The light eMTB landscape
eMTB’s are taking off for sure as every manufacturer is starting to offer a bike or a line of bikes with pedal assist. But 90% of the bikes are in the 50 lb weight class even with carbon and top-end components. This leaves an opportunity for a lightweight eMTB, first explored by the Lapierre E-Zesty and the Specialized Levo SL.
These bikes have opened up a whole new dimension of riding experiences where the pedal-assist can be a more transparent, less dominant force in the riding equation. A 35 lb Trail or All Mountain bike is really very close in weight to non-assisted bikes that are typically in the 30-36 lb range. Thus the old ’20 lb penalty’ may no longer be a requirement when choosing to ride an eMTB.
The eMTB just starts to ride like a bike and it can be ridden with or without the motor turned on. But when the 3500 foot steep climb comes, those are tackled with enthusiasm as well. It increases the rider’s riding options and adventure bubble, exploring new terrain, and tackling loops that may not have a good return on climbing investment otherwise. This is the market the Orbea Rise aims to address.
The Rise approach
Orbea aimed to bring fluidity to an ebike, where power, distance, interface, and weight are addressed as a single, cohesive system. They worked with Shimano to develop their own version of the EP8 motor. And Orbea developed proprietary electronics and batteries while Shimano configured their EP8 motor to work perfectly running specific RS firmware.
Instead of 85nm of battery consuming torque, the maximum torque of the EP8 RS motor is 60Nm, with a power map designed to match the rider’s pedaling effort. The rider is allowed to participate in the pedaling and climbing effort. The overboosted behavior common in many ebikes is replaced with a motor that intently listens to the rider’s torque output and responds accordingly. It’s a more physically demanding experience for the rider but a bit more rewarding as well as efforts are quickly matched with configurable options.
Lightweight and long-range usually don’t do well together but many efficiencies can be gained by careful engineering. And the silver bullet is modular batteries where the main battery is small and light but it has the ability to accept an external helper battery. The Rise features a modular battery solution that provides up to 612wh, combining a very light and compact 360wh main battery integrated into the down tube with a patent-pending 252Wh range extender.
This is a concept Mtbr fully endorses as we feel that battery should be modular and configurable like water supply for a ride. One should not be required to carry one gallon of water on each ride since most of that water will get wasted often and it harms the quality of the ride. Batteries should be the same way where a base option is available but modular batteries can be added or carried to deliver range for bigger adventures.
The RS concept provides a great day on the trails because the lighter bike, lower power consumption, and of course, the pedal-friendly weight and assistance extend battery life by a factor of over 1.5x (by Orbea’s calculations). This means the 360Wh RS Battery of the Rise delivers ride times and ranges similar to a 540Wh battery in a typical eBike. We suspect this is comparing the Rise to existing 504wh equipped batteries using the existing Shimano E8000 motor.
The 2.2Kg main battery might be one of the lightest and slimmest examples out there. Housed in a strong and reliable alloy case, this energy bank is based on the newest 21700 cell that provides a higher rate of charge/discharge and ultimately much better battery life and heat management.
Orbea’s RS Range Extender gives you an additional 252Wh (70%) of exploration. Adding the RS Range Extender gives ride times comparable to a 900Wh battery on a regular ebike. According to Orbea, that’s 8 hours and over 4,000m of climbing in Eco mode. Orbea has charts and calculations for their elevation estimates and they definitely lean towards leaner riders who are able to contribute and participate with significant wattage of pedal power. A beginner rider, maybe 50 lbs overweight is never going to climb 4000 meters or 13,000 feet on any ebike under 1000 wh of battery.
One of the reasons the Specialized Levo is so successful is it doesn’t look like and ebike and it doesn’t have a lot of electronic gizmos. The Orbea Rise takes the same approach with an uncluttered machine that is sleek, but doesn’t lack expandability. The simplest configuration consists of a discreet rocker switch near the left brake lever to control assistance level and a small, inline junction box with two tiny LEDs that provide support mode info and smartly broadcasts wireless data.
The bike’s power button is located at the bottom of the seat tube, with all wiring guided internally. The charge point is located on the side of the seat tube. A well-designed sealed cap protects it from mud and water
and includes a secure closure that also locks the Range Extender cable once it’s connected.
Additionally, Orbea integrated the Garmin world into the RS ecosystem, giving you all the info you need on your Garmin, watch, or cycling computer.
The RS system, motor, battery, and electronics are significantly lighter than other ebikes – a result of the RS system’s unique power delivery. The new bike tops in at 16.2 kg on the M LTD spec and 17.5 kg on the M Team configuration.
Manuals (if you know how), quick direction changes, and playful handling characteristics are not normally associated with eBike become part of the domain again.
The Rise was given the same ultralight frame construction as Occam and Rallon, making it one of the lightest eMTB frames in the market with 2.3 kg or 5.07 lbs (with shock, no motor)
Head angle is 66 degrees mated to a 77 degree seat angle for a very nice, progressive middle ground Trail bike offering. On a Medium bike, the reach measurement is 450mm so it’s nice and aggressive. It’s a long bike and although 50 lb bikes can be a little difficult to turn with this reach, the 36 lb weight will play nicely with this bike’s maneuverability.
The chainstay is at 442mm with good tire clearance for the 140/140mm travel bike.
Sounds good so far right but what about the price? It comes in four models and it’s not cheap but reasonable in our view.
LTD – $10,499
Team – $9,499
Rise M10 – $7,999
Rise M20 – $6,499
Not cheap for sure but the Rise is priced quite a bit lower than the Specialized Levo SL at $13,525 (with $450 extender battery included). All the Rise models have carbon frames so we are curious what the Rise M20 weighs.
More information: https://www.orbea.com