What’s new in 2019
Trek has been at this for a while with a wealth of experience in Europe and now entering its third generation of Powerfly full suspension ebikes. Their ebikes have gone from decent efforts to evolved machines. New in this generation are an advanced removable battery system, carbon fiber frames, purpose-built ebike components and the 150mm of travel in the LT model.
Removable Integrated Battery (RIB)
Trek spent a lot of R&D time developing a removable battery system with their new internally mounted Bosch batteries. They found a significant need or desire by their customers to remove the battery from the bike, replacing it with a fresh one or charge it away from the bike.
What they came up with is a drive-side side access battery that can be removed without any tools. It has a carrying handle and it is integrated with a frame side panel that matches the frame color. And the key is the frame integrity and vibration is not compromised at all.
It is a very good design feat indeed but we feel it’s not of significant value to all users. Batteries are typically charged on the bike so we never really take the battery off. And we typically just have one battery and one charger so that all stays in the garage near the bike for charging. In a commuting situation, where one has to charge the battery at work due to a very long commute, this can come in very handy, allowing the rider to take the battery in the office to charge.
Carbon Fiber Frame
Carbon fiber ebikes are a bit of an enigma because ebikes are heavy and carbon is usually chosen for its light weight. Often, the weight savings in carbon are not significant in lightening the weight of the bike.
But in testing, Trek found the vibration damping characteristics of carbon helped the ride quality of Powerfly 9.7 LT. Also, stiffness gains and molding and shaping abilities of the material allowed a better, more elegant frame. Weight savings is 650 grams or 1.5 lbs so it is a good step in getting the quest to get these bikes lighter. We’ve found that most of the ebikes today weigh in at 50+ lbs and getting them under 45 lbs offers some attractive advantages.
One of the great pursuits in ebikes is getting a suspension platform that is suited to the task. The normal stuff works but its definitely a compromised ride since they are made for 30 lb bikes. A 50 lb bikes has higher demands on damping and flex. Now the forks used by the Powerfly from Fox and Rockshox have bigger, thicker stanchions and have more supported damping tunes for the weight and speed of ebikes.
They don’t have faster downhill speeds but the unsprung weight is heavier and they dive more and hit things harder on drops and technical climbs with faster approach speeds. These new suspension bits make the ride feel normal and the rider is less apt to notice differences from riding their usual non-assisted rigs.
The new Powerflys use powerful, 4-piston brakes with big rotors to address the demands of ebikes. These bikes go a hair faster into corners and they definitely go farther and higher so an upgraded brake system is welcome. It’s only a 20lb bike weight penalty but it is unsprung and the rider typically tackles bigger and longer descents.
Sram Eagle 1×12 is now employed instead of the previous generation’s 1×8 EX. The Sram 1×8 ebike optimized EX was a good concept but it did not offer an appreciable advantage or cost savings unfortunately. And most consumers considered it a downgrade. Sram has gone into the familiar, proven Eagle GX which is strong enough to handle the demands of ebikes.
The Bontrager XR4 tires may be one of the unfair advantages of the new Trek bikes since they roll and corner so well. Now, they have the widths and sidewalls to match up to the Powerflys.
Sticking with Bosch
With all the new motor drive systems being introduced, Trek is putting all their eggs in the Bosch basket because they consider them to have the best product, support and availability. It’s a booming market with significant support needs coming up in the horizon and Bosch is building the support infrastructure that the user base will be demanding.
These motor drives and batteries will need servicing and even the most astute mountain bikers will need help keeping them spinning for years to come.
We find the new Bosch CX line very competitive indeed and their eMTB mode, the best in class. eMTB mode is a riding mode that spans all the modes of Eco, Cruise and Turbo thus allowing the rider to complete an entire ride in one mode. They system senses the power input of the rider and gives them a little push or the full boost the motor can provide.
OCLV Carbon and Alloy 160mm/150mm travel
27.5×2.8” tires on all models 4-piston brakes on all LT models
Powerfly Full Suspension
27.5 x 2.8” tires on 7 27.5 x 2.35” tires on 5
And finally, Trek seems to be the most trail aware ebike company of all as they spend a significant amount of time working on ebike advocacy and education. They regularly meet & educate local land managers to expose them to what ebikes really are and how they can exist and impact the land they manage. And they spend a significant effort with People for Bikes working in each state to tackle the maze of laws and hurdles to allow responsible ebike use.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s new in the Powerfly lineup this year?
As e-bikes continue to evolve, so does Powerfly. The most visible update this year is Trek’s exclusive new Removable Integrated Battery, or RIB. The Bosch PowerTube 500 battery is fully integrated into the side of the downtube. It looks great, and makes the frame compatible with a water bottle cage, but the biggest benefit is the convenience. Unlike other fully integrated batteries, RIB is simple to remove and re-install with no tools or complicated parts.
Powerfly is offered as three distinct families: Hardtail, Full Suspension (130mm) and Long Travel (150mm), which is new to North America. We’re also offering a carbon model in the Long Travel lineup. OCLV Mountain Carbon offers cleaner aesthetics, a quieter ride, and easier handling thanks to lower weight.
Major spec upgrades include:
– A more robust RockShox Revelation fork on Powerfly FS 7
– More powerful 4-piston disc brakes on all Powerfly LT models
– Tougher Bontrager XR4 tires on all Plus models
What’s the difference between Powerfly FS and Powerfly LT? Who is the customer for each?
The 130mm Powerfly FS balances comfortable, efficient climbing with confident handling on descents and corners for the best overall trail bike feel. The 150mm Powerfly LT offers added downhill capability with more travel, more stable handling, and more robust parts.
What’s the difference between Powerfly and Powerfly Women’s?
Powerfly Women’s models have the same high-performance frame technology and geometry as the mainline Powerfly hardtail. All sizes except for the 18.5” feature curved top tubes for lower standover height that makes mounting and dismounting easier for shorter riders. The Women’s models also come with women’s specific saddles, narrower handlebars, and an alternate color.
What is the maximum tire size for each frame platform?
The 130mm full suspension (FS) bikes and 150mm long travel (LT) bikes can accept up to 27.5×2.8” tires. The 17.5” and larger size hardtail models can accept up to 29×2.4” or 27.5×2.8” tires. The 15.5” and smaller hardtails will not fit 29” tires, but can accommodate 27.5×2.8” tires.
What if I need to replace the battery or battery cover?
Powerfly’s use a stock Bosch Powertube battery. The frame cover and battery are one-piece, but can be separated. Trek will sell frame covers through Trek retailers for replacement or for those that want to have a second battery that can be swapped out quickly.
Are spare keys available?
Yes. Spare keys are available through the lock manufacturer, ABUS. They’ll need the key code printed on a card that’s included with the bike.
Will the bike support e-Shift integration with drivetrain (Shimano, Nuvinchi, Rohloff)?
Yes. Contact Bosch to acquire the correct wiring harness.
How fast can it go?
It will go as fast as your legs turn the pedals. However, the pedal assist cuts out at 20mph.
Is there a way to bypass the speed governor to modify the top assisted speed?
No. It’s part of the programming. Modifying the regulated assisted speed will void the warranty and puts the rider at risk of violating laws governing pedal assist bikes.
Can I ride the bike in the rain or wet conditions? Can I wash it?
Yes. The Bosch system, including the battery, is weatherproof and will function fine in wet conditions. The motor is further protected from mud and rocks by Trek’s exclusive Motor Armor that also acts as a skid plate over large obstacles. However, none of the Bosch components should ever be submerged in water or cleaned with a high-pressure hose or power washer.
How long does the battery last?
The 500Wh battery has an approximate range of 170km in Eco mode, and 60km in Turbo mode. Actual range will depend on various factors such as terrain type, incline grade, and individual riding style.
How long does it take to fully charge the battery?
From empty to fully charged will take about 4.5 hours. From empty to 50% charged will take only 2 hours.
Does the battery require any special care?
The battery should never be opened, as doing so not only voids all warranties, but also poses the risk of uncontrolled thermal reactions. Use only the provided Bosch eBike charger, which is specifically matched to the Bosch battery and has the right software for optimal charging and maintenance of the battery. Using any other charger will void the warranty and also risk malfunctions or reduced lifespan. Lithium-ion batteries have neither memory nor self-discharge effects, so the battery can be partially recharged at any time without affecting the service life.
Where’s the throttle?
Powerfly is a Class 1 pedal-assist mountain bike. It amplifies the power the rider puts in while pedaling. If the rider isn’t pedaling, the bike is not assisting. It is not self-propelled.
Will walk assist/drive feature be enable-able?
Yes. If it’s not already enabled out of the box, it can be with the retailer software.
Where can I legally ride this bike?
Regulations on where eMTB bikes can be ridden legally vary by state and whether the land is federally, state, county or privately owned. Trek and IMBA promote a position that safely guides eMTB users towards trails that won’t be questionable: “E-MTBs are approved for use on trails that allow pedal-assist or motorized vehicles. You are responsible for knowing and complying with all regulations and use laws. If uncertain about trail status, check with local parks management or consult your retailer.“
Where can I learn more about eMTB regulations?
People For Bikes has a well-curated list of resources and explanations surrounding eMTB: www.peopleforbikes.org/e-bikes
Do eMTB’s have any more impact on trails than traditional mountain bikes?
“Not significant.” IMBA conducted a study of Type 1 (low speed pedal assist) mountain bikes, like the Powerfly, and found that “the impacts from Class 1 eMTBs and traditional mountain bicycles were not significantly different, while motorcycles led to much greater soil displacement and erosion.” In short, riding poorly constructed mountain bike trails or riding trails while still wet will have much more impact than eMTB riding. You can find the full study on People For Bike’s e-bike resources.
More Info: https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/