— Testing an electro-assist vehicle —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Dirt Wheels doesn’t shy away from a challenge. Over the years we have placed some interesting machines in our magazine that may or may not be classified as ATVs or UTVs, but the title of the magazine is Dirt Wheels. Interpreted loosely, that means anything to have fun in the dirt. We like to push the envelope with new ways to enjoy off-road riding, and Yamaha came to us with a machine unlike any other that’s been in these pages. We felt it was worth entertaining the idea of testing their vehicle simply because the infamous GNCC racing series has implemented these so deeply into their program. There is a GNCC class for racing them, but GNCC allows competitors to view the track on foot or on bicycles; no pit bikes or quads allowed. Federal guidelines and GNCC rules consider legal e-bikes bicycles.
Yamaha presented us with the YDX-TORC electric mountain bike. Weird, right? We are a hardcore, fanatic four-wheel magazine, but strangely enough, our editors are very fond of good, fun exercise. Some of the best exercise is on two-wheel, pedal-powered machines. “Powered” is just the right word to use, since this mountain bike has a tiny electric motor to assist you in a great workout and epic off-road riding.
MEAT AND POTATOES
A legal e-bike is limited to 20 mph, and it can have no more than 750 watts of power. Some states recognize three classes of e-bikes. Class one is limited to 20 mph and 750 watts, and it cannot provide any assist if the rider is not pedaling. These are known as pedal assist, and the Yamaha is a Class 1 e-bike. A Class 2 is essentially the same but is allowed a throttle, so you can ride on the flat without pedaling. Class 3 e-bikes are limited to 28 mph, and they generally face deeper restrictions. In most states a Class 1 e-bike requires no license, registration or insurance, but may face other restrictions. For example, in California e-bikes require a bicycle helmet and a rider at least 16 years of age.
Yamaha’s YDX-TORC is an aluminum-framed hardtail e-bike with front suspension by RockShox. The fork has 120mm of travel and a remote lockout lever on the handlebar. This bike is meant to give you a great workout, while you can travel double the distance in the same amount of time as a regular mountain bike, which means double the fun. The motor is a PW-X that has five power settings: Eco+, Eco, Standard, High and EXPW. The only way to get the power out of the bike is to pedal it. There is no throttle. Turn the handlebar-mounted computer on, and the Yamaha 500-watt-hour battery and YD-X motor are live. Select your power mode with a switch on the left side of the handlebar. The electric motor is integrated into the bottom bracket of the frame, and the cranks connect directly to the motor. The battery rests on the downtube of the frame, and it is removable to make charging easier. A charger comes with the bike.
The YDX comes with an 11-speed rear Shimano cassette that is controlled via a Shimano shifter near your right hand. Yamaha employs hydraulic disc brakes front and rear. Maxxis Ardent tires are mounted on the 27.5-inch rims. An adjustable seatpost sports a tilt an-adjustable bracket for the saddle.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Riding ATVs and even piloting UTVs can be taxing on your body. We are fortunate enough to ride them consistently, which keeps our bodies tuned for it. However, we require exercise outside of four-wheel riding to stay fit and healthy for testing and leading a good life. It is difficult to crave speed, hop on a regular mountain bike and struggle to climb steep hills at a snail’s pace, so that is exactly why we are fond of this e-bike.
Pedaling through the neighborhood in Eco+ and Eco mode gets us to the trails without wasting much battery, and once we hit dirt, Standard mode is selected for a fun boost. Descending is the treat after climbing hills, but with an electric-assist bicycle, the hills are a treat, too. High mode helps lay down some torque, and when you come up to a climb that you’d never attempt on a regular bike, EXPW mode puts down full power! The battery will drain much quicker in High or EXPW mode, but even in EXPW we have ridden 10 miles without depleting the battery completely. One thing we keep in mind: assist only works until 20 miles per hour. After that you are pushing a 46.7-pound bicycle under your own power.
ADD IT TO YOUR STABLE
It is tricky to compare a bicycle to anything we test in Dirt Wheels. Two wheels instead of four. Electric pedal-assist engine instead of a fire-breathing, gas-guzzling powerplant. However, when we don’t have time to prep, clean, trailer and travel with our favorite machines to have fun, we can literally pull the bicycle out of the garage, hop on and ride to some awesome trails. The workout is great and strengthens our body for future ATV shredding.
The Yamaha YDX-TORC comes in three sizes: small, medium and large. A brilliant color scheme of Quicksilver and Team Yamaha Blue adorns the frame. Yamaha’s $3499 price point on this bike makes sense due to the motor and battery technology, but that is one factor that is a little off-putting. The YDX handles well, turns sharp, corners with ease and has a smooth demeanor through the handlebar. If the going gets too rough, the strong hydraulic disc brakes will slow you down. You don’t need to worry about noise or pollution. Access for e-bikes is restricted in some areas, so check before you buy or ride.
Go to www.yamahabicycle.com to check out the rest of their awesome products, and if you don’t want to take our word for how fun these e-bikes are, find your nearest dealer and try one out. You will be impressed!