Trek Launches the New Powerfly
The Next Evolution
Words by Chili Dog | Photos by Margus Riga & Chili Dog
Whether you’re aware of it or not, we are in a very special time period. Our sport rarely sees massive upheaving changes like we’re experiencing now. Think about the last time the MTB world had an upset as big as e-bikes. It would probably be in the 90’s when dual suspension bikes first came out, but what’s so exciting about the birth of this new genre of bike is the pace of evolution and refinement. With each passing year the eMTB scene grows, but also truly develops, evolves and progresses. When Trek brought us to Mammoth Mountain in California to see their next step in the e-bike evolution, we were excited to see what the brand would bring to the table.
Trek uses the Powerfly name in three models– a hard tail, a 130mm short travel bike called the Powerfly FS and the 150mm long travel aka. LT version we tested. Within the LT name, Trek offers two levels: the LT 9.7 Plus and the LT 7 Plus. The 9.7 fills the premium slot, with a carbon frame, Fox suspension and carbon wheels with pricing at $5,999. Aside from the obvious weight savings (650 grams) of the carbon model, Trek had more leeway to seamlessly integrate the Bosch motor into the frame on the carbon model, tucking it tighter and using less material.
The LT 7 we rode fills the more affordable price bracket at $5,499. It features an aluminum frame, aluminum Bontrager Line Comp 40 wheels, and a Rock Shox suspension spec.
Travel on both LT model bikes is 150mm in the rear, and 160mm up front making it a hard charging and capable eMTB. Power is provided via a Bosch Performance CX motor, Purion controller and a 500Wh Bosch battery. Maximum torque is 75nm, or about 55.3 foot pounds for any of us Nascar loving Americans.
On its third generation, the Powerfly LT sees some big changes for 2018. First and foremost is the new and updated battery. Trek rethought the battery integration and user interface on the Powerfly. Opting away from the traditional bottom of the downtube attachment method, the new 2018 Powerfly LT has a side load Bosch Powertube battery that drops into place from the drive side of the bike. The non load bearing side accessed battery is a simple change, but it’s one that was derived from a lot of thought. Changing to a side load battery not only removes the battery from full exposure to the elements on the bottom of the down tube, but also makes it easier to replace and load in the frame. Furthering that goal, the battery has a nifty carrying handle that you’ll probably never use unless you’re ponying up for multiple batteries to do backcountry epics. They’ll need to be seriously long rides though, since the 500Wh battery has an approximate range of 105 miles in Eco mode, and 37.2 miles in Turbo mode. Charging takes about 4.5 hours from full empty, and 2 hours from half full.
The geometry will be reminiscent of the 2018 Powerfly since Trek opted to not mess with a good thing. When deciding on the geometry for the Powerfly LT, Trek chose a longer rear end to increase stability and aid in climbing. Just how long you ask? A full 475 millimeters worth of chainstay across all sizes.
The bike also features a flip chip in the rear suspension linkage that lowers the BB height, slackens the head tube angle and slightly elongates the wheelbase. In the high setting, the head tube angle is 66 degrees. Flip the chip and it goes to 65.5 degrees. BB height goes from 35cm to 34.4cm. They’re all small changes, but ones translate to noticeable handling differences on the trail. In the low setting, the bike has a more aggressive feel, but still climbs exceptionally well. Once I dropped it into the lower setting, I haven’t changed it back. The lower, slacker angles coupled with the long rear stays keep the bike planted through anything I can throw at it. Besides, climbing efficiency becomes a lot less important when you have a motor helping you out.