There are cars you simply pass by. There are cars that you casually glance at and appreciate with a nod. Rarely, but every now and then, there are cars that make you stop, take a closer look and examine with great enthusiasm. The color coordination, the shaping, the design. How much power? What’s the torque? Standard questions from engineering-lovers or athletes – or both?! In the case of this hybrid, the answers to those rhetorical questions would be: A lot!
With admiring child-like glances, we approached the all-new Haibike XDURO NDURO Pro 26 2014. It is the flagship of their new E-Mountainbike range, comprising 35 models. With its aggressive color coordination, a sporting design, high-quality equipment and an innovative look, it stands out from the mass of E-Mountainbike. HAIBIKE themselves characterized the bike as “pure sex” during the presentation at the Eurobike 2013. Sounds good? Looks hot? Definitely! So far so good. But still, the key question remains: Does it also ride well?
With brutal free-ride looks and technologies that are well-known from the enduro racing segment like a telescopic seatpost (KindShock LEV), a rear shock with adjustable threefold-compression-damping and a large air chamber (FOX Float X), providing control over the efficiency and forgivingness of the chassis. On top of that, the Haibike is also equipped with special Mavic Crossmax enduro wheels that have actually won the Enduro World Championship 2013. Quite a distinguished equipment-list – but no cares about the highlights of this E-Mountainbike, right!?
The KindShock LEV telescopic seatpost can be comfortably extended via a remote control. It allows you to prepare for any kind of situation on the trail – a considerable plus in standover and freedom of movement can be achieved in a split second without having to stop. Improving not just safety but also the important fun factor! Hard to believe, but once you have tried it, it is addictive!
Let’s move on: The NDURO Pro is equipped with as much as 180mm of travel at both the front and the rear, putting it in a class of its own compared to other standard E-Mountainbikes.
That the NDURO is suited and built for all-terrain is demonstrated in the nicely integrated details like the replaceable underbody protection of the Bosch engine, made of extremely strong nylon synthetics. Also the small deflection roller for the chain providing ideal efficiency (rear kinematics!) as well as the integrated chain guide in order to save the chain from dropping in rough terrain are clever additions. The deflection roller as well as the chain ring are milled out of aluminum and have special teeth that are adjusted to the chain links (narrow-wide-narrow-wide), improving security for the chain.
Another highlight of the Haibike’s equipment is the tremendously expensive XX1 drivetrain by the US American manufacturer SRAM, one of the greatest rivals of Shimano. In the enduro-racing segment, this drivetrain is totally state-of-the-art equipment that possesses an unrivaled gear range.
So much for the equipment! Let’s hit the trails!
The Haibike tips the scale at 22.2 kg. At first, it feels a little heavy and ponderous due to its weight. But as soon as you get used to the riding dynamics, which happens quite fast, this is no longer an issue. The seating position – not least due to the long travel (180mm!) – is relatively high but still nicely central.
Pedaling on flat and uphill trails is pretty comfy and efficient. There were only very small influences from the chain hoist.
The one thing that needed servicing after the countless test kilometers was the expensive XX1 rear derailleur by SRAM. Its eleven gears are constructed very closely, meaning that the derailleur needs to be tuned carefully. The chain had managed approximately 1000 kilometers, time for a chain replacement and readjustment of the shifter unit. As an electric drivetrain brings along a surplus load for the derailleur, gear changes should be avoided when in full assist mode if possible – for the love of durability.
Other than that, the XDURO NDURO is a true source of joy. With its confident handling it is one of the smoothest bikes. It is almost shouting (silently) when on the trail: Here I come! The fact that you are sitting on an E-Mountainbike will be long forgotten – it rather feels like a downhill bike! The geometries, especially the comfortably slack steering angle of 65-5° (the adjustable angle-set was set to 0°m meaning no change) as well as the long wheelbase (1186mm) in size large turn the bike into a real high-speed-rocket! Fortunately, the chassis plays along as well. Thanks to its fine responding qualities, the bike stays extremely flat on the trail.
The 180mm of travel work harmoniously, whilst we only made use of the entire travel range in extreme situations. On normal rides, the chassis always provides enough travel but never more than necessary. This is how it always keeps some reserves for extreme situation and therefore provides a plus in safety. This can be attributed to the indiscernibly initiating but constantly increasing ending progression.
The Bosch Performance mid-engine provided less power on the trails with its 250 watts than expected. All other Borsch Performance engines that we tested so far had a noticeably stronger power delivery. According to Haibike, the mounted engine is a pre-production-test-sample that may cause problems every now and then. In production – with a totally working engine – the XDURO will therefore gain more aggressiveness and friskiness.
So, just who is the Haibike XDURO NDURO Pro 26 aimed at? A bike, only suited to extreme athletes?
We say no! Thanks to the Bosch engine, there is enough propulsion to level out the extra weight and “mass” so it does not negatively influence the travel. The geometries play a much more important role. On flat trails and uphills, the Fox Talas fork can be lowered from 180mm down to 140mm leading to a steeper steering angle, which is more suitable for tours as well. Everyone who wants more agility (especially when it is about riding through extremely narrow curves or if you generally tend to work less with your body weight) can mount the included angle-set by CaneCreek, permitting a 1-degree steeper steering angle. This measure improves the bike on flat terrain and slow speeds. (Our personal taste was, of course, stuck in the thrill of speed, which is why we preferably rode the bike in its more extreme geometry option). Fact is: The familiar home trail soon becomes faster with this bike, both on uphills and downhills. Especially in demanding and steep sections, the NDURO leads a triumph!
Conclusion: The Haibike NDURO XDURO Pro left us slack-jawed. It does not matter if there was slobber, cries like “I want that – now!” or simply speechless breath. Fact is: The NDURO Pro sets a new benchmark for the entire E-Mountainbike industry. Aesthetics, design, German engineering and function have been incorporated to a maximum. The many details speak for the very thoughtful overall concept. We are stoked! Forget what I said about the cars in the introduction…
Words: Robin Schmitt, Christian Lämmle Photo: Sebas Romero