First Ride Report: Ducati Powerstage RR eBike



Words by Robert Johnston
Photos by Mountain Bike Connection Summer 23Roo Fowler

We’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of the Italian giants Ducati. They’re a big deal in the motorcycle world, with heritage stretching back to their origins in 1926 and countless accolades to their name. Rather than designing their flagship Powerstage RR themselves, instead they enlisted the help of Italian eBike specialists Thok to design the Shimano EP801-equipped eMTB. With some high-end components and a striking frame, this red rocket was a bike I was very intrigued to test, and it turned out to be quite an interesting day, if not the most successful. Read on to learn about this electric mountain bike and how it performed.


• 170mm Horst Link Suspension
• HTA 64
• STA 78
• REACH 475 (L)

Price: €11,990


FRAME AND FEATURES | The Ducati Powerstage RR shares the same frame as the Thok GRAM, designed for a mixed 29” front and 27.5” rear wheel setup and manufactured from Unidirectional Carbon Fiber to obtain the complex frame shaping and desired stiffness and strength. The rear end packs 170mm travel and a 180mm Ohlins fork leads the charge. The frame features some notable design features that give a unique look and contribute to creating an incredibly stiff overall platform: the headtube is designed around the burly 1.8” tapered steerer tube standard, with the “Big Eye” construction distributing stresses during hard charging; there are “T-Ribs” between the motor mount area and seat tube to boost stiffness; the carbon fiber rear end is asymmetric to add stiffness; and there’s a general push towards strength and stiffness with all of the tube shapes and carbon layup.

The head tube features the “T-Stopper” system to prevent the bars from turning too far and causing damage. Cable routing is all internal from the ports on the side of the head tube down to the rear axle; and the rear dropout features the SRAM UDH to make sourcing replacements easier, as well as offering T-Type compatibility.

DRIVE UNIT AND ELECTRONICS | The Ducati Powerstage RR uses the Shimano EP801 system with an integrated removable 630Wh battery. As is typical with the Shimano system, there’s a EM600 display on the bars to show the key information, and it uses the new style remote with integrated power switch on the left side of the bars. The Shimano system features three power levels and a walk mode; with two independently tunable on-the-fly profiles which can be tailored to the rider preferences using the Shimano E-Tube Project app.

SUSPENSION | The Powerstage RR’s 170mm travel rear end is delivered with the TPS-2 (Thok Progressive System) linkage system, a highly progressive Horst Link suspension configuration designed to offer supreme bottom out resistance and great climbing traction. This kind of progression is not entirely beneficial however, as it can make it difficult to generate sufficient support in the stroke whilst retaining the ability to achieve the full use of the rear travel.

First Ride Report: Ducati Powerstage RR eBike
First Ride Report: Ducati Powerstage RR eBike

GEOMETRY | Ducati was keen to point out two major focuses with the geometry of the Powerstage RR: steep terrain climbing performance, and steering stability on the downhills. Quite typical in the eMTB world are the-64 degree head tube angle; 450mm chainstay length; 78 degree seat tube angle and 475mm reach for the size large tested. An outlier is the 361mm bottom bracket height, with just 10mm drop relative to the axles, which gives plentiful pedal clearance but leaves the rider feeling a little more “on top” of the bike than what has become common. Sizing goes from medium to XL, so smaller riders will struggle to fit on the Ducati, but Thok offers a size small in their equivalent bike.

BUILD OPTIONS | Ducati is offering the Powerstage RR only as a limited edition build, of which there are just 230 available from Ducati dealers across the world. This build retails for €11,990, and comes equipped with a build kit which Ducati considers to offer “category-topping performance”. Suspension duties are handled by an Ohlins RXF38m.2 180mm fork and TTX22m.2 coil shock. There’s a SRAM GX AXS 12spd drivetrain, but not the latest T-Type transmission. Italian brake manufacturer Braking supplies their exotic “First” 2-piston, made-in-Italy brakes with 3mm thick, 203mm diameter rotors. A pair of Crankbrothers Synthesis Carbon wheels are wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion eMTB tires. Rounding out the build is a Renthal Carbon bar and Ducati alloy stem; and an unbranded dropper post topped with a Fizik saddle. The suspension and wheels are stellar choices and the drivetrain was solid, but the brakes and tires led to some issues, which we’ll get onto next.

First Ride Report: Ducati Powerstage RR eBike


I managed to get a solid day riding the Ducati Powerstage RR during the Bike Connection Agency Mountain Bike Connection Summer 2023 event in the Italian Dolomites. This day consisted of an initial lap in the bike park; then a varied climb followed by some sessioning in some natural forest terrain and terminated with the sketchiest descent of my life on a long and gnarly natural descent littered with slick limestone and exposed roots. Ducati’s choice to spec the Braking Brakes and Pirelli eMTB tires would sadly limit my ability to test the bike to the fullest in this day, with the brakes ultimately failing and pulling to the bar, and the tires lacking any sort of confidence on the slick natural testing terrain.

Initial impressions in the bike park were very promising though. Ducati’s design philosophy produced an extremely sturdy feeling chassis, which when combined with 170mm of progressive travel and some nicely balanced geometry, results in a bike that you feel like you can push extremely hard when the corners are supportive, and speeds are high. Sadly, the bike park runs in Andalo are not the most inspiring on long travel eBikes as a whole, but for the best gravity-fed sections of park the Powerstage RR inspired some very hard charging and was a lot of fun.

First Ride Report: Ducati Powerstage RR eBike

Climbing the Ducati continued this fun, with good pedal clearance and a solid climbing position leading to steep and technical climbs being dispatched without issue, so long as the traction was there. The hard compound of the Pirelli Scorpion eMTB tires limited the overall ability to claw its way up some technical ascents, but otherwise there were signs there that the Powerstage RR would climb as well as – if not better than – any Shimano EP801-equipped machine if a grippier rear tire was fitted.

Once I dropped into the natural descents, the problems began. I managed to get the Ohlins suspension units into a good ballpark having spent a good amount of time on them previously, but a combination of the rigidity of the chassis overall; the lack of traction generated by the tires; and an increasingly unpredictable set of brakes, led to my confidence plummeting once we left the supportive berms and grippy hardpack of the bike park. I can only hope that the issues with the brakes were just a matter of a poor bleed, but myself and the other Loam Wolfers have lacked good things to say about two other sets of Braking brakes when fitted to the Forestal Siryon’s we have tested in the past. The tires on the other hand are simply just not up to the task for aggressive riding in my eyes. I love the Scorpion Race version, as you’ll find out in an upcoming review, but the hard rubber of the eMTB Pirellis just doesn’t grip like you would hope.

First Ride Report: Ducati Powerstage RR eBike

The combination of these two spec pitfalls led to me adopting a fully defensive “survival” approach to getting down the last descent, which only served to highlight the unforgiving nature of the stiff chassis. I ended up with damper settings backed all the way out of both ends just to make up for the lack of ability of the Ducati to latch onto the terrain below. At the bottom of one of the faster trail sections, the unpredictable brakes turned to dangerously unfunctional brakes and pulled straight to the bar, leading me to blow out the top of a corner and miraculously weave my way through some boulders to come out the other side unscathed. Somehow I even managed to rip a side knob off and flat the rear tire following this, at which point I was merely creeping down the trail, trying to survive.

Thankfully though, I made it down to the bottom of the last descent in one piece eventually, frustrated by a test with such a negative outcome. I wanted to love this bike – I appreciate the heritage and dig how it looks, but as it stands I’ve been left with nothing other than a bitter taste and one fewer of my nine lives.

The Wolf’s Last Word

My parting message here is to reach out to remind companies – and riders in general – that a bike is a system that relies on every component to uphold the same quality of performance. I can’t say for sure whether or not the Ducati Powerstage RR is a good or bad bike at this point, only that it showed some signs of promise but was ultimately let down by inadequate tire traction and unpredictable brakes.

Price: €11,990


Frame: Thok UD Full Carbon | 170mm
Fork: Ohlins RXF38m.2 | 180mm
Shock: Ohlins TTX22m.2 | 230x65mm

Brakes: Braking First | 3mm thick, 203mm F/R rotors
Handlebar: Renthal Carbon 35mm | 800mm | 20mm Rise
Stem: Ducati CNC Alloy | 45mm Length
Headset: 1.8” Tapered with T-Stopper
Seatpost: Unbranded Dropper | M: 150mm; L/XL: 170mm
Saddle: Fizik Terra Alpaca

Wheelset: Crankbrothers Synthesis Carbon | 29” F/ 27.5” R
Front tire: Pirelli Scorpion Enduro S | Smartgrip | Hyperwall | 29×2.6″
Rear tire: Pirelli Scorpion E-MTB S | Smartgrip | Hyperwall | 27.5×2.6″

Cassette: SRAM GX Eagle | 10-50T | 12spd
Cranks: FSA Alloy | 165mm
Shifter: SRAM GX AXS Rocker | 12spd
Derailleur: SRAM GX AXS | 12spd

We Dig

Stiff and stout chassis for bike park abuse
I love how it looks

We Don’t

Poor tire and brake performance made it unsafe.


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