Tuesday, February 13, 2024

MV Lucky Explorer E-gravel bike - First Impressions

 MV's e-gravel bike- First Impressions

The bike (finally) arrived! Zio quickly got it ready to ride, swapping out tires, bolting on water bottle cages, etc.

You can see how small the rear hub motor is - total system weight is 3.2 kg, (around 7 lbs) making this bike about the same weight as his un-motorized ancient MTB turned into SuperMonsterGravel.

Control button on the top tube with Homer Simpson as Superman just below. This bike also has tiny buttons near the brake hoods to shift assist-levels up or down rather than pushing the top tube button.

A nice surprise! Zio has a Torelli 20th Anniversary bike that's #70/100 so "Homer" is in good company.

Another nice surprise - Made-in-Italy, though Zio doesn't know who actually makes the frames for MV. The bikes are assembled and shipped from Varese, MVAgusta's home from the start. MV comes from Meccanica Verghera and the founder Giovanni Agusta.

Zio bought this bike not really needing an e-bike right away, but more as a way to get used to playing with one before it WILL be needed. He thinks of it as sort of an electronic "granny ring" on a triple crank...always there but nobody says ya gotta use it...at least if the bike is fun to ride without the e-assist.

This one is! Ready-to-ride it's under 30 lbs and with the motor off or in the 0 assist mode, rides just like a normal bike. Zio's put 100 kms on it so far and really likes the fat 38 mm Rene Herse slicks he mounted to replace the 45 mm gravel tires it came with. The 50+ mm slicks on SuperGravelMonster are great while Heather likes the 38's on her Bianchi gravel bike. We don't plan to ride the kind of gravel that requires knobby tires,

So far Zio's only cranked the motor up (Level 1 assist) one time - going into a stiff headwind on the bike trail. Otherwise he's ridden it "acoustically" and is pretty happy with how it goes, stops and turns. You can watch a good review of the Campagnolo EKAR component group HERE. Zio's not doing any video, who wants to look at or listen to him?

MAHLE's X20 assist system has some reviews online though since the MV's not sold in the USA, this one about it on another brand of bike still applies.

The bike itself? Zio bought this despite the branding. MVAgusta is great but the reference is to the Dakar factory motorcycles based on the Cagiva Elephant, which were sponsored by the cigarette brand Lucky Strike in the 1990s. Why? He wanted Campagnolo EKAR and MAHLE X20 and this was pretty much the only choice. He'll cover-up the logos and maybe slap-on some MVAgusta stickers eventually.

The frame geometry charts suggested this wouldn't be a slow-steering "desert sled" despite the name and riding it is proof. Frame sizing was a challenge as Zio seems to be smack-dab in-between both MV's and Bianchi's size ranges. He's almost too tall for the S size and too short for M, but just like the Bianchi, settled on M. 50 cm center-to-center on the seat tube is good while the top tube measures 53 cm. A rather short 8 cm stem connects to the carbon handlebar with all the hoses/cables routed internally.

All this means the fit is OK. The size S would for sure require a longer stem and with hoses/cables routed internally would have been a real pain to swap-out. As-is the M's a little short and upright while the bars are a bit wide but once he rewrapped the tape to cover more of the tops (and stuck some foam padding into the curiously depressed sections) things seem OK.

A straight top tube means a frame pump will fit! WOOHOO! Bottle cages are mounted low, another plus. Seatpost is round with an alloy clamp, both big plus factors in Zio's mind. Frame-build quality looks good too, I wonder who actually makes them?

What doesn't he like? The flat paint finish isn't a plus but what can ya do...it's the rage these days. We've already covered the logo issues. For this kind of money Zio wishes they'd plugged the bazillion threaded holes in the frame/fork (so you can bolt-on bikepacking stuff) with some snap-in things to keep dirt out of the threads and water out of the frame and sprung for better quality inner tubes than the rather thick CS ones. But they probably figure buyers are gonna yank 'em out and go tubeless with the no-name carbon tubeless-ready rims anyway? The 40 mm rims are deeper than Zio would like but they don't seem too bad in cross-winds so far.

100 kms over 3 rides and Zio's pretty happy. He can see this being his "do it all" bike even without the motor assist. He splurged for a MAHLE head-unit rather than slapping-on a Cateye cyclometer. This reads the bike's stats along with the usual speed, distance, etc. and includes a "range" feature - how far you can ride on the current battery charge?

With the assist level at 0 but the bike turned ON, the range numbers actually go backwards - as in higher rather than lower. A 2 hour ride today used 1% of the battery while the range-counter topped-out at 999 kms. On his first ride, when he switched to level 1 the range dropped to under 400 before he switched back to 0.

Next up, a ride with a real climb, one where Heather usually has to wait for him on her MAHLE X35 powered bike programmed to assist when her heart rate reaches a preset level. Will Level 1 be enough? If not, there's 2 or 3!

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