With the advent of an electric motor, bicycle weight has become less of an issue than ever before. It's no problem powering your 22kg bike up the hill when you have a motor giving you 300% assistance. So, why not go a step further and add suspension to make it more comfortable? VAAST Bikes may not be a household name, but its new E/1 is its attempt at making its mark on the industry. And it looks like a solid attempt too.
The VAAST Bikes E/1 is an electric urban bike that uses the new Bosch eBike Systems smart system and a suspension design that's derived from mountain biking. It's called the NAIL’D R3ACT suspension system and it was unusual when it was released upon the mountain bike world. On the E/1, however, it looks like it's been very well integrated into the design, and pretty much hidden from view.
The NAIL’D R3ACT system is said to separate pedalling forces from impact forces, meaning you're not losing energy into the suspension while pedalling. If the mountain bike equivalent was anything to go by, it'll work quite well. At first glance, you may not even notice that it has suspension in the rear, but small pivot bolts can be seen that gives it away.
As mentioned, it uses the Bosch eBike Systems smart system, which combines the Performance Line CX drive unit with the PowerTube 500 battery, and Kiox 300 display. The display is fully integrated into the stem, which continues the theme of assimilation. The battery isn't found in the downtube as in many other ebikes, but in the seat tube. The seatpost is absolutely massive and obviously fits around the battery. But the one-push lever that makes for easy saddle height adjustment also allows for easy removal of the whole seatpost, giving you access to the battery. It's a smart design.
The rest of the bike is a pretty standard urban bike design. There's a step-through frame to accommodate anyone's clothing choices, a kickstand to look cool when you pull up to the shops, and two very sizable racks that should give room for a load of groceries and a child or two.
There are three different models in the E/1 range, each based on the drivetrain option that comes on it, two of which use a Gates Carbon Belt Drive paired to hub gearing. This helps with keeping maintenance low, as well as keeping the chain grease off your clothes. The base spec comes with Shimano SLX drivetrain, which is no slouch either.
Now, ebikes are not cheap, and when you combine them with a full suspension design that's been integrated so smoothly into the frame, that price is only going to go up. The VAAST E/1 starts at $7,499 (€6.649) for the Shimano bike, and goes all the way to $9,999 (€8.749) for the Rohloff bike. This is definitely an investment, and probably something that'll be replacing a car, especially for the price.