Fresh from his MotoGP retirement, it doesn't look like the Doctor is taking up golf anytime soon. His new signature e-bike gets an interesting build, including Öhlins suspension and an Ochain crank spider.
MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi hung up his leathers in August 2021 after one of the most illustrious careers ever on two wheels. A little less than five months later, in a retirement move that we certainly didn’t see coming, the Italian GOAT has launched his first e-bike. And what’s an even bigger surprise – given his association with a certain Japanese power house – is that it doesn’t use a Yamaha motor. So will it be able to compete with the best electric mountain bikes?
Coming a week after Porsche announced it had acquired a controlling stake in GreyP e-bikes (itself founded by electric car entrepreneur Mate Rimac), could this mark the start of a massive injection of investment from the automotive industry? We’ll have to wait and see, but it certainly shows there are plenty of eyes on the e-bike market at the moment.
Back to Rossi’s new machine however, and the VR46 Terra Limited (46 indicating Rossi’s famous race number) is a full fat, full-suspension e-bike with a Bosch Performance CX motor, mixed wheels, 160mm of travel and an esoteric compendium of components. It’s also limited to just 46 units, all signed by the man himself (and a cheaper production-spec model called the Terra Pro).
The alloy frame uses a four-bar linkage with a vertically mounted Öhlins TTX shock driven by a rocker link. This sits atop the Bosch Performance Line CX motor boasting 85Nm of torque and a peak power around 600W – modest by Valentino’s standards. Feeding the motor is Bosch’s new 750Wh battery, mounted internally within the down tube.
Öhlins also provides the RXF 36 M2 Air fork, which has high and low speed compression adjustment and tuneable progression, but it’s interesting that Rossi has chosen not to run the beefier RXF 38 M2 on his debut e-bike considering the loads involved with a circa 25kg chassis.
Indeed, you certainly can’t criticise Rossi for taking the obvious route when it comes to much of the specification. Aside from the SRAM GX Eagle AXS drivetrain and Code RSC brakes (with relatively small 200/180mm rotors), the VR46 Terra Limited comes shorn with some leftfield parts. For example, standard issue is the Technomousse Red Poison tyre insert system mounted inside Pirelli Scorpion tyres on a Crankbrothers Synthesis carbon e-bike wheelset.
And probably the most unique item is the Ochain unit bolted to the FSA carbon cranks. This intriguing device, run by many of the world’s top DH racers, uses a ‘floating’ spider that allows the chain to move backwards as the suspension compresses while keeping the cranks static. It’s said to reduce pedal kickback and allow more suspension freedom in rough terrain, but it’s the first time we’ve seen it fitted to a complete production bike.
As for the geometry, the VR46 is available in only two sizes, but a flip-chip allows a modicum of adjustment ‘to adapt to road conditions’, according to the press release. Reach on the medium is between 460mm and 470mm, while the L goes from 480mm to 490mm (we assume this depends on the flip-chip position). Head angle can be tuned between 64.5º and 65.5º and the seat angle from 75º-76º, which will also affect the BB height and the chainstay length (at 450mm this is quite long considering the mullet wheel set-up).
Given Rossi’s prodigious talent on two wheels, we’re hopeful some of it has rubbed off on the new VR46 Terra Limited. This new e-bike certainly brings something fresh to the table, and although pricing is unlikely to be cheap (it hasn’t been announced yet) we’re sure there are enough Valentino fans out there to ensure that the 46 signature editions will sell out pretty quick.