When the Italians do the handling and the Germans do the electronics, you have it the right way around. Add in cycling brand history dating back to 1924 — including the fact that Greg Lemond won the 1989 Tour de France on a Bottecchia — mix in the model name Newton from the guy who invented gravity(*), and you’ve got the idea.
It is an All Mountain-configured 140/150mm bike powered by the gutsy German Brose motor which is noticeably quieter than say Bosch CX or Shimano E8000. Suspension is Rock Shox Sektor upfront and a Monarch on the Horst-link rear. Long chainstays (495mm) keep it well planted (it’s a long bike overall). I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the Sektor given that it is an entry-level silver-stanchioned AM fork, but most of that compromise is likely in weight which doesn’t matter so much in ebikes. It was plush and predictable, never feeling noodly or diving too deeply. I was less enthused by the rear until I figured it out. It is plush and active needed to be ridden in ‘platform’ (ie closed) mode for all but the down bits. Despite running 270psi (my pump’s practical limit) the rear would tend to squat down in its travel all too easily. Open for down, closed for everything else worked just fine. Head angle is stated as 67deg but it didn’t ever feel steep, though handling was precise. I suspect that the rear is indeed designed to sit a bit down it its travel effectively slackening the head angle a bit.
That motor – phew – it’s a beast. Most of my riding was done on ‘cruise’, the lowest setting. On undulating slightly technical terrain, it made me the best mountain biker I will ever be, cleaning the root gardens and inclines with ease, riding through dips under control, and handling uphill switchbacks like a pro. In ‘sport’ mode it just flies up hills, almost comedically compared to the muggles on non-magic-bikes. Always in control though, that’s how good its torque sensors are and control systems are. Battery is 500Wh, I used 1/10 on my 12km ride in Woodhill, which these days is fairly challenging terrain involving a fair bit of climbing. The display is clear and removable too. The charger is a fast 4A unit.
The 27.5×2.6 Vee tyres on 40mm rims offered huge amounts of grip and a forgiving nature. It all felt rigid enough to be precise and quick steering, but stable thanks to those long stays. The Shimano single-piston brakes felt good and well modulated.
Gears worked faultlessly thanks to SRAM NX 11 speed.
On the road this bike goes well too, though eventually the buzz of the tyres would become a distraction. It is powered up to 32kmh and is easily pedalled beyond that so would also be great for the ‘sometimes’ commuter in dry weather (nobody likes a wet streak up their bum).
The dropper post is a Pro Koryak — Pro being a Shimano sub-brand. It worked well once I got it set up right. It is a ‘stealth-routed’ post that has it’s adjustments on the post end. So to adjust it you have to first remove the handle, feed some cable into the frame, gently pull it out the seat tube, and make any adjustments to cable length that you need there You are out of luck if you want it a bit looser. Then try again until you get it right. It’ll probably be faultless thereafter, so make sure it is right from the shop! The fork also has a remote which isn’t especially useful in my opinion (I’d far rather have a remote for the rear which I’d have used a lot) and it clashes on the bars with the dropper lever. A trigger-lever for the Koryak would have solved that.
Overall impressions are of a well made bike that would easily hold its own on any mountain, up and down. And a cool, fringe brand that has some real history to it.
What alternatives are there?
- This $6500 segment is fairly crowded with its closest cousin being the Specialized Levo also Brose powered at the same price. The Newton has a bigger battery and a dropper post. The Levo has an app to tweak the motor characteristics which is nice.
- Take a peek at the list in the Hypersonic review
(*) Yeah I know he didn’t actually invent gravity.