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I have always had a soft spot for Boardman bikes. I’ve ridden many, and I have also converted quite a few to electric assist.
I was quite excited to have a go on their relatively new Boardman HYB 8.9E electric hybrid bike (courtesy of a friend). It wasn’t just the bike that had interested me but the Fazua Evation drive system. In this review I will let you know what I thought about the whole experience and also shed a bit of light on this ground-breaking ebike motor.
There have been some great advances in ebike motor technology over the last couple of years. We have seen mid-drive motors becoming lighter and more technologically advanced, to the point where you have a fusion of human pedal power, seamlessly augmented with electric assist.
These motors have become smoother, more efficient, whilst at the same time producing a lot more torque than you would normally extract from a 250w motor.
Another great advance in electric bike technology is the advent of the removable ebike system – we are talking about the battery, controller and primary motor drive system.
The most well-known of these systems is the Fazua Evation ebike motor. This motor has adorned such beautiful e-road bikes as the Pinarello Nytro.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Boardman had chosen this system for their new range of electric bikes. I had always assumed, they would go for something like the X35 ebikemotion system, as found on the Orbea Gain and Ribble SLe.
So, what is the Fazua Evation ebike system and how does it work?
A recent entry to the e-bike world, German company Fazua have revolutionised the electric bike motor. The Fazua Evation was released at the end of 2018 and is a modular e-bike system that is contained within the downtube of the bike.
The standard bicycle’s bottom bracket is replaced with Fazua’s motor gearbox, and you insert the motor drive unit into the gearbox.
The compact 250Wh (watt hour) battery fits into the top of the motor drive unit and is easily replaceable – you could even carry a spare for more range if required.
The whole system is controlled by a handlebar-mounted remote control keypad. There are 10 LEDs showing the battery level. These change colour depending on which pedal assist mode you are in. White is zero assist, green is low, blue medium and purple for maximum power.
The Fazua is definitely aimed at the rider who only really wants to use the electric assistance from time to time. It has become commonplace on a lot of e-road bikes, and adventure bikes, but not quite so common on mountain bikes.
Weighing in at 4.6kg for the total system including the 250Wh (watt hour) battery pack. If you fancy going for a ride without the extra weight of the motor drive system and battery, you simply remove it, fit the alloy cover (available separately) and away you go!
You don’t loose the whole 4.6kg though, as the gearbox system that is integrated into the bottom bracket weighs around 1kg, so you still loose 3.6kg – which makes all the difference.
The manufacturer quotes 60Nm of torque for the Fazua system, and I would say that’s about right. The performance feels on a par with the Bosch Active plus motor. One thing I did notice though, there is no discernible pedalling resistance with the motor switched off. In fact it felt just like riding a normal bike.
Even the extra weight didn’t seem a problem. Mind you this bike weighs in at around 15.5kg (with the motor fitted), and one of my regular bikes is a vintage Dawes Galaxy touring bike, that has a steel frame and that weighs in at nearly 15kg (and it doesn’t have a motor fitted).
I also took it for a spin with the motor removed. That brought the weight down to just under 12kg, and to be honest, it felt just like riding a regular hybrid bike.
The pedal assist on the Boardman is just sublime, it is so smooth and intuitive. I would go as far to say it’s one of the smoothest pedal assist systems I have experienced.
I did try the bike on a 15% climb, and although I still had to put a reasonable amount of effort it, I would liken the experience to cycling up a 4% gradient with the wind behind you. No lactic acid burn and no needing to take deep breaths!
Fazua Rider App
The Fazua rider app is a really useful addition to this great system. It includes the following features:
- GPS navigation, tracking and trip information
- Motor power, remaining battery capacity, distance to empty, etc.
- Speedometer, cadence, rider power, rider torque, etc.
- Technical overview and battery charge information
- Support functions, incl. direct access to Fazua Service
- Ability to share rides with friends
- Summaries and analysis of the data post-ride
The app is compatible with Andriod and Apple IOS, and it really does provide some useful information, plus some of the more technical stuff like rider power, cadence and torque. You can also track ride data and share with friends.
The addition of GPS navigation is a great feature. But remember, you will need to get a suitable smartphone holder for your device.
My Conclusion of the Fazua Evation system
I personally preferred it to the X35 ebikemotion system found on the Ribble Sle and Orbea Gain. I’m not saying the X35 isn’t any good, far from it. I think it is a great system. But having an ebike motor system that can be removed in seconds is a game changer. You don’t need to have an ebike for commuting and a regular bike for weekend rides.
You really can have the best of both worlds. I also found the pedal assist and torque to be better on the Fazua powered Boardman.
All in all a great ebike system. If I decide to buy an electric bike in future, I will definitely be looking for something with the Fazua system fitted.
For more information check out my comparison of the Fazua Evation vs X35 ebikmotion drive systems.
The tiny 36v 7ah (250Wh) battery is designed to be lightweight and to easily plug directly into the drive unit. The range of this battery will really depend on the rider, and how often the e-assist is used.
There is not reason, why you couldn’t get a 100 miles out of a single charge, but you would need to be really frugal with your use of the electric assist.
For the average commuter rider, that has a hilly ride to work, and assuming maximum power is used, I would say a realistic range of between 30-40 miles should be achievable. If, like me you are on the heavier side, then this would be reduced even further.
The Boardman HYB 8.9e uses the excellent Shimano Deore M6000 1 x 10 drivetrain. There is an FSA-CK746 crankset with an FSA 44t chainring up front and a wide range 11-42 cassette and the rear.
This gearing is perfect to bombing around town on and just fine for negotiating steeper climbs. As expected the Shimano M6000 trigger shifter worked well and the gears indexed perfectly. The package is finished off with a high quality KMCE10 ebike specific chain.
The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes combined with 160mm rotors provide excellent braking. I’m a large chap, and on the steeper descents, I had every confidence in these brakes, and not once did I experience brake fade. Great brakes-all round!
Wheels and Tyres
The wheels are Boardman HYB-E. The front wheel is a 28h Boardman 6 Bolt Disc, 100x12mm Thru Axle, with the rear being a 32h standard 135mm Quick release.
The tyres are the excellent Schwalbe Citizen K-Guard, 700c x 35mm, which will offer a good level of puncture protection. Particularly useful when negotiating debris-strewn city streets.
The finishing kit is all, good quality Boardman branded components. Boardman Lock On Grips, Wellgo Flat Pedals,
Boardman Hybrid Saddle by Velo, Alloy 27.2mm seat post, Alloy stem (100mm medium, 110mm large) and Alloy, 600mm wide handlebars.
Frame and Forks
Boardman’s trademark smooth weld alloy frame is just beautiful, with internal routing and a relaxed geometry, this really is a nice frame. The Fazua motor system neatly integrates into the oversized down tube, making the bike look like a regular bicycle to the untrained eye.
High quality carbon forks, help dampen road buzz, and thru axle forks keep things stiff up front. The headset is a high quality FSA No. 42 ACB.
This really is a beautiful looking hybrid bike that just oozes style from every angle!
Who is the Boardman HYB 8.9e aimed at?
I would say the Boardman is aimed at urban commuters and general recreational cyclists. A bike like this is going to have quite a broad appeal. And because the motor system is easily removable, it can be placed on car racks, or on the back of camper vans without too much effort.
The only thing that will put some potential buyers off is the price tag. At just over £2000 it certainly isn’t cheap. But this bike does use cutting-edge ebike technology, and has high quality components and frame.
As with all hybrid bikes, there are provisions for fitting pannier racks and mudguards, and if your daily commute does take in a few steep hills, having the power on tap when you need it will be very helpful indeed!
Another good use for this bike would be as a delivery rider. I often see Deliveroo, and Ubereats riders using electric bikes nowadays. This makes perfect sense as spending all day zipping around city streets delivering stuff on an ebike will make things a lot easier, and increase your earning potential.
As the Fazua Evation ebike system is fairly new, I haven’t been able to find too much information** about long-term reliability. I think it’s safe to say for the moment, that this drive system is going to be fairly reliable.
It is a well designed and well engineered motor system, and I can’t really see any design flaws that could cause potential problems.
Halfords provide their 2 year warranty on all the electric bikes they sell, so customers needn’t worry. Plus, if the motor ever did develop an electrical fault, you can remove it and use it as a normal bike. Something you would not be able to do with a Bosch-powered bike.
**I have read owner reports on a couple of forums regarding the torx bolts (that secure the motor gearbox) occasionally coming loose and needing to be re-tightened.
Boardman have been producing decent bikes for years now, and it was inevitable that when they entered the e-bike market, they would produce something special.
The HYB 8.9e is an absolute joy to ride either with or without the motor fitted. If feels light, responsive and nimble, and I can see it being very popular with urban riders in particular.
The Fazua Evation system is just sublime. It is a perfect example of how an electric bike motor should work.
This bike won’t be for everyone though. Ultimately it depends on the needs of the individual, and some customers have said that it doesn’t produce enough assistance. Personally, I felt it produced plenty, but I ride between 50-100 miles per week on a regular road bike.
If you are looking for a bike to give you more of a boost, it may be worth looking at an ebike with the Bosch CX, Brose, Shimano Steps or Yamaha Sync drive motors. These all produce substantially more torque, and will definitely perform better on hill climbs and have longer battery ranges.
But if you are looking for an ebike that can be used as a normal bike from time to time, the Boardman HYB 8.9e is just the job!
***I have been so impressed with the Boardman HYB 8.9e that I’ve included it in my list of 6 of the best lightweight electric bikes currently available.