Queenstown has built some brilliant MTB trails for all abilities, and Campbell from Chargeabout Bikes in Queenstown encouraged us to try their eMTBs on the trails around from home base at Kelvin Heights to Jacks Point. “Sounds like a good idea”. It was. When I first saw that Chargeabout was renting bikes from near the Hilton I was wondering why not from Queenstown itself. Now that I know a bit more about the area, I can see why. The riding options directly from there are amazing – to Jacks Point as we did, or across the Kawerau and around Frankton and across the Shotover, then up to Arrowtown and even Gibbston Valley. If you prefer, you can also ride around to Queenstown itself.

Queenstown Trails
Queenstown Trails

I was kitted out with the Moustache Samedi 27/9 Race 5 with 150mm full suspension (“Luke”), and ElectricMeg being of shorter stature had a Samedi 29/9 Trail 5 with 120/140 front/rear (“Stan”). The Samedi 27/9 design features a “wagon wheel” 29″ up front and a 27.5″ or 650b on the rear. It makes sense because a big front wheel is good for climbing over roots and rocks, and a smaller wheel out back helps keep the chainstays short for good manoeuvrability. Either way, both bikes felt great to ride, and I don’t see any downside. For the 2018 model year they have moved to a more conventional layout with 27.5+ wheels with 2.8″ width rubber. There isn’t yet a 29+ standard (there might never be – they would be enormous) so I can see the rationale in the change for 2018.

The detailing of Moustache bikes is impressive. There is a little bit of rubber to stop chainslap, nicely curved tubes and even a special mounting point on the rear axle so that you can add a kick stand. “A kickstand on a 150mm full suspension bike?” you ask rhetorically. Well yes, why the hell not. It’s a damn comfortable bike that will do anything from commuting to wicked downhills, so buy it if you like comfort too. It’s OK…

Campbell has been the importer and distributor of Moustache bikes for about 4 years now. eBikeStudio is the distribution side and Chargeabout is the rental side. He is passionate about providing a premium bike with premium service and carries a full complement of spares including for the Bosch motors. It is reassuring that you can get something fixed quickly in NZ rather than waiting for Bosch in Australia to assess and repair. Moustache has an impressive range of premium ebikes (that’s all they do) from urban step-through Lundi, Friday Urban commuters (see previous review) and a suite of Samedi off-road tourers and eMTBs. The observant may notice a day-of-week theme. Lundi is Monday while Samedi is Saturday – play day. There is a Dimanche (Sunday) range of road bikes too.

The Bosch Performance Line CX motors on our steeds are fantastic, and the new eMTB mode on the CX motor is a game-changer. Rather than having to rattle through different boost modes as the terrain changes, it has a rising assist rate – so on flattish terrain it offers only a little assistance, and as soon as you crank harder it gives full boost. It is as if the uphills barely exist and everything else is downhill. Nothing wrong with that! The top line is the terrain while the bottom line is how it feels with the eMTB mode. Yes, downhill!

profile

There are all sorts of comparisons by tyre-kickers about which ebike motor system is more powerful or has more torque. It’s a bit like comparing two stereo systems without listening, comparing only on Watts and THD.  We know it’s a silly thing to do. To truly compare you need to ride the bike in the terrain you would typically use it. Talking specs, the bikes both have 500Wh batteries and we barely used any on our journey. ‘Enough’ is the word on range. The current generation of Bosch motors is still a bit whiny, but that looks about to change. Already the Active Line Plus has a more conventional front chainring, is quieter and has a frictionless freewheel, a bit like the Brose, Yamaha and Shimano e8000 motors. Add the sheer numbers of Bosch out there and arguably the best firmware of all and you have a great combo.

Our ride took us around Kelvin Peninsula – great views across the lake to Queenstown and some amazing sculpture. The track is well graded and easy to ride. The trail towards Jacks Point gets a bit more undulating with some challenging ups and downs and more spectacular views as you climb higher. What looked quite challenging was a doddle on the ebikes. I found myself looking for the challenging lines given that I had an extremely capable bike. I’d love to take it on some longer trips with some testing terrain but time is limited on this trip. We stopped in at the stunning Jacks Point restaurant for a drink and a bite before continuing along the road back to base. I’d have preferred the track back, but time…

Luke, the Samedi Race 5 has a 150mm Rockshox Yari fork and 145mm of proprietary Moustache rear suspension. While I didn’t ride anything very technical, it worked well for me. Stan with the shorter travel Revelation fork worked well too for ElectricMeg and her 5″ height. Apart from the fit aspect, there was no real disadvantage to the longer suspension travel – you don’t need to bother about weight penalties of less climbing efficiency – you’ve got a motor! Though with longer suspension travel, you can’t expect to sit on the saddle at traffic lights with a foot on the ground – they just aren’t designed for that. Luke’s dropper post did help though. Out of the box there is no kick stand so you end up leaning them against buildings or posts when you stop. But apart from that and their 25-27kph cut-off, I see no reason why they couldn’t be used for short commutes up to 10km.

These are premium bikes and aren’t cheap. Their quality matches the price which is $6850 for the Trail 5 aka Stan and $7895 for the Race 5. These are both ‘Generation 6’ bikes (2017 model year). They look even more stunning for Gen 7 with sleekly integrated batteries and wider 27 plus tyres.

Who should buy this bike?

  • Someone who values quality and great detailing, and wants a truly capable offroad bike that can also be ridden on-road.

Who shouldn’t buy this bike?

  • Anyone without $7-8k to spend, like me 😦
  • You really need a commuter, in which case a hard-tail with mudguards and a rack is what you need. Rent an eMTB when you truly need it.

What else could I consider that is similar? (the prices are all in the same ballpark)

  • Lapierre Overvolt – also Bosch
  • Specialized Levo – Brose
  • Scott eGenius or eSpark – Bosch
  • Merida eOne-60 or eOne-20 – Steps e8000
  • Focus Jam2 (squared) – Steps e8000