On the occasion of the Roc d’Azur, which takes place from October 5 to 9, 2022 in Fréjus, Decathlon unveiled new electric mountain bikes, including its first full-suspension Rockriders. A particularly eagerly awaited release as the French brand has made a specialty of making equipment that is however sharp accessible. We were able to come across the prototypes of these VTTAE during our visit to Tignes/Val-d’Isère during the E-Bike Festival. This time we were able to approach the E-EXPLs in their almost final form, unfortunately without being able to ride with them.
The Rockrider teams have split the range into two segments. On the one hand, the E-EXPL 520 and 700 are semi-rigid or hardtails. On the other, the 500S, 520S and 700S models are displayed in the category of fully suspended e-MTBs. A new range whose prices range from 2000 to 3500 €, i.e. fairly low prices for this type of electric model. Good news on a market that does not seem to find a limit to the inflation it has encountered in recent years and that professionals do not see stopping for 1 or 2 years.
Semi-rigid, but complete
The Rockrider E-EXPL 520 is an electric-assist mountain bike with a semi-rigid aluminum frame. Mounted on a Suntour XCM suspension offering 130 mm of travel, it can count on 29-inch wheels and shod in “house” Grip 100 2.4-inch wide tires. Decathlon insists that its entire range focuses on comfort more than precision, for bikes that remain accessible even to novices. The most modest of the E-EXPL team can count on an 8-speed MicroShift Acolyte chain transmission (12-42 cassette). On the braking side, Tektro is at the controls – and at the pads – with a hydraulic disc system (180 mm).
The 520 is powered by a central Yamaha PW-CE motor which develops 50 Nm. A limited torque, compared to what can be found on the market, but which has been adjusted to offer a mapping like that other models in the range. This engine is coupled to a 500 Wh Rockrider battery, integrated into the frame and removable from the side. The interface is provided by a screen developed internally by Decathlon and which is also found throughout the range, despite the different engines used. This display will soon be made customizable and can be coupled with an application whose functionalities will be enriched as updates are pushed.
Other family representative hard tail, the Rockrider E-EXPL 700 is logically more upscale. It relies in particular on Grip 500 dual-compound tires (softer outer studs) which this time can be mounted in tubeless (tubeless). Compared to its little brother, the 700 also gains a telescopic seatpost, very practical in technical passages. At the front, the fork comes from the stalls of X-Fusion R32 for a travel of 130 mm again.
The central motorization is this time entrusted to Brose and its T model which develops 70 Nm already present on the Decathlon E-ST 900 that we have already tested. Enough to cross marked hills with much more ease. The battery capacity climbs to 630 Wh, which should ensure more than comfortable autonomy. Endurance is also a priority for Decathlon for its E-EXPL family.
The Rockrider E-EXPL 700 can also rely on a higher end drivetrain. The crisis affecting bicycle components has Decathlon promising either a Shimano Deore set or a Microshift Advent X transmission. In both cases, the 700 will be able to count on 10 speeds, but the Shimano cassette has 11-43 sprockets, while that of MicroShift offers a wider range of 11-48 teeth. Braking is still provided by hydraulic disc models from Tektro.
Available in 4 frame sizes, the E-EXPL 520 and 700 will be suitable for cyclists 1.50 to 2 m tall. The bikes have a weight of 24.3 to 24.6 kg depending on the size chosen. It will cost 2000 € to afford the Rockrider E-EXPL 520 and 500 € more for its big brother.
Everything suspended for everyone, or almost
The Rockrider full suspension e-MTB range offers an additional benchmark with the E-EXPL 500S. A model that benefits from a Suntour XCM fork and an X-Fusion O2 shock each offering 130 mm of travel. The entry-level model opts for 29-inch Grip 100 tires. The Decathlon bike is stopped by Tektro hydraulic disc brakes (180 mm discs).
The engine chosen displays 50 Nm of torque, but it is not the Yamaha engine that is found at the level of the crankset. This time, the Brose C was chosen by Rockrider, associated with a 500 Wh battery. The transmission is the same as the 520, being an 8-speed MicroShift Acolyte package.
The E-EXPL 520S is the version of the 520 with rear shock. However, the full-suspension model from Rockrider is increased to 140mm of travel front and rear (X-Fusion McQuenn R and O2 Pro), for more comfort. This model still does without a dropper post, but upgrades to 29-inch Grip 500 tires.
The 520S has a more upscale engine, Brose T and a 500 Wh battery. It differs from its smaller sibling in the choice of 200mm discs front and rear, but retains the same hydraulic models from Tektro. The transmission here is entrusted to the Advent X from MicroShift.
The highest-end model in the family is none other than the Rockrider E-EXPL 700S. The latter retains the engine of the 520S, but opts for a 630 Wh battery. The 700S does not seek extremes in terms of suspension and is satisfied with a travel of 140 mm. However, he opts for a Rockshox 35 Silver fork and a Deluxe Select shock. The Decathlon teams praise in particular the absence of maintenance and adjustment for this shock absorber and all its forks. The idea remains to offer high-performance bikes that are easy to handle. Comfort is extended by the presence of a telescopic saddle post.
Rockrider remains wise in the choice of transmission with Shimano Deore 10 speeds. A consistent choice with Decathlon’s target, even for its most advanced electric mountain bike. The 700S opts for more upscale hydraulic disc brakes from Tektro.
The prices of the full-suspension models in this E-EXPL range range from €2,500 for the 500S to €3,500 for the 700S. Very contained prices for bikes that seem to keep their heads on their shoulders and which will suit a large number of mountain bikers looking above all for comfort and safety on the handlebars of their e-MTB. You will have to be a little more patient, the S models will be available from May 2023.
An additional 360 Wh battery is also offered at €500. This can be adapted to all models in the range and significantly increases autonomy. More intriguing, these eMTBs are compatible with accessories that clash with off-road practice. Indeed, Decathlon offers something to attach kickstands, luggage racks and lighting to its E-EXPLs. When the reality of the field of a sign with a thousand points of sale catches up with the requirements of a very technical environment.
Let more experienced off-road cycling enthusiasts be reassured, it is rumored that the Rockrider teams are also working on more advanced models. Electric mountain bikes that would take on the more playful spirit of the Feel range, today only muscular, but which would necessarily be much more expensive.