Vaast took the bike-design world by storm with its magnesium-framed gravel machine, the Vasst A/1. Now the Ohio-based brand’s sophomore effort brings the smoothest of rides to the urban electric bike.
The key factor on the E/1 is the rear suspension. It comes from suspension design guru Darrell Voss and is based around his NAILD suspension system, as used by the likes of Polygon and Marin (both big names in full-suspension mountain bikes).
The system maintains a constant distance between the pedals and saddle height. So, as you navigate city streets, sleeping policemen, kerbs, steps and other obstacles the bike won’t feel as if it’s dipping or diving.
Vaast E/1 Rohloff details and specifications
The bike’s design, with its easy-riding, step-through frame, robust 110mm-travel fork and steady geometry, is very well thought through. The commanding upright position and smoothness of the ride are simply the best I’ve ever tried on an urban electric bike.
There’s one penalty for all this comfort though, and that’s weight. At nearly 36kg, it’s epically heavy and with the (more than a foot wide) front rack in place, it’s a big bike.
What’s more, while Vaast has cleverly contained the motor and battery system in the centre of the bike (leaving the suspension independent), this means you can’t use the saddle to lift it (which I promise you’ll try). It’s a big unit to shift when you’re not riding it.
The substantial kickstand holds the heft, though this bike really needs a dual under-bottom bracket kickstand because it’s an issue getting it close enough to a bike-parking rail to lock it (if you don’t have a long lock) with the single-sided kickstand.
Vaast E/1 Rohloff ride impressions
When you’re dealing with suspension and ebike power, it can be tricky to get the right balance between the power of the motor plus your pedalling, and the compliance in the system. This can be further exacerbated when you add in the payload on the rear rack, but the E/1 copes with all of this remarkably well.
This a bike that simply wafts over rough surfaces, towpaths, bridleways and cobbles. In fact, the feel is so smooth it’s bordering on overkill.
If my commute included transporting three dozen eggs through the Arenberg forest (of Paris-Roubaix fame) at speed, the E/1 would be my only recommendation. For the ‘relatively’ well-kept roads, towpaths and byways I used the E/1 on, it was hardly challenged.
I’ve loved the ride of the E/1 and, despite reservations about the weight hampering the range, I did at most manage 74.87km/46.52 miles with 537m/1,762ft of climbing – and that’s quite a big commute for anyone.
The problem though is I’m not sure Vaast knew where to stop when it came to specifying this bike. The Bosch CX mid-mounted motor system (a powerful 85Nm) is a firm favourite of mine. Its power delivery is smooth, and it’s got plenty of oomph when you need it.
It’s just that here it’s combined with the 14-speed Rohloff rear hub that’s driven by a button-push electronic shifter. That many gears on a bike of this type is too many.
I love the snappiness of the hub switching up the gear range (which is a massive 526 per cent), but the lowest gear is far too low. From a standing start away from the traffic lights, it was a race between my thumb pushing up through the gears and the Rohloff trying to keep up, all while the Bosch motor was adding assistance.
My cadence hit triple figures – my legs were spinning at cartoon speed.
The 100mm of travel on the rear suspension is what gives the bike its incredible smoothness. When combined with the 110mm travel of the burly Suntour fork, however, it again feels like overkill for the intended rider, especially as that rear air suspension needs careful setting up to get the most from it.
Vaast E/1 Rohloff bottom line
Vaast wanted me to experience the flagship model, and I’ve fully enjoyed my time on it.
As well as the silky smooth ride, it’s incredibly well equipped, with integrated lights, burly racks and controls at your fingertips. I did, however, find myself looking at the more affordable options in the range with envy.
I’d opt for the cheaper Enviolo hub-equipped bike, with its constant variable transmission, or the simpler 12-speed entry-level bike. I fully admire what Vaast has achieved with the E/1, but perhaps the flagship model could be toned down just a little.
|Features||Front Carrier: Vaast Oversized
Rear Carrier: Vaast Oversized w/integrated ABUS lock mount
Front light: SuperNova, M99 Mini Pro-45
Rear light: SuperNova, M99
Mudguards: Custom alloy
Kickstand: Rear axle mount
Extras: Bell / Horn
|Motor||Bosch Gen. 4 Performance Line (US model: Performance line Speed), Battery - Bosch Powertube 500, Display - Bosch Kiox|
|Tyres||Schwalbe Super Moto-X 62-584 Reflex|
|Stem||Vaast, Kiox integrated, 75mm|
|Shifter||Rohloff E14 electronic shifter|
|Seatpost||Integrated w/Battery storag|
|Saddle||Selle Royal Forum w/Gel|
|Rear Shocks||Suntour RS-Edge-R|
|Handlebar||Vaast, 31.8mm Alloy, 640mm width, 34D sweep|
|Available sizes||S, M, L|
|Frame||Hydroformed Aluminium with NAILD suspension technology inside|
|Fork||Suntour Durolux36, 110mm travel|
|Cranks||Praxis Alloy E-Crank for Gates|
|Chain||Gates Carbon Drive belt|
|Cassette||Gates CDX 22T|
|Brakes||Shimano M6120 4 piston, Shimano/Rohloff C180mm rotors|
|Wheels||Alex MD40, 32H, Hub (rear) Rohloff E-14 Speedhub, Hub (front) Shimano M7000 FH Boost, 32H|