Our roving snapper Sam Dugon took advantage of the demo bikes at Tweedlove to get ahead of the riders on a Bergamont E-Contrail 8.0 Plus.
This is Sam’s first outing on an E-Bike, and it needed to perform as she’d be lugging her camera bag about the Tweed Valley trying to stay ahead of the riders and get the bangers while she was at it.
Check out her thoughts on the E-Contrail below.
The market for e-bikes is one that is rapidly growing. With them still being divisive in opinions in the mountain bike world I think most can agree that e-bikes have their place.
One of the most obvious reasons that may put people off E-bikes is the motor. It opens up a whole new world of research with various bike brands boasting that the motor they use is the best, longest lasting, most powerful. The enjoyment of shopping for a new bike can be overcome with the worry of choosing the wrong motor.
Thankfully there were a number of demo E-bikes on hand at the recent Tweedlove Festival in Peebles, Scotland and plenty of reps happy to talk through the equipment their bikes run. Bergamont were one of the brands and had managed to get a pitch last minute, which was great news, as it meant I got to give their new E-Contrail bike a try as I went to get a look of the course so I was prepared for a weekend of shooting riders on the hill.
Unless you’ve been following the world cup, then it may be likely that you have not heard of the brand before. If you do follow the races, then you will undoubtedly have already heard of Eddie Masters and the Bergamont team. And if you haven’t heard of Eddie Masters, then watch this (beware, tongue in cheek).
Bergamont were bought by Scott 2 years ago and Scott is aiming to gain them more of a UK presence. Retaining its individuality and unique personality, Bergamont is like the slightly rebellious younger brother to Scott. Born and based out of St.Pauli, Germany, it’s safe to say that the brand has the German engineering skills behind them.
With 4 e-mtbs on offer, 2 hardtails and 2 full suspension bikes, their most recent release Bergamont E-Contrail Plus model adds to their growing line up. As it says on the tin, it comes with plus size tyres which gave this 120mm bike extra grip and support which made it feel more like 150mm.
Motor & Battery
The E-Contrail 8.0 is fitted with the top end Bosch Motor; Performance Line CX with a Purion Monitor display. The motor kicked in as soon as I began pedalling which can give a bit of a shock when riding on flat tarmac, but works perfectly on the climbs. Like all e-bikes, the motor cuts out assisting at 25km as per the legal requirement.
The E-Contrail has 4 riding modes; Eco, Touring, Sport and Turbo, along with a walk assist mode. I stayed in Eco mode for the first half of the ride to see how much of a difference the minimum power would make. I tagged along with some of the Marin team for the climb and maintained a comfortable climbing pace whilst retaining enough energy that I needed to be able to start photographing.
I really felt a substantial difference between each modes and was greatly thankful for Sport mode, (which supplements your pedalling power by 210%) on the climb out of stage 3. Being the longest descent of the weekend’s course, a fastest time of 9.13 by Tweedlove winner Greg Callaghan, being greeted with a long and steep climb to Stage 4 is not the best for riding moral, but gave me an opportunity to test out Turbo mode which adds 300% of your power through the motor. Despite the fact I was climbing with a large camera bag on my back, it put a very wide smile on my face!
The bike featured the Bosch Purion display which was simple and efficient to use, my only issue with the display unit was that the buttons could be a little more responsive as it took a harder touch to change between modes than was comfortable.
It is quite difficult to give an accurate amount of riding distance, as it will depend on what modes it is used in as well as what speed you will be doing and what terrain you are on, but Bosch have a Range Assistant aid on their website which can be viewed here.
The distance guide given on Bergamont’s website is 40-215km, depending on assistance mode and riding conditions of which is correct and highlights the fact that you need to look into what and how you will be riding in order to make the most of an E-bike.
Taking my demo ride as an example I covered 25km and my average moving speed was 13.1km climbing on rough, loose fireroad, some of which were very steep. I spent at least half of the ride in Eco mode, I then switched to Sport mode on the climb out of stage 3 which was very particularly steep so it used more of my battery. I returned the bike and the battery still had between ⅗ – ⅘ bars left meaning I had used about 30% of the battery which lines up well with the Bosch Range Assistant calculator.
On the descent I was shocked to believe that the E-Contrail only has 120mm travel as it felt closer to a 150mm – 160mm bike. On a 120mm bike I expected to be rattled about a little, especially with the extra weight of my camera bag, but instead it was comfortable and hit technical sections with tenacity, leaning into the corners with confidence and tackling rocks and roots with ease.
I feel that the plus size tyres added to suspension to make it feel like more as well as providing extra stability and grip. The frame also allows for 27.5 and 29” plus size wheels to give people the option amid all the wheel size debates that appear to be happening at the moment.
I would be reluctant to have plus tyres on a standard, non electric bike due to the increased drag when climbing, but on an E-bike I think it works well as you have the assistance to get up and then more grip and fun on the way down.
Not specific to the Bergamont E-Contrail, but to E-bikes in general is the jumping capability. Due to the higher weight in e-bikes they are both harder to get off of the ground, and i am also more reluctant to do so in fear of harming the motor.
The danger with e-bikes for me? Getting too complacent. I got a little carried away with Sport mode and felt sad when I knocked it back down to Eco mode when I no longer needed the extra power.
I greatly enjoyed the experience of riding an E-bike and can definitely confirm that they have their place within the industry for a wide range of riders. The E-Contrail 8.0 Plus was a dream on the climb and really saved my bacon a number of times as my motivation for climbing half way through the day was practically zilch. It was super playful on the descent, more so than I expected it to be due to the weight and ‘lack’ of travel. Despite ploughing it through some technical sections, the bike held it’s own throughout and took whatever I threw at it.