Caught in an electric Trance!

Now that we’re done with the obvious, yet necessary pun…

Powerful. Capable. Inspiring. The 2019 Trance SX E+ Pro 1 introduces a different style of riding to your typical rip in the trails and is an experience like no other; from smartphone connectivity to ride quality, this bike is awesome! I rode it around the city and in the Don Valley for two days, and it was hard to get the smile off my face!

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Around the city, the instant power makes stop signs and red lights less of a nuisance, now that your acceleration of the line closely matches a car’s. The 140mm of travel in the rear and 160mm in front, renders potholes, bumps and streetcar tracks meaningless, especially when paired with the beefy 27.5+ tires. For a commuter this monster of a bike gives you confidence, speed and comfort, all while you get to work or school without sweating. It also makes that little piece of single track you pass by that much more tempting, knowing you won’t be late and won’t be defeated by the Dons’ punchy cliffside climbs.

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For my own riding and the trails I frequent, (lower Don, Science center and Loblaws areas) the highest level of assist is just too powerful! I found myself mostly using Levels 2 or 3, out of the 5, and still with significant benefit from the extra torque and power, meaning my two-hour ride covered more distance, because I didn’t need to stop and catch my breath.

Now for the Tech side of things. The Giant Aluxx frame, Fox suspension, Shimano XT 1×11 group with 4-piston brakes and Maxxis Minion DH tires, all deliver a predictable, smooth and responsive ride.

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The 2019 Trance SX E+ Pro 1 features their SyncroDrive Pro motor which delivers “360% support.” (Meaning tons of fun!) The weight, being an eBike, is still a downfall in my mind and does take some getting used to in-air and in tight technical sections.

All-in-all this bike is crazy fun and seriously impressive.

Special Thanks to Giant Bicycles Canada for providing this beast of a bike.

@natewksnow
#fullsend #giantbicyclescanada

Test Ride: Specialized Levo FSR

Written by Nathaniel Snow (Gears Leaside Staff)

Beasty Boy Does the Don

First things first, this isn’t a mountain bike. It’s an electric pedal assist, climb-crushing, downhill-smashing mountain machine. I took the Specialized Levo FSR out for a couple hours in the Toronto Don Valley trails, and every trail felt like I’d never been there before. SO much fun!

It’s. A. Beast.

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Instead of being drained from all the punchy climbs in the Don, and trying to catch up with the cardio on the downhills, I found myself loving the technical climbs, making it up lines I hadn’t before and staying fresh and relaxed for the flowy downhill sections. My favourite part about the Levo was its ability to flatten out the whole ride, I was sweating and tired the whole time, but never over threshold heart rate or tired enough to need to stop.

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Used as a commuter, The Levo eats up the broken roads of Toronto, and allows you to get your heart rate up, but you’re not sweating for the start of your shift!

Tech wise, the bike is equipped with Sram GXe, the e-Bike specific version of their groupset, limiting downshifts to one at a time. The thought behind this is being more careful with your shifting, the drivetrain of a regular mountain bike has a hard life, dumping gears, soaked in mud, and shifting under load trying to make it up the hidden climb that appears around the corner. This is an awesome step in the direction of a groupset that can handle the stress of the electric motor and the rider beating on it shift after shift. The 3 levels of assist do an amazing job of delivering the extra watts in a smooth, predictable fashion, making tight turns and climbs possible. If the battery ever happens to run out completely, the bike still works and rides well with the system OFF.

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As the rider, there is some learning involved, knowing how those extra little kicks will send the bike off. All in all, an amazing day of riding and an amazing bike! The Specialized Levo has been my first impression of the future of bicycle technology, and I’m stoked. #fullsend

Test Ride: Cannondale Synapse NEO, a great equalizer on the road.

At Gears, we’ve been delving into the e-Bike market for several years and we’ve seen the incredible joy and fun they bring to those who “discover” what this technology has to offer. They have become a great equalizer on many fronts, and beyond that, they have brought the adventures of cycling to a new type of customer.

However… given my cycling experience and what I like to do on the bike, the concept of riding an e-Road Bike was one that I never would have entertained in the past. Let’s just say, I’m one of those guys who takes a warped sense of enjoyment out of suffering on a bike. As an old racer, its kind of what we do and its become completely engrained in what we think we need to be doing when riding a bike.

But given I make my living selling bike, all types of bikes; I felt it was very important to experience this new technology first hand.

The opportunity presented itself to me at the recent 2019 Cannondale Launch at Mountain Creek NJ.

One of the criticisms I’ve had about many e-bikes and in particular some of the “road” versions we’ve seen has been that fact that they just don’t look like road bikes. There has been little integration of components, combined with an aesthetic that is not exactly inspiring. Add to this, ride and performance characteristics that feel unbalance and sluggish.

The Synapse NEO is none of the above.

At first glance, this bike looks like a “real” road bike. Yes, the down-tube is oversized and the bottom bracket area is enlarged to house the Bosch Gen 3 drive unit, but for the untrained eye, it actually requires a second look to notice that there is something different about this bike.

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Starting with Cannondale’s SmartForm frame construction, this bike is very nicely put together into a well-integrated and good-looking package. Built and evolved from the tried and true Synapse, the NEO features an Ai Offset Drivetrain, Out-Front Geometry, SAVE Micro-Suspension with a new BallisTec Carbon fork. The frame is also equipped with rack and fender mounts.

Yeah, lots of buzzwords and marketing-speak but how does it ride?

As we noodled around the parking lot waiting for our ride group (which consisted of Cannondale’s Canadian National Sales Rep, the new Ontario Sales Rep and a fellow Cannondale Dealer from Toronto), I quickly noticed that even with the Bosch Gen 3 drive in the off position, the bike did not feel like a typical e-Bike. While the weight was noticeable, the bike did not feel miss-balanced. And given that is was equipped with a full 11 speed Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain and with no perceivable drag in the Bosch Gen 3 motor, one could actually comfortably pedal the bike.

With the motor drive activated (powered by a 500Wh internal battery), the bike really came alive and suddenly the noticeable weight of the bike completely disappeared.

My fellow riders and I proceeded to head out on the 18k test loop mapped our by Cannondale. Having just done the route earlier in the day on Cannondale’s new SystemSix road bike (an amazing new bike in its own right), I knew this was going to be a good test for the Synapse NEO as the terrain went from smooth country roads to a rather long 5k rolling climb with a couple of sections topping 8% grade… to the very fast decent.

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What was immediately noticeable was how quiet the Bosch motor was. Silent in fact, as a proper road bikes should be. Power transition was smooth and natural feeling (once one got used to the fact that the bike had a motor). With the Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain (50/34 with an 11/32 cassette) choosing a comfortable cadence was easy to do.

As we hit the big climb, this is where the beauty of this bike really became evident. The added power was inspiring and I felt like an absolute champion on the climb. I still needed to put effort into the pedals so there was a level of satisfaction that the bike and I were working in sync to make the climb. I certainly could have climbed slower and allowed the bike to do more of the work, but as mentioned earlier, I do like to push hard on the bike.

The descent was a whole lot of fun and despite the fact that it was raining, the bike’s handling was inspiring as we still hit speeds of about 75kph. The big comfy 32c WTB Exposure TCS tires and the hydraulic disc brakes allowed me to corner and descend with absolute confidence. I also believe that the added weight and low center of gravity helped with the handling.

Once at the bottom we headed back to the demo area. It was at this point were something truly interesting happened and it requires a bit of back-history.

My fellow Cannondale dealer, who was on this ride, had required a little bit of convincing for her to join our group. She’s a very strong and accomplished cyclist but unfortunately, she’s been fighting a battle with cancer most of the year. And while she’s winning the fight (yeah, she’s tough), it’s taken a toll on her fitness, endurance and even the desire to want to ride a bike.

Together, we rolled to a stop at what was the only red light on our ride. As I turned back to see how she was doing following our 18k ride, I noticed tears rolling down her face (the rain had finally stopped, these were real tears). Immediately, I was concerned that something horrible may have happed. “No no no…” she quickly explained, “…you don’t understand, these are tears of joy. I never thought I’d be able to ride like this again.”  Wow, that hit me hard, but in a good way. It seems that the capabilities of this bike had allowed her to once again experience the beauty of riding with no fear of getting dropped and no concern about being able to ride anywhere a road bike can travel.

All in all a rather emotional experience and one that I’ll never forget. It’s a solid reminder of what e-Bikes can deliver. They are a great equalizer and they allow anyone to experience the joys of cresting that climb, feeling the freedom that riding brings and exploring the road less travelled by anyone but the ultra-fit.

In closing, the Synapse NEO is ideally focused at the e-Bike rider who is looking a true road experience with the added benefit of pedal-assist to smooth out the climbs and the range to ride all day long (up to 200k in ECO mode).


The 2019 Cannondale Synapse NEO is available in Canada in three models and comes in four sizes; Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large.

The Synapse NEO 1, equipped with a Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain ($9000 msrp) (this was the model tested).

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The Synapse NEO 2, equipped with a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain ($6200 msrp).

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The Synapse NEO SE (Gravel), equipped with a SRAM Apex 1×11 drivetrain and gravel crushing, ride anywhere 47mm tires on a 650 WTB wheel-set ($5700 msrp) (this model was my personal favourite).

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#RideTheFuture  #PedalingFun  #emPoweredByGears

Review: Bulls eStream EVO FS 2 Plus

Written by Brigham DuBois-Hammond (Gears Canary Staff)

Wow, this bike…! (I know that’s not a complete sentence, but it pretty well sums up how I feel).

It would seem that not all eMTB Bikes are created equal. Although they are all truly awesome off-road rides in my view, the Bulls e-Stream Evo 2 FS is pretty much good at everything and great at some.

Yes, it is a full suspension eMtn Bike, and yes these bikes certainly strut their stuff in the trails and this one is no different in that regard. The difference however, is the e-Stream Evo FS 2 is also great at just whipping around the city, off road, on road – whatever, bring it on!

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Something about it screams to me “I want to explore! Everything!” And when it comes to ‘everything’, this city has much to explore and discover. This Bulls e-bike is the vehicle to take you to places you wouldn’t normally go, and by that I mean there are only a few trails in all of Greater Toronto that it couldn’t handle easily.

As mentioned, the e-Stream EVO 2 FS is a wanderer’s dream, and I took advantage of the two hours I had with it to do just that, wander and explore. I had a good time simply rolling along the streets, then jumping a curb to go through a park, dipping in to whatever little hidden nook I could fit into and check out. Not to sound too cheesy or overly nostalgic, but I was thrown back into my youth when just exploring the surroundings was the most fun you could have.

On the topic of exploring, wandering and things that you might not see, here’s an example of what is out there in our fair city waiting to surprise and delight you.

While dashing through the city streets, I veered off to take a route through the Mount Pleasant Cemetery and happened upon an unexpected wonder.

A tombstone seemed to call my attention to it, and as I approached, it revealed the burial site as where Canada’s most decorated serviceman lies. William Barker (1894 – 1930) was the recipient of the Victoria Cross and was also awarded DSO and a Bar, MC and two Bars. Although not really a history buff, this was both a pleasant surprise, and a fun way to learn about an important contributor to Canada’s history.

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For history buffs and adventurers, these ‘discoveries’ aren’t anything new. For most of us however, exploring and discovering interesting ‘hidden’ treasures in our city isn’t easily done without a concerted effort if you don’t have an Evo 2 FS.

So let’s back to the bike. The specially-configured Brose 250w drive train in combination with Shimano Deore XT rear derailleur (10-speed) and Deore SLX front derailleur make for quick and super smooth shifting which is very important when traversing quickly changing terrain. I’m also a big fan of the second chain ring in the front gear set, for that extra bit of gear versatility for tougher climbs.

The new 50-cell battery technology in the semi-integrated high capacity battery provides an impressive 650 watt hours. This power reserve in combination with the 90 Nm of torque delivered by the Brose means you will never lack for the punch required for more challenging terrain.

Although the suspension is not at the level the more serious downhill bikes, the SR Suntour xcr-32 with remote lockout front fork and SR Suntour Epicon rear shock performs (surprisingly) very well. A nice upgrade would be a dropper post for that adjustable seat height on the fly.

So, after riding it for a couple of hours, here’s my take on the Bulls e-Stream EVO 2 FS 27.5 Plus – it’s one of the new breed of e-bikes that avant-garde adventurers use to explore ever-expanding horizons, and there is good reason for their zeal. In fact the full line-up of Bulls FS e-Mtn bikes represents one of the brands attracting a great deal of attention from both cross-country cyclists and the downhill crowd.

The e-bike market in Canada and USA is lagging behind what’s happening elsewhere around the globe, and the e-Mtn bike sector, which is a surging part of bike sales in Europe, is only now starting to gain traction in Ontario. It will take another year or two for our young and young-of-mind ‘daredevils’ to discover the benefits and the pure fun of this new pedalled adventure vehicle.

If you would like to understand the thrill of a new kind of trail vehicle, and learn why e-Mtn bikes sales are climbing like crazy, come see us and ask about our new extended test ride program so you can try one on a close-by trail.

See you out there,

Cycling The 6ix

Review: Cannondale Moterra SE

Written by Brigham DuBois-Hammond (Gears Canary Staff)

Talk about being psyched! For sometime now I have been thinking about and anticipating the rush I was going to experience for a whole week of riding a Cannondale Moterra SE.- a full-suspension e-mountain bike. Now I’ve got one. In fact, I’ve got two. Let me explain.

Neil, our Cannondale rep, who in wanting to encourage me and others in the shop to be able to recommend his eMTB bikes with confidence, said he would drop off a couple of demo Moterra models for a week allowing us to ride them and learn. And, now they’re here.

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On my first ride I dipped into the Don Valley to get a sense of Moterra’s capabilities. After ripping down some trails and hitting some challenging climbs I had two take-aways; the bike will confidently roll over just about any obstacle you might encounter riding trail (bear in mind I’m talking about cross trails here, not pure down hill). It will also take you up climbs that otherwise would have taken longer or might have to be hiked. You get a real feel for the torque and power of the Bosch Performance CX motor especially when in Sport (eMTB) mode, and that provides a very solid platform to build confidence on the trails.

The Don, with its amazing network of trails, took me up to our Leaside location. It was a good halfway destination and I wanted to show the crew up there the Moterra. From Leaside, my plan was the Beltline from Mount Pleasant using mostly non-paved surfaces to get home. For the most part that worked out, but the times I was forced to ride in the street showed that the Moterra is definitely not ideal for commuting. Its pure and unadulterated purpose is off-road, preferably in hilly terrain.

Let’s get a little nagging thing out of the way; the Bosch Intuvia display seems a little over-sized for a mountain bike and the separate control unit, as it’s positioned, rubs against your hand when riding, which is irritating.

On the plus side, there are key features to consider re the over-arching theme of trail-riding, but basically, the plus size tires combined with weight & power create serious grip. Although my ride was dry, I suspect the Moterra’s character would provide similarly hard-on-the-ground benefits when the going gets slippery.

Of course the added weight and power of an ‘e’ system raises the question of stopping ability and I quickly learned the SRAM hydraulic disc brakes are confidence-building in their consistently high performance. Braking was always solid and controlled.

A short note on the Moterra’s looks and beautiful finish; understated yet powerful, and the tan-wall tires simply smack of cheeky confidence.

Other important components:

  • DRIVETRAIN – SRAM EX1 Group
  • BRAKES – SRAM Guide RE Hydro Disc
  • TIRES – Onza Canis 27.5×2.85”
  • FORK – Fox Performance 34 Float, 140mm Travel Front – 130mm out back
  • SUSPENSION – Fox Performance Float EVOL Shock. 130mm Travel
  • MOTOR – Bosch Performance CX
  • BATTERY – Bosch 400Wh
  • DISPLAY – Bosch Intuvia

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At the end of the week Neil showed up to claim his bikes, and I was left with strong urge to test out more of these awesome machines. For those out there with the notion that using an eMTB is in someway “cheating” or replacing skill with power, I promise you it’s not. You need to really work these bikes to get the enjoyment and exercise they offer. And I can’t wait to grind out more trail time with the next one.

#RideTheFuture

Review: Easy Motion Evo City Pro

For a couple of months now, the 2018 Evo City Pro has been on the floor of our shop, and every time I pass it, it reminds me of last year when I rode the 2017 version of the same bike. It was my first year riding e-bikes – definitely an eye-opening experience. And I loved the Evo City Pro.

Between then and now I’ve tried a number of different e-bikes and written about them, and frankly, I find them all awesome. Each has its own ‘feel’ and purpose and overall, they’re an important part of the transition to an e-mobility society. But the City Pro’s power stands out.

A demonstration of the City Pro’s power was proven to one of our senior bike consultants the other night. Now Mike is one of those guys who has been riding forever; loves his bikes, loves riding. Perhaps rivalling his love of riding bicycles is his passion for sports; sports in general but hockey specifically, especially at this time of year, more especially when his Jets are playing.

One day after his shift in the shop, Mike’s Jets were playing (playoffs) and the wheels were whirling as he thought about the best way to get home quickly so as not to miss much of the game. The slow parts of his commute are the hills so he cagily asked what e-bike he should ‘learn about.’

Staff Pros are encouraged to ride different bikes to learn about their attributes as well as draw-backs in order to serve our customers better – I suggested he try the City Pro.

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The following morning Mike wasn’t happy with the outcome of the game but he did report that the bike was a power house of efficiency. He got home in record time on two wheels.

So after working a later-than-usual shift one night, and knowing I had to return again in the morning, I decided to reacquaint myself with the City Pro. Last summer’s memories flooded back the moment I started pedalling as the power of the rear-hub 500 watt motor kicked in.

Like all e-bikes, the City Pro is fun to ride, but after riding it once again it occurred to me that it really has almost a singular purpose, it’s designed to replace a car in the city. Hence the name.

Of course, the City Pro is more than just a commuter. The bike’s rack has three strong bungee cords to provide one level of utility, and the high quality Racktime unit is designed to hold a variety of bike bags to increase the bike’s ability to replace the need for many car trips.! !

This is what you need to know about the City Pro and why it’s so good at what it does;

  • It comes in two sizes, medium (20”) and large (22”)
  • Efficient seating position with comfort saddle and adjustable handle bar stem
  • Shimano Alivio derailleur with 24 gears
  • Tektro Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Suntour NEX HLO front suspension fork
  • 600Wh battery (120+ km per charge)
  • 500W rear hub motor featuring thru axle design (easily remove rear wheel)
  • Multi-function display w/ range, distance, speed, time, assistance, and more
  • Four levels of assist plus power-on-demand (throttle)
  • Torque 20% higher than 2017 – peak power 860W
  • Industry Leading 5 Year Warranty

Also important to know; the battery can be charged while on the bike or off, and provides a rapid charge reaching 80% of capacity in 2 hours. Importantly, the battery will have a maximum deterioration of 20% after 500 complete charge and discharge cycles (30,000+ km).

The last part of this picture is the look of the Evo City Pro – a blend of classic meets innovation.

The only thing you need to know about the bike’s look is that it gets compliments. While riding over to pick up some odds and ends in the neighbourhood, I was stopped at a light when young man on the sidewalk commented on how good my bike looked, and asked me to confirm it was indeed an e-bike. His questions were knowledge-based and he affirmed its modern design, recognizing the progress that has occurred in e-bikes. So yeah, it looks great.

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More and more people are getting out of their cars and biking to work. To help with this goal, more and more people are buying e-bikes to lower their commute costs and heighten their happiness quotient. If you too are thinking about joining the e-mobility revolution by getting your own e-bike, the Evo City Pro from Easy Motion should be a high consideration. ! !

Enjoy Your City.

See you out there,!

Cycling The 6ix!

#RideTheFuture

Review: Specialized Turbo Como 3.0

Como: Oh! I get it!

Now that I’ve taken the Specialized Turbo Como for a good ride through the city streets, I get it. I get where the name comes from; well, I think I do.

My guess is that the name comes from Lake Como in northern Italy. It is incredibly beautiful.

Lifestyle in the Lake Como region is stylized, civilized, cushy and comfortable, much like one might describe the ride of the Como e-bike.

On the other hand, there may be another more esoteric explanation for the name’s origin; an Italian-American crooner.

Perry Como, for those (like me) of a certain generation, we remember him for being our parents’ favourite singer – up there with Bing Crosby. Perry was smooth, casual, cool, wore cardigans, spoke calmly and when he sang, he connected with all the right notes.

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As you might imagine, that description also fits the Specialized Como perfectly – smooth, calm, comfortable, cool and it hits all the right notes as you ride and feel its ‘chill’ but pure power.! !

Powered by a totally redesigned and integrated 250 watt Brose Rx street tuned, belt-driven motor – silent, smooth and free from vibrations, and ideal an our urban environment. The design, featuring a belt drive, allows for a more compact motor and tends to look more integrated with the frame than most other e-motors.! !

Importantly, the battery is totally customized, seamlessly integrated with the frame, and lockable, making it easy to recharge on or off the bike. As for range, the 504Wh battery will assist you for 100+km in ideal conditions on a full charge.

With power taken care of, you only need ride one to understand its comfortable ride position.

Specialized calls this positioning geometry ‘Ground Control’ since it allows you to put a foot down at stops, and easily get on and off the bike. Uniquely, the position combines a relaxed, upright posture with stability and efficiency.

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Other important information on the Como includes …

  • A Suntour NCX E25 fork providing 50mm of suspension
  • Front & rear brakes are Shimano BR-MT500 hydraulic disc (180mm & 160mm)
  • Shimano SLX, 11-speed Shifting system
  • Canopy Comp Saddle – super comfy
  • Trigger Sport Reflective Tires – 700x47mm

Specialized has developed their Mission Control App used with some of their e-mountain bike models, and anticipate it to be available for the Turbo Como toward the end of the year. The App will allow riders to custom tune their motors if they choose, as well as to view their ride data, providing a much broader range of their power system capabilities versus competitors.

With all I now know about the Turbo Como, and my experience riding one, I can enthusiastically and confidently recommend it for anyone who wants style, comfort and speed in a stable and easy-to-control e-bike platform. The Como is ideal for any urban and/or gentle country setting.

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Cycling The 6ix!

See you out there!

#RideTheFuture