First Ride: Giant Full E+ 1 SX Pro
A while back I tested the Giant Full E+ 0 SX, which at the time was Giant’s top tier electric mountain bike. And I liked it, although my main sticking point was that I didn’t think that the Giant SyncDrive Sport motor was quite a match for the best motors out there. Now Giant have a new motor, the SyncDrive Pro, which is their build of the new Yamaha PW-X unit. And it’s better. A lot better. That’s the main story here, as the rest of the bike is relatively unchanged, built around Giant’s excellent Maestro suspension platform with high quality finishing kit.
Giant are the only company that have the buying power with Yamaha that allows them to buy just the motors from Yamaha and spec the rest of the system themselves, hence the rebrand to Giant SyncDrive. The Pro motor has a maximum output of 80Nm which is up there with the most powerful off-road units, but crucially its ability to transfer all that power is much improved.
Giant have opted for five assistance modes – Eco, Tour, Active, Sport and Power – and assistance ranges from 100% of your input in Eco up to 360% in Power. The RideControl EVO system has a generous LCD display, centrally mounted, and a neat remote that’s part of the grip mount. It’s easy to see your ride data and change modes. There’s a walk assist too, of course.
100% is quite a high starting point, which actually makes Eco a very usable off-road mode where normally the lowest mode – for example Eco on the Bosch system – is very much a range extender. In theory that might mean that your range is reduced but in practice I didn’t find that to be the case, with the battery lasting a very similar distance to a Bosch-powered bike when ridden side by side. Giant use a custom 500Wh battery that is built by Panasonic to their specification. You can expect to get a 40-45km off-road ride out of the battery without being too frugal with the assistance.
Giant have done a lot of work with how the motor applies the power, and now the SyncDrive Pro will assist up to a cadence of 120rpm in the top modes, and 110rpm in the lower modes. This has had a big effect on how the bike responds: it feels much more eager on the climbs and it’s much better when you’re attacking technical stuff. The Giant feels quite tall at the front compared to some of the newer breed of e-MTBs; that was exacerbated by riding it alongside a Mondraker e-Crafty XR+ that’s a full 90mm longer in the top tube and a touch slacker at the front too. Compared to that the Giant felt more traditional, but it’s a very capable all-round trail bike.
The Maestro suspension system has been relatively unchanged for over a decade, because it works: it’s a fully active system that does a really good job of isolating braking forces and keeping the back end supple whatever you’re doing, with a custom-tuned RockShox Deluxe RT shock taking care of the damping. 160mm of travel at the back is matched at the front with the Rock Shox Yari RC fork, which is an excellent unit and got me out of trouble a few times.
The Giant is more than a match for the sort of riding I like to do – I’m a blue and red run kind of a rider, rather than launching myself off stuff – and the geometry works very well for an all-purpose trail bike. If you’re into the bigger drop-offs or very technical terrain you’d probably favour something a bit longer and slacker, but that’s not really a negative point against this bike, which is appealing as an all-purpose trail machine.
Like most of the new breed of e-MTBs, Giant have adopted the 27.5+ wheel size for the Full E+ and the bike spins on an e-bike-optimised, Giant-branded wheelset with a 35mm rim width. The Maxxis Rekon 27.5×2.6 tyres are a good all-rounder, with a big carcass that offers plenty of grip and the ability to run them quite soft. They’re not the most aggressive tyre in terms of tread, and they’re not especially stiff in the sidewall, so again they suit general trail riding better than they do the more technical and jumpier stuff.
Any downsides? Well, the RideControl EVO system still isn’t quite as linear in terms of battery depletion as I’d like, with the percentage falling away fairly sharply below about 40%. You’ll need to make sure you give yourself a good margin above 50% battery at the midpoint of your ride, but it’s reasonably easy to compensate there. The bike’s not at its best on very steep climbs thanks to the relatively upright position, but it’s more designed as an all-purpose trail machine and it works very well for that.
I’d say that the Full E+ is well suited to a rider like me, who can handle some fairly technical riding but spends most of their time on a mountain bike just enjoying themselves, rather than pushing their limits. When you do find yourself on terrain that’s a bit out of your comfort zone, there’s plenty of well-managed travel to bail you out. Overall it’s an improvement on the last Full E+ we rode, and that’s mostly due to the motor being a couple of rungs above the previous incarnation. It’s now on a par with the Bosch Performance Line CX and Shimano STEPS E8000 units at the top of the pile, and it’s definitely one to consider if your next mountain bike is going to be electrified.
Giant Full E+ 1 SX Pro full spec
|Sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Colours||Matt Black / Matt Blue / Matt Green|
|Frame||ALUXX-SL Grade Aluminum|
|Fork||RockShox Yari RC 27.5+, Solo Air 160mm travel, Boost 15X110 Maxle Ultimate, Crown adjust compression damper|
|Shock||RockShox Deluxe RT, DebonAir high volume shock, 185×52.5mm Trunnion mount, custom tuned|
|Handlebar||Giant Contact SL DH 800×31,8mm|
|Stem||Giant Connect [50 S/M/L, 60 XL]|
|Seatpost||Giant Contact Switch, remote height adjust [100 S/M, 125 L, 150 XL]|
|Saddle||Giant Contact neutral|
|Pedals||Giant Original MTB-Sport, Aluminium Platform, CrMo, replaceable pins|
|Shifters||Shimano SLX 1×11-sp|
|Front Derailleur||MRP 1X D-Mount TR chain guide|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano XT Shadow+, 11sp|
|Brakes||Shimano BR-M6000 200/200mm Disc|
|Brake Levers||Shimano BL-M6000 i-spec II|
|Cassette||Shimano HG-M7000, 11-46T, 11s|
|Chain||KMC X.11e EcoProteQ, e-bike optimized|
|Crankset||Praxis Works 36T Cold Forged 4130 premium plate steel Wavetm chainring, custom crankset, ‘Boost’ 4-bolt 104BCD Yamaha specific spider|
|Rims||Giant GE35, Tubeless ready, 27.5″ 35mm aluminum, e-bike optimized|
|Hubs||Giant eTracker Boost, Sealed Cartridge bearing, IS 6-bolt, [F] 110×15 [R] 148x12mm Thru-axle, e-bike optimized|
|Spokes||Giant eTracker Boost, Sealed Cartridge bearing, IS 6-bolt[F] 110x15mm, 28h,[R] 148x12mm Thru-axle, e-bike optimized, 32h|
|Tyres||Maxxis Rekon 27.5×2.6″ foldable, EXO protect, Dual Compound [R], 3C Maxx Grip [F]|
|Extras||Giant EnergyPak 3A fast charger, Tubeless Ready|
|Motor||Giant SyncDrive Pro 80Nm|
|Sensors||Giant PedalPlus 4-sensor technology|
|Display||Giant RideControl EVO, grip launch control with walk assist, mini USB charger|
|Battery||Giant EnergyPak 500, 36V 13.8Ah Rechargeable Lithium-Ion|