Corratec X-Vert 650B Electric Bike: Australian Review

Bicycles are great. They're compact, quiet, and convenient — as long as you have a helmet, you can jump on and go anywhere, and you're only limited by the energy in your legs. That's just about the only limiting factor of bikes — the muscles of the humans riding them. But electric bikes? Now that's another story.

What Is It?

Reid Cycles is the first bicycle store in Australia to be certified by Bosch to service the German company's electric bicycle motors and battery packs, and it's those Bosch components that are the centrepiece of this Corratec X-Vert Performance 650B, the most capable and most powerful ebike in the Corratec family. Reid sells nine different Bosch ebikes at the moment, but the X-Vert 650B is the creme de la creme.

The $3599 Corratec X-Vert Performance 650B has an electric motor from Bosch's Performance Line, and is significantly more powerful than other Bosch electric bikes from Corratec like the $2599 Active Coaster and $3199 Active Nexus — itself focused more on commuters. That Performance Line motor hits the Australian Design Rules legal limit of 250 Watts, and provides a pedal assist up to 25km/h. The X-Vert is also a capable offroad bike, with adjustable front damping, hydraulic disk brakes and 10-speed gearing.

For the most part, this Corratec ebike is extremely similar to a regular geared pushbike — it has two wheels, gears and a thumb-and-forefinger gear shifter, front and rear brakes, pedals, handlebars. But it's the extras in between and on top of all those things that make the e-Power X-Vert special; it's the chunky 11Ah battery on the front bar of the diamond frame, it's the massive electric motor mid-mounted between the pedals, it's the electronic read-out in the centre of the handlebars, it's the power button that replaces a traditional mountain bike's hub gear shifter and control's the motor's effective power output.

Other gear that comes standard on the Corratec X-Vert Performance 650B — Continental offroad touring tyres with a very tall and forgiving profile, Shimano Deore gearing and derailleur and hydraulic brakes, Manitou 100mm front forks. This is all high quality gear, and it should be at the ebike's $3599 price point, but it speaks to the effort that has gone into making this a bike that will last a long time. As such, Bosch warrants its PowerPack 400 batteries to maintain 70 per cent of their maximum rated charge after two years or 500 full recharge cycles — and you can replace the battery as part of regular servicing, too.

What's It Good At?

When you're riding the Corratec X-Vert ebike, you can ride it like a normal bike. You ride it normally, changing gears and pedalling and turning the handlebars and leaning into corners and standing up in your seat over rough terrain. It's a normal bike. But tap that little power button on the corner of the central display, the battery and motor and controls come to life, and you're suddenly riding a powerbike. The ebike has five different power levels — off, eco, normal, sport and TURBO — that provide electrical assistance to each stroke of either pedal, so you can adjust exactly how much energy you want to exert.

All the bike's gears work as normal, but step on the pedal even from a standstill on a steep hill and the X-Vert will rocket forward — the motor massively amplifies your efforts. Even high gears are effectively boosted by the 250 watt Bosch motor, and it's an absolute blast; you can leave it in its top gear and ride it up to that 25km/h maximum assisted speed all day long. But use the gears to their fullest, and it's both incredibly quick and incredibly easy to ride — and great fun at the same time. I rode through Sydney CBD on a busy afternoon and didn't hold up traffic — that's the biggest compliment that I can give this bike.

The Corratec X-Vert's battery is a great capacity, too — at 400Wh and 11Ah it's more than enough for a week's commuting, rated at over 90 kilometres of standard-conditions assisted riding, further in Eco mode, and around 40km in the all-out, full-power Turbo mode. I don't know why you'd take this bike out of Turbo mode, to be honest — because it's ridiculously fun — but it does consume more power and you will be recharging the bike more than once a week over any commute longer than a 10km round trip. Over a week of riding, I only recharged the battery once, so I'd say that's all you need for commuting.

And, of course, you can take it offroad. The locking forks let you choose between a plush ride and a more stiff one, the 27.5-inch wheels and knobbly tyres hold onto uneven and soft ground well, and the electric motor is incredibly useful for monstering up some uphill tracks and trails. You don't get tired from using this bike — you just don't — you just go faster than you'd reasonably expect to be, both offroad and on. If you like a bit of adventure riding on the weekend, this Corratec is a pocket rocket and it's perfectly suited.

It's also incredibly easy to use. Tap that power button and it's powered on and assisting your bicycling — simple as that. You've got regular mechanical gears and electric motor power levels, and that's it, so there's no complicated learning curve. Run out of juice? Plug it in to charge overnight, although it'll get a full charge from flat in under four hours. There's even a low-power legs-free mode, so you can move the Corratec ebike around under electric power without pedalling. It even turns on and turns off quickly.

What's It Not Good At?

Riding up to 25km/h is an absolute breeze, and you'll easily outpace cars at a regular ol' inner-city traffic light Grand Prix if you so wish — all it takes is a bit of practice in rattling through the gears, and you can blast up to the top speed in a couple of seconds. But hit that 25km/h wall — mandated by law — and the assistance very quickly tapers off. Because the gearing is relatively basic — 10 ratios, no speeds — you're stuck pedalling quite quickly to get any faster. (Although I did top 42km/h downhill, but don't tell anyone.) You can't un-restrict it, either, unless you want to void your warranty in a massive way and break the law — which means a big fine and probably having your very expensive electric bike confiscated by the cops.

Being a big bike, and having the extra weight (albeit low-slung) of that electric motor and battery, the Corratec-Bosch ebikes — especially the X-Vert, but it's true of the lesser models too — are quite heavy. The X-Vert weighs well over 20 kilograms, in fact, and compared to the circa-10kg, lightweight single-speed Create pub bike that I usually ride, that's a big difference. It takes some getting used to, and you really do make good use of the transport button, but it's inescapable. The weight is down low, at least.

And, as you've probably already realised, it's quite expensive. You can buy a 2014 model for several hundred dollars less than a 2015, if you want to save some money, but compared to a similarly top-of-the-line mountain bike or road commuting bike, you'll be paying a significant premium of several hundred to even more than a thousand dollars for the privilege of electrification on your Corratec. It's worth it, but you pay to play. You pay cents to recharge it, for what it's worth, so that hardly even factors into its long-term running costs versus an unpowered bike — nothing compared to the ongoing cost of tyres and brakes, at least until you need to replace the ebike's battery several years down the track anyway.

Should You Buy It?

This is one hell of a fun bike. It's a hoot. Around the city, you can keep up with traffic, even if you aren't a professional lycra-clad lunatic. Around the park and the bush, you can go offroad and get up steep hills with only the barest amount of effort. For riding between traffic lights, it's ridiculously quick — as long as you get good at switching up through gears quickly, and ratcheting back down as you come to a halt.

As a battery-powered bicycle, the Corratec X-Vert Performance 650B is awesome. It's quick and simple to charge — a couple of hours plugged into the wall in your garage at night is all it needs. It's easy to use — tap the power button and you're ready to pedal away. It's fun to ride — step on the pedal and you genuinely can be shunted back in your seat with the extra power of the electrics you weren't expecting.

It's expensive, sure. Nearly four thousand dollars is a lot of money to spend on a two-wheeled method of transport. If you're the kind of long-time rider that's happy to drop a couple of grand on a Specialized or Schwinn, then you won't be surprised by the cost. If you're not, then it's a little harder to bear, but if you try it and if you like the experience of an electric bike, it's absolutely worth the gutsy asking price.

Just about the only downside of this Corratec ebike is that you'll be waiting for your mates to catch up.

We borrowed this big ol' Corratec X-Vert Performance 650B from Reid Cycles — who also service genuine Bosch electric bikes around Australia. You can actually try one out for yourself if you head into a Reid store.


Comments

    I do wish they would up the limit to 40kph

      I would be lying if I said I didn't want the assistance up to a significantly higher speed. But at the same time I think people zooming around at 40km/h without jackets and jeans and full-face helmets is probably a bad idea :)

        You certainly don't need leather jackets and full face helmets when riding at 40km/h. I regulalry hit that speed on the flat under my own power. I do agree with your statement if said bike is getting closer to 50/60 km/h.

        I agree that electrically assisted bikes would be a better option if their speed was at the upper limit of 40km/h (providing the battery can last at least 30-40 minutes at that speed from a full charge). This would help people to get around in a timely manner and not clog up the roads with their cars. Especially in the inner city.

          I believe he is more pointing to the possibility of an accident at 40km/hr without any jacket, jeans or full-face helmet rather than the actual ride.

          You don't need a jacket and full-face on a proper motorcycle either...right up until the point when you do.

    I agree. I have a Gazelle e-bike with the same Bosch setup however having the limit set to 40 k/m I think would greatly decrease the range you could get out of the battery.

    I average about 30 - 35 k/m an hour on mine fastest speed I've done is 65 k/m on some pretty big hills. Absolutely love my bike such a joy to commute to work and back on it.

      what made you spend up on an electric bike? I think it's a neat concept but i can't work out the why? or is just a general interest kinda thing?

        Several reasons.

        1. I've wanted to commute to work on bike for some time but hated the idea of showing up to work all sweaty and gross.

        2. This is the main one. I wanted to be more active but I hate gyms I've tried a few times but I hate the idea of having to go somewhere to exercise so always lost motivation after a while. This is basically killing two birds with one stone I get my exercise in (40 k/m round trip riding to work and back) whilst using it as a means of transport. I've done around 1300 k/m on my bike since I got it around 5 months ago. This also means less time sitting in the car which I hated.

        I wasn't unfit before but now I'm much fitter I think ebikes are a great choice as a step between for people who want to commute by bike but aren't quite there yet in terms of fitness to leap from going from the car to bike straight away. I leaned quite a bit on the battery when I first started riding but now I ride it in eco mode (lowest setting) and that's all I need unless I just want to have some fun in turbo mode.

        3. No rego, insurance, fuel cost. (For those who argue I should just get a motor bike) besides main reason for getting it was exercise.

        4. Because e-bikes are bloody fun

        Last edited 30/10/15 2:42 pm

          Yeah fair call on the exercise thing. I ride a pushy and motorbike both for enjoyment only these days. I still feel really exposed riding on a bike in traffic because you're always going the wrong speed with relation to the general traffic and you're completely quiet. Every time a car passes there's like a million to one chance they're going to mess up and this happens constantly on a pushy. I was commuting on my motorbike on the M5 peak hour in Sydney when I got my motorbike. After some near misses because I wasn't noticed, I got an exhaust and pretty much overnight changed overnight. Does this not worry you? Anyway, for me, if I want exercise, I go on the pushy. If I want to go for a cruise or anywhere in traffic, the motor. I can't imagine preferring an ebike to one of these in any situation though I guess your exercise, I can see see why you do. Safe riding. Cheers for the response.

        I can't say for others, but I use an e-bike because it's a good method of commuting to work. I'm not very fit, so it would take some time on a regular push-bike, but with the e-bike assistance, I'm able to get to work faster than by car or by train.

        Plus, it means I don't need to pay for myki or parking, so it actually ends up being a cheaper method of commuting as well over time.

    It also comes with Gold infused paint, diamond gears and titanium frame. Or am I guessing here?

      It's not that expensive. Go into any bike shop and you'll find $3500 is about mid-pricing for a normal bicycle. A good carbon fibre bike will easily be twice that.

        It's not that expensiveYou're obviously rich, can you spot me a few grand mate? Ta. :)

        $3500 for a "normal" bicycle.... no way.

        I got a $550 "normal" bike from cell and maybe spent $200-300 on extras (helmet, lights, spares etc etc). 12-18 months later I spent $400 on new wheels. Been good for another 18-24 months so far with maybe two services in the ring.

        .... definitely not $3500 for a "normal" bike, i'd say $3500 is normal for the low end of highest end bikes as they definitely can cost more.

        $3500 is a mid/low tier carbon road bike

    I have an "Off roead" electric bike 1000W Read Hub Motor. It cruises on 37-42 kms but has a little more torque to get me up a medium hill. I still need to pedal up steep hills.
    I wouldnt ever buy anything with less power again. The power and speed laws are a joke.
    It feels safe & yes I wear a full face Down Hill style Helmet and would wear some more protective clothing.

      But the only place you can legally ride it is on private property. What's the point?

        That's right you can not legally ride it on road. Im of the opinion we should up the speed to more like 35 and also have a bit of power to get up a medium hill (It slows to about 15 km/h up hill).
        I feel it's safe and would expect it wouldn't take cars long to get used to the bike speeds.
        Also it would encourage so many people to star using bikes.

          Tony0707, you cannot legally ride your bike on a road, footpath, bike path, state forest, crown land or national park (afaik)!

          I have a 250W rear hub motor. In top assist mode, it takes steep hills at about 22kph with light pressure on the pedals. Loads of power. My 15km, hilly, commute to work is easier than walking for the same amount of time. Power and speed restrictions are not the reason people are yet to jump on board. My guess it is purely price and perhaps a lack of knowledge regarding how pleasant it is compared to driving and PT.

    Better still by a second hand motor bike with less than 10,000 kilometres on it for under $6,000 (R15, Ninja 300, CBR500), use only 4L/100, and go for 400 kilometres on a 12 - 15 litre tank. Each of those bikes is cheap to buy, to run, and is a lot faster up to 25kph, and definitely way faster up to 110kph.

    Problem with electric bikes is the people that manufacture them want to much money for them. I was looking at an electric bike and when I saw the price I realised I'd be better off with a motor bike.

      Kinda different, though, y'know with the whole road registering it thing and not being able to ride into the bike room at work... :)

        Granted Campbell, pluses and minuses for each and really depends on your purpose (e.g. leaving the bike in the bike room) but when you look at the value for money I'd take the motor bike anyday.

          Logic doesn't really add up here. Value for money an ebike makes more sense. Ongoing costs for a motorbike are much higher. The added exercise isn't bad either. :)

          Now if you want a form of transportation that will get you somewhere fast then sure that makes sense. Then again my commute is only slightly longer by bike than by car due to traffic experienced in a car.

          Last edited 30/10/15 3:19 pm

            The advantages of a bike/ebike are the bike lanes, paths that other vehicles can't travel. Because I'm never in heavy traffic, my commute is extremely consistent for time. It's about as quick as driving to my work if the traffic is OK, but much quicker if there is heavy traffic that day.

        And insurance and a motorbike license = many ongoing costs.

        How much is the battery?

          It's around $400 for a new battery for my eBike. If I factor this into the cost of wear and tear replacement parts, it's about $150 a year ongoing costs. Roughly 20c a day estimated power cost to charge adds another $50 pa (though I charge at work). In total it's 10% of the cost of public transport ($2000+ pa) to "cycle".

          A $1500 Honda Postie Bike CT110 would cost me $382.20 rego and about $100 to insure. Petrol of perhaps $2 a day comes to $480 for a total close to $1000pa (or 5 times more than the eBike).

          Interesting huh?

      Agreed on price of most of them, but if you look into it you can find some much cheaper options. mine cost $1200 new and I dont have any problems with it. (3 Years old now)

      Last edited 30/10/15 3:23 pm

    I've been commuting every day for over a year on an eBike ($1600), limited to 25kph. My trip to the city is 15km each way and takes 40-50 minutes. Most days it would take about 10 minutes less by car at the time of day I travel (just outside the worst peaks), but despite traffic, weather or what might have been cancelled in the PT system (common cancellations here in Melbourne) it takes me the same time every day. The reliability is awesome.
    I would like the top speed to be more like 30kph because that's what feels "normal" to me (coming from a much lighter mountain bike, this was cruising speed). My 23kg ebike takes serious effort to get to 30kph unassisted due to the weight (unless I'm headed downhill).
    I agree with the Australian and international laws for eBikes being power and speed restricted though. Motorists and pedestrians do not anticipate bikes which can accelerate uphill like they can and there would be a lot more accidents if speed and acceleration was greatly increased. Keep in mind, these bikes often weigh more than double a normal bike. They take some stopping and are capable of doing serious damage.

      FYI: I was averaging $45 a week on public transport. My weekly PT savings paid for the eBike, lights, puncture repair kits and a couple of spare tubes in about 10 months.

        Have you ever had anyone actually check that it's a 250kw motor? I've always thought that if I got one I'd just get a 500w and be sensible with it (i.e. when there's people, cars and bikes around then keep it around 25k/h).

          My hub motor is an 8FUN model. Pretty much an off-the-shelf 250W job. A 500W wouldn't necessarily make my top speed faster, just accelerate more quickly from stopped or be able to maintain top speed up a grade. I could have bought a pricier 350W motor eBike (restricted by the computer to 250W) but I'm not sure what the point would be.

            Ok, the point is noone's pulled you up to check though haha. There's definitely faster ones that take you to about 40kph (I know because I rented one once). I just thought the short term 250 = 25kph and 500 = 40kph etc etc.

            But yeah, just checking to see if someone even once was out there sussing out e-bike motors.

              The Watts figure refers to how much electricity it can eat through. More *should* mean more torque, faster acceleration and yes, if unrestricted, a higher top speed. But the 25kph top assist speed is law and not moving. We've followed in Europe's footsteps and they have an established market over there.

              Last edited 30/10/15 4:44 pm

    I feel like a lot of people who jump on the ebikes haven't really given proper road bikes a go. People are so used to the $500 upgright clunkers, there is such a huge difference between those and a proper road bike. For $3500 you can get a decent low-mid tier road bike and it is really easy to hit 25km/h on them even if you're even somewhat unfit. Yes you get a bit sweaty but I think the health benifits more than outweigh having to get to work early and grabbing a shower.

      I totally agree. In less than a months cycling (mainly 20km per day return to work) I was able to build up enough 'fitness' to do the 100km brisbane to gold coast challange averaging 25km/hr - on a mountain bike. Once I got a road bike it was trivial to average 25 to 30km/hr for 10 to 15km commutes with hardly any effort. I don't even have to shower just change clothes. E-bike would be totally pointless, might as well just sit in the car and go faster.

      Wierd thing is, up until a month ago i never tried riding because I was waiting for 2016 model ebikes, but I thought I would try it just to see.... and it was way easier than I thought. Its a pitty that more people don't ride.

      Having said that, ebike is very very useful for going up hills, this cannot be denied. I will get maybe a bh jumper, so you can go down mountain bike trails and power back up to the start line with no effort.

      Last edited 30/10/15 10:39 pm

      I want an Ebike because I enjoy trail and mountain riding, but a mountain bike just isn't feasable to keep up with my father on his road bike

    I have a very similar electric bike (Scott) with the exact same Bosch system. Unfortunately, I need to sell it! I won't direct link, but it's on Gumtree! I loved it - did a 60km daily commute with minimal sweat. It still gave me a moderate workout and increased fitness levels significantly. Made light work of hills and was very comfortable for commuting. Would highly recommend for people looking to commute to work, but don't want to have to shower at the office.

    Guys dont confuse HUB with the Bosch Mid Drive Motors.
    The 250W Bosch Will outperform bigger hub Motors in almost every aspect.

      Including in price. Bosch are more than double. Nice, but a big outlay. I couldn't justify it even when I do 5000+kms a year.

    After reading all the comments, it's now a need and a want.

    I have a gepida Ruga with the same Bosch motor delimited. It will do 35 without a lot of input and 40-42 with reasonable pedalling. I've had it a year and gone about 1500km commuting to work. What was a 30min bus ride with the walk at each end is a 10-15 min ride. Love the bike wouldn't go back, I've used it every day apart from heavy rain and can wear work clothes. Very tempted to upgrade to a kalkhoff integrale s11 but that really is silly money.

      That's an expensive bike for a 3 km commute! 1500km in a year? You've probably paid a dollar per km in depreciation ;)

        The depreciation would be equal to the bus fare I didn't pay and would be less than rego/insurance let alone the rest on a car. The main benefit is that I actually enjoy it and haven't given it up, which I am pretty certain I would have on a normal bike, the safest routes are very hilly round here. Not the cheapest option for sure but one I haven't regretted.

          Of course you are right about the bus fair saved! I test rode a Ruga. Awesome bike. Glad you're enjoying it.

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