Short review: BH Emotion Neo Cross (early 2012)
A first impressions report on the BH Emotion Neo Cross, a futuristically-style bike with built-in battery. Read this short review in full.
Posted by Peter Eland on Monday 13 Feb 2012
This review appeared in Electric Bike magazine Issue 4. Click the viewer below to read the review with the original print layout - or scroll down for the full text and images online!
BH Emotion Neo Cross
We try the Neo Cross from Spanish company BH Bikes, a recent design award winner. But how will this torque-sensing model, using a Samsung battery system, perform?
BH Bikes are a well-established (since 1909!) bike maker based in Spain, and their ‘Easy Motion’ electric range spans 16 models for 2012, using variously Panasonic, Bosch and Samsung drive systems. They now have a new UK importer, MaxTrack, and Sales Manager Rob Montgomery dropped off a Neo Cross for us to try while he visited potential dealers in the area: a UK-wide network is being set up.
The ‘Neo’ bikes are, as the name implies, the most futuristic-looking of the BH range. There are three models, the City (low step-through city bike), the Cross (flat-barred hybrid) and the Xtrem (hardtail MTB). The Cross has a recommended price of around £1899. It won a Eurobike design award in late 2011.
It’s an interesting bike to test for a number of reasons. First, there’s the striking looks, with the battery so neatly built into the bike’s frame. Also, the Samsung battery system is intriguing. The Bosch and Panasonic units used in the other BH bikes are known quantities; but Samsung is new to me. On closer reading, though, it is just the battery they make, with the rest of the drive electronics presumably from BH themselves. But good to see another really major brand name like Samsung attaching itself to e-bikes.
Finally, the Neo Cross is in a stripped-down, almost racing bike format which is relatively rare in commercial e-bikes, and its looks certainly do mark it out.
The bicycle aspects are high specification, with hydraulic disk brakes, a decent set of suspension forks and a good-level Shimano derailleur gearing system. The whole thing is neatly colour-co-ordinated around the matt black aluminium frame, with the white (for how long?) grips giving it a ‘designer’ look. One detail which caught my eye was the Tektro hydraulic disk brake levers with neat integrated cut-out contacts: proof perhaps that BH Bikes have the buying power to get suppliers to produce special runs of parts.
So to the battery. Unlock it and the whole slightly curved unit releases from the frame, for charging or swapping (you can’t charge it on the bike, strangely). It’s a 36V, 9Ah Li-ion pack made by Samsung, and they claim that after 35,000 km (around 20,000 miles) it’ll retain 80% of its original charge. The layout is neat, protects the contacts well and most onlookers won’t even realise the fatter than usual downtube signifies electrics on board. Weight is a claimed 21.8 kg (although that’s without the rack, mudguards etc. fitted to many other bikes).
The Samsung battery is curved to match the lines of the bike. Once unlocked, it detaches easily for charging: this can’t be done with it in place on the bike. Perhaps an external socket would have detracted from the smooth lines.
The battery drives a rear wheel brushless motor, with a torque sensor on the frame near the back axle. Wiring to both is really well concealed. It’s all controlled by a neat, removable dashboard display, complete with a rather snazzy ‘dial’ speedometer, plus the usual displays for battery status and power assist levels. There’s a backlight for night use. Naturally, removing the display disables all electric assist.
The display is a tidy, removable unit with backlight. The buttons are nice and close to your hand, too.
So how does it ride? It’s rather like a crank drive bike in many ways, with essentially instant ‘pick up’ when you start pedalling. So at higher power levels you’re whisked quickly up towards 25 km/h, where the ‘tail off’ is gradual. It’s also close to silent, which fits well with its non-obvious e-bike looks. The torque sensor works really well to give it a responsive ride – the classic ‘cycling with a tailwind’ feeling. The power level buttons fall easily to hand, but most of the time you can just leave it in one setting and enjoy the ride. I also liked the very legible display.
A near-silent motor with torque-sensing drive system. It’s fitted with good quality gear and disk brake parts.
A ‘regeneration’ function feeds power back to the battery from the motor when you brake – it kicks in with a gentle squeeze of the lever, and provides some very moderate resistance (it’s not adjustable as far as I can tell). After trying it out, I didn’t really use the regen function separately from the main brakes: it’s not that powerful, so for most braking you’ll need to use the hydraulic disks anyway, which do stop you superbly.
It also struck me that I was expecting a very sporty, leaned-over riding position on the Cross. On the bike, though, you realise it’s far less leaned-over than you might think. The frame rises quite high at the front, so the bars end up well above saddle level, offering a relatively relaxed, upright ride.
Overall, the Neo Cross is definitely something out of the ordinary when it comes to electric bikes: the look and design is exceptional, and the electric performance seems to be there to back it up, too. We’ll revisit the range with a full review in due course.
BH Emotion UK: phone 1531 890955 or see www.bh-emotion.co.uk.
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