This will be aimed at first-timers, not so much for experienced bike builders…just going to touch on points that aren’t necessarily covered in the manuals regarding tips and tricks, best methods etc…..Second section will be a review of the bike, test ride, thoughts, and commentary.
So after doing the research and reading through the forums on endless-sphere and on the facebook page. I decided it was worth it. I ordered on August 21st and bike arrived today Sept 7th, (I’m in Quebec Canada so it’s a long trip). The order process was seamless, Luna is all automated and kept me updated with e-mails throughout the process, very fluid/professional experience to deal with. There’s a rep close by in MTL that guided me through the entire process (Thanks Seb). If coming into Canada, it’s recommended that you use FedEx as your broker. The bike will eventually arrive at your local FedEx freight depot and they will call you to arrange a delivery date. In my case I didn’t have to call, the day after it arrived they called right away in the morning. You can arrange to go pick it up or they can come to you and drop it off. In my case, I had it dropped off at my place.
The bike will be on a pallet and will have 3 metal straps around it, make sure the van driver doesn’t cut those straps (this guy did) because that’s what holds the box together. Box weight around 150-lbs, however, it’s nothing two people can’t pick up and carry…The van had a spare buggy-cart and a drop loader which was awesome, we dropped it down to street level and loaded it longways on the buggy-cart and I was able to wheel it into the back yard. I also took a few images while the box was in the van just in case anything was damaged after unboxing I’d have some evidence for a claim etc.
The box looked pretty banged up while it was still inside the van, so I was a little concerned, but when I slid the top cover off, I was relieved to see a pretty well packed and bubble-wrap padded frame and parts. Also relieved to see everything looked clean and new….refer to the images to see how everything was boxed up and packaged etc.
So I’ll just go over a few quick points that I think are important while building the bike:
- You’re excited yes, but just take a breath, and then take things slow. Take some pics, make sure nothing is damaged, and look in all the boxes to make sure everything was included.
- DO NOT cut the suspension straps, leave them tied for the whole build, the bike is propped up because the rear wheel is locked into a cardboard cut out and the front wheel is locked into a piece of wood that is stuck to the floor of the box, and it keeps the bike low and not so tippy so you can work on putting things together, getting the wheels on, etc.
- #3. I left the bike sitting in the box, sans the front wheel and worked on setting up the cockpit, the bars, light, throttle, brakes, etc. I bought a 3″ Deity riser bar (highly recommended) so I had to take everything off of the old bar and put it on the Deity, easy stuff, the grips came off fairly easily also. When setting up the front end, be mindful of how the wires are positioned (take pics), if they interfere with anything like the light, etc. refer to my images and others. This might take a few attempts. No need to tighten everything down fully yet, you will adjust brake lever position, etc. once you get the bike fully suspended with the pegs on, etc.
- #4. Then work on putting on the front wheel. Here’s the thing, the maxle nut on the RST killah fork has to be turned clockwise to unscrew it, opposite a normal bolt (click here to see a maxle). Also, the maxle (axle) part actually screws into the other fork leg so don’t just try to knock it out right away, unscrew it first. In my case, the maxle was VERY tightly fit into the wood piece…I had to use WD40 and gentle but repeated taps to get it out. Once you remove the maxle, take out the front brake pad insert and bring the front wheel near the bike, pull the entire bike out of the cardboard seating and either have someone hold the front end up, flip the bike upside down or on it’s side and place the wheel hub in-line with the fork axles, slide the maxle through, thread it and thread the cap on (remember, counterclockwise direction to tighten in this case).
- Now set the fork compression to it’s softest setting, 13 clicks clockwise, and have someone compress the forks or stand over the bike and compress them yourself, undo the yellow tie downs (I kept these tie-downs instead of cutting them, they’re always handy to have) repeat for the rear.
- I won’t go into detail here as it is in various manuals about how to remove the battery bu,t just open the battery cover with the key, make sure breaker is full left (Off position), pull the terminal connector and 12V harness. Simply slide the battery out and charge it…charging is SO easy it’s incredible, just plug the charger in, that’s it. It detects the battery and starts charging. The bike will usually ship with a 60%-70% charge. Charge the battery to 100%. Wait 10 mins after 100% before using to let it cool off a little.
- While the battery is charging, do a quick check of all the bolts, make sure everything is tight, etc. mine came over-torqued so yeah…good but not good…now is a good time to finish tightening down everything in the cockpit to your liking, stand up on the pegs or pedals and get a feel for how far you want the bar forward, how far forward you want the brakes levers rotated etc.
- The battery is now charged, so do a brief, non-aggressive test ride, I stayed on eco for a bit until I was sure everything was working properly, nothing smoking, all bolts tight etc. Then I hit sport and let the good times roll.
Alright, so as promised, a long and detailed preliminary review and my thoughts on the bike itself, the quality, the ride, etc. Please note, this is a preliminary review after receiving the bike just a few days ago. I will do a midterm follow up review at a later time.
First, a little background. So I’d say I’m a mountain biker first and foremost, I’ve been riding MTB since my teens, got into the downhill craze, got into dirt biking also. Just a total bike guy. I loved both worlds, but at the time you either had fast, loud, and heavy OR light, nimble and pedal-powered. I started experimenting with motorcycle frame building in the early 2000s and haven’t stopped for the last 18 years 🙂 I’m the dirt force motorcycles guy…if anyone was wondering.
Wow, time flies… anyway. I ended up building a few lightweight prototype frames using 4 stroke gas engines, improving on these designs until I had something that I was satisfied with…. the ultimate goal was to design and build something like the Sur-Ron frame, forged or cast aluminum but that’s tough on a backyard budget. Although mine was not a cast alum frame, my bikes were very innovative and SUPER fun to ride, engineered as good as could be with the available tech at my disposal.
Using 160cc, 13T/48T sprockets, these things can climb a wall. 26″F/24″R wheels, 12″ sus all around. 80-kph top speed, 150-lbs, one-gallon fuel tank, 120+ Km range, hard riding. So I’m coming into this Sur-Ron experience with quite a bit of knowledge and experience in cutting edge, lightweight frame design and proper corresponding race suspension that is set up for said frame/context. Did I mention all this experimentation with frame design lead me into CAD design, which is what I do now full time, for instance, I worked on the design of the new twin shifters for Box components. So anyway, I’ll be diving deep into this Sur-Ron light bee critique.
Let’s take a look at some of the components and then I’ll give some general thoughts.
For the price, the Sur-Ron light bee is a very good value. The first notable thing of quality is the frame design and construction. Their frames are obviously designed with CAD and are use cold forged frame members. This sort of frame manufacturing technique lends itself to intricate and sculpted shapes, ease of welding and assembly and is something you find on the bigger more expensive motorcycle brands out there. This leads to a really high end, lightweight yet solid frame that looks aesthetically appealing and looks and feels expensive and professional.
The frame members are smooth on the outside for appearance and pocketed with reinforcement ribbing on the inside for weight reduction, lots of detail and engineering went into this and I’m sure Sur-ron used FEA analysis to troubleshoot stress points and strength of frame members. For a guy like myself, the frame alone was worth the cost. When this tech becomes obsolete, I’m going to keep these frames forever and put them on my wall. They are literally a work of art. Props to the industrial design and engineering team. I wish I spoke Mandarin, I’d love to chat with them.
I’m more of a gas guy, so not too experienced with electronics and batteries so I’m just going by feel here but regarding electrical components, all looks and feels VERY high quality, as echoed in other reviews. Lot’s of proprietary stuff, not just duct-taped together, feels very finished. The battery pack is VERY professionally made, proprietary casing, high-end connectors, everything was tight and has a high quality feel not unlike what you would find in the power tools or e-mtb industry…The battery pack is one of my favorite components as it just feels so futuristic when you pull it out with the handle (total fuel cell style) sci-fi stuff. The same goes for the wiring, the speedo is basic in its casing design but does the job, looks fairly solid and the coolest part is that it lights up at night really bright! In the future, let’s see some more luxurious speedo designs, maybe something I’ll have a chance to work on 🙂
Plastics and body panels:
I was really impressed with the plastic parts, the battery cover is made from thick ABS with a matte finish, it feels really solid and not flimsy which is what you want for a part in that area. The rear fender is…well…very short…lol, but again, good quality, it’s shiny black ABS, decent thickness to it. Will hold up well. The belt cover is cute and a nice touch. There are some custom plastic pieces on the front that bridge the gaps between controller and frame. Nothing special but still, custom molded parts to help with aesthetics never hurts.
Drive train parts, sprocket, hubs, and bearings, etc. are all quality stuff, they look well made and everything feels very solid, with no knocks or weird noises. The 420 chain should be ok but I did upgrade to 428 on my gas bikes due to breaking 420, but I think that’s because I used low budget 420 chains, the gas bikes can hit pretty hard with clutch dumps also… 🙂
The Fork (RST Killah):
When I first bought this, I was worried that cost was kept low by under-spacing components, but I’m really impressed with the solidity of the RST Killah forks, they do the job quite well. 200mm of travel (7.8 inches), 13 clicks of compression adjustment and rebound adjustment as well. Sure, there is always better out there and no match for the 11.8″ showa Moto fork I use on my custom dirt bike builds, but it’s really all about context here, this is a smaller bike and I think they will do the job. *Note, the forks come stock with the compression set very low so they can be compressed for shipping. I found that they would bottom during some jibbing sessions. I’m 150lbs, I set them to full compression and it helped a lot but there is not much forgiveness…I don’t think this bike could be jumped heavily with this current setup….I think with some revolving and stiffer springs, this 8″ fork could be set up for jumping through. Experimentation is required.
The suspension is so crucial, it can make or break a bike. Quick aside…on my first prototype gas bike builds I used 8″ travel Monster-T forks with enduro springs and not linked, pit bike shock in the rear. The bike did weigh 150lbs wet (more than this bike) but I found it was just not enough suspension. My re-engineered versions used stock Show fork off of a CR85 (11.8″ travel) and a CR85 rear shock/w linkage system and that suspension setup alone, basically made a whole different bike altogether…the bike woke up and became “usable”…stuck to the ground like glue, over roots and rocks, super jumpable, tons more fun. I think this will be the same for the Sur-Ron, experimentation with suspension setups will be required, depending on weight and riding style. I do feel that given the context and size, the weight of the bike, 8″ travel should be enough… just a matter of tweaking springs and valves…I think 12” would just get too sloshy for a bike of this size. Right now, I feel the suspension setup, including rear shock, is a good value for the money but could be optioned up in the future.
Some people complaining about the brakes, I’m used to never maintaining my brakes so I’m always pulling on one inch of squishiness and basically not stopping, lol… so to me, these brakes seem fine but time will tell how well they hold up. Many people are bleeding them out of the box to get better performance or just outright replacing them with 4 pot downhill brakes. I’m sure this will be an upgrade in the future for me.
The brakes are linked to sensors that cut throttle power when applied. I feel this is good for a novice, casual rider who will not be jibbing with the bike but this can be downright dangerous for anyone more advanced riders who will be jibbing and tricking. I had a scare where I was testing sport mode out and lifting the front wheel up to drop off a ledge…I went to give it throttle and didn’t have any because I was feathering the breaks coming up to the ledge with speed! not good. (Editor’s note: this can be disabled following the documentation linked on the listing)
One thing that is not so good is the footpegs, they’re not grippy enough and too thin, not confidence-inspiring but these are disposable parts basically, easily modded out later. If you’re going to minimize cost somewhere, footpegs are where to do it, so in reality, I applaud Sur-Ron for a wise business decision 🙂
From my research, people are saying the stock headset bearings on the lower cup become loose. Hope makes aftermarket replacement headset for this, many people are doing this upgrade. Mine is on its way. BUT, so far, I haven’t felt anything go wrong with the stock headset, still feels solid as a rock, so I’ll probably just leave it on for now. PS. the Hope headset you need is top cup – ZS44/28.6 type-2 and bottom cup ZS55/40 type-G.. along with the 1.5-1 1/8″ reducer. They have them in stock right now at chainreactioncycles.com
The stock bars will do the trick for the casual rider, it’s not really the quality of the bar that’s the issue, it’s more to do with the bend/rise…… if you’re into tricking and jibbing you’ll DEFINITELY want to get a bar with a taller bend/rise. Most people are swapping for a 3″ bend. I put a 3″ riser bar by Deity and it feels GREAT! just about right.
I like the seat, it does the job, it’s a little on the firm side but whatever, this isn’t a lounge couch, I’m up out of saddle bust’s tricks half the time so no biggy…. I do like the width of it though, decent support width wise. Get’s my approval, easily upgradeable later also.
Comes stock with a good quality headlight, throws a good amount of light, the only downside is the beam is fairly wide and narrow but I’m ok with it for now. I’d probably need to experiment with something else to really see the difference. This is something MANY people upgrade very easily for little cost. You can get 3000+ lumen light bars on eBay for super cheap. Plug and play installation.
Cute little wheel/rim set with decent tires. The rims are moto quality rims, very similar to what you would find on a CR85 big wheel (front wheel)….these rims/tires will be ok for the casual rider. We might need some upgrading for more experienced riders. Many people are putting larger, softer trials tires on the rear, 26″ wheels on the front. Choose your poison. As for me, I have all that stuff on my custom lightweight gas bike so I sort of like the different feel of the small 24″ moto rim format, they feel very solid. I’ll probably just keep them on for now.
From my research, I had a rough idea of what to expect with this amazing little bike. But there is nothing like getting your hands on the real thing. It’s very difficult to give an opinion because everything is always dependent on context. OVERALL. I would echo the sentiments of most reviewers out there, for the price, this bike is VERY good quality and totally worth it. Also, there is a growing network of support, which is a HUGE factor when making a purchase in this market, the question always is, will this company be around in 2 years from now, will I still be able to get service and replacement parts and with Sur-Ron,
YES. this is a disruptive company and bike design, many people have bought these and I’m 95% sure support will continue for years and years down the road, including new parts, new bike designs, cooler, better replacement parts, etc. Even if not directly from the company themselves, there are plenty of third-party, aftermarket parts showing up in the market place.
Super turn key
I think one of the coolest factors about the Sur-Ron Light bee is just how turn-key it is for the average person. I have a friend who is really into pedal bikes, loves cars but not huge into motorcycles or dirt bikes….the Sur-Ron is going to fill that gap. It’s going to bring many people into motorcycling that are just not necessarily “farm” enough for a gas dirt bike :P.
Is it worth it
Let me be clear on this, out of the box, the Sur-Ron is impressively good to go, with only a few parts that possibly would need to swap out if desired, as described above. You order it, you wait a few weeks, it comes to your door, you spend one hour turning a few Allen keys while your battery is charging and you’re out on the trails….doesn’t get much better than that really.
I think for the more advanced e-bike riders and builders out there, although impressed, we realize it could use a few part swaps and upgrades and although very much a polished finished product, there is still always work to do. I love this bike through and through, I can tweak settings, change parts and design components for this bike and that will be fun…..BUTTTTTTT the one thing that keeps bothering me about it, after getting my hands on it……..is the size. It’s a small bike, just didn’t think it was that small.
Maybe I’m used to 26″/24″ bigger suspension and frame on my custom gas bikes but this is smaller than I thought it would be. I don’t think it’s a deal-breaker, hasn’t lead to buyers remorse….but it makes me wish there was an adult version of this, scale the frame by 10%, slightly larger battery, 26″ wheels, 10″ suspension front and back……that’s the bike for the NA market!
In terms of ride quality, power, torque, etc. I only had a little ride time on it, I will go out again tomorrow but so far so good. It rides with a very planted and solid feeling, the center of gravity is fairly well distributed. It’s light and flickable. One thing is, it is so small, it is easy to touch the ground so that’s a nice benefit in squirrely terrain. I’m 150lbs and on flat, “EP” (eco) mode was more than enough until I came to any sort of incline…so I found myself staying in “EP” (eco) on the road and flipping it into “sport” mode for any hills, it’s a great way to save battery (and a good opportunity for a future mod, auto-sensing switch between low/high power). In Sport mode, this bike is no joke, you can go scary fast on it and is a full-blown motorcycle (def wear a GOOD helmet and ride safely). Range seemed to be ok. I had it charged to 98% and it dropped to 94% with some spirited neighborhood riding. I noticed that in “sport” mode if you flog it like you would a gas bike, it does seem to chew battery capacity a little more than “EP” mode.
The one thing I wouldn’t do is compare it to a gas MX bike like a KTM350 etc, which it seems like a lot of people are doing. Two, very different bikes, very different technologies, and purposes. Gas MX bikes can take a MAJOR beating, go a lot farther but are much larger and heavier, they do well in sand, tracks, big trails, fire roads, etc. not so good for tight MTB style trails, single track, forest riding, etc. With the Sur-Ron, not so good in sand, just doesn’t have the battery capacity for it, not so good for wide open, rough ATV trails unless you put on better tires, etc.
No, the Sur-Ron light bee is the ultimate, low maintenance, no worries play bike. It excels in the forest, tight single track, MTB style (don’t ride mtb-only trails), small MX style trails, light sandy area’s, area’s close to town and development, in urban settings, upstairs, downstairs, jibbing at the park, jibbing in your backyard, running through your neighbors’ flower garden etc. so ideally you’d have both, but if you had to choose between the two, you really need to think about your lifestyle, your location, and your riding preferences. I live in a developing neighborhood so the Sur-Ron light bee comes out ahead on my list because there’s less noise.
Anyway, overall, a very capable bike, nice throttle response for both modes, overall a blast to ride. I will get some more ride time in and provide updates.
A few other cool tidbits about the bike not usually mentioned…
– The USB port glows blue at night
– The speedo is super clear and lit well at night
– The horn is STUPID loud, wake your neighbors’ up at night!
– “EP” (Eco) mode is actually more impressive than portrayed on reviews and videos. On a flat smooth surface, you can have fun with that alone.
– Charging is stupid easy, no buttons, just plug and it in and it will start charging
– The throttle is actually a real moto throttle that uses a real cable to potentiometer box
– The kickstand has a sensor if it’s down the bike won’t work
– First couple rides I always forgot to flip the breaker switch (air switch) when replacing the battery
– The bike comes with graphics for the battery but NO ONE installs them lol
– The bike comes with a cute little front number plate but NO ONE installs them lol