Beefed up the parts to deal with the beatings that e-bikes get.
Up hill or down, ebikes take an absolute beating, so the new Trek Powerfly LT 9 Plus has a beefed up the parts package to handle the additional abuse.
The new Powerfly 9 LT is one of the first ebikes we’ve test with the Bosch E-MTB power mode. Just like a regular Bosch system you still get four distinct power settings but Sport mode has been replaced by E-MTB. So the sequence is now Eco, Tour, E-MTB and Turbo.
Trek Powerfly 9 LT Plus review
The difference between the E-MTB setting and the older Sport mode on Lapierre-bikes, is that it seamlessly toggles between all four power modes to provide the right level of assistance to match the gradient of the trail and the cadence of the cranks.
It’s akin to having an automatic gearbox in a car, and while some riders will struggle to relinquish any form of control, we found that having the E-MTB setting actually helped shift our focus back to gear selection, rather than tying to guess the best power mode for every situation. And if you don’t think the man in the machine is smart enough, you can manually override the E-MTB setting by simply selecting a different power mode on the compact Purion display.
There have been structural changes to the Powerfly too. The Bosch 500Wh Powerpack is now sits in, rather and on the downtube, which helps keep the weight of the battery lower in the frame for improved handing. It’s not fully enclosed so the down tube isn’t disproportionally large like on some designs. There’s also a small access port on the side of the down tube so you don’t need to remove the battery to connect the charger.
Trek clocks the Bosch CX 250W motor in the aluminium Powerfly frame it can get the main pivot where it want is and shorten the chain stays a hair. At 475mm, the backend on the Powerfly is still pretty long, so the balance and weight distribution feels best on the larger frame sizes.
Travel is fixed at 150mm front and rear, where the layout of ABP rear suspension, with the pivot concentric with the rear axle, makes for a bomber solid backend. We’ve been impressed with Trek’s RE:akitv shock technology on non-ebikes, and it’s was every bit as good at ironing out the chatter on the Powerfly ebike. In fact, the only noises were the battery ratting in its housing and the whirl of the motor.
While Fox may have caught RockShox napping with its E-Bike Optimised 36 fork, SRAM is well ahead of the curve when it come to dedicated ebike transmissions. With only 8 gears, bigger jumps between each cog, and a shifter that only allows a single shift at a time, it’s easy to see why SRAM’s EX1 is the go-to ebike transmission. It’s so good in fact, we think it’s only a matter of time before bikes with Shimano Steps motors started coming equipped with SRAM gears.
At 24.1kg (53.13lb) the Trek Powerfly 9 LT is one of the heavier bikes in its class. Thankfully, it’s also the most solid. The steep seat angle and long chain stays offer a great riding position for climbing as both make it easier to keep the front end down. So even though it’s a bit of a porker, you can still rocket straight up the face of a mountain. Which is exactly what we did at the launch of the Powerfly in Verbier, Switzerland.
It’s no one-tick pony though, and the superb response from the RockShox rear shock and Fox 36 suspension fork, makes for a bike that can be hammer straight though anything on the descents. Providing of course you don’t rip a hole in the sidewall of the 2.8in Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres. It’s a relatively agile bike too, but nothing like a playful as the Merida or Rocky.
It’s also 2kg heavier than the Trek Powerfly 9 LT that won this test last year. The ebike goal posts have shifted a lot in the last twelve though, and the with the price of the Powerfly 9 LT increasing by £650, it’s not in as strong a position even though it got better brakes, stronger wheels and a stiffer fork.
Last year, the Trek Powerfly 9 LT was one of the only ebikes with geometry and handling that came close to a modern enduro bike. For 2018, Trek has built on that winning formula with new frame. It’s lowered the battery in the downtube, while adding a stiffer Fox 36 fork, more powerful SRAM RE brakes and a stronger Bontrager wheelset. All welcome improvements to a really capable bike. The price has also crept up to reflect the changes. The biggest transformation however, is that Rocky Mountain has raised the ebike bar to a new high with the Altitude Powerplay.