Bosch Edgerunner Winter Test Run

Studded tires on the Bosch Edgerunner made for safe, fast commutes. Coast In Bikes is the only shop in town that stocks 20 inch studded tires for the rear wheel.

When Tristan and Carolyn at Coast In Bikes told me they had an Xtracycle Bosch Edgerunner 10E in stock, I immediately asked if I could borrow it for a weekend to review it. That was back in January, but I have been so busy that I am only just now getting to the write up.

Before I bought my electric-assist Yuba Spicy Curry earlier this summer, I inquired about purchasing a Bosch Edgerunner. Coast In Bikes did not have one in stock at the time and their rep from Xtracycle could not tell me when they would be available. When I commit to dropping this kind of coin, I need to strike while the desire is hot. If I wait too long, a water heater goes out at home or something like that and suddenly I don’t have the scratch for an expensive bike. So I ordered the Yuba Spicy Curry instead because it was available.

With nearly 3,000 miles on my Yuba, I know it well by now. I am happy with my purchase, but I always had that “what if” thought about the Bosch Edgerunner. Thanks to the good folks at Coast In Bikes, I no longer have that nagging thought.

Ross Evans of Xtracycle is arguably the modern inventor of the long-tail cargo bike. Twenty years ago, Evans, a Stanford engineering student, welded up his first long-tail cargo bike in Nicaragua with the goal of producing an inexpensive attachment to regular bikes that could help farmers to pedal their produce to market. When Evans got back to California, he founded Xtracycle, now one of the most well-know long-tail cargo bikes.

The point being that Xtracycle knows their long-tails. They have developed lots of great, time-tested accessories and proven they know how to build a bike that rides well and holds up to heavy loads.  While many couriers and some families prefer long john style, front load cargo bikes like the Bullitt, I often sit on the back of a bike to take photos of other people riding behind me, so a long-tail makes the most sense for me. The only reason I opted for the electric assist is that I was running out of friends who were willing to pedal me around on photo shoots.

Mid-drive e-assist bikes are the way to go in my opinion because they let you run the power through the gears in the back. Hub motors need to be more powerful since they are direct drive.

Having said that, I am now a huge fan of electric assist. To make it clear to those who have never tried one, the assist on the Bosch (and my Yuba) only works when you are pedaling. There is no throttle, just four different levels of assist: Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo to change what level of assist you want pedaling. The Bosch 350 Watt mid-drive motor and the power set to Turbo, it is easy to pedal along at 19 miles per hour on the flats, even with a heavy load. I was able to go up hill at 16-17 miles per hour without much trouble at all. Legally, the assist has to cut out at 20 mph. I found it cut out just above 19mph according to the speedometer on the control display. Either way, that is probably fast enough to drop your friend on a carbon fiber racer bike going up a hill.

The first thing I noticed about the Bosch drive is how smooth it was. There is no jerking, no surging, and no clunks when shifting gears. You definitely feel it when helping you along, but the system is certainly dialed in. In contrast the Currie Tech system on my Yuba Spicy Curry does surge a bit and clunks some when shifting gears while pedaling.

The other thing I noticed was the narrower Q factor on the Bosch compared to my Yuba. Q factor (coined by Grant Peterson while at Bridgestone) is basically the distance between the pedals, which affects how far appart your feet are from each other when pedaling. On a regular road bike, your feet are closer together than on a fat bike for instance. On a bike with a mid-drive assist, the pedals are outside the motor, which is wider than a normal bottom bracket. This feeling takes a bit of getting used to if you ride a regular bike a lot. The Q factor on the Bosch was noticeably lower than on my Yuba. That means the Bosch Xtracycle will immediately feel more natural to pedal for most people. Now it is still wider than a regular road bike, so don’t think Grant is gonna be giving Bosch a rave review, but it is better than the my Yuba Spicy Curry.

Although the range said 41 miles on Eco with a fresh charge, I was never able to get more than 30 miles out of a battery.

Battery life seems about comparable to the Yuba. The Bosch system comes with a 36 volt, 11 amp hour battery where as the Currie Tech on the Yuba is a 48 volt, 8.5 amp hour battery. Both are lithium ion of course. The Bosch battery takes about 3 1/2 hours to fully charge, but will charge to about 50% in 1 1/2 hours. The one thing I didn’t like about the Bosch was I had to remove the battery to charge it. That is not particularly difficult, but it is annoying since you will most likely want to charge it every time you stop.

Xtracycle claims you can get between 20 and 60 miles on a charge, but I was never able to get more than 30 miles out of it even on the lowest assist level. In fact as you can see by the photo, even set to the Eco level, the Range indicator told me I had a range of 41 miles with a full charge.  Yuba makes similar range claims with their Curry, and I have not been able to get more than 30 miles out of a charge on my bike either. Run either bike at a higher assist level and you are effectively down to a 20 mile range. That means I need to charge my bike at the office if I plan to ride it to any meetings or run an errand on the way home. Removing the battery to do that just adds to the annoyance. I don’t know why they don’t make e-assist cargo bikes with higher capacity batteries given they have a rated capacity of 400 lbs.

The SuperNova light is definitely worth the cost of the upgrade.

Ask Xtracycle or Yuba and they will tell you to buy a second battery for $500+.  I think all cargo bikes should come with at least the option of a 15-20 amp hour battery. And since you have to charge the smaller batteries so often, they ought to build the charger into the bike so all you need is a regular cord. Hopefully those things will come in the second generation cargo bikes. You can already get those battery packs for aftermarket mid-drive systems like the Bafang. Perhaps the cold weather reduced the range of the Bosch, but I have a hard time imagining anyone could get more than 40 miles out of one charge even on Eco with an unloaded bike.

As for the rest of the Xtracycle, I have nothing but complements. The accessories are all amazing. The front Porter rack that mounts to the head tube is great, but at $250 is a little on the expensive side for an OEM rack. The fenders are extra too ($75). The rear Hooptie rack ($150), designed for kids, also fits two plastic milk crates perfectly. That is a serious bonus for grocery runs. The Carry All Cargo Bags (included) work really well and can carry a full weeks shopping for our family of three plus dogs, but the milk crates give you even more cargo space. The Edgerunner comes with the very sturdy double kick stand as standard (extra on the Yuba). Xtracycle redesigned their kickstand to make it easier to deploy when the back bags are loaded or you have the foot rests in.

A cargo bike with the emphasis on cargo! Designing the Hooptie to fit the milk crates was genius.

Finally, the SuperNova designed e-bike light was just amazing. It is designed specifically to work with the Bosch system, and boy is it bright!

The front Porter rack attaches directly to the head tube, which means adding weight doesn’t affect steering.

At around $5,500 without any add-ons, this is a serious investment. That said, I know plenty of people who spend that kind of money on fancy racing bikes every couple of years. If you really want to replace car trips with bicycle trips, an e-assist cargo bike is a guaranteed way to do it. The ability to haul a bunch of stuff and get around at 15-20 miles per hour makes all the difference in the world. Since I got mine, I find I make run way more errands by bike. And given our family of three drivers shares one car, this seems a bargain.

For those who worry that they won’t get any exercise, studies have proven that e-assist simply gets you where you are going faster. You still expend the same amount of energy as you would on your regular bike, you just get where you are going sooner. In our modern, busy 60 hour work week lives, that is huge.

All-in-all I have to say Xtracycle’s Bosch Edgerunner 10E has the most refined electric assist I have ever used. The controller is super easy to use and adjust while riding. The shifts under load are smooth and the bike doesn’t surge as much as other systems I have tried. Add to that the years of experience show in the well-designed accessories for the Edgerunner and you have one of the most dependable electric assist cargo bikes on the market. I can’t wait to try the bike when things green up a bit to get some sunnier photos. Hopefully I will have time to share those with you before the snow flies again!

Two long-tail cargo monsters!

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

9 thoughts on “Bosch Edgerunner Winter Test Run

  1. I have a BionX system on my TerraTrike Tour II. It is the 350 watt system, direct drive, rear hub motor with a 48 volt, 8.8 amp hour battery. I run it in the pedal assist mode and in the equivalent “Tour mode” in the article I’ve been able to get 60 miles on the battery on a moderately hilly trail, maybe a little more. BionX only says my battery is good for 65 miles at the lowest level of assist.

    My assist levels are level 1 (25% added), level 2 (50% added), level 3 (100% added), and level 4 (200% added). These are in addition to my own effort. E-Bikes in the US are limited to 20 mph and should be pedal assist although the Currie’s and my BionX have a throttle. (You have to be moving on a BionX equipped bike before the throttle works. This keeps accidents from happening from touching the throttle at standstill.)

    E-Bikes in Wisconsin fall into an unknown catagory. Currently they are considered to be motorized bicycles. If the word “motorized” was removed this would be a clarification. Most everyone agrees on what a bicycle is, where it can be driven, and what laws are followed and rights given.

    • Thanks for that info on range Ron. Boy, I sure can’t get anywhere near that on my Yuba or the Bosch. Looking forward to trying in warmer weather.

      • Thank ‘s for the review . We sell e-assist bikes here at Fox River Sports & have done so with kits etc. for the last 18 years . We put e-assisit kits in the police departments of Sheboygan, Grafton ,Slinger ,Port Washington & Menasha .When the utility dept. bought one,for their police dept. to show eco friendliness concepts way back then. We want to be place to go in Waukesha County as far as e-assist bikes go. As well as adoptng the Emma -Carlin Trail sytem 20 years ago & the first mile of the easten portinnof the Glacial-Drumlin State Trail (kids just bought property off of mile marker four of the trail, So, we are already planning a Fox River Sports-west-trailside, someday ! soon !. If anyone you know of , would like a price break or due to special needs -needs- a price break ,on an e-bike OR retro-fit kit. We are willing to work with those IN NEED .Including payment plans & affordable financing, for all .Respectfully,Kim Alexander-pres. Fox River Sports-Waukesha WI

  2. This is a followup on electric bikes in general.

    An excellent reserch paper was published by NITC – National Institute for Transportation and Communities Report discussing various types of e-bikes and all the state and province laws in North America. This paper was published in November of 2014, reasonably up to date. (I had an issue with riding my electric trike on a trail with park rangers in Florida and was able to prove that I was legal using the report.)

    Check out:

    Regulations of E-Bikes in North America – NITC-RR-564
    NITC National Institute for Transportation and Communities Report
    http://ppms.otrec.us/media/project_files/NITC-RR-564_Regulations_of_E-Bikes_in_North_America_1.pdf
    November 2014

    • Ron, thanks for sharing. That was a really interesting read. It’s clear that the confusion largely arises from simply legal neglect. But in the places that have taken steps to regulate e-bikes, they seem to focus on controlling their use on “off-street paths” (Eugene) or “open space trails” (Boulder). I think that shared-use trails will be the e-bike battleground in the coming years.

      The report indicates that cyclists average 11 mph, with just 1% able to exceed 20mph. Given that, the U.S. should definitely adopt an e-bike standard closer to E.U./Japan (15mph, 250W, pedal-assist only). Anything bigger should rightfully be considered a motorized vehicle and be banned from bike infrastructure.

      Just take a look at the marketing for Jetson bikes — “hit the … bike paths,” “take a shortcut,” “beat traffic”, “no registration, no license, no tickets”. Or, look at Crazy Lenny’s site, and you’ll see at least 3 models with top speeds of 27-28 mph. The message is clear and disturbing — these products give you motorized access to “motorized vehicles prohibited” infrastructure.

      As e-bike prices drop, we’ll see increasing numbers of low-experience, low-consideration, and high-speed e-bike users on the trails. That worries me!

      • I wonder if the speed and power issues (Watts) should really be left out of it. While average measured cycling speeds in urban areas are often as low as 9mph or 11mph, that has more to do with stops and congestion than ability to ride faster. And what about cargo bikes? Should couriers who haul 100 pound + loads on their cargo bikes be limited to 250 Watts? The average speed of automobile traffic in urban areas is often 18-24 mph, but we don’t try to regulate horsepower. How about recumbent bikes with fairings? A short wheelbase recumbent bike with a front fairing only requires about 120 Watts to maintain 20+ mph. An upright Omafiets may require 450 watts to go the same speed.

        For my mind, it makes more sense to encourage people to travel at slower speeds when sharing the trail with other users. But if my buddies (who race) and I go out for a early morning training ride on our carbon road bikes along the New Berlin Rec Trail and it is empty, why can’t we ride 18-22 mph side by side and chat with each other? Or if I am riding home on the Hank Aaron from a show in Bay View at 2am, I don’t think it is a problem for me to go 20mph. Want to ride on the Lakefront trail at 1pm on a summer weekend day? Expect to travel 8mph due to all the people walking. Try to use the Lakeshore trail in Chicago on a summer afternoon? You might was well get off your bike and walk because it is so crowded with joggers and walkers.

        I also hesitate to agree to posted or statutory speed limits since our attempt to regulate speed on the roads with statutes, signs and enforcement has been an abject failure. The only thing that regulates speed on roadways is design and congestion. That is why we have traffic calming (speed humps, traffic circles, etc.).

        I don’t think the problem is power or speed, it is lack of congestion on trails and lack of courtesy among trail users. I can easily pedal 20mph on my empty cargo bike or on my carbon road bike, but I would never think of passing a fellow trail user (on foot or on bike) at that speed. I always slow down to a walking pace, and say something or ring a bell (even if most people can’t hear me because of ear buds) when passing.

        I am open to other arguments, but those are my opinions based on my abilities and my very frustrating years running Milwaukee’s traffic calming program in which I tried to help neighborhoods reduce speeding on local streets. No amount of signs or rules could stop people from speeding, the only thing that worked was continual enforcement or traffic calming devices like speed humps.

        This is a very good discussion though. Thanks to all for your thoughtful comments! I am hoping to run a story on e-bikes and e-assist cargo bikes in an upcoming issue of our magazine.

        • I agree that wattage is arbitrary. Any legal classification can be gamed or evaded. (think fantasy sports!) I also agree that speed limits and other lip-service laws are probably a waste of time.

          But, I do see the problem is “entry-level speed.” It takes a lot of saddle time to become a fast biker, but anyone can become a fast e-biker in seconds. Unfortunately, laws can’t mandate saddle time or the skill/maturity/respect/consideration that comes with it.

          Last fall, California passed a law with e-bike classifications. You can read about it at People for Bikes, along with some informed comments. I personally don’t agree with the entire law, but it’s a solid foundation to build a legal framework upon that other states should emulate.

          As e-bikes grow beyond the novelty stage, this issue will come to a head. Today Wisconsin law enforcement must determine if a given e-vehicle is legal in a given setting: not just the e-bike varieties, but scooters, segways, mopeds, hoverboards, go-carts, etc.

          Or, consider this 45mph trike which ships with a 2000-4000W motor and whose FAQ blatantly states “all Outriders are shipped at a power setting of 750W and 20 mph…, which is legal for road use in all US states. Where laws allow, power can increased to higher levels to allow for faster hill climbing, higher speeds, and faster acceleration.” (in the words of one reviewer, “it makes me feel like Batman leaving the Bat Cave every time I take a ride”)

          Not to mention the DIY e-bikes and modification kits out there. Imagine this guy on the Chicago lakefront path!

          I think the term “non-motorized” is self-evident, easy to enforce, and should be the law-of-the-land (absent of any specific legislation like California’s).

          • My own take on E-Bikes should be obvious. They are here, and here to stay, and will be used. We can try to legislate speed but that doesn’t work. Some cyclists will be jerks, with or without electricity.

            A few years ago on the UPAF ride I was on my Tour Easy with fairing on Lake Drive going fast for me when I was closely passed by two young pups going faster. I heard their tires and knew they were passing. Woe be some other cyclist with earplugs making a sudden move, maybe to avoid a rock or pothole, when these guys are passing. We should all ride appropriately for the individual conditions but that can’t be enforced. Education helps.

            I like the federal CPSC rules to sell e-bikes. 750 watts max, 20 mph max, and pedal assist. I don’t know how TV Lenny can legally sell higher speed bikes. But I also know that people are always trying to push the envelope from the research I’ve done on the internet. The BionX system can be programmed in a variety of ways but the current models max out at 20 mph. (There are cheats, there always are.) I’ve modified the parameters on my system to give the bike more “pep” but that was at the expense of battery life. So I’ve gone back to the stock settings.

            I’m a very experienced cyclist. 40+ years as an adult, year around bike commuter in MKE for 25 years, over 250,000 miles. Never was a racer, don’t like pace-lines, think they are dangerous, even for experienced bikers, especially when we get older and more fragile.

            I’m 76, spend winters down south and ride almost every day. But my heart isn’t as good as it was in the past so the moter helps me to keep riding. Sure, I could ride without power, but I would be much slower and I’d spend even more time on the bike.

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