Surface604, an electric bike company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, has updated their Shred model with great appeal for off-road use. But can these improvements make up for the hub-drive motor that is typically used on the road?

Previously we reviewed the Rook, which is their cruiser/commuter model. This bike does really well at its job, and for a store-ready bike, it was found to be very stable. The Shred model reviewed today is made for more off-road adventure and less leisure. There are plenty of hub motor bikes made for some off-road, but a large section of them are better suited for the concrete jungle.

Normally off-road bikes use mid-drive motors such as Bosch, Shimano, and Yamaha. These systems have wildly more refinement, but is that necessary for those who are new to the sport?

Today we’ll examine the bike on its merits, and then assess its viability off-road.

  • Motor: 500W rear hub drive
  • Battery: 48V 10.4Ah (upgrade available)
  • Range: 20-40 miles (32-64km)
  • Gearing: 9 Speed Sram X5
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Tires: 27.5 x 2.8 Kenda
  • Weight: 57 lbs (25.4 kg)
  • Price: $2,099
  • Extras: front sun tour air-shock, integrated front light, 180mm hydraulic Tektro dorado disc brakes, “cruiser-esqe” geometry

Will it really shred?

Surprisingly, the Shred feels like a born natural on the trails, and it has a very rewarding electric system that will make you a natural as well. Mechanically, it’s no slouch either — I’m really impressed with some of the parts they’ve utilized. I really only have one qualm with the bike, and we’ll get to that. There’s a lot to praise about the bike, so let’s start there.

Electronics

One of my favorite things about the bike is the natural feeling of the pedal assist. Surface604 is using a torque-based pedal assist, which is a very rewarding system that delivers power based on the amount of tension the bike feels from the chain. Torque-based systems are what big names like Bosch or Yamaha uses, but to be fair, those systems are more advanced. The mid-mounted battery comes stock with 480wh of energy, which is pretty close to the standard size across the industry. For an extra $200, you can get a 672wh, which is a pretty good upgrade deal.

Easy does it

The brakes are superb, a nice hydraulic disc with plenty of bite, and the gearing is adequate for some off-road adventure. The 27.5 by 3-inch tires hit a great sweet spot for traction and balance; I like this size.

So far, it sounds like the Shred is a great off-road machine. It could be, but there is a more domesticated side to it. The bike includes a front headlight, and spots to mount a rack if you’d like to use it as a commuter. It would totally do that, if you want. The profile of the bike shows that it could almost pass as a cruiser; a short seat-post tube and a pretty high stem means a rider can sit on the bike with a pretty relaxed angle. This shows some of the flexibility of the bike, but also shows that it’s not made for hard-corps off-road use.

Yeah… that one thing

This well-equipped off-road machine sports a rear-hub motor. Regular viewers may know that mid-drive systems are preferred for off-road use, especially the hard trails. Having the weight of the motor in the middle of the bike affords greater balance, and also allows the rider to better utilize the mechanical gearing. With the hub motor on the shred, the motor operation is separate from the gearing, and balance isn’t exactly perfect. If you want to get serious about off-road, then this bike isn’t it. However, depending on the kind of use you put the bike through, these aspects may never even occur to you.

What CAN it do?

For years I used a similar hub motor bike off-road, and it was fantastic. At that time, I was still new to the sport and learning as I went along. For thousands of miles of light and medium trails, the bike was exactly what I needed. The natural and torque based assist was rewarding, and trained me to pedal effectively, even using a limited gear set. My old bike was the gateway into a new love for mountain biking. The Shred can do the same thing for you. At $2,099 it’s a whole lot cheaper than what I started using a long time ago, and admittedly better

Electrek’s Take

The Shred holds a special place in my heart. I would recommend it for folks who are looking for an e-bike to set them up for success on off-road adventures. I wouldn’t say it’s the ultimate mountain bike, but if you’re like me, that’s not in the cards right now. It’s fun, rewarding, powerful, and versatile enough that if you wind up using it on the road, you don’t feel out of place. I wouldn’t recommend it for intense downhill or difficult trails, but, stay tuned. We review electric bikes of every shape and size.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.


Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.

You’re reading Electrek— experts who break news about Tesla, electric vehicles, and green energy, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow Electrek on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our YouTube channel for the latest reviews.

About the Author