“Where the road ends, the fun begins”, an oft-repeated truism by mountain bikers.
Trails even within the city envelope the rider and give you a feeling of being cut off from the mundane world. This feeling of solitude amidst nature requires you to get away from civilisation. A daunting task for even the shortest duration.
Fears compounded for new mountain bikers by fitness levels which are not top-notch. Being stuck in the middle of a forest, exhausted with not a soul in sight stops many riders in their tracks, even before they start!
Enter the new Hero Lectro EHX20. An XC E-MTB (Cross Country Electric Mountain Bike) built to get you to places which you hadn’t thought of before!
Text: Avinash Noronha (The Monk)
Unite and Conquer
The world is changing. Companies in every field are uniting to conquer the market. The Hero Lectro EHX20 is another brick in the unity wall.
A year or so ago, Hero Cycles tied up with Yamaha Motor and Mitsui to galvanise the Indian market. EHX20 is the first product of this marriage. You can read more about the launch and tie-up of the companies here.
Hero will build the cycles, Yamaha will provide the electric motors and Mitsui the distribution and marketing support. The Hero Lectro EHX20 was built in Hero’s Ghaziabad facilities while the motor is imported from Yamaha’s electric drive unit.
This Lectro is revolutionary for Hero. It is a major step up from the current line up of the Ludhiana based company.
Let’s first check out the bike without the electric‘kery’ before delving into the meaty details of Yamaha!
This aluminium alloy hardtail has a nice relaxed geometry, which is ideal for new cyclists, even if it isn’t for tight twisty singletracks. Sizing is currently limited to medium, which is great for riders in the 5’5” to 5’9” bracket. Others will hope that Hero comes out with more frame sizes soon!
The front suspension on this hardtail is by Suntour. A hydraulic fork with 100 mm of travel with rebound and preload adjustment. At this price point, it would have been nice to have an air suspension fork, but then most new cyclists won’t miss it!
The Hero Lectro EHX20 uses a Shimano Deore groupset. Which is more than capable of getting the job done. The 2×10 drivetrain has short enough gearing to tackle steep climbs which you find on trails.
The flat pedals are alloy units from Wellgo. Simple but sturdy equipment which should hold you in good stead.
Hoops are 27.5 ones, giving you the best of both worlds, better manoeuvrability as well as capability of rolling over obstacles. These wheels are shod with Kenda Honey Badger Sport XC tyres which are 2.2” wide. At no point of time will these tyres be slowing you down! The downside is the wheels aren’t tubeless-ready.
To slow you down, you have Deore hydraulic brakes with 160 mm rotors. More than adequate for the intended usage. The brakes have sufficient bite and feedback, allowing for good modulation, necessary in the dirt.
The touchpoints are made up of a PU saddle, which isn’t too thick and extremely comfortable. New cyclists might want a bit more cushioning, but will get used to it, as do all other cyclists! The grips on the handlebar are extremely comfortable, good looking and unfortunately completely out of place on an XC MTB! These grips would look super nice on a retro city bike.
Now to the Yamaha magic which has taken the Hero Lectro EHX20 to a different league compared to the rest of the Lectro range.
The downtube placed battery and bottom bracket mounted motor are Yamaha products. Both of which are designed and developed in Japan.
The 36V, 400 Wh battery has a charge life indicator on it. Four LEDs show the level of charge remaining in the battery.
Fixing and dismantling the battery is easy enough, but the company recommends taking it to the dealer from where you purchased it. Which wouldn’t be too often as this Yamaha battery is used in a number of E-Bikes globally and generally lasts more than 2 years and 700 charge cycles.
The shape of the battery is unobtrusive and has no sharp edges, important when you factor in the possibility of crashing regularly on dirt roads! The lithium-ion battery weighs under 2.9 kg and is secured with a simple lock and key mechanism. The charging point is just above the motor on the base of the battery pack.
The battery has been developed with integrated protection against harsh vibrations, something you will constantly encounter while riding dirt.
Replacement cost in Europe for a Yamaha battery of similar spec costs roughly 500 Euros.
The Yamaha PW-X motor does duty on this Hero, which is a 250W, 36V centre mounted electric drive unit.
The PW-X is the refined version of its previous generation PW motor. This newer iteration is 13% smaller and weighs just 3.1 kg. A better freewheel and more pawls were employed in the motor so that you get an improved feeling while pedalling. The power delivery is substantially smoother.
The PW-X motor provides support to the rider up to a cadence of 120 rpm. A number which most riders will rarely, if ever, breach.
The biggest advantage of a bottom bracket mounted motor is the significantly lowered Centre of Gravity. A boon when navigating tricky bits on trails.
Top speed of the Hero Lectro EHX20 is limited to 25 km/h as per government norms, maximum power provided to assist the rider is 250W, with a claimed range of 60-80 km and a charge time of 4 hours.
The Hero Lectro EHX20 is all very impressive on paper, but how does it handle real-world conditions?
An E-MTB is always going to be heavier than a regular MTB, and this does make a difference to the handling of the bike. But the extra weight is negated as much as possible by the centre mounted motor.
Most cycles use a hub motor, which is a constantly rotating mass and is an impediment especially when accelerating. This setup does away with that problem.
The lowered and centralised gravity also helps with faster direction changes, extremely important when dealing with narrow singletrack sections. The 630 mm wide handlebar coupled with 27.5 wheels also aids in this regard.
The motor also has a ‘bash plate’ below, so that you don’t end up damaging it over a rock or root.
Power delivery from this motor is super smooth. You don’t feel it kicking in at all. The PW-X compared to rear hub motors is like driving a petrol engine car as compared to a turbocharger installed diesel! Arguably, the singularly most impressive aspect of this cycle.
The motor is assisted by torque, speed and crank sensors to give you power from the first touch of the pedal stroke.
The Deore derailleurs and shifters work as advertised, giving you smooth shifts without too much lag. Necessary to tackle ever-changing gradients which you encounter on trails. At no point of time, I experienced a dropped chain during shifts.
The display on the handlebar shows speed, power delivery modes, range in kilometres and battery charge level. Relevant information without overdoing it! There are 5 buttons on this console. Power on/off, headlight on/off, and toggle switches for the different modes. The display was easy to read even in bright sunlight.
The negatives I found on the bike is that post 25 km/h, you run out of gears and start spinning up. This isn’t a problem on trails, as you will be crossing those speeds only on descents, but it is a hindrance while cycling on asphalt. A bigger chainring would negate this problem.
The only other thing I didn’t like is a sticker on the top tube of the bike stating, ‘no jumping or stunting’!
Hero Lectro EHX20 is an excellent bike. Even for the slightly startling price of 1.35 lakhs. For motorists, this would be a jaw-dropper. Most motorcycle models in the market are priced below this!
But when compared to similarly specced non-electric bikes being sold in India currently, the pricing is as per expectations.
The question is whether dyed in the wool cyclists will look in the direction of E-MTBs and will new cyclists be able to stomach a price north of a lakh for a bicycle!
And while we were at it, we took our Indian FTR 1200 along with the Hero Lectro EHX20 and needless to say, it was a lot of fun. Take a look for yourself!