This story originally appeared in the October/November 2020 issue of Adventure Cyclist magazine.
BULLS Bikes may not be a brand that has landed on your radar, but if a new eBike is in your future, it’s a brand to pay attention to. Launched in the mid-1990s out of Germany, BULLS made a name for itself building mountain bikes and jumped into the eBike game by 2010. Their decade of experience in this market has helped them create an impressive selection of eBikes for road and trekking, as well as hardtail and full-suspension mountain eBikes. On tap for this review is the BULLS Lacuba Evo Lite from the trekking category.
Rated as a Class 1 eBike, the Lacuba Evo Lite offers pedal assist up to 20 mph and does not have a throttle. The Class 1 rating gives you quite a bit of freedom in regards to where you can ride it. Generally, these bikes are allowed on most bike paths and trails (PeopleForBikes has an excellent eBike resource page that tells you all about the different classes of eBikes and where you can ride them: peopleforbikes.org/e-bikes).
Acknowledging the $4,800 price tag out of the gate, you better believe this is a high-end trekking bike with high-end components. Some highlights include a Gates Carbon Belt Drive, Brose S Mag motor, high-capacity Supercore battery, eBike-specific Shimano Nexus 5 internal gear hub, tubeless-ready rims, Schwalbe Marathon tires, and a front suspension fork.
One oddity to point out, which you may have already noticed in the bike specs above, is that there are only two frame size options. The Lacuba Evo Lite is actually available in three different frame styles, each of which offers only a small handful of sizes. The bike tested here is the more traditional Diamond frame, which comes in 48cm and 53cm. The Step-Thru model has a steeper sloping top tube and comes in 45cm, 50cm, and 53cm. There is also a Wave model that has no top tube and is offered in 45cm and 50cm. Despite the limited size options, riders between 5’0” and 6’2” should have no problem fitting on one of these models. No matter which frame model you choose, you’ll be getting the same great selection of components.
The Lacuba has a Brose S Mag motor fitted to its aluminum frame. This offers up to 410 percent pedal assist and 90Nm of torque, and it’s an impressive mid-range motor that is often reserved for performance-level mountain bikes. In other words, it has plenty of torque and available power to handle the weight of light touring gear and to tackle challenging climbs.
Supplying power to the motor is a 37V/20Ah Supercore battery that equates to a massive 750Wh (watt hours) of juice. The battery is claimed to offer up to 150 miles of range under optimal riding conditions. Unfortunately, optimal riding conditions are hard to come by, and this would also take into account riding at the most economical power setting (we’ll get more into the power settings in a bit). Under real-world conditions, it’s completely reasonable to expect 80–90 miles on a full charge with the bike loaded with rear panniers and is what I was able to do over rolling hills and into some headwinds.
To charge the battery from empty, expect it to take around 6.5–7 hours. With this in mind, you can decide for yourself whether or not you would be interested in taking this on a long-distance bike tour. Unloaded, the bike weighs a hefty 49.2 pounds, so even a strong rider would have their work cut out for themselves if they were to exhaust the battery in the middle of a ride.
I was surprised to see that the Supercore battery was exposed to the elements on the bottom of the downtube, but after taking a look at the battery specifications, it does appear to have an Ingress Protection rating of IP56. I’ll be honest, I didn’t immediately know what that indicated, but according to the Ingress Protection chart, it means that the battery is protected from “limited dust ingress and high-pressure water jets from any direction.” While that is certainly impressive, I’m happy to see this bike comes with a full set of fenders to keep as much water away from the battery as possible. After all, a replacement battery will run you around $1,100.
Keeping track of how much battery power remains available is made easy through a 3.5in. handlebar-mounted TFT color display. The percent of battery life remaining is always visible on the screen, as is the current speed and assist setting. There’s a separate handlebar remote switch that is used to perform various functions such as selecting the assist setting or toggling through the screen to view various ride data such as trip time, distance, odometer, and estimated range on the current battery charge. I found that paying attention to the percent battery life indicator was most useful.
There are four levels of pedal assistance to choose from. As the name would suggest, the Eco setting is the most economical option when it comes to preserving battery life. It doesn’t offer a great deal of torque, but it’s a great setting to use if you’re just cruising casually around town or have a strong tailwind at your back.
The Tour and Sport settings progressively give you more power, and if you really want to zip around, the Turbo setting has some impressive kick. On my first few rides, I wasn’t really sure why someone would want to use any setting other than Turbo. Turns out you only get about 30–40 miles of range in the Turbo setting. Upon learning this valuable lesson, I reserved the Turbo assist for only the most challenging terrain.
No matter what setting you choose to spend your time in, one thing is certain: you will have a very quiet ride. I couldn’t hear any noise from the motor when it kicked on, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a drivetrain that makes less noise than a Gates Carbon Belt Drive. It’s a good thing this bike comes with a bell, because you’ll need it when you come up on cyclists and pedestrians from behind.
The Gates Carbon Belt Drive is paired to a Shimano Nexus 5-speed internal gear hub. I was a little surprised they didn’t opt for the Nexus 8-speed hub to offer a little more gear range, but the Nexus 5 E hub is designed specifically for eBikes, and still offers a decent gear ratio with an emphasis on the low end of the range. In the end, it works out pretty well, and I never found myself wanting additional gears.
As for ride quality, there are absolutely no complaints from me. Despite the weight of the bike, it handles surprisingly well on congested city streets and rides as smooth as a Cadillac on the open road. The upright position with flat bars offers great control over the bike, and the suspension fork is a great addition if you take this on gravel paths. I also really appreciated the feel of the Ergon grips and Selle Royal saddle.
I never thought this would be something I would draw attention to, but the bike also walks incredibly well. It was really exciting to discover the “walk mode,” which lightly engages the motor when walking the bike around. This makes it a great deal easier to wield the weight of the bike when pushing it around.
Topping this bike off are some nice little touches that could easily go unnoticed. The Hebie kickstand is hugely appreciated when trying to park your bike in town or at camp, and the headlight is smarty mounted to the crown of the front fork so it is always pointing where your handlebars are aimed.
My impression is that most people purchasing this bike will use it predominantly for commuting. However, with a rear rack and the potential to log a lot of miles on a single charge, the Lacuba is well suited for some light touring.
BULLS is still a relatively new brand to the U.S. market so their dealer reach isn’t as extensive as more established brands. Since $4,800 is no doubt a lot to spend on a bike you may not be familiar with, be sure to check out the dealer locator on the BULLS website to see if they are stocked in a bike shop near you.
Price: $4799 (factory spec)
Sizes available: 48cm, 53cm
Size tested: 48cm
Weight: 49.2 lbs. (as tested with pedals)
Head tube length: 140mm
Head tube angle: 70.5°
Seat tube length: 480mm
Seat tube angle: 73.5°
Top tube: 585mm (effective)
Bottom bracket drop: 70mm
Standover height: 810mm
Frame: 7005 aluminum, internal cable routing, two bottle cage mounts, rack and fender mounts
Motor: Brose Drive S Mag
Battery: Supercore 750Wh
Fork: SR Suntour NCX-E LO Air, 63mm
Handlebar: BULLS aluminum flat bar
Grips: Ergon GP1
Stem: BULLS aluminum, 90mm
Derailer: Shimano Nexus 5 E, internal gear hub
Shifter: Shimano Nexus 5
Brakes: Shimano BR-MT400, hydraulic disc
Rotors: 180mm front, 160mm rear
Crankset: FSA CK-746/IS, 39T Gates Carbon Drive CDX CenterTrack front sprocket
Cassette: Gates CDX 28T
Chain: Gates Carbon Drive CDX CenterTrack Belt
Bottom bracket: ISIS Splined
Seatpost: BULLS aluminum, 30.9mm
Saddle: Selle Royal Lookin
Hubs: Shimano HB-M3050 100 x 9mm quick-release front, Shimano Nexus 5 E 135 x 10mm bolt-on rear
Rims: BULLS XC-21D, 36h, tubeless ready
Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Almotion, 700c x 50mm
Pedals: VP VPE-889P flat pedals
Miscellaneous: Cargo rack, TFT color display, mudguards, chain guard, front and rear lights, bell, and kickstand
Internally geared hub: 39T chainring, 28T cog
BULLS Bikes, 11854 Alameda St., Lynwood, CA 90262, 844.442.8557 bullsbikesusa.com