium ergonomic
  • Saddle Soft saddle
  • Kickstand Heavy duty aluminum
  • Seat post Diameter 30.4mm length 300mm
  • Spokes Steel ED
  • A.- Total Length 73.6
  • B.- Wheelbase 52
  • C.- Wheel Diameter 28
  • D.- Chain Stay Length 21
  • E.- Top Tube Length 24.6
  • F.- Handlebar Height 43
  • G.- Standover Height 31
  • H.- Handlebar Length 28
  • I.- Standover Height 29
  • J.- Maximum Seat Height 41
  • K.- Minimum Seat Height 34
  • A.- Total Length 73.6
  • B.- Wheelbase 52
  • C.- Wheel Diameter 28
  • D.- Chain Stay Length 21
  • E.- Top Tube Length 24.6
  • F.- Handlebar Height 43
  • G.- Standover Height 31
  • H.- Handlebar Length 28
  • I.- Standover Height 29
  • J.- Maximum Seat Height 41
  • K.- Minimum Seat Height 34

Does the bike come mostly assembled? I’m a novice and is it easy to assemble?

Your bike will arrive mostly assembled. We will provide the tools and a comprehensive assembly video so you can assemble your Haoqi Bike bike within 20mins even if you are a novice.

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Is the Bike with Fenders?

Yes, the bike with two fenders, it has to install yourself after receiving the package. E-bike full fenders2, multi-function repair tool1, Rear rack1, Charge1, Headlight and TaillightsHAOQI Unboxing Assembly Instructionshttps://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=QrmzxlZy_74

Do I need a license and Insurance to ride ebike on the road? No. The e-bike from Haoqi is completely under U.S regulations and laws which allow you to ride it without specific license and insurance.

Where can I ride an electric bike?

An electric bike is legally treated the same as a normal bike. You can ride an electric assisted bike anywhere you can ride your regular bike.

Which class does the Haoqi Leopard belong to?

Class 1 has a top speed of 20 mph without pedaling.Class 2 has a top speed of 20 mph without pedaling and has a throttle. Class 3 has a top speed of 28 mph without pedaling.Haoqi Leopard belongs to the class 2.

Can the speed limit be cancelled?

We do not recommend lifting the speed limit, if it is lifted, it will definitely affect the mileage. After the speed is released, it can rise to class3 level.

7.Is the battery of my Haoqi bike removable?

The battery can be removed and recharged.

8.Can I ride into the rain? What is the waterproof rating?

Haoqi electric Bike battery is sealed well enough for the bikes to be safely ridden in light rain. IP 50. However, it is not recommended to ride them through very heavy downpours, or through flooded streets when the crank and/or the motor can get splashed or even covered with water. It is best to take shelter until the rain eases and the roads are no longer covered with water.

Sales service

Email: vip@haoqiebike.com Phone: (501) 777-5124‬ Warehouse address : 4250 Shirley Ave. El Monte CA 91731

Notice: For more shipping information, send an email to vip@haoqiebike.com. We will get back to you in 24 hours.

The best full-suspension off-road step-through bike 2023 – 4 ebikes in review

A picnic in the mountains, a trip to the beer garden or exploring glacial lakes on a summer’s day? It has never been easier to go on an adventure – all thanks to the growing sector of full-suspension off-road step-through bikes. Superior to trekking bikes in many ways, they promise more comfort, safety and fun. We’ve tested four bikes for you!

  • The next generation of full-suspension off-road step-through bikes
  • Why ride a step-through bike and not a trekking bike with a classic diamond frame?
  • What is a must-have in the “off-road package” for an off-road step-through bike?
  • Which motor system is the best for a full-suspension off-road step-through bike?
  • Stretch bench or garden swing – The ergonomics and adjustability of our off-road step-through test bikes
  • Form follows function – The design of our off-road step-through bikes
  • Equipment ≠ Equipment – Large differences in the functionality of the features
  • Tops Flops
  • The test field at a glance – Winners, losers and recommendations

A real revolution is currently taking place in the bike world, making biking more accessible and changing people’s perceptions: We’re talking about full-suspension off-road step-through bikes. These bikes come without a top tube, which makes mounting and dismounting much easier – they don’t require you to lift your leg high, you just, well, step through the frame. Not only are they a game changer for older and less agile bikers but also for everyone who is looking for a reliable companion for commuting safely through the city, or for a relaxed bike ride in the great outdoors. This is where the off-road aspect comes into its own. Thanks to sensible features and a clever frame design, the step-through bikes are clearly superior to classic trekking ebikes and old-fashioned city bikes in terms of comfort and safety, bringing young and old together. As early as 2020, we recognised the potential of off-road step-through bikes and invited 10 promising candidates to our big comparison test. Already back then we had the vision of an inclusive means of transport. In the words of Dr Martin Luther Biking Jr: „I have a dream that one day, everyone will be able to bike together” ;). In the meantime, technology has taken another significant step forward. In the first edition of our comparison test, only one out of ten ebikes had a full-suspension frame. However, manufacturers have recognised the potential, and the market for full-suspension step-through bikes is growing significantly.

The next generation of full-suspension off-road step-through bikes

What defines the latest generation of off-road step-through bikes? They are ingenious bikes made for adventure and exploring while raising comfort, safety and off-road capability to a new, even higher level. The full-suspension chassis is the core element. Off-road step-through bikes not only have a suspension fork at the front but also a suspended rear triangle. You notice the benefits already on rough asphalt, and even more so on cobblestones or off-road. Suspension rear ends are commonplace on mountain bikes, but on step-through bikes they are a feat of engineering and require a cleverly thought-out design. Our test shows that not all models meet this criterion. The frame function is usually designed differently for mountain bikes and step-through bikes. While mountain bikes are made to absorb fast, successive impacts while still providing good feedback from the ground, step-through bikes are designed to dampen only isolated impacts, as from kerbs or potholes. Their primary aim is to provide comfort and safety rather than speed. Obviously, some of the step-through bikes we tested are great fun on flowing trails, too, but that’s not what they were originally made for.

While cobblestone roads or kerbs can become the ultimate comfort killer on many trekking hardtails, a well-designed rear suspension absorbs most impacts, increasing not only the comfort and safety but also the traction. Thanks to the full suspension, the rear wheel hugs the ground even on bumpy and unpaved roads, ensuring a smoother ride and shorter braking times. Newbies even feel encouraged to test out the many possibilities of the off-road step-through bikes exploring more adventurous trails. To experience the riding characteristics of the still relatively new ebike type for ourselves, we set off for the picturesque municipality of Olang in South Tyrol to do the testing where others spend their holidays. This community of 3,200 people is located in the heart of the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park and offers us the ideal testing conditions for our workation trip. The centre of Olang lies at 1,080 m above sea level – pure mountain village idyll! You can gain many vertical metres on numerous trails around the Olang-Valdaora valley, rewarding yourself with a stop at one of the numerous alpine huts that are still kept in the traditional way. A visit to the regional glacial lake, Lago di Braies, is a must on any bucket list. In the summer months, however, access by car is limited, which is why exploring the region on an off-road step-through bike is perfect.

Why ride a step-through bike and not a trekking bike with a classic diamond frame?

Step-through bikes are often regarded as ladies bikes, but a well-designed ebike with a low entry offers advantages for many target groups. Especially with bulky panniers, it takes Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Epic Split to swing your leg over the fully-loaded rear of a trekking bike. Step-through bikes also offer a special advantage in tricky riding situations, particularly for beginners who try to put their feet on the ground as quickly as possible in dangerous situations. On classic diamond frames the top tube hinders them in doing so, which affects their confidence and sense of safety. Bike manufacturers have realised that this does not only affect ladies with long skirts, and have therefore started to advertise their step-through bikes more as wave frames instead of women’s bikes. However, there are also some disadvantages that cannot be dismissed. Technically, step-through bikes are not easy to implement, as it is the top tube that gives ebikes a lot of frame rigidity. Without a top tube, the rest of the frame has to be reinforced, which often results in a slightly increased weight. Our test bikes all weigh between 28 and 31 kg. A really light off-road step-through bike is hard to find, as unless the frame is reinforced at the critical points, the handling will be unstable. The handlebar on some of the models we tested tended to wobble, especially with heavy loads on the rear rack. But then again, many classic step-through bikes without rear suspension suffer from this phenomenon too.

What is a must-have in the “off-road package” for an off-road step-through bike?

Not every bike with a low entry immediately qualifies as a comfortable off-road step-through bike. Besides geometry and chassis, other factors have to be considered as well.

Tires: Voluminous knobby tires ensure riding comfort due to their cushioning properties. A chunkier tread adds safety by providing a good grip on gravel roads and forest paths. All manufacturers in the test went with the Schwalbe SUV tire lineup. The Johnny Watts model is used by three manufacturers and one chose the Schwalbe Al Grounder with a lower tread. The team from ZEMO equip the SU-E FS 11 with 2.6″ tires, the other manufacturers use the narrower but still quite bulky 2.35″ ones.

Brakes:The same applies to the brakes as to the tires, they must be suited for the area of use. Off-road step-through bikes are made for exploration and therefore need to come to a halt safely and in a controlled manner, even in a mountainous area or with a heavy load. To ensure this, the brakes must be suitably fade resistant and well dimensioned. Compared to two-piston brakes, four-piston stoppers generate more braking power with lower operating forces, which means that your hands, fingers and forearms do not tire as quickly on long rides or downhill. Large brake discs also provide better performance during sustained braking. Due to their larger radius, they also require less pressure on the brake lever. Another benefit is that larger discs ensure better heat absorption and dissipation and therefore a more constant braking force without overheating too quickly. Unfortunately, this concept has not yet reached all manufacturers. On our test bikes, only CONWAY and Victoria use a large front brake disc, and the ZEMO was the only model equipped with a four-piston brake on the front wheel.

Dropper post: Another item on the checklist is a dropper post. While it was still considered a highlight in our 2020 comparison test and was only used on three out of ten ebikes, the feature is now a must-have. Not only does it make it easier to get your feet on the ground when stopping at a traffic light, but it also gives you more freedom of movement when riding in rougher terrain. In our current comparison test, we rode seatposts with a stroke of a measly 75 mm up to a stately 160 mm. Dropper posts with a lot of travel also require a correspondingly long insertion depth in the seat tube, which, however, is limited by the shock on full-suspension step-through bikes. That’s why long-stroke droppers are not easy to accommodate.

Which motor system is the best for a full-suspension off-road step-through bike?

Anyone who has read our motor test knows that this is a trick question. There is, of course, no such thing as “the best motor system”, as it is only as good as the overall concept of the bike in question. A good motor does not make a bad bike ride well. All our test bikes use the Bosch Performance Line CX motor with identical performance numbers and almost the same hardware. It’s also the motor of choice for many performance-oriented eMTB models. However, how well the CX motor supports the bike depends on several factors, including the type of drivetrain, tires and geometry. While the Enviolo gear hub in the Victoria PARCOURS 5 only has a limited range, lacks a light climbing gear for steep climbs and sometimes slips under heavy workloads, the test bikes with chain drivetrains are unfazed even with a great deal of pressure on the pedals.

And while there is little variation in the motor itself in our test, there are clear differences in the motor system and the integration of the Bosch systems. Victoria and ZEMO rely on the new Bosch Smart System, Malaguti and CONWAY still manage with the “older” Bosch motor generation, which has both its pros and cons. Victoria and ZEMO benefit from modern connectivity features such as the eBike Lock, using the smartphone as a digital key, the rudimentary navigation function on the Kiox 300 display or the compatibility with the SmartphoneGrip mount. Malaguti and CONWAY owners, on the other hand, can upgrade their ebikes at a Bosch dealer to the first-class Bosch Nyon display, which combines real offline navigation with battery and motor data on the handlebar. Those who prefer to order these two off-road ebikes with the new Bosch Smart System will have to wait for the model change in 2023.

When it comes to batteries, there is one that stands out in the comparison test. If you like to put in some extra laps on your weekend tour, you’ll be excited about the ZEMO’s large 750 Wh battery and the fact that it is already prepared for a dual-battery option. So as soon as Bosch brings the second battery to the market, it can be attached to the down tube of the ZEMO SU-E via an additional holder. CONWAY, Malaguti and Victoria rely on a fully-integrated Bosch battery with 625 Wh capacity, which also has its advantages, as a shorter battery allows smaller frame sizes. The CONWAY CAIRON SUV, for example, is significantly more compact in size S than the smallest ZEMO, making it a great option for very small people and for saving on extra ballast.

Stretch bench or garden swing – The ergonomics and adjustability of our off-road step-through test bikes

Even the best off-road step-through bike is no fun if the ergonomics just aren’t right. The more user-friendly settings an ebike offers for adjusting the ergonomics and seating position, the better. Once you’ve got yourself a stylish off-road step-through bike, you’ll quickly draw admiring glances from family members who also want to take it out for a spin. If two or more people share an ebike, it is an obvious advantage if it can be easily adapted to different body sizes. Here we see many different approaches. CONWAY and ZEMO address this issue with adjustable stems, for example. This allows the handlebar position to be adjusted in width and height by simply loosening and tightening a bolt, no need for major fiddling around. The Victoria is equipped with a stylish stem that doesn’t offer any adjustment options, however, the bike has a handlebar with plenty of rise. Rotating the handlebar in the stem, the seating position can be straightened or flattened to a certain degree. In typical MTB fashion, Malaguti use a flat bar with a stub stem that can be slightly raised or lowered with spacers. At 760 mm, the handlebar is significantly wider than on the competitors’ bikes and forced the test riders into a broad push-up-like arm position. People who don’t have the arm span of a Michael Jordan or a swimmer’s chest will have to reach for the hacksaw and shorten the handlebar to find the right position.

When it comes to saddle height, all manufacturers in the test have shown their expertise. Thanks to the dropper post, the test bikes can be adapted with a quick flick of the remote on the handlebar, making it particularly easy to change riders. The CONWAY CAIRON also allows another tool-free adjustment of the saddle height via a quick-release on the seat tube. The principle here is: One size does not fit all – but many. Ideally, several riders can e bike.

To ensure that not only the ergonomics but also the riding comfort is right, the pressure in tires and suspension must also be adjusted to the rider’s weight and riding style. For the SR Suntour and RockShox forks in the test field, the manufacturer’s specifications can be found online and used as a good starting point for a suspension setup. When it comes to the right tire pressure, it takes a bit of trial and error. Especially the 2.6″ wide tires of the ZEMO can be a little too hard and bouncy if the pressure is too high. The setup of the rear shock is a little more difficult, as you have to find the sweet spot. If the pressure is too high, the rear end feels too firm, but if the pressure is too low, it sags too much in the suspension travel. On some of our test bikes, however, the shock air valve is obstructed by the frame and difficult to reach. On others, it is hard to check the suspension sag, as the access to the rear shock is partially covered by the frame. If you need help, you should ask the dealer directly for assistance when buying the bike.

Form follows function – The design of our off-road step-through bikes

Step-through bikes are sexy! While exploring the Lago di Braies during our test laps, we attracted more attention than the mountain lake scenery itself, despite the fact that #lagodibraies delivers over 450,000 hits on Instagram. The design on some of the test bikes has clearly been given considerably more thought than on others. The integration of the shock in the rear triangle particularly shows the different design approaches. While the rear shock on the Victoria is almost completely integrated into the frame and the rear triangle kinematics can only partially be glimpsed, the CONWAY shows off its shock with the iconic shock linkage reminding us of the Specialized Demo downhill bike rear triangle.

The elaborate integration of the motor into the frame as well as the paintwork with its bright and well-matched colours are in the same league as expensive eMTBs. Yet the sometimes very rough weld seams or the chaotic cable management in front of the cockpit still show potential for improvement on all the test bikes.

Equipment ≠ Equipment – Large differences in the functionality of the features

All bikes on test come fully equipped with a lighting system, mudguard, kickstand and a rear rack. Just as useful in everyday life as on the trail. Regarding the quality and functionality of the attached parts, however, the test reveals major differences. While some features are a real bonus on certain bikes, they make life significantly more difficult on others. For example, wide, firmly-mounted aluminium mudguards protect against splashing water and provide peace and quiet on rough trails, while poorly mounted mudguards scraped the tire and tested our patience during the test. With the front light, it’s not only the brightness that counts but also the positioning. The Malaguti is the only test bike that has its lamp positioned at the top of the handlebar, which improves visibility by preventing the front wheel from casting a shadow in front of the bike. On the other test bikes, the front light was installed low on the crown of the suspension fork.

The ZEMO, the Victoria and the CONWAY score extra points with a brake light function, drawing attention to the bike in the hectic after-work traffic of a big city. The ZEMO is the only bike with an additional practical high beam function.

Nobody likes to ride with a heavy backpack on their back, so a rear rack is a must-have for tours with luggage. Whether for daily shopping or on a multi-day tour, the panniers should be as easy as possible to attach and remove. A standardised luggage rack system has not yet been established in the industry. Available for our test bikes are pre-mounted bag holders such as the MIK system, AVS, Ortlieb Quick-Lock 3 and MonkeyLoad. In contrast to third-party pannier bags, these ones can be attached easily even when fully loaded, but the additional weight at the rear can have a hugely negative impact on the handling. Some step-through models such as the Victoria or the Malaguti start to sway due to the load at the rear and respond with a wobbly handlebar. The CONWAY, on the other hand, remains very stable even when fully loaded. Nevertheless, you should think twice about whether you want to carry all seven Harry Potter volumes with you at all times.

Another attachment that can cause problems on step-through bikes is the water bottle. Its placement in the lower area of the step-through frame means that you have to lift your leg much higher than normally when getting on and off the bike. Malaguti and Victoria do not have a bottle cage at all, while on the CONWAY the mount on the seat tube is rather suboptimal and somewhat blocks the entry. The ZEMO comes with a practical bottle cage next to the head tube, but even this placement can lead to restricted movement while pedalling.

Tops Flops

Without light, there’s no shadow: In our test, we encountered many clever and practical solutions along with well-implemented details. But among the many highlights there are also a few letdowns that left us scratching our heads. Here are the tops and flops of our comparison test.


The test field at a glance – Winners, losers and recommendations

A good off-road step-through bike is a real source of joy, but only if the overall package is right. With the right balance of comfort, riding safety and handling, the bikes enable young and old alike to enjoy relaxed outdoor explorations, and for some they might even open up completely new horizons. Our hand-picked selection of four full-suspension off-road step-through bikes shows the potential of the concept and what the future of trekking bikes could look like.

Our best in test – ZEMO SU-E FS 11

The ZEMO SU-E FS 11 is the deluxe model among the off-road step-through bikes. The ZEMO team has not only equipped the ebike with all comfort features such as a well-functioning rear triangle or a suspension seat post, but has also provided a comprehensive safety package with many detailed solutions. Thanks to the successful motor integration around the Bosch Smart System and the preparation for a dual battery, ZEMO give you everything that the concept of off-road low step-through bikes currently has to offer. The ZEMO pays for its high level of functionality with a somewhat overloaded look and a rather incoherent design. Nevertheless, it is deservedly the winner of our off-road low step-through bike comparison test.

Our best buy – CONWAY CAIRON SUV FS 5.7

The CONWAY CAIRON SUV FS 5.7 off-road step-through bike is all about the powerful frame and the elaborately designed rear-end kinematics. No other step-through bike in our comparison test can match the ride comfort and stability of the CONWAY. With the main FOCUS being on off-road performance, other aspects such as connectivity, suitability for everyday use or design were rather neglected. Nevertheless, at a comparatively attractive price the CONWAY shows no significant shortcomings in the test. That’s why the CONWAY CAIRON SUV FS 5.7 gets our best buy recommendation.

Malaguti COLLINA FW6.0

The Malaguti COLLINA FW6.0 stands out for its style and emotionality. The full-suspension off-road step-through bike with Italian motorsport history seeks to inspire with its design, but lags behind the competition in terms of functionality and rear end performance. Instead of a wide range of features and connectivity extras, it only offers minimalism and thus will probably only attract the aesthetes among ebikers. It is certainly not up to the various demands of an off-road adventure.

Victoria Parcours 5

The elegant Victoria PARCOURS 5 comes with many features of an off-road step-through bike and, with its full-suspension chassis, is not only very comfortable but can take a hit when off-road. Next to the other off-road step-through bikes, it looks a little overdressed. The Victoria impresses with a consistent design language that fits better into a modern urban landscape than a rustic natural setting. The low range gear hub and the tires with a lower profile also make more sense in everyday commuting than on an off-road expedition, which is why the Victoria is the city bike among the off-road step-through bikes.

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Words: Rudolf Fischer Photos: Mike Hunger, Julian Lemme

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