Black ATB – the SUV trend continues

There are internet forums dedicated to Black helicopter sightings, and our whole nation whips itself into a frenzy over black jerseys and black caps, now here is the Black ATB to get behind. Black is the new home brand by Electrify, and the ATB is a mid drive all-terrain bike. Michael Tritt from Electrify explained it as the bike that everyone has been asking for, and I don’t doubt that for one second. Even within Auckland, many buyers want knobbly tyres just in case they go off-road, the same phenomenon as the rise of the SUV. And why not, it’s practical and comfortable. It goes on-road and off-road too when you want it. I rode it on roads, a beach, gravel and steep banks. It handled each with the ease of a Sonny-Bill offload.

The design is a neat step-through. The battery is well integrated into the frame so it doesn’t get in the way, nor does is create additional weight over the rear wheel. Instead it does what mid-drives are good at, which is to keep the weight around the centre of the bike for a natural ride feeling. The motor is from Shengyi, an experienced ebike manufacturer so expect reliability. Shengyi claims 90Nm torque and 250W for their mid-drives but in feel it is more like a Steps E6000 or Bosch Active Line Plus than a Brose or Bosch CX. The torque is there for sure – there was nothing it couldn’t do – but it is limited in maximum power output in that it dislikes higher pedalling cadences. The 5 levels of assist limit maximum output rather than as a multiplier of rider input, which means that if you want to go fast you need to bump up the levels. In preferring lower cadences it may suit many ebike riders. All said, you do need to shift gears and adjust power levels a bit to get the most out of the bike a bit like an old-school 2-stroke motorbike. I was a bit disappointed that a throttle isn’t part of the package, but it is fairly quick to get off the mark, engaging power within perhaps 1/20th of a pedal rotation. Top assisted speed is 32km/h, OK for this style of bike, although I always prefer unlimited bikes for commuting duties. It has a walk mode too which was handy for getting up the ferry off-ramp.

Battery is 13Ah standard with 17Ah available for an extra $300, which is what I’d probably want. Having said that after 35km of hilly riding on Waiheke – a lot of it at speed in order to catch the ferry – it still had 2/5 bars remaining. Weirdly, there is no facility to charge the battery on the bike or to charge a USB device.

The rest of the parts selection is not surprising. Fork is a Suntour 100mm coil spring,  brakes are good Tektro Auriga hydraulic units–one of my favourites and the gears are competent Shimano Acera 9sp. If it were my bike I’d be tempted to swap out the knobbly CST 27.5×2.4 tyres for something like a Schwalbe Super Moto-X that offers protection and just enough grip. I understand though that this would add to the cost of the bike at retail. I’d also look for a wider saddle — the Selle Royal Ariel is a nice gel saddle that is more suited to a sportier geometry bike like (say) a Magnum Peak.

The rack has a 15kg capacity. Lights are not fitted as standard.

Ride quality is good and composed on gravel. I rode up and down some fairly steep grassy banks (yes, I am 15 years old 😉 and it handled well. Most step-throughs get a bit squirrelly in tight switchbacks which limits their offroad ability, but it felt more balanced fore-and-aft than a Smartmotion X-City and–as you’d expect–not as torsionally rigid as a Moustache Lundi or Riese & Muller Nevo.

As an all-rounder the Black ATB is a winner. Perhaps there are better commuters (the eZee Sprint for example dominated on the hills) but I don’t know if there is a better affordable all-terrain step through. If you can afford a Nevo ($7100+) or a Lundi ($5295+) then try those too, and don’t overlook the X-City either ($3899). 

The Black ATB is a good bike that can get to great with:

  • Built-in lights front and rear
  • Puncture resistant tyres (eg Schwalbe Super Moto-X)
  • Ergon grips 
  • Wider saddle (eg Selle Royal Lookin or Freeway)

Highlights for me include:

  • Quiet motor with good torque
  • Easy and comfortable ride
  • Good step-through design
  • Integrated battery for uninterrupted access and sleek looks
  • Good range of 40-50km, with optional battery upgrade to take it further
  • Strong brakes
  • Mudguards (you’d be surprised how useful they are)

Available from Electrify and other good ebike stores for RRP $3599

Who should look at the Black ATB?

  • Riders who want a step-through for any reason at all. They are such a nice option compared to swinging your leg over
  • Someone your size – it fitted my 6’2″ and ElectricMeg’s 5′ frames
  • You’ll mostly ride a mix of sealed and unsealed roads
  • Comfort, style and versatility is more important than speed

Who isn’t the Black ATB for?

  • Someone who will use it for mostly singletrack trail riding. You really need an eMTB 
  • Hard-core commuters like me. You want those puncture-proof tyres, lights, frame lock and perhaps more speed, an internal hub as a bonus. At the price-point, consider a Sprint, Magnum or Smartmotion mid-City instead.
  • Throttle lovers. I like throttles too. The X-City has one. (To be totally fair it had good start-up torque on hills so didn’t actually need one)

Thanks to Michael at Electrify for the review bike. Check out Electrify for more info.
Pictures taken at Cable Bay and Tantalus Estate, Waiheke Island. Waiheke Island is highly recommended as a venue for ebike riding. There are a number of rental options on the island or take your own for free (the bike not you!) on the Fullers ferry.

 

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