Back in July, Eminent Cycles put out a teaser video hinting at the release of an e-bike platform in the near future. Since then, they have shared multiple photos of pre-production frames, stoking our anticipation to see what the small southern California brand had cooked up. After three years of development, today, Eminent has launched their Drive e-bike featuring a high pivot version of their AFS suspension design, two travel options to pick from, adjustable geometry and a long list of other features. Yet another brand hopping on the high-pivot bandwagon, Eminent believes the rearward axle path and pivot placement of such a design is perfectly optimized for an e-bike. While the Drive shares many design elements with Eminent’s Onset trail bike, it is an entirely new beast. Dive into all the details below and keep an eye out in the months to come as we will be including the Drive in our 2022 e-bike shootout!
To us, it is the desire to ride beyond normally prescribed limitations. To push the boundaries of your ride, whether it’s post-work hot laps or a weekend epic. The Drive exists to take you further and deliver a broader trail experience. Technologically driven, performance obsessed, aesthetically peerless. That’s how we do it. We weren’t out to “E” an existing bike by just slapping a battery and motor on. For us, this was a new challenge and an opportunity to write the next chapter for Eminent and AFS Suspension. We turned over every stone to get here, looking beyond conventional design at where and how gains could be achieved, always in the most efficient manner possible. While its silhouette confirms Eminent DNA, it doesn’t take an engineering degree to realize this bike has a new bag of tricks. One ride and you will realize the roll-over advantages of high pivot suspension and the predictability of a tuned linearly progressive rear end. This bike begs for more and thanks to the Shimano EP8 motor, you too will have a deeper bag of tricks to feed it. Simply put: this bike drives hard.
- AFS (Active Float System) High Pivot Suspension Design
- 29-inch wheels
- Full carbon frame
- Two travel options: LT - 150mm fork,140mm rear wheel travel // MT - 170mm fork, 160mm rear wheel travel
- Adjustable geometry via flip chip
- Headtube angle: LT 65°- 64.5°// MT 64°- 63.5°
- 76°- 77° effective seat angle
- 440mm chainstay length
- Shimano EP8 motor
- Shimano 504Wh battery
- Sizes: medium, large, X-large
- Available in three build configurations
- Comp LT: $8,399 USD // Comp MT $8,499 USD
- Advanced LT: $9,799 USD // Advanced MT: $9,899 USD
- Pro LT: $11,699 USD // Pro MT: $11,899 USD
The Drive introduces a ground-up design that is reflective of three years of rider and customer feedback. Traction in all circumstances (descending, pedaling and breaking) has always been the cornerstone of the Active Float System suspension design: long rocker arm, full floating dropout, and active braking. It has continually proven itself capable and confidence-inspiring under both media and customers alike, and we’re ready for the next step.
High Pivot AFS Suspension Design
15mm of REARWARD AXLE PATH. The way we see it, this is the way forward. By forward, we mean that once you ride the Drive, you immediately notice the lack of hang-up over rocks and chatter. When the bike encounters an obstacle, the rear wheel tracks with the compression, moving back and out of the way and then resets for the next hit. But there is more going on here than just improved traction.
The Drive also remains balanced and consistent. Think of your telescoping fork and how as it cycles through its travel, it moves up and back. For years, the rear suspension of mountain bikes has done the opposite: up and forward, against the direction of bump forces.
The trapezium shape illustrates this perfectly:
Think of the sides of the trapezium as the axle paths and circles as wheels. Upon encountering a bump, the front end moves up the trapezoid, steepening the head angle and shrinking the wheelbase. This is exacerbated as terrain gets rougher.
With reward axle path, both axles are moving in more of a parallelogram:
As a result, the bike maintains a more consistent wheelbase and a more centered feel when riding. Cornering is also more predictable, as the chainstay doesn’t shrink through turns, allowing the rider to maintain consistent front-end pressure.
The benefits of our high pivot AFS suspension design continue when the trail turns uphill, particularly when things get technical. The crux of any technical climb is maintaining traction while working the bike up and over obstacles without having momentum and gravity on your side. We’ve all been in that situation where dramatic weight shifts are required to unweight and throw the rear end up and over slippery uphill logs, rocks or ledges. It’s a tricky maneuver, often resulting in a spun-out tire. If, however, the tire can get up and over the ledge without deflecting off of it, the rider can approach in a more neutral weighted position. All of this is achieved while still maintaining anti-squat around 120%.
Finally, when it comes to an e-bike, a high pivot just makes more sense when designing around a motor and battery. The competition for real estate is fierce in the bottom bracket area of a standard full suspension bike: drivetrain, tire clearance and trying to get the main pivot exactly where you want it. Now add an e-bike motor into the situation and in most cases, something has to give. Usually, it’s the main pivot and chainstays that get pushed backward to make room and ‘make it work.’ Ultimately, this changes the characteristics of the original design. However, with a high pivot design, the main pivot is out of the way of the drivetrain and motor. There is breathing room for the pivot and tire clearance issues are no more. On the Drive, this allowed us to put in short (by e-bike standards) 440mm chainstays and the ability to accommodate up to 2.6-inch tires. Keep in mind, 440mm is unweighted and the bike has 15mm of rearward axle path. In other words, the chainstays only grow as you progress deeper in travel, when you need the stability, and stay short and snappy for climbing. The opposite can be true on bikes touting extra-long chainstays for stability on traditional pivot designs. They are at their longest in slower, tighter and technical sections and decrease in length when you get into real chunder.
The graph below says it all. Dead linear, 30% progressivity or, in other words, a virtually straight diagonal line as the bike moves through travel. But what does it all mean? Because it is linear, the rear shock behaves predictably, with no funky changes in gradient, translating to a lack of harshness on the trail. There is also better mid-stroke support which equates to less ‘wallow,’ whether in corners, pumping, or in big compressions. As the Drive moves deeper into its travel, the shock becomes increasingly stiff, so there’s always extra travel on tap.
Brake Bracket Eliminated, Fully Active Braking Maintained
“Where’s the floating brake? Wasn’t that the whole point?” Thanks to the high pivot configuration, the brake bracket is no longer required to deliver low anti-rise numbers. By moving the main pivot up, the chainstay and seatstay are near parallel and maintain that shape as the bike uses travel. This means the dropouts translate instead of rotate, allowing us to bolt the caliper directly to the dropouts while maintaining exceptional braking performance. By keeping the rotor clocked to the same spot on the caliper throughout travel, the Drive delivers fully active braking with 30% anti-rise at sag. With the bracket out of the way, space is freed up to run a standard 203mm rotor.
Design and Style
Once we’re happy with the function of a design, the focus shifts to form to deliver a bike that looks as good as it rides. With the Drive, the priority was to keep motor and battery package space as minimal as possible while also delivering an overall visually balanced design. A lot of effort was made to have a downtube that is as svelte as possible, to avoid the bloated look that early generation e-bikes suffered from. This was achieved by using a custom, fully integrated battery, as well as routing the brake and shifter housing through the top tube.
Shimano EP8 Motor and Custom 504W Battery
The EP8 is the smallest and lightest-in-class motor, generating 85 Nm of torque and commanded by Shimano's clean and cleverly integrated display interface. Power delivery is further customized via the E-Tube phone app. Weight, strength, and keeping the appearance svelte were major design priorities. Thanks to a custom 504W battery accessed via the motor, the Drive has one of the slimmest down tube and motor areas in the industry. Keeping things tight also helps to keep the weight down.
Seat Tube and Clearance
With the shock and linkage moved to the front of the seat tube, we were able to ditch the shock tunnel used prior. The new design provides a massive uninterrupted 308mm (L & XL) and 288mm (M) seat post insertion for 34.9mm seat posts. The tidy shock packaging also gave us space to chop over an inch off of stand over height, offering clearance for a larger spectrum of riders across each frame size. Lastly, we've steepened up the seat tube angle to 76.2° (MT) and 77° (LT), putting the rider in an optimal, upright seated position over the pedals.
A cleanly integrated flip-chip located at the top shock mount allows riders to adjust geometry by half a degree: 63.5° or 64° (MT), 64.5° or 65° (LT). The adjustment is easily done trailside and only requires a 6mm Allen wrench.
Super Boost Spacing and Keyed Axle
When it comes to lateral stiffness, more is better. So we took it one step further with the Drive. The first area of improvement was moving to SuperBoost 157 hub spacing which creates a stronger and stiffer wheel thanks to wider spoke flanges. But that wasn't enough. The real improvement, you can’t see. The new dropout design integrates a unique keyed rear axle that locks the two dropout plates together, increasing torsional stiffness in high-stress circumstances. Lastly, we’re running dual-row angular contact bearings at the seat and chainstays for improved stiffness and durability.
For more information on Eminent's Drive, please head to www.eminentcycles.com