Wilier might not be the first name you’d think of when looking at e-mountain bikes, especially ones with a trail-bent nature, however its newly released 803 TRB proves that reputations shouldn’t precede expectations.
- E-bike power: throttle vs pedal-assist
- Wilier's new Jaroon and Jaroon+ adventure bikes
- 5 unique e-bikes for 2017
- Shimano STEPS E8000 first ride
Wilier is better known for its road bikes, while it's also strong on the XC side of mountain biking too. Wilier's trail bikes are worth checking out too (pics in the gallery), but it’s their e-bike we’re interested in here.
The €5,250 / £4,999 Wilier 803 TRB Pro is a 140mm, plus tyred trail bike featuring Shimano’s new Steps 8000 motor — one of the first we’ve had a chance to ride. The bike is based around an alloy frame and is built with a sensible, if not super bling, kit list.
Wilier 803 TRB Pro e-trail bike frame
While many brands have their own version of a few significant basic suspension designs tweaked to suit their needs, Wilier has gone down the sensible route of buying in a suspension design from elsewhere. In this case it's using the Zero Suspension design we’re more used to seeing on Mondraker bikes. This is no bad thing because in our eyes, it’s one of the best systems out there.
The shock is driven from both ends, as it floats between a pair of linkages, giving the suspension engineers fine control over the way the bike reacts to impacts. We tend to find that this suspension design works best when pushed hard and fast over rough terrain. At slower speeds it’s not always the most inspiring, but what we want is a bike that not only copes with higher-speed, steeper stuff, but excels in it too.
We’ll admit to being pleasantly surprised by the geometry of the bike too. Comparisons can’t be drawn with the radical Mondraker Forward Geometry design, however the figures largely stack up. A reach of 472mm (size Large) is bang on the money — we’d have been happy with 460mm, so top marks here. The bottom bracket drops 25mm below the axles, again, good numbers, while the stays have been kept short-ish at 455mm. Keeping stays this short on an e-bike is tricky thanks to the geometry of the motor, but the use of Shimano’s motor has enabled this.
Stack figures of 630 are middle of the road, however from a UK perspective we’d like to see a slightly slacker (than 68-degree) head angle. Fortunately one of the guys we rode with from Wilier HQ had fitted an angleset, so we know this is possible.
Wilier 803 TRB Pro e-trail bike motor
Much has been said about the Shimano Steps 8000 motor, however limited availability has prevented many of us from actually being able to ride one. We only took a short ride, but were initially impressed. The power delivery is as immediate as the Bosch CX line of motors, however while it kicks in as quick, the power delivery is more subtle, so you tend not to get that backwards jerk as the power kicks in in the Boost mode (Turbo on the Bosch).
The unit is controlled by a left hand Di2 shifter, with a slightly larger than Di2 display unit giving various elements of info, with colour-coded mode power input levels, gear number etc (when run with a Di2 groupset). Shifting between modes is a lot more positive than on Bosch remotes we’ve used, with a definite click and also a beep, which we assume can be turned off in Shimano’s E-Tube software. We didn’t ride the bike long enough to be able comment on battery life.
The motor bolts simply into the frame and Wilier has spent a lot of time paring the frame’s mounting plate down. As previously mentioned, the chainstays on the 803 TRB are relatively short for an e-bike and this is thanks to the Steps’ bottom bracket being towards the rear of the motor. The other nice touch is that the Q Factor (the distance between the cranks) is the same as a regular XT set-up, so you shouldn’t be going bow-legged on them.
Wilier 803 TRB Pro e-trail bike kit
Wilier has picked a well-rounded kit list for the bike: a RockShox Yari RC fork up front takes care of the hits with 140mm of travel, and plenty of stiffness to boot, matched by a Monarch RT at the back; and the wheels will be Shimano hubs (our test bike had SRAM) with 40mm internal width WTB Scraper rims supporting WTB Ranger tyres. Our test bike came with Shimano’s Di2 XT drivetrain (mated to the Steps’ 34t ring), providing crisp, electronic shifting and plenty of customization. The 60mm stem and fairly wide bars were joined by a non-stock Reverb dropper (a stealth routed dropper will be fitted to production bikes).
Wilier 803 TRB Pro e-trail bike ride impression
With relatively sorted geometry and decent suspension our brief ride suggested good things for Wilier. The length of the bike is good, as is the stability gained from the low-ish bottom bracket. A slacker head angle would help further in this regard, however the extra weight of a plus tyre did prevent the bike becoming too nervous — Wilier says it is trying to find a balance between what we in the UK desire and what its regular customer base desires.
Plus tyres are still a tricky thing to get right, especially on an e-bike. As yet we’ve not found a perfect plus tyre for all conditions, so can’t complain too much about the Rangers on the 803. On loose rock they weren’t fantastic, but we know from experience that they roll well and hook up reasonably in intermediate conditions. We’ve also not had too many punctures with WTB plus tyres in the past. Set up wise we ran 16psi in the front and 18 at the back, and slowed our suspension’s rebound a touch to account for the way plus tyres can ping around a bit.
The Wilier 803 TRB comes with a cheaper brother, the 803 TRB Comp, featuring a mechanical 10-speed SLX drivetrain, Sektor fork and Monarch shock at €4,200 / £3,999.