Electric Bike Battery Replacement: 6 Places to Find Cheap E-Bike Batteries. Darfon ebike battery

Of course it is—this is the bike industry we’re talking about.

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What if every e-bike used the same battery? Not just the same charger, but what if the exact same battery could actually be swapped between bikes? Sounds great, right? A universal energy product that could power a plethora of different motors. Sort of like gasoline for combustion engines, but with electricity. The “fuel” would be readily available, and anyone with the capability to do so could make and sell the “fuel”. Think of the convenience. Think of freedom a thing like that would provide. And what about the environmental benefits? It seems like the ability to throw any battery in any bike would create a scenario of overall less waste.

It sounds like a wonderful idea. It also sounds like a total pipe dream. Bike companies can’t even agree on a single axle standard or just one bottom bracket interface. Most industries are the same, always seemingly more concerned about edging ahead of the competition than agreeing on universal solutions for the greater good. It’s easier to market things as features when they’re proprietary. All this plus much more prevents this sort of idea from becoming a reality.

Except that it already is.

In 2021, several motorcycle manufacturers got together and formed a consortium to create swappable batteries for motorcycles and other light electric vehicles. The companies include motorcycle manufacturing giants, Honda, KTM, Yamaha, and Piaggio, who owns Vespa, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and others. There is a very real possibility that a few years from now, your grocery-getter scooter and motocross race bike will be powered by the same battery packs.

The e-bike world, on the other hand, is headed in the opposite direction. I currently have four bikes equipped with the same Shimano EP8 motor, all of which have different batteries with different charging ports, and thus, different chargers.

Shimano allows bike manufacturers to essentially use any battery of their choosing. The battery maker must go through an approval process with Shimano to ensure compatibility, but it’s basically an open system.

“We recognize that bike brands have different ideas of what is important to them,” says Nick Murdick Shimano’s mountain bike product manager. “One might prioritize making the battery easily removable, whereas another might FOCUS more on minimizing weight.”

Others, like Santa Cruz, are looking for more capacity. Currently, Shimano’s largest battery is 630 watt-hours, so when designing the new Heckler, Santa Cruz decided to source a 750-watt-hour battery from Darfon, one of a few approved battery manufacturers. To read more on the newly released Heckler, head over to Mike Kazimer’s review on Pinkbike.

Yeti, on the other hand, chose Shimano’s battery despite the potential capacity concerns, because of Shimano’s huge global dealer base. Basically, they believe that it’ll be easier to get a Shimano battery or charger in some remote corner of the world than it would be to find third-party electronics.

Norco uses BMZ batteries, and offers three different capacity options from 540Wh to 900Wh, which vary significantly in price and weight. If a rider isn’t prioritizing range, they can opt for the smaller battery and save three pounds (and 450).

It’s all about options. Bike brands don’t want to be locked into one system. This was the most common theme among all the e-bike motor manufacturers I spoke to on the topic. Brands want to create a unique ride experience. They want to design the best bike they can, without design constraints. Sure, that sounds legit.

But it also sounds like a total cop out. It seems like even if we had a unified battery pack scenario, the market could still offer plenty of options for riders while simplifying the experience immensely for the end user. There’s no doubt that manufacturers would still figure out ways to be just as unique.

Let’s say all batteries were contained within a certain agreed-upon casement that could be installed on bikes in different ways. Brands that wanted to do open downtubes with drop-in style fitment could add a shroud to the battery pack. Others could do closed downtubes with slide-in packs. The same thing that’s happening now could still happen. Specialized and Rocky Mountain could still have their proprietary motor setups. Norco could choose to sell varying capacity battery packs separately, just like they do now. Only in this scenario, consumers get real benefits on top of all the marketing spiel.

Nope, they’d rather FOCUS on puking out acronyms, hiring patent lawyers and staying in their IP bubbles, claiming it’s all for us. Tell that to the bike shop that has to stock 4,238,370 different styles of the same thing, or the rider whose 13,000 bike won’t turn on because they can’t find a charger.

It’s easy to complain. It’s fun, too. I take a look at the massive tangle of different chargers in the shop, hop up on my high horse, and start typing away. Just do it this way, I say. Here’s the solution right in front of you. You must be evil for not doing it the way that seems obvious now in the light of hindsight and perspective.

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But it’s not that simple. Sure, Shimano might be happy to pass along fueling duties to other companies. But, that’s because Shimano isn’t in the lithium-ion business. Companies who make their living on battery tech want to protect their ideas.

“People have different ideas about everything from battery chemistry to charging techniques to even what they consider to be safe,” says Drew Engelmann from Yamaha Power Assist Bicycles. “There’s not even real agreement on what counts as a charge cycle. Let’s say you have a bike sitting on its charger over the winter. A lithium-ion battery will lose roughly 4 percent charge a month. After a certain amount of loss, the charger will detect it and kick on to top it off. Some manufacturers could count this as a charge cycle.”

That’s just an innocuous example, but Engelmann can’t dive too much into specific technical talk. He does speak a lot about safety and reliability though, which according to him are Yamaha’s biggest priorities, and at least part of the reason why the bicycle branch of Yamaha isn’t currently working on battery standardization. When they control the whole system, they can ensure the safest, most durable and reliable product.

For how much this was emphasized in our conversation, Yamaha does allow Giant to source non-Yamaha batteries for at least some of its e-bikes. When the largest bike company in the world says it’ll just be buying your motors, you take the money and run.

Bosch seems to be the strictest when it comes to battery usage. Manufacturers who choose Bosch systems currently must also use their batteries. “At Bosch, the charger is an essential component of the overall battery system and, together with the Battery Management System software, is relevant to its safety concept,” said a representative there. “Through a proprietary charging port, we make sure that customers use only a Bosch charger that operates in coordination with the overall eBike system.”

Just like everyone I spoke with, Bosch isn’t aware of any battery standardization. “As far as we know, there are no battery swap efforts for eMTBs. To provide such swapping across different system producers, the batteries—including their size, battery management system, charging ports, mechanical mounting, etc.—must be standardized.”

They go further, adding that, “standardization would be only possible in a very limited way and does not provide an advantage. Besides the different system voltages and different safety and communication concepts of the manufacturers, the huge variety of eMTB designs is not conducive to such standardization. At Bosch, for example, the drive unit, battery, displays and apps are designed as a system; the individual components communicate with each other and are harmoniously coordinated for maximum comfort and the greatest possible safety.”

I still don’t see why such communications couldn’t be part of the agreement. I’m sure the motorcycle consortium is working on solving those exact problems. But for now at least, there doesn’t seem to be any motivation from the manufacturing side of the e-bike market for this level of systemwide integration. Everyone’s doing their own thing because everyone else is doing their own thing. Nobody’s working together because nobody is telling them they need to. It’s easier for them that way. For us, not so much.

But at least Bosch did give one little nugget of hope concerning port standardization: “Early discussions regarding the question of standardizing the charging interface are taking place within the industry. Bosch actively contributes to this exchange.”

And in the meantime, there are people working on the environmental concerns regarding e-bike batteries. People For Bikes launched a program in late 2021 in collaboration with Call2Recycle for recycling e-bike batteries. The program is already in play for manufacturers, and is planned to open up to the general public later this year.

Electric Bike Battery Replacement: 6 Places to Find Cheap E-Bike Batteries

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Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are now established in the commuting world and can be regularly seen on our streets. If you are a newcomer to cycling or more experienced, the chances are you will have been tempted by pedalling with electrical assistance.

In the UK, sales of electric bikes have maintained a steady growth since 2020. The Bicycle Association, the national trade body for the UK cycle industry, predicts the e-bike share of total bike sales will triple by the end of 2023.

Electric bikes are manufactured both by legacy companies and specialist providers. You can search for e-bikes alongside analogue bikes at most of the well known retailers like Trek, Giant, Raleigh and Specialized or look into the independent electric bike brands like Rad Power, Cowboy, or VanMoof.

The essence of cycling is unchanged by the advent of electrically powered pedal assistance. You’re still outdoors and exercising. You don’t need a special licence if these ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs) are still recognised as pedal cycles. The basic geometry of the bike is unchanged by the technology, although most e-bikes are a little heavier.

You can explore all the roads and trails including some which might have been out of reach. But even if you want to just go to and from work, as a discerning cyclist you can rely on the battery and electric motor combination to sweep you to your destination with effortless ease.

Electric bike batteries are perhaps the most important component of an e-bike. They facilitate the flow of a current to the bike’s motor which provides the power for pedal assistance.

E-bike batteries hold charge which drains from the battery to the motor as it is used. The intensity of the battery use depends on the intensity of motor use. You will use more of the battery’s charge if you ride with more cargo, or need it for every time the road goes uphill.

Most electric bike batteries are portable and simple to recharge. They plug into conventional wall sockets just like your wearables or laptop. Some don’t detach so you’ll plug the whole bike into the wall. Like all components, they are subject to wear and have a lifespan.

Eventually, you’ll need to replace your e-bike battery.

Electric bike battery replacement is straightforward in most cases. Provided the manufacturer still makes the same model it’s a simple swap. But with some estimates of electric bike battery replacement cost being at least one-third of the value of the bike, it can be an expensive purchase.

Let’s have a look at like-for-like electric bike battery replacement and cheaper options available, as well as refurbishment, recycling and a guide to what you can do to delay each swap.

Electric Bike Battery Lifespan

E-bike battery life is measured by the total number of charging cycles of the battery you get and not by distance or years. This is because no two riders have the same requirements from their battery. You’ll hear manufacturers like Bosch, Yamaha and Darfon talking about charging cycles.

If you buy an e-bike, most of the trusted brands use lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Just like the ones in a phone or a Tesla. Cheap new electric bike batteries will be lead-acid or nickel-acid batteries. Think car batteries. Li-ion batteries are more efficient and last longer than lead-acid batteries. Li-ion versions perform better under stress than lead-acid versions.

Regardless of how little you rely on your electric bike battery, it will still have a ‘natural’ life span. It will still lose performance and efficiency over time. How you charge it and store it all influence this shelf life and we’ll look into that too.

Even when dormant, the organised line-up within a battery (grouped together and called cells) react with each other and expend some of their performance. This is called self-discharging.

How Long Do Electric Bike Batteries Last?

It should be a minimum of two years before the average rider needs to look for a replacement electric bike battery. Manufacturers publish in numbers of charging cycles. It’s worth repeating that we all have different requirements for an e-bike, so we can’t be certain how long a battery will last.

Legacy bike manufacturers and niche specialists also refer to frequency of charging cycles to determine how long a battery will last. Once the number of charges is known, Rad Power gives an average of two-and-a-half years for a frequent rider and a minimum of six years for a casual rider.

One charging cycle takes the battery from its discharged state (0%) up to a full charge (100%). 30% to 80% is a half-charge and 35% to 60% is a quarter-charge and so on. The higher quality battery will generate more full charge cycles. Bosch includes a Battery Management System (BMS), which monitors the performance of the individual cells to prolong battery life.

The time between charging cycles is determined by how often the battery is asked to do its work and under what circumstances. If it’s always on and under duress, for example riding up steep gradients, you’ll be recharging more quickly than if you only use it once on each ride to get over a road bridge.

It’s a similar story with range. If you use a smaller battery constantly for long commutes of 40km each way, expect to charge each evening, if not more often. If you use it only for a long, quiet stretch of 5 kilometres on flat roads, you won’t be charging as frequently as that.

Stages of Electric Battery Life

An e-bike battery should gradually lose performance over time. The rate at which performance suffers will increase as you move closer to end of life.

General day-to-day issues with performance – diminished range, the bike stuttering under load, or temporary cut-outs of power – are not necessarily symptoms of a soon-to-be-expired battery. The battery may just need charging.

We’ll talk below about the perfect environment to run and maintain a battery. But assuming you do this, at least the first 300 charge cycles of all battery types should see it operating at peak capacity and performance.

Nickel and lead battery performance will diminish after this point, sooner for lead. Li-ion will continue to go on strong before it hits a threshold at around 500 cycles. It’s thought that lithium-ion ebike batteries are good for up to 1,000 charge cycles in total though. Cheap electric bike batteries will need replacing sooner than the more expensive Li-ion versions.

As your battery reaches a threshold, it is going to perform at less than 100% of its maximum capacity. Somewhere like 80% of maximum capacity is expected. This just keeps going down over time. My 18-month-old smartphone battery is currently running at 83% of its maximum capacity and I don’t notice any drop in performance.

It will be the same for the next couple of hundred e-bike battery charge cycles; you won’t notice any diminished battery performance. However, over time, you’ll eventually have to increase the rate of charge cycles or adapt your riding if you want to charge less often.

You will find the day-to-day problems happen more frequently and decision day on a replacement will come around sooner.

When to Replace Electric Bike Battery?

Eventually, your e-bike battery will provide you with symptoms at the end of useful life. It might start making strange sounds, or overheat in normal conditions, discharge more quickly or take longer to charge up. Remember your warranty if you think something may be faulty. Two years is standard.

How Do I Know if My E-Bike Battery is Healthy?

You’ll know because the performance of the bike is within the manufacturer’s tolerances. The charge cycle will take the amount of time it says it should. The range is as you expect for the conditions you are riding under. When needed, the battery will keep providing smooth power under duress.

How Often Do Electric Bike Batteries Need Replacing?

Bike batteries need replacing after a minimum of 500 charge cycles if you have bought a cheap lead or nickel acid battery. A lithium-ion battery will see you reach 1,000 charge cycles before considering a replacement. How intensely you use your e-bike determines how often you deploy a charge cycle.

The intensity of use is a personal or professional choice. For example, a cycle courier uses a bike as a tool of the trade and relies on speed and consistent power to schedule jobs. They may want a longer range for all day use or a larger motor in case of fatigue. They might charge every day or more frequently.

Someone new to cycling who wants the reassurance of a pedal-assisted power on a long day out for five or ten minute bursts of one 30 minute ride a day might only need to charge three times a week. A daily commuter who has a couple of hills to get over might need less.

The power generated by the motor is a very important consideration in charge cycle frequency too. E-bike motor power is a selling point and top speeds can be eye-watering. If you want to travel up to 40mph and with a throttle you can.

It’s imperative that you check your state, or country’s classification of e-bikes before you choose your motor size and before you go out on the roads. Some of these motors change the classification of an e-bike to a motorbike. With all of the insurance, licensing and safety regulations that owning a motorbike entails.

E-Bike Battery Replacement

The most straightforward option is to replace the battery on a like-for-like basis. Pay a visit to the retailer where you bought the bike and hey presto!

Designers of e-bike batteries continue to work on weight and housing of the unit as areas of improvement and innovation. Commonly seen on the downtube of the frame, they have moved to a rear rack, or integrated / enclosed within the frame.

Making batteries lighter and more aerodynamic certainly improves the weight and aesthetics of an e-bike but can restrict the choices available. Rear-rack mounted batteries are common in Europe and replacements are easier to find than the frame-enclosed types. This frame-enclosed version requires the expertise of your local bike shop to inspect.

Battery manufacturers should keep a supply of your battery type in stock because they know the shelf-life. They’ll balance their inventory and should look to offer more advanced batteries with new tech that still slots into your charger and bike frame.

This will most likely be your most expensive option. But could you consider replacing it via a different source? What about recycling and sustainability? After all, electric cycling promotes environmental good deeds. And then how do you dispose of your old battery safely?

Can You Upgrade an E-Bike Battery?

You might be unhappy with the range provided by your e-bike battery or the rate at which it can feed power to the motor. Therefore you might consider upgrading. The voltage of the upgraded battery must be compatible with the motor and controller of your e-bike.

Check with the manufacturer before you consider an upgrade. Remember that your warranty may expire the moment that you make an upgrade. You should only replace with kit from the same manufacturer. Non-original replacements could create serious risks and hazards to you and other users.

Where to Buy Replacement Electric Bike Battery?

The first place would be from your e-bike retailer. As well as like-for-like swaps their FAQs might have upgrades or replacements for older models. Some push you to the battery manufacturer. Most of the specialist sites which offer replacements for non-branded batteries have compatibility charts so you can check what options are available to you.

Then you can look at eBay, Amazon, forums and other sites. But you will be carrying some risk if you don’t investigate compatibility and compliance fully.

As you might expect of an electric product, you should check that any battery you buy meets regulatory standards. For example: BS EN 50604-1, UN38.3 and IEC.EN62133, UL 2849. Charging and storing e-bike batteries comes with a fire safety risk. Catastrophic failure can lead to explosions.

Where to Buy Cheap Electric Bike Batteries?

Retailer that you bought the e-bike from
Branded battery manufacturer
eBay, reselling sites and forums
Amazon
Recelling and specialists in unbranded e-bike battery refurbishment
Bike manufacturer

Amazon offers an abundance of unbranded ebike replacement batteries which are cheap. There are thousands on offer for less than £300 / 355, which is usually the base price for branded models. You could look at reselling sites like eBay for part used branded batteries. But ask lots of questions. Rear rack models are the most popular type of cheap electric battery.

E-Bike Battery Refurbishment

Branded e-bike battery manufacturers are clear. Their models should not be refurbished. There’s a lot of science going on inside the case that they don’t want you to risk looking at. There are plenty of recognised international safety standards they comply with that you don’t.

Some recelling companies don’t work on batteries of certain branded battery manufacturers either. As we’ve discussed further up the thread, certain original unbranded batteries can be upgraded and refurbished by improving the quality of the individual cells inside the pack.

Can Electric Bike Batteries Be Refurbished or Rebuilt?

If you don’t have a branded battery, refurbishment is possible by improving the quality of the technology inside the battery case. This is NOT a DIY job for you. But there is a cottage industry only a few clicks away which can offer to upgrade the brains of your battery.

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Recelling will swap out the older individual cells for new ones and snap them back inside the original case. This might boost the performance you had achieved with the older cells.

Once again, check carefully before going down this path. The warranty of your bike will almost certainly be voided by refurbishing your battery.

Upgrades to the BMS board are offered by recelling companies too. So you can boost the performance of a non-branded battery and some branded batteries. You must check that all of the other components on the bike can cope with the upgrades. Frames and wheels should be OK, but brake performance should be closely reviewed.

Where to Refurbish E-Bike Battery

In the UK, the aptly named Electric Bike Battery Repairs offers a recelling service. In the US, you could look at E-Bike Marketplace or FTH Power. Cells which go by the title 18650 are listed as being of higher quality than many of the cells installed in original unbranded batteries.

You should also look to the original e-bike battery manufacturer for refurbishing options.

Electric Bike Battery Repairs

If you think your e-bike battery is faulty, contact your manufacturer. Don’t try to fix it at home. Raleigh gives some good advice on potential battery failure here.

The market leaders in the branded bike batteries say faulty, old or ‘worn out’ batteries should not be repaired. They cite safety concerns.

As we’ve highlighted with the upgrade options above, there are many online options for battery repair you could consider. Some of these include battery testing options first and some give a warranty.

What Can I Do with Old E-Bike Batteries?

E-bike batteries should be disposed of carefully and not tossed into regular bins. Branded e-bike battery manufacturers talk about checking with local authorities or returning it to your bike dealer. There are recognised recycling facilities in the USA and the UK has joined the recycling revolution.

People for Bikes in the USA recognises a scheme called Call2Recycle. Retailers in the UK via the collective body The Bicycle Association is setting up a battery collection and recycling function. It has partnered with the European Recycling Platform.

The European e-bike marketplace is much more mature than in the UK. For example, in 2018 over half all adult bikes sold in the Netherlands were electric. As a result, the number of batteries reaching the end of their serviceable life is significantly greater.

In Sweden and Norway, two companies have joined forces to recycle batteries and hopes to process Norway’s entire annual requirement.

A quick chat with your local bike shop or view of the local authority’s recycling programme will be your best guide.

E-Bike Battery Care Guide

You can take some really simple steps and get into good habits to prolong the life of your e-bike battery. Some of them are daily jobs and some part of a longer term regime. Most of these won’t break the bank.

  • Cleaning – use a damp cloth
  • Storage temperature – avoid extreme temperatures (keep at between 0°C – 20°C) and be especially careful in winter – bring the battery indoors
  • Store in the dry and don’t charge a wet battery
  • Park bike in the shade
  • Remove the battery when transporting the bike – avoids damage by bad weather and road debris
  • Keep some charge at all times – especially during prolonged storage – between 30% and 60% is recommended
  • Invest in an automatic charger with cut-off
  • Avoid constant overloading of the battery – lighten the load if you can
  • Never use a charger which did not come with your battery
  • Never overcharge
  • Keep the discharge contacts clean and grease them very occasionally
  • Clean the battery separately and carefully, avoid splashing water on the contacts and avoid power washing

New Pivot Shuttle Team XTR 2021 with a 726 Wh battery and Shimano EP8 – True to its word?

For 2021, the new Pivot Shuttle Team XTR comes equipped with a Shimano EP8 motor and a large 726 Wh Darfon battery. There have been updates to several details and the geometry has seen some changes too. Can Pivot improve on the weaknesses of last year’s model? We’ve got all the details on the new bike for you.

The predecessor to the Pivot Shuttle 29 Team XTR had to measure up to the best eMTBs in our 2020 group test. In it, it scored with direct and light-footed handling, as well as its comfortable riding position. However, it couldn’t keep up with the competition on the downhills. That wasn’t helped by the small disc rotor at the rear, the short dropper post and the dated battery concept. The US brand has overhauled the latter in its newest iteration of the Shuttle Team XTR, equipping it with the new Shimano EP8 motor and a 726 Wh battery.

What’s new with the Pivot Shuttle Team XTR 2021?

The motor has been updated to the new Shimano EP8 and is powered by a 726 Wh Daforn battery. This is fully integrated into the down tube with the battery cover fixed in place by two screws. The opening is positioned relatively far up the down tube, meaning it’s necessary to thread the battery through the fork to remove it completely. We’re interested to find out how well that works in practice and whether the Kashima-coated fork will stay unscuffed in the long run. One thing is clear: for all those who want to charge the battery off the bike, this solution isn’t the most optimal.

The Daforn battery doesn’t just have significantly more juice than Shimano’s 630 Wh BT-E8063 battery, it is also 4 cm shorter. That could help improve the centre of gravity and in turn handling, but it’s not possible to make any blanket statements. To tell you more, we’ll first have to do a thorough test of the Pivot Shuttle. The charging port sits on the right side of the frame behind the head tube. On the other side, you’ll find the power button. Both also act as cable clamps on the main frame. The previous model stood out with its excellent cable management and was particularly quiet in our group test with no rattling cables to be heard. We’ll have to see in a test whether the new clamps do just as good a job, but with the clunking of the Shimano EP8 motor, the new Pivot Shuttle 2021 won’t be silent anymore.

The smooth organic shaping and prominent down tube of the carbon frame have remained the same. The down tube is protected by a two-part guard and the chainstay protector remains the generous item that damped noise effectively on the bike’s predecessor. An additional metal plate is designed to protect the chainstay from your chain.

The components of the Pivot Shuttle Team XTR

The Pivot Shuttle will initially be available in just one spec. The parts fitted to the € 10,999 ebike are high-end and leave few desires unfulfilled. Up front, the previous FOX 36 fork has been replaced by the current FOX Factory 38. It delivers 160 mm travel, has an updated and eMTB-specific tune of the GRIP2 damper instead of the FIT4 cartridge from last year. The 140 mm travel at the rear is controlled by a FOX Factory DPX2 shock. Regarding the rest of the spec, the Shuttle Team XTR, it’s only partly true to its word. Obvious parts like the four-piston brakes, shifter and 12-speed derailleur are Shimano XTR. However, the cassette, cranks and rotors are Shimano XT items. While there’s a 203 mm rotor up front, the 180 mm disc fitted at the back is still too small in 2021. We didn’t like this on the previous model either. Similarly, the travel of the FOX Factory Transfer dropper post is only average at 150 mm for sizes M and L. In size XL, Pivot has improved things, with a 175 mm travel dropper fitted for 2021.

Specifications

Motor Shimano EP8 85 NmBattery Darfon 726 WhDisplay Shimano SC-EM800Fork FOX 38 Factory eMTB 160 mmRear Shock FOX FLOAT DPX2 Factory 140 mmSeatpost FOX Transfer Factory 125 – 175 mmBrakes Shimano XTR BR-MT9120 203/180 mmDrivetrain Shimano XTR 1×12 10–51tStem Phoenix Team Enduro/Trail Handlebar Phoenix Team Low Rise Carbon Wheelset DT Swiss EB 1535 29″Tires MAXXIS Assegai/Minion DHRII EXO 2,5″/2,4″

Technical Data

Size S M L XL

The geometry of the Pivot Shuttle Team XTR

The Pivot Shuttle Team XTR will be available in four sizes from S to XL and, according to Pivot, should suit riders between 160 and 200 cm tall. Amongst the small tweaks to the geometry, the most noticeable change is that the 358 mm high bottom bracket has been lowered by 5 mm. In 2020, the bottom bracket had risen by 15 mm due to the change to 29″ tires, which led to feeling poorly connected with the bike on the downhills. Pivot clearly noticed the problem and have improved things for 2021 – only a test will show whether the 5 mm change has done the job. The head tube angle has slackened by a further 1-degree.

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 396 mm 427 mm 459 mm 496 mm
Top tube 620 mm 620 mm 640 mm 667 mm
Head tube 110 mm 120 mm 130 mm 140 mm
Head angle 64,3° 64,3° 64,3° 64,3°
Seat tube angle 74° 74° 74° 74°
Chainstay length 441 mm 441 mm 441 mm 441 mm
Bottom bracket height 358 mm 358 mm 358 mm 358 mm
Wheelbase 1,187 mm 1,211 mm 1,236 mm 1,265 mm
Reach 420 mm 440 mm 460 mm 485 mm
Stack 614 mm 624 mm 633 mm 642 mm

The battery concept was previously a thorn in the side of the Pivot Shuttle, but this has been completely redesigned for 2021. The Shuttle has also had further optimisations and modifications made to it. However, it’s hard to say on paper whether the ebike has developed a completely new character or whether the changes only amount to a facelift. The modifications to the geometry, in combination with the higher weight resulting from the significantly larger battery, will no doubt have an impact on the handling. We are looking forward to testing the new Pivot Shuttle Team XTR. Then we’ll see if the eMTB can deliver what it promises.

information at pivotcycles.com

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Words: Rudolf Fischer Photos: Pivot

WIN THIS BIKE! Is This The Best E-Bike Under £5k?

And you can win yourself one! The Saracen Ariel 50E is more than the sum of considerable parts. Great geometry, great suspension, great parts allied to a capable Shimano STEPS motor and capacious 720Wh battery from Darfon.

The 2023 Ariel E bike range takes the essentials of the previous Ariel E (shall we call that Ariel E the ‘Mark II’?) and slaps on new and improved finishing kit.

Now then, the MK II was a giant leap forward from the MK I Ariel E. Remember the MK I’s external battery and all the other clunky not-quite-finished articles that were on all early ebikes? As well as having the DIY-project aesthetic of early e-bikes, the geometry of the MK I was also pretty old skool.

When the MkII came out in 2021 and it was a whole new animal. Better motors, better integration, better geometry… The 2023 Ariel E bike (MK III?) range further builds on these improvements.

Let’s get back to the bike we have right here.

2023 Saracen Ariel 50E

Aluminium frame. In a particularly banging shade of Neon Red. Uses an e-bike specific version of Saracen’s much-admired TRL linkage design to give out 150mm of rear travel. This TRL layout is an oft-overlooked aspect of the new generation Ariel E-bikes. Single pivot linkage activated goodness. Super supple around sag point and quickly rising in progression to give the rider loads of support and feel.

We have a Large size Ariel 50E here, which is 29in wheel front and rear, as too is the Extra Large. The Medium and Small Ariel Es come in mixed wheel mullet configurations. Truth be told, on regular bikes I’m personally not massively sold on mullets but on full-bore e-bikes like the Ariel 50E, I must confess to finding the extra manoeuvrability and the increased arse-clearance very useful.

Damper deets

Up front we have 160mm travel forks. In the 50E’s case, the fork is a 160mm travel Marzocchi Bomber Z1 with some well-executed custom colour matched decals on its legs. Nice. Air sprung. Rebound adjust, ‘sweep adjust’ Grip compression damping. It’s a really, really good fork that is well up to the rigours of e-bike ragging.

The rear shock is a Fox Float X Performance unit with rebound adjustment and 2-position compression (it’s got a climb switch in other words). This is not a tinpot weedy shock. 230mm eye-to-eye delivering a full-on 65mm of shaft stroke.

It’s things like this that are easily missed on spec sheets but have a massive effect on how well – and consistently – the bike rides. Not to mention how more forgiving they are in terms of setting up. Dinky, weedy shocks suck on e-bikes. A lot. Kudos to Saracen for making the considerable effort to package proper shocks into these bikes.

Oh, the decals are colour coded on the Float X shock as well. Neat.

It’s worth pointing out that Saracen have a comprehensive and – for once – actually accurate and useful suspension setup guide for this shock on this bike. Hours of faff saved. Even the most suspension-phobic tweak-freaked riders can get a decent there or thereabouts suspension set-up. Again, well done Saracen for going the extra mile.

The e-bike stuff

Motor is a Shimano E-7000 on this entry level Ariel 50E. Whilst this motor ‘only’ has a top grunt of 60Nm of torque – compared to its siblings’ EP-8 85Nm – this is the key item that helps bring this bike in at under £5K. It’s something of a gamble by Saracen to spec a middling motor with decent dampers and finishing kit, but I think it’s a gamble that pays off handsomely on the trail. I’m more than happy to trade in 25Nm in exchange for proper suspension, brakes, wheels, tyres and all the other Good Stuff.

And hey, to look on the considerable bright side, 60Nm is still quite a lot of assist. And it is certainly significantly less battery-draining. And let’s be honest, a lot of 85Nm motor-ed e-bikes often don’t get used often in BOOST mode because of just how much it can rinse a battery.

Speaking of batteries, the Saracen Ariel 50E contains a big ol’ 720Wh battery inside its down tube. No more 504Wh range-anxiety specials that came with the previous Ariel E-bikes. is more. You’ll be doing many, many more miles of mountain biking with the battery and motor combo.

Buttons, screens and apps

The main power switch is neatly integrated into the top tube (there’s a USB-C power port just below the power button too for powering GPS device or even smartphones). There’s the simple bar remote near the left hand grip and the display sits besides the stem and gives you all the info you really need. Shimano’s remote control and dinky screen combo offer the best balance of discreteness and useful info. Other systems either give you too much info on a too-big screen, or give you next-to-no info on a screenless set-up.

You can connect via Bluetooth to the bike via Shimano’s actually good phone app – called E-Tube – to do some tweakery. You can tweak the motor’s power levels and you can also change what stats and info the display shows.

Geometry is key

Geometry talking time. Sorted geometry is Saracen’s other secret weapon (alongside their TRL rear suspension design).

In a word, the Ariel 50E is… long.

It may not be hugely slack up front – 65° head angle – but the bike sure is long. The reach on this Large is a magnificent 505mm. The chain stays are an excellent 465mm length. Yes, I said ‘excellent’. Am not a fan of short chain stays on any bike but especially an ebike. Maximise your climbing capability to a ridiculous degree – it’s an ebike! Insane climbs are now actually fun.

To counter – or to work with – these lengthy rear stays is a relatively high bottom bracket height (a modest 25mm of BB drop). Healthily high BBs are actually great for a bike of this wheelbase and reach. Lowslung BBs often aren’t so great on long bikes. They can leave you a bit ‘lost’ and overly stuck-to-the-ground. Bringing up that BB height adds shedloads of dynamism and control back into the mix. This BB height is another easily-missed – and misconstrued – sign that Saracen know what they’re doing with geometry.

That 65° head angle may get some folk’s eyebrows a-raising – we’re getting used to bikes with head angle a degree or two slacker up front – but that Z1 fork comes into play here. The Z1 has masses of support and is well placed to be set up to ride nice and high in its travel whilst still allowing the full travel to be accessible – even if it means lighter riders may need to remove a few volume spacers from its stock configuration. That’s what volume spacers are for – fine tuning things to work best for you. E-bike forks don’t need loads of sag to be plush. Run your e-bike forks with less sag, remove some volume spacers if need be to get at full travel, and reap the benefits of a better handling front end.

Finishing off kit

Let’s finish things off with a quick rundown of the finishing kit of this Saracen Ariel 50E.

Shimano Deore brakes with 203mm rotors front and rear. SLX 12-speed drivetrain with 165mm length XT cranks.

DT Swiss HX552 wheelset features a 30mm internal width, ideal for supporting the 2.4in width tyres such as the excellent Maxxis Minion DHR II tyres that are specced.

Up front the handlebar is from RaceFace and is 780mm wide with 35mm of rise, paired to a suitably stubby 40mm Race Face stem.

Finishing off the package are a pair of proper ODI lock-on grips, a KS Rage dropper post with Westy remote and Saracen’s own e-bike specific saddle.

Review soon

We’ll have a full review of this Saracen Ariel 50E up on site very soon. We’ve already been putting a load of miles through it. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that it’s a really good performer. How could it not be?

Saracen Ariel 50E Specification

  • Frame // Series 3 Custom Butted Hydroformed 6013 Aluminium
  • Shock // Fox Float X Performance 230 x 65mm, rebound, 2-position compression
  • Fork // Marzocchi Bomber Z1 Grip
  • Wheels // DT Swiss H552 rims on KT hubs
  • Front Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHR II 29 x 2.4in EXO TR
  • Rear Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHR II 29 x 2.4in EXO TR
  • Chainset // Shimano XT E-8000, 165mm, 34T
  • Drivetrain // Shimano SLX/Deore 12-speed, 10-51T
  • Brakes // Shimano Deore 2-pot, 203/203mm
  • Stem // RaceFace Chester 35, 40mm
  • Bars // RaceFace Chester 35, 780 x 35mm
  • Grips // ODI Elite Motion
  • Seatpost // KS Rage I, 30.9mm, 150mm
  • Saddle // Saracen Custom CRMO E-MTB
  • Motor // Shimano STEPS E-7000, 60Nm
  • Battery // Darfon 720Wh
  • Size Tested // Large
  • Sizes Available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large

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