It’s not hard to find a solid electric mountain bike for around $1500, but they probably aren’t something you’ll want to take out onto the trails on a regular basis. The Canadian-designed Surface 604 Shred changes the game and while the price point is slightly higher, at $2,399, it boasts a solid hardtail frame and premium components that make the 2021 Shred a serious competitor in the electric mountain bike segment. Surface 604 sent the brand new 2021 Shred over to us for a few weeks to run it through its paces free of charge for the purposes of this review.
Right off the bat, it is clear the Surface 604 Shred is not your average value brand electric mountain bike. It sports hydraulic Tektro Dorado disc brakes and a Suntour XCM32 Boost suspension fork. While clearly not top shelf components, they are a significant step up above the budget components casually tossed onto most electric bikes.
On the electric powertrain side of things, Surface 604 ditched the less accurate cadence sensor in favor of a more accurate torque sensor. Traditional cadence sensors simply tell the bike if the pedals are moving and how fast. A torque sensor actually measures how much force is being applied to the pedals, enabling the motor a much more appropriate amount of power in response to the effort being put out by the rider. The result is an electric assist that’s smooth, completely ditching the massive surge of power that shows up when pedaling begins that’s typical on many bikes equipped with cadence sensors.
The combination of a smaller than standard 500 watt motor and the ability to more precisely apply power when needed translates to not only a smoother ride, but more range per charge. Surface 604 estimates the base 14 Ah, 672 Wh battery will deliver 45 miles per charge and we found this to be a bit conservative. We took it on a few rides that put the battery to the test and even with my oversized frame and an unreasonable number of hills, the battery pulled through like a champ. They also offer a $300 upgrade to an extended range 20Ah battery that boasts a range of 65 miles per charge if you need to squeeze out a bit more range per charge, want to be able to handle a heavier load, or more challenging terrain.
The Velo grips and the wide mountain bike style drop handlebars provide great command of the bike, with a thumb throttle and the ebike controller on the left with the SRAM shifter and bell on the right. It’s admittedly a lot to have going on on the handlebars and I found it occasionally challenging to reach for the bell and thumb throttle at times.
To abuse the Shred a bit, I took it onto a section of absolutely mangled farm roads adjacent to a local strawberry patch. The oversized 27.5″ x 2.8″ CST Patrol tires make for a comfortable ride around town and serve to take the edge off of some of the smaller bumps. Up front, the SR Suntour XCM32 29ER Suspension fork did an admirable job of taking the the edge off but it’s clearly not ready for any massive downhill runs or excessively bumpy trails.
While offroad, the electric powertrain of the Shred absolutely shined. Cranking the pedal assist level up to level 5, the motor transformed what would otherwise be a boring, flat section of trail into and exhilarating run across the mud ridden, tractor-mawed trail. On uphill sections of trail, leaning into the electric motor in base pedal assist mode and via the throttle helped to level the playing field for less capable riders like myself.
Taking it out on a more technical trail in Ojai, California, the Shred proved itself to be a nimble, capable electric mountain bike. The oversized 27.5″ x 2.8″ CST Patrol tires it ships with provide both grip and cushion on the loose dirt and rock trails.
When it was time to slow down, whether for a massive mud puddle or a red light, the Tektro Dorado hydraulic disc brakes were absolute monsters, providing a rapid response and a firm grip. Compared to the cable-driven disc brakes on many bikes, hydraulic disc brakes are massive improvements that really shows when blasting down a hill at 30 mph. It’s not sexy and fun to pay for safer bikes, but hydraulic brakes make a meaningful difference in keeping you on the bike and the bike upright, moving in the right direction.
The quality Selle Royale saddle is a high quality mountain bike saddle, though more casual riders less concerned with the weight may opt to upgrade to a more plush option and/or a suspension seat post.
Overall, we found the Shred to be a fantastic step up in quality electric bikes that is likely to appeal to customers looking for an electric mountain bike with better components than the run of the mill value bikes on the market today. The ability to purchase a larger 20Ah battery for even more miles, more hills, and more fun per ride just makes it that much sweeter.
We especially loved the efficiency and torque from the 500 watt Bafang motor as it was capable of both long range street rides and powering up some of the steepest mountains around. Shipped as a Class 2 e-bike, it’s handy to have the ability to upgrade it to a Class 3 e-bike with a simple change of settings on the 3.5″ color display.
- Motor: 500 watt / 65Nm torque 48V Bafang Geared Hub Brushless Motor
- Battery: 14Ah standard, 20Ah extended range option ($300)
- Range: 45 mi / 72 km standard, 65 mi / 105 km extended
- Top Speed: 20mph as Class 2, 28mph when unlocked as Class 3
- Display: 3.5″ color display w/micro USB jack
- Lighting system: Büchel LED headlight w/integrated rear LED lights
- Weight Capacity: 285 lbs / 130 kg
- Fork: SR Suntour XCM32 29 ER suspension fork w/100mm travel
- Tires: CST Patrol 27.5″ x 2.8″
- Brakes: Tektro Dorado hydraulic disc brakes w/quad piston calipers
- Drivetrain: SRAM X5 9-speed
- Saddle: Selle Royale ergonomic gel
- Price: $2,399