Smartmotion HyperSonic – redefining value in an eMTB

The Smartmotion HyperSonic is a true full-suspension eMTB developed in New Zealand. It plays happily beside other major MTB brand bikes costing thousands more.

I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t expecting much from this bike. After all, what does Smartmotion know about mountain bikes? It was with some nervousness that I headed into Riverhead Forest just north-west of Auckland after a week that has seen some rain. Riverhead is one of my favourite places to ride, but it can bite the unsuspecting rider and punish poor equipment choice. Indeed my mate Bruce felt the wrath just minutes in, requiring a trip to A&E to patch up a severe puncture wound. Undeterred, Mitch and I continued with our ride, now more wary of those man-eating puddles.

I hadn’t done anything to the suspension tune, only lowering pressure on the wide Schwalbe tyres to 15psi. There is no sense running plus-sized tyres if you are going to have them rock-hard. Very soon I learned to trust the grip and value the momentum that I could maintain with the grunt from the Smartmotion-tweaked Bafang motor. The motor was one aspect I was most wary about, but it is perfectly suited to eMTB duties, with more-then-ample torque from very low RPM. I could grind up steep inclines, even start on a steep hill. All I needed was one foot on a pedal to get going. Mostly I rode on setting ‘1’, using ‘2’ for more technical terrain and ‘3’ or ‘4’ for really steep stuff. ‘5’ seemed over-powered for technical duties, best reserved for the gravel road home when you realise you are late for dinner because you’ve been having so much fun. If you see a MTB with a Bafang Max on it, don’t automatically pass up for a Bosch CX, Brose, Shimano e8000 or Yamaha. This motor is really at home on trails and the equal of any of these. That’s because Smartmotion have done some trickery on the controller to get more Amps (equals more torque) which would cost them more than the base configuration. Maximum assist speed is factory locked at 35kph – that’s plenty.

The bike felt well balanced – though heavy as you’d expect – but that meant I could bomb over or through anything. I was carving through corners, around ruts, through puddles, over roots… all with confidence. And when I needed to slow down, the powerful Tektro Geminis hauled me up without drama. The suspension worked great. Of course the SR Suntour 32 forks (120mm) aren’t as plush, active or rigid as a $1500 Pike or Fox 36, but you’d be paying >$8000 to get a bike with one of those. The rims are massive and support the wide tyres well.

Having pre-riddden on the road I was concerned that the shift-detection would get in the way – it had felt a bit awkward changing gears up steeper hills. It pauses the motor when you shift gears, and on the road you tend to lose a bit of momentum. On the trail however I didn’t notice this at all: what I did get was smooth shifting. No crunching. Like.

My friends were quite taken by the looks of this bike, it ain’t shy. The decals on the wheels say ‘look at me I’m a Smartmotion’, though I’d prefer something a bit more restrained. It’s all branded up, with every piece other than the rear shock, tyres and derailleur having a logo or label proudly declaring its Kiwi origins.

I found the ergonomics to be good. At first you may find the wide handlebars and short stem weird if you are not used to that modern configuration, but they definitely make sense. The display is very easy to read and nice to look at in full colour. Like it’s Pacer and Catalyst stablemates, it uniquely features both Torque and Cadence modes. Torque is definitely the pick for offroad, but Cadence is also useful if you are grinding up a hill. You don’t have to work at all hard in Cadence mode.

Battery capacity is seemingly small 11.4Ah (415Wh) but it seemed to have adequate range at MTB speeds. Starting at $4499 for the base model, add $300 for a 14.5AH (520Wh) battery which would be my pick for epic adventures. I’m not a big fan of Smartmotion’s saddles (shared with Pacer) so I’d probably swap that out along with adding a dropper post, for which there are cable guides. The pedals are plastic MTB flats, and any self-respecting MTB rider will have their own favourites (most decent MTBs come sans pedals for that reason).

Who should buy this bike?

  • Anyone looking for an eBike with full suspension for comfort
  • You want to ride with your mates, but you’ve got slower or they’ve got faster
  • You want to ride with your partner – if you both have this bike you will go the same speed!
  • You just want to ride in places that put you off because it’s too hard/steep

Who should not?

  • It’s not a commuter. No mudguards, lights. The tyres will wear prematurely and be annoying on the road. Wide bars don’t help on the road either.
  • You are brand-conscious and must have a premium MTB brand. Be prepared to spend lots more (see below)

What else could you look at?

  • Trek Powerfly 5 $5999 (similar spec, 500Wh battery Bosch CX, 2.35″ tyres)
  • Trek Powerfly 7 $6999 (slightly better spec, 500Wh Bosch CX, dropper post, 2.8″ tyres)
  • GT Everb Amp $7149 (Yari fork [much better], 500Wh Steps e8000, dropper post, 2.8″ tyres)
  • Scott eSpark 720/730 $7299/$7499 (similar spec, 500Wh Steps e8000, 2.8″ tyres)
  • Specialized Levo 6Fattie $6500 (11 speed, Rockshox Reba 150mm fork [better], 460Wh Brose, 2.8″ tyres)
  • Moustache Samedi Trail 4 $7500 (similar spec, 140mm, 400Wh Bosch CX, 2.8″ tyres)
  • Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 $6999 (slightly better spec, Fox fork (likely better), 500Wh Bosch CX, 2.35″ tyres)
  • Haibike?
  • Focus Jam2?
  • Giant full-e+ ? (140mm, 500Wh Yamaha)

 

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16 comments

  • Has anybody got problems with rattles in the Smartmotion Hypersonic. I’ve got one up front but cannot track it down. Added a pad inside the battery area but did not seem to make any difference. Any hints appreciated. Mark

    • Just saw a YouTube video about cable rattle in MTB down tubes. My issue is really bad on big bumpy downhills. Hypersonic had 3 cables in there!

      • Have had my HyperSonic for over a year and have upgraded it with an external Dropper and tubeless Maxxis Assagai Front and Aggressor Rear. Take it regularly on my local Black Diamond runs in Australia which are very dry and dusty (take the easier lines due to the limits of the 120mm suspension), but have never had or heard any rattles whatsoever. Also, I have two batteries, a 11.5 and 15aH. Irrespective what battery I use.

      • Thx for the comment and I have not tested the bike to the degree you have. Also in Australia. Still a novice. However, had a puncture and had extreme difficulty in breaking the bead on the Schwalbe tyres. Had to use a heat gun until they smoked to get them off. Now use slime. About to get a second battery for more range. Rode recently with 2 other guys on different emtb brands and did not realise how quiet our bike motor is. Also better power. Thx, Mark

      • Also bought a second battery. Exact same size, but more capacity. Over the past year have decreased my pedal assist down to an average 2 and sometimes 3 as I have become fitter, lighter and have worked out the right gear selection for maximum effect on all surfaces in torque and cadence mode.
        Am a moderator for a worldwide eMTB Forum based in the UK with nearly 7,000 members and it surprises me with the number of issues that come up with the “name” brands. Noise is one of those and agree that the Bafang motor is one of the quietest and marginally more powerful ones around.
        Extremely happy with my Hypersonic which is excellent value for money backed up with great service by Ian here in Oz.
        BTW, also added Renthal 800mm FatBars with a 4″ rise and has improved the bike’s handling for me, especially pumping the bike around local bush pump tracks.
        Enjoy the ride👍🏻

  • Great review and the reason I went and bought the Hypersonic. Can confirm that there is a lag when changing gears on the road, but you hit that uphill track, no issue at all with gear changes. Tyres dig in and you take off. Worked out assist level 3 or 4 is the best. 5 only for those steeper technical sections. Speaking with a Giant dealer yesterday who was giving it a once over, he was quite impressed with the standard of components. Says it all.

  • Great review. How fast would this be on the open road? I have a potential commute of 20km dirt road and 10km sealed road (all flat), so looking for a bike that can do everything fast.

  • Thinking of commuting to work on one of these. 30km each way on back roads (not the highway as I would get killed on day 1). About 10km is sealed back road and the other 20km is flat Canterbury gravel road, but it can be rutted or heavy gravel depending on when they last repaired it. Looks like a good bike for this as you can get good speed (would be nice to do this in under an hour each way) on these bikes. Any thoughts, I’m thinking full suspension is better than hard tail.

    • I reckon you could, but equally a hard tail bike or commuter with decent tyres would work too. Have you ever ridden a bike with a body float seat post? Like a magic carpet ride. Much better than the cheap suspension seat posts on many bikes.

    • How many hills? I have the 14.4 AH battery and
      battery on the Hypersonic is only ok but I find I can chew through is pretty quick sometime – 30k each way might push it if you want to use anything above 1 or 2 assist. You would be charging after every commute anyway. (My wife’s battery on her bike (not a Smart Motion) although slightly smaller is much better). It is very good on the road though due to the Smart Sam tires which roll well.

  • Hi, I am a heavy rider 92-96 kgs depending on fitness etc. Would I need to upgrade the suspension for general riding? and to what? Costs? Cheers Adam

  • I have one of these. It’s an Ok bike for the money. Front shocks are not the best tho. It is surprisingly good on the road despite the tyres and wide bars. Climbs well off road. I agree about the over use of the labels/decals….. Seat… meh…

  • That’s a stormer of a review, Barry. great to hear how much you enjoyed the bike! We have a demo model at Think Electric Bikes (www.thinkelectricbikes.co.nz, 25 Lake Road, Devonport) and all-comers are welcome to come and give it a spin!

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