Well it’s been a long time coming, but we’ve finally had a go on the Fazua Evation drive, which promises a full 250W mid motor experience in a system that weighs just 4.6kg. Manufacturers like Focus and Bianchi have been incorporating the drive into their prototype bikes for a while, and builds of less than 12kg are possible for a road bike. What’s more, you can take the motor and battery out leaving just the bottom bracket gearbox, giving just a 1kg weight penalty if you want to ride the bike without power.
The Evation is a modular drive system that’s all contained in the down tube. The standard bottom bracket is replaced with Fazua’s gearbox, and you plug the motor unit into that. The 250Wh battery fits into the top of the motor and it’s easily replaceable, so you could carry a spare for extra range if you wanted. The system is controlled by a bar-mounted remote control. There are 10 LEDs showing the battery level and they change colour depending on which assistance mode you’ve selected: white for off, then green, blue and purple for the highest assistance.
It’s important to understand where the Fazua fits in the grand scheme of drive systems. At 250Wh capacity the battery isn’t big enough for a huge range, but it keeps the weight of the system down and it’s also compact enough to be fully integrated into a fairly standard down tube. As such it’s aimed at the sportier end of the market, where riders are only looking for assistance from time to time on hills, and also the urban market where riders don’t need a huge range but are often looking for a neat and classy look.
The ride: good power, simple to use
You wouldn’t expect to get market-leading power from a motor unit the size of the Fazua, but it certainly puts out enough torque to be genuinely useful. Once you start to miniaturise the components of a drive system you risk losing power: at the extreme you get systems like the tiny Vivax Assist motor that fits into a down tube, but really only offers a gentle push when engaged. The Fazua doesn’t feel like that: in operation it’s more like a standard mid motor. The power pickup is good, with very little lag from a standstill, and in the highest mode it offers pretty reasonable assistance.
In terms of how powerful it feels, it’s probably somewhere between a standard hub motor and a Bosch Active Line mid motor. It’s enough assistance that the hills around the Eurobike show halls were dispatched with relative ease: I wasn’t flying up them, but I wasn’t sweating up them either. Importantly the Evation drive doesn’t suffer from a lack of power at low speeds. That’s certainly a major issue with the Vivax system, and lightweight hub motors – there are two in our Eurobike drive systems round-up – tend to have the same issue to a lesser extent, although we haven’t tried the Ansmann or ebikemotion motors detailed there.
If you turn the motor off then there’s really no noticeable resistance when you’re riding normally, and the relative lack of weight, and its positioning low down in the centre of the bike, mean that the bike’s handling is largely unaffected. The fact that you can remove the motor and battery almost entirely, fit a blanking cover and ride the bike normally without power will be a draw for some. For example, if you normally ride on your own and are happy to do it at your own pace, but want to be able to keep on group rides or survive in hiller terrain than you usually ride, it could be ideal.
We didn’t ride the Evation bike long enough to get an idea of what the range would be like. As always, it’ll depend on you and your riding. Fazua claim a 50km range is possible, but the motor might well be useful on much longer rides when fitted to a road bike, giving a bit of assistance on the hills and left off for the flats. Given that in that scenario you’re most likely to be using the motor when pointing uphill, and probably not in the lowest mode either, you won’t get anything like 50km of assisted riding, and the Evation would be unlikely to get you from the bottom of a big alpine climb to the top on one charge. Around town the Evation would easily have the range for most daily commutes in the city; you’ll need a more robust charging strategy than for a more standard city bike with a 400Wh or 500Wh battery, but you shouldn’t run out of juice.
Overall: an interesting new addition to the landscape
There’s no doubt that the Evation drive works, and that it’s aiming at a slightly different sector of the market to Bosch, Brose, Continental and their rivals. This isn’t hidden motor technology exactly, but bikes like the Focus Project Y show how inconspicuous the Fazua drive can be, and that will be the big draw for roadies and mountain bikers just looking for a bit of part-time assistance without the weight and looks of a full-sized drive. In the city the sleek looks and simple controls will also appeal. It’s a German-engineered and built product, so don’t expect the bikes to be cheap. But we’ll be seeing production Fazua-equipped bikes in 2018, and they’ll be at the forefront of this part of the e-bike market.