03 Aug BULLS E-CORE EVO AM Di2 27.5+ Review
Today we are checking out the BULLS E-Core EVO AM Di2 27.5+. This is the all mountain version of the enduro style ‘EVO EN’ I reviewed earlier and I was excited to get a chance to review it. There is a lot of parallel information if you read that review because they are similar bikes with a few differences that we will go over as we dig in. First off, let’s break down the name. There are a couple of E-Core bikes out there right now and this one has the marker ‘AM’ which delineates it as an All Mountain style bike. The Di2 marker means it is using Shimano’s electric gear-shifting system, while the 27.5+ indicates the tire size with the + showing it is using a wider plus tire. For the sake of keeping the reading review compact, I will refer to this bike as the AM from here on out. On the outside, the AM is an all mountain bike with full suspension, Shimano E8000 drive train, and loaded with a bunch of features. Once you get a closer look, you realize the new stand-out here is the dual battery system that BULLS has named “Twin Core” and provides long range, great for all day riding or climbing steep terrain. It is a really unique dual battery system with 2 batteries that click into the sides of the downtube and we will break that down a little more in the battery paragraph in a bit. For now I want to focus on the frame and some of the details. There are 3 frame sizes here (44cm, 49cm, 54cm), 1 color (this sort of gunmetal metallic gray and gloss black) and with that twin core battery setup makes for a little bit of a heavier bike at 57.4lbs, although you could remove one of the batteries to save 4.7lbs of weight. I was surprised this bike weighed more than the EN version since the fork has less travel, but it could be due to the tire size. Anyways, as a purpose built full suspension model, it is a little bit pricier at $6,899, but that price does include both batteries. As an all mountain, you are hitting about 150mm of travel on the two air suspensions. The front suspension is a Fox Float 36 Rhythm same so for its 36mm stanchions. It has a bigger volume with that 150mm of travel and features a compression clicker, rebound adjustment, and black anodized tubes. In the rear, the suspension is a Fox Float DPS, also a high capacity suspension with 150mm of travel, compression, and rebound adjust. This full suspension setup is very high quality and really just plenty of adjustment here, of course, there is also a tapered head tube as well if you wanted a different setup, I should also not that the head tube is less of a steep angle than the EN. The tires are Schwalbe Nobby Nic’s, use the ADDIX soft rubber, and are 27.5” x 2.8”… so more of a wider plus size tire. They are rated for 17-38psi overall and are also tubeless ready. The front and back axles are set up a little differently here.
The front has 110mm hub spacing and a 15mm through-axle with quick release. Meanwhile, the rear has a wider 148mm (so boost) hub spacing and a 12mm through axle, but a 6mm hex bolt instead of quick release. The seat post features a Kind Shock LEV Si 125mm-150mm dropper post depending on the frame size and is great for quick adjustment. Overall these are slightly wide bikes, but I think they can handle the downhill nicely since the weight is positioned well, but again, being at that 180mm of travel, it is still good for climbing back up too. I did want to mention these optional Monkey Link lights. They have a really unique magnetic quick release system, are positioned well, and compact. The front removes easy, points where you steer, and is adjustable while the rear is great too, but only has 1 LED. At $170, they are kind of an expensive addition, but honestly super convent and with all that extra battery power, it’s cool they can tap into that. There is also a Monkey Link water bottle mount, but the bottle costs an additional $46. Other features include a Velo plastic slap guard, locking Ergon grips, aluminum alloy skid plate, and kickstand provisions, and a Selle Royal Rampage saddle.
Driving this ebike is the new E8000 motor system from Shimano. Their previous (and still used) motor focused on neighborhood and urban applications with up to 50 Newton meters of torque output and lower 100 RPM max assist speeds. With the E8000, Shimano is targeting trail and mountain applications with up to 70 Nm of torque and full 120 RPM support to match Bosch. For riders who like to spin, this is a great thing. It means you can achieve higher top assisted speeds WITHOUT having to shift gears. That’s a big deal when navigating varied terrain with ups and downs. It’s nice to have room to ride the bike vs. dealing with settings. Ebikes tend to be heavier, and the motor helps to make up for that, but keeping momentum and flow means you have to control the bike with your body and the three aspects of that are steering, pedaling, and positioning body weight. And so, for me it’s critical to have power when I want it and a range of pedaling options… all without switching gears or assist settings, and I feel that you get this experience with the E8000. It is not as smooth to start, there’s almost a click where the motor kicks in. And again, when you reach the maximum assisted speed of ~20 mph, the motor cuts out a little quick. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just different than Brose, which I consider to be the smoothest, and Bosch, which offers eMTB mode now for a wider range of power in a single assist setting. Just like those two, I believe that the the Shimano motor controller is listening for rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque. My favorite parts about this motor are how it looks, how little it weighs (6.35 lbs vs. 8.8 lbs on the Bosch CX), and the standard Q Factor (crank spacing). It was designed from the ground up to work with a standard sized chainring and not have a reduction gearing system that could create drag above assisted speeds and to position the spindle further back to keep the chain stay distance short and provide a snappy ride experience. I should also mention here that both the motor and display are IP54 rated which is kind of neat. Mechanically, the bike uses a Shimano Deore Shadow Plus 11 speed derailleur combined with the Di2 electronic shifting. The cassette is an 11-46 tooth setup, so really a nice wide range here. For stopping power it features a set of Magura MT5 180mm hydraulic brakes in both the front and rear. I love that it has quad piston calipers and bigger rotors that cool faster and give great mechanical advantage.
The BULLS E-Core EVO AM Di2 27.5+ is quite a beast and I had a great time taking it out aggressively on the trails. It handled every thing very well and I was very impressed. However, there are some tradeoffs to consider. The button on the display is difficult to reach and really annoying if you are trying to view different stats on the fly. Interestingly enough, there is also no shift detection, which is a bit of a missed opportunity since it employs an electronic shifting system. I should also mention that removing a battery saves weight, and adding a tool box there adds convince, but either of these options may affect the weight distribution on the bike a bit. All in all though, BULLS is a great company that offers a dealer network, comprehensive warranty, and wonderful support. They use a lot of high quality components and it really shows in this bike. I really did have a ton of fun and I am excited I got the chance to check this one out, so a big thank you to BULLS.