MeloYelo Ascent MD – Is this what everyone is asking for?

Labelled a Step-Through mountain bike, the Ascent MD is another in the super-popular and versatile cross-over ebikes that 90% of buyers seem to want. This one is a good option…

The MD stands for mid-drive which is really what you want in this style of bike. Power is from a Bafang M400 motor and 630Wh 36V battery. Tick there, all good. The step-through is deep and useful. Tick. Brakes are excellent Shimano units that activate the brake lights. Tick and a Gold Star. Tyres are puncture resistant Schwalbe Marathon MTB. Tick. The saddle is even comfortable and in the review model had an SR NCX suspension seat post which worked well too. Tick tick.

But who the heck is MeloYelo you may ask? Not Mellow Yellow (a 60’s era song by Donovan featuring at least one Beatle) and not Mello Yello (Coke’s version of Mountain Dew) but a company founded by Rob McEwen and supported by a bunch of enthusiasts around NZ, who have a background in electric vehicles thanks to the Evolocity schools programme. If you’ve been around ebikes a while you may recall they used to punt conversion kits, but as with most other resellers they’ve moved on to full ebike packages leaving conversions to those who really, really want to build their own bikes. They also claim to create bikes by older Kiwis for older Kiwis, so that gives you an idea where this bike is pitched.

At RRP $4200 it represents the top tier of their product. If you are in this market you will probably also consider a Black ATB, Smartmotion XCity, Gepida Berig and more (see the end of the review). Depending how important the full-step-through and MTB styling is you might look at other too, Magnum Navigator for instance.

Right, so how does it go? I had a good ride on it as did ElectricMeg to get the smaller rider’s perspective. Firstly, it was way too small for me (I’m a shade over 6′) but even so I could ride it. It really is a ‘Medium’ in size. They tell me a L is on the way too, as His&Hers is frequently requested. Meg felt that it was a bit long in reach for her 5′, but you can ask for back-swept bars which will help. Height was no issue, especially with the 26″ wheels. Like all bikes, you really need to try before you buy to get fit right.

We both felt confident on the bike, it won’t do anything wildly surprising. That’s either a tick or not, depending on your perspective. Of the 5 power levels, only 4 and 5 really did the goods. The throttle was a fail in my books, only coming in after 10km/h, which is somewhat pointless in my book. Apparently Bafang won’t allow a zero-start throttle. Oh well, at least it is better than no throttle which is what you’ll get with Bosch or Shimano. Throttles are awesome when they help you start especially for the not-so-strong rider. The Bafang motor is competent and smooth, just what you want on a bike like this.

I mentioned the great brakes, and Meg wanted me to mention the great gears too. They are also Shimano, 9speed Alivio which is decent. Being picky, I would have like Deore 10 speed with a wider range and bigger front chain-ring. Hey, I just paid $4200 so I can be picky! I’d be remiss not talking about the tyres which are mildly knobby for off road grip, but also puncture-resistant to shrug off the bits of glass you’ll find on your way down to brunch. There is nothing worse than a puncture on bike or car, and thanks to good choices you shouldn’t suffer one with these tyres either.

The mudguards aren’t full ones, but they should stop most mud from flicking in your eyes and giving you that “Oops, no I don’t need adult diapers thank you for asking” streak up your shorts from behind. The battery is integrated and a generous 630Wh for a range that won’t lead to anxiety. I have to critique the charger, which seemed slow and a bit cheap looking, and fan cooled. Rob, find another charger please! But you can charge on or off the bike but with a nicely integrated battery you might just leave it on. Lights are well integrated and so was the carrier which looks sturdy and can take panniers as well as a trunk bag. Grandkids? Maybe, but it’s not really for that. Toss them in the back of the Mazda.

While I liked this bike a lot, I didn’t come away fizzing. Some bikes have almost magical qualities which is hard to describe. Ride a Specialized Vado or a Cube Touring and you feel it. You’ll pay more for those to get the same spec level though, and you may not ‘feel’ the difference. As I say over and over again, try before you buy. Your mileage may vary and you might absolutely love this bike. If you do, then buy. It is a well specced bike that is well supported with a good warranty and you won’t be sorry.

Have I answered your questions about this bike? Is it what everyone is asking for? Mostly, and if you want a highly competent bike that looks nice on the back of your Bürstner motorhome then you’ve come to the right place. Find one at meloyelo.co.nz

Who should buy this bike?

  • Riders who want something that can do urban duties but trail features strongly in the mix
  • A step-through without interruptions features strongly on the must-have list – it’s one of the best in this regard
  • You want to support a local entrepreneur who in turn supports the community

Who should give it a miss?

  • You were *really* looking for a wolf in sheep’s clothing (this was their original marketing line)
  • It doesn’t fit (you tried it right?)

What else is there to consider?

Quite a lot nowadays:

And if your requirements are malleable:

  • Trek Powerfly 4 (more MTB-ish without a step-thru option)
  • Magnum Navigator (chepaer and more urban, but more of a wolf)
  • Maybe a Cube Touring if a full step-through isn’t imperative
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