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There’s a big problem with McClaren’s ‘World’s most powerful trail-legal’ electric mountain bike

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McClaren, better known for its high-performance sports cars, has just announced a series of new electric bikes, including what the company calls the “World’s most powerful trail-legal” electric mountain bike.

The new carbon fiber e-bike models include two full-suspension electric mountain bikes known as the Extreme 600 and the Extreme 250, as well as two hardtail eMTBs known as the Sport 600 and the Sport 250.

Both bikes feature mid-drive motors, with the power rating matching the monikers to offer 600 and 250 Watts of power, respectively.

The lower power 250W versions are likely intended to meet regulations for the European market, where stricter e-bike laws limit most models to 250 watts of power, or roughly one-third of a horsepower.

The 600W models take advantage of looser regulations in markets that allow more power, such as in North America.

The only problem is that McClaren’s marketing line of being the “world’s most powerful trail-legal electric mountain bikes” is, at best, misleading, and at worst, patently false.

The issue is that for European e-bikes, 250W is the legal limit for both on-road and trail usage. So if you’ve got a 250W e-bike, you’ve basically tied every single other e-bike on the market for highest power. Of course, none of the 250W e-bikes rolling around today actually put out only 250W of power. They all sneak by with higher peak power ratings, but the continuous power ratings are all identical. Thus, claiming to have the world’s most powerful trail-legal electric mountain bike is a bit like claiming to sell the world’s tallest 6-foot ladder.

When you look at the US market, it’s even more problematic. E-bikes in the US fall under various regulations depending on the state, but most areas use a 3-class system. And to make things simple, all three classes allow up to 750 watts of power.

If you’re on private property, it doesn’t really matter how much power your e-bike has. ‘Murica! But if you’re on public property, like public roads or trails on state land, you’re likely going to be limited to that 750W of power in most places. Thus, claiming that a 600W e-bike is the world’s most powerful trail-legal e-bike is obviously quite problematic in the land of 750W e-bikes.

If we are to consider peak power, McClaren claims that its 600W mid-drive motor actually peaks at 852W. That’s impressive, but still below the peak power of dozens of e-bike models in the US that peak in the four digits.

What McClaren might be referring to is torque, and the 600W version of their new e-bike does make an impressive claim of 161 Nm, one of the highest figures in the industry. But it takes more than being “one of the highest” to park at the top of the podium. For example, other trail-legal e-bikes, such as Optibike’s Class 1 RIOT eMTB, claim 190 Nm of torque.

But marketing untruths aside, we might as well take a look at what McClaren is offering. We’re already here, as it were.

For a starting price of just US $7,950, you can throw a leg over the Sport 250, the lower-power hardtail model. That ticket price gets you entry to a carbon fiber frame and a 250W mid-drive motor with a claimed 121 Nm of torque. That’s pretty darn torquey, though it still doesn’t surpass several other mid-drive e-bikes we’ve seen.

Garnished with a 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and SRAM G2 RE quad-piston hydraulic disc brakes, the bike certainly looks ready for action. The 36V battery isn’t huge at just 540 Wh, but the bike is intended for pedalers, so it’s likely to still offer good range on the trails. This isn’t a motorcycle in a bike frame like many we’ve seen.

Rounding out the major components are a RockShox Pike Rush RC fork, a color display embedded in the carbon fiber handlebars, and a carbon wheelset to match, complete with a set of Pirelli Scorpion Enduro M 29×2.4″ tires.

The bike comes in three sizes and offers a two-year warranty.

And the prices only go up from there. Upgrading to the more powerful Sport 600 bumps the price to US $8,950.

The full-suspension bikes are even pricier, with the Extreme 250 coming in at US $10,950 and the Extreme 600 topping the lineup at US $11,950.

To be fair, you do get the more premium wireless 12-speed SRAM XX Eagle AXS transmission on the higher-end model, as well as a wireless dropper post and a nicer RockShox Lyrik Rush RC fork, but that’s still a pretty penny.

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