They might not be motorcycles, but e-bikes provide a lot of fun and practicality on two wheels. Check out our 2020 Giant Fastroad E+ EX Pro Review to learn more about why we included a bike review in Cycle New and what we think of this particular bike.
Photography by Sean and Lori Finley
You may be asking why we have a bicycle review in Cycle News. This is the first bicycle we have ever tested in Cycle News, and there are several reasons for including it in one of the oldest active motorcycle publications. e-bikes are getting more and more like motorcycles in terms of practicality and fun factor. Bicycles are one of the most widely used training tools for professional and recreational motorcycle racers, so we know that many of you ride bikes. Several motorcycle brands are involved in the bicycle industry. In fact, the Giant e-bikes utilize Yamaha motors and Kenda tires. My cycling riding kit even comes from brands that started in motorcycles with Sidi shoes, 100% eyewear and Fox Racing apparel. For all these reasons, many motorcycle dealerships have added bicycles to their showroom floors in recent years.
Giant is one of the world’s leading bicycle brands and has developed a complete line of electric-assist bicycles. I have been an avid road- and mountain-bike rider since I was a teenager, mostly riding to stay fit for motorcycle racing and riding. I first became intrigued by e-bikes about five years ago, as they became refined enough to offer good range and reasonable weight. I was not interested in one for me but hoped that maybe an e-bike would allow my wife to enjoy riding with me. During an Edelweiss Motorcycle tour in the Alps in 2018, we rented some E-bikes and did a 30-mile ride. She loved it and was immediately hooked. After doing some research, I bought her a Giant Stance E+ mountain bike, and we ride together several times a week.
Giant has been ramping up their involvement with the motorcycle world and includes Travis Pastrana, Eric Bostrom and Eddie Lawson among others on their list of ambassadors. They asked us if we would be interested in doing a review on a Giant e-bike, and we thought the time was right to include a review in Cycle News.
Rather than doing a test on a mountain bike, which seems to be the most common crossover among motorcycle riders, I decided to try one for commuting to the Cycle News office. I have an 18.5-mile door-to-door commute, with some dirt sections to make it more interesting. I have done it on my gravel bike, but the need to transport my laptop, clothes, and lunch in a backpack makes it a bit of a pain. It takes me about an hour and 10 minutes each way.
I chose the Giant Fastroad E+ EX Pro, which includes a rack and comfortable mountain-bike-style handlebars and ergonomics. The rack allowed me to add Giant’s optional soft panniers to carry all my stuff and still have room to transport other random things that come up when you are commuting. It also includes full fenders and large front and rear lights to improve daytime visibility to distracted drivers or get you home in the dark. The 27.5-inch diameter wheels with 2.4-inch-wide tires are extremely versatile and work well on the road and gravel. The Fastroad has a bit of an industrial, or some would say “grandpa,” look to it, but the functionality trumps looks for me.
2020 Giant Fastroad E+ EX Pro Details
The Giant Fastroad E+ EX Pro utilizes an aluminum frame and aluminum fork. Like most mountain bikes now, it uses a single front sprocket and has 10 sprockets on the rear. The shifting is managed via a Shimano rear derailleur. Shimano also supplies the front and rear disc brakes. Giant produces most of the rest of the components, including the seat, seatpost, handlebars and stem.
The motor and management system is where the e-bike becomes less like a bicycle and more like a motorcycle. Giant has developed its own SyncDrive Pro 360% tunable management system, and the motor is produced by Yamaha. The SyncDrive system utilizes six parameters to deliver the proper assistance: incline, acceleration, motor speed, ground speed, pedal input and cadence (pedal RPM). It includes five power-assist modes that are easily changed via a thumb shifter next to the left handle grip. Eco, the easiest setting, provides a 100% power assist while the Power mode provides up to 360% boost. The Giant RideControl EVO display allows you to easily monitor your power level selected, speed, remaining battery life, estimated remaining range, cadence, distance, odometer average speed, max speed and trip time. One of the other key components is the battery pack, which is developed in partnership with Panasonic.
Due in large part to the battery and motor, the Fastroad E+ EX Pro weighs in at 50 pounds. For comparison, my gravel bike weighs just 20 pounds, but it does not include the fenders, lights and rack.
So How About That E-Assist?
Riding the Fastroad feels like a typical bike as the power assist is noticeable but very natural. So how much does it help? The first day that I rode the Fastroad to the office, I knocked 18 minutes off my typical 1:10 minute commute on my gravel bike. Due to government regulations, the assist is capped at 28 miles per hour, and I easily hovered at that max on most of the ride on just the second power level, and it doesn’t slow down much on the hills. A few stoplights, stop signs, and a dirt section that included a water crossing dropped my average speed to 21 mph. And this was fully loaded down with my laptop, clothes and lunch in the panniers. My average is about 17 miles per hour on my gravel bike.
The Giant SyncDrive system provides a very natural feel and supplements your pedal load. On the higher power settings, it offers more assistance than lower settings. We found that it rewards a smooth, consistent cadence, which is good practice for riding any kind of bike.
E-bikes are polarizing among cyclists, as some feel that riding one is cheating, but I believe there are several good reasons for choosing an e-bike, even for somebody that rides for fitness. First off, they are just plain fun to ride, so you may be more likely to get out and ride. You can still get a great workout but cover more miles faster. I monitored my heart rate like I do on every ride and could match the intensity level achieved on a regular bike. They also allow riders of different fitness levels to enjoy riding together, just like my wife and I do regularly.
What Is The 2020 Giant Fastroad E+ EX Pro Range?
The range for the Giant Fastroad varies widely based on the power mode selected, the number of hills, and how hard you ride. With a hard effort, I used up the battery in as little as 25 miles and an hour of riding. On the opposite end, I put in a 50-mile ride with 2500 feet of climbing over three hours. Just like your own energy supply, you can plan out your efforts and rides to utilize the battery capacity to the fullest. The display indicates how much battery you have by percentage and estimates the remaining range to help with this. For that high-speed, 18-mile ride to work, I used up 70% of the capacity, so I carried the charger in the panniers to recharge it for the journey home. Giant also offers an auxiliary battery pack that can extend the life and range.
How long does it take to charge the battery? The bike comes with a smart charger, which charges a completely drained battery in about three and a half hours.
Giant Ride Control App
The Giant Ride Control App is designed for their e-bikes and provides a lot of cool features. You can tune the bike, monitor rides, set up fitness goals, use navigation, and set it to display notifications (such as emails, text, etc.) on the handlebar display. Since I already use Strava for cycling, I did not spend a lot of time with the app, but it provides a lot of great features, especially if you are new to cycling.
2020 Giant Fastroad E+ EX Pro Review Conclusion
A lot of research led me to buy a Giant Stance E Mountain bike for my wife, and we are still just as happy with that bike after a year and a half of regular riding. Two months of riding the Giant Fastroad E+ EX Pro commuter bike has me hooked. It is well-built, works amazing, and gets me to ride and commute on days when I do not feel up to it on my regular bike. CN
2020 Giant Fastroad E+ EX Pro Specifications
||ALUXX SL aluminum
||Giant SyncDrive Pro, 360% powered by Yamaha. Pedal-assist up to 28 mph
||Giant EnergyPak 375, 36V Integrated Lithium-Ion
||Giant RideControl EVO
||Shimano Tiagra, 10 Speed
||Shimano BR-MT200, Hydraulic Disc, 180mm front / 160mm rear
||Tubeless Ready 27.5 inch
||Kenda Kwick Seven.5. 27.5 x 2.4
||Lighting, Rack, Fenders, Kickstand and Battery Charger