First Ride: 2022 Eminent Drive MT - a High-Pivot eMTB

Nov 30, 2021 at 18:40
by Alicia Leggett  


As eMTBs gradually become a staple of each brand's mountain bike range we're seeing some exciting new prospects crop up as smaller companies create their first electrified offerings. Today, Eminent announced its Drive eMTB, which comes in both trail and enduro versions to satisfy both the riders who want to take long e-trail rides and those who want to self-shuttle their favorite downhill laps.

The trail and enduro versions are called, respectively, the Drive LT and the Drive MT, which at first glance is a bit confusing, as the LT is shorter travel than the MT. To be fair, the LT/MT naming scheme seems to be borrowed from Eminent's Onset line, for which the brand made ST and LT versions before later creating a longer more travel version, the Onset MT.

Eminent Drive MT Details

• Wheel size: 29" F / R
• Travel: 160 (R) / 170mm (F)
• Carbon frame
• 63.5-64.0 degree head tube angle
• 440mm chainstays
• Motor and battery: Shimano EP8 and 504Wh battery
• Sizes: M, L (tested), XL
• MSRP: $8,499 USD - $11,899 USD
• Weight (as shown, size L): 49.6lb / 22.5 kg
eminentcycles.com
Regardless of what the letters stand for, the MT version that I tested has 160mm of Fox Performance Float X rear suspension paired with a 170mm Marzocchi Bomber Z1 fork, an enduro-worthy 64-degree head angle that can be slackened half a degree using the bike's flip chip, and Eminent's own Active Float Suspension, which features both a floating shock and a floating dropout in the quest to once-and-for-all eliminate pedal bob and brake jack. Now, for the first time, the AFS system is paired with a high main pivot, which Eminent says it added not only for the high pivot traction and rearward axle path, but to free up precious real estate around the bottom bracket to fit the motor and battery without sacrificing tire clearance or otherwise causing a jam.


Eminent's own Active Float Suspension takes a unique approach, and it does what it's meant to do.
I flipped the chip both ways, but I preferred the slack setting.

Frame & Motor Details

The bike, recognizable immediately as an Eminent, looks like a spaceship. Eminent is known for its futuristic, angular lines, and the Drive fits seamlessly into its lineup, though naturally it's undergone the same longer and slacker treatment we'd expect, compared to Eminent's existing non-e enduro bike, the Onset MT 29.

One thing to note about the Drive is that it's fairly light for the long travel eMTB category, at 49.6 lbs / 22.5 kg, though it's worth noting that most of the weight savings likely comes from the use of a 504Wh battery, which is on the small side compared to what we're starting to see on full-power eMTBs. The battery won't last all day, so it's for those riders who just want to power out a few laps and get the maximum descent for their work.

As for controls, Shimano's computer and power switch are easy and intuitive to use. The display is easy to read in a wide range of light conditions, and the power control buttons work just fine. We all still want Shimano to include a battery percentage indicator on the screen for the system's next update, but in the meantime, the battery indication bars work well enough. The bike's power settings are tunable using Shimano's E-Tube Project app, but downloading the app isn't necessary to ride the bike and have a great time, thankfully. Just push the power button and go.

The controls are straightforward and unobtrusive.

The Drive is Eminent's first stab at capturing the 2021-22 high-pivot-long-travel-eMTB zeitgeist, but the brand has integrated all those new and wild terms into its existing framework, and the Drive uses the same AFS system as Eminent's other bikes.

The square tubes supposedly add lateral stiffness, but Eminent takes it one step farther on the Drive with a Super Boost 157mm rear hub. Also, Eminent uses a keyed rear axle design to lock those floating dropout plates together.

The holes are a little bit of a concern.

The one part of the bike design that I find odd is that the back ends of the seatstays and chainstays aren't closed. The seatstays are the more obvious offenders, and even though they're pointed downward, it seems like Eminent could easily have closed those holes up and eliminated the potential problem. I don't like the possibility of grit being jammed in there and being stuck forever, or my a*shole friends deciding to stick a few cat bells up there. Also, at those spots and a couple of others, the paint doesn't go all the way to the edges of the material. I know it's a nitpicky issue, but it does knock off a few points in the details category.

Like the Eminent Onset, which uses three different shock links and suspension setups to create 120mm, 140mm, and 155mm bikes that all use the same main carbon frame, the two Drives share a carbon frame and differ only in the suspension bits. Riders will be able to purchase additional parts from Eminent to convert their LTs to MTs and vice versa.

Switching to the LT version will add a bit of reach and slightly steepen the angles.

Geometry

The Drive MT has the geometry you'd expect from an aggressive trail or enduro bike, and it leans toward the aggressive side of the spectrum - it may as well, if it has a motor. A 64-degree head angle can be slackened to 63.5 degrees, the seat tube is a reasonable, if a tad slack, 76.2 degrees that is set back to 76.0 degrees when the flip chip is in slack mode. The 476mm reach is a tiny bit on the short side for some modern enduro bikes, but is ideal for me personally.

Compared with Eminent's past models, the brand has shortened the seat tube to 430mm (M) and 450mm (L and XL), meaning that riders can run longer dropper posts than they've previously been able to.

In terms of sizing, Eminent currently offers the Drive in M, L, and XL, so shorter riders will have to wait their turn to hop on a high pivot eMTB.

Eminent has shortened the seat tube compared to some of the brand's past bikes, so there's plenty of dropper clearance.

Prices

The Drive MT comes in three build levels, all of which include Fox/Marzocchi suspension, TRP brakes, and Shimano drivetrain parts. The base-level Comp build has a Marzocchi Bomber Z1 fork, a Fox Performance Float X shock, TRP's Slate EVO brakes, and a Shimano SLX drivetrain for the retail price of $8,499.

Next up is the Advanced build, which keeps the same Float X shock but steps it up with a Fox Performance Elite 38 fork, TRP Trail EVO brakes, and a Shimano XT drivetrain for $9,899.

The top Pro build gets a Fox Factory 38 fork, a Fox Factory Float X2 shock, a Shimano XTR drivetrain, and Crankbrothers Synthesis Enduro carbon wheels laced to Industry Nine hubs, breaking into five figures at $11,899. Each of the builds comes with a shock pump and torque tool for good measure.

My test bike showed up with most of the Comp parts but with the Crankbrothers carbon wheels that typically come on the Pro build.
Comp build - $8,499 USD.

Advanced build - $9,899 USD
Pro build - $11,899

Bold, clean, and effective.

Ride Impressions

On the ups, the combination of quiet suspension and smooth power delivery got the job done. The bike is efficient enough that I never felt the need to flip the climb switch on the shock, though the switch is right there and easily accessible should the need arise. The Shimano EP8 motor is is relatively quiet, which makes the whole climbing experience quite pleasant. On dirt roads, the bike powers right up and pedals nicely without any bob or other notable characteristics.

On choppy and steep climbs, it'll power right up, as long as you give it enough gas, but it doesn't have quite as much instantaneous power as some other eMTBs. The EP8 motor is Shimano's most powerful offering and delivers quiet, smooth power, but it doesn't feel quiet as punchy as the Bosch CX motor that was on the Trek Rail I recently spent time on, despite the fact that both motors have the same 85Nm maximum torque. Still, the Drive's climbing abilities were more than sufficient for getting up the climbs. I do wish, however, that it came with a bigger battery. The 504Wh one works well for self-shuttling and short or medium rides, but it won't last all day, and I wish there was an option for the long haul.

The Active Float Suspension, high pivot, and Shimano EP8 motor are the heart and soul of this bike.

Once the trail points downhill, the Drive feels like a familiar, capable enduro bike. Eminent was right in modernizing the geometry compared to its last bikes; the 476mm reach (485mm for the LT bike) is right where I want it to be, and the slack head angle serves the bike well. I prefer the bike in its slack flip chip setting, though I heard the Eminent employees have tended to ride it in the steeper mode, as they ride trails where they benefit from more clearance. For me, with fewer rocks to strike, the amount of travel, weight, and traction make the Drive feel quite capable, and honestly I don't want the head angle to be any steeper than those 63.5 degrees. Once it gets moving, it is a bit of a freight train, ready to handle just about anything, as long as anything doesn't entail stopping on a dime.

I'm thankful for quality tires. The Drive likes to accelerate when pointed downhill.

To that effect, I think that the TRP Slate EVO brakes are undergunned for the momentum the bike can carry, and I want much more stopping power. However, the mid- and upper-level build kits do come with more powerful brakes, so that gripe doesn't apply to the whole Drive range. As for the suspension performance, the bike wants to stay glued to the ground - in a good way. It certainly doesn't feel poppy, but the way it wants to monster-truck gives it plenty of character and it picks up straight line speed quickly. The bike as a whole plays well with the Assegai and DHRII tire combo, with both wheels tracking smoothly through both wet and dry sections of trail, although Double Down casing tires would have been a better choice for increased puncture protection and sidewall support.

The Marzocchi Bomber Z1 and TRP Slate EVOs performed quite well for the price point, but I do wish all the build kits included more powerful brakes.

The ideal rider for this bike is someone who wants to get up to get down and prioritizes downhill capability. While the 504 Wh battery may limit just how how far you can go, the Eminent Drive MT packs all the essentials for fun e-enduro riding into a package that's not overly heavy, and has sensible geometry, intuitive handling, and futuristic looks. It's most at home when pointed straight down a steep, rough section, and it'll shine most with the rider who wants to do exactly that.





131 Comments

  • 148 12
 That might be the best looking ebike yet.
  • 52 2
 Yes, and even though the standard eminent models were some of the worst looking bikes ever!

Do I remember correctly that there was some bankruptcy or reshuffling at Eminent?
  • 39 2
 Courage to comeback award - From the ugliest bike award and bankruptcy to best in show.
  • 4 1
 The blue version on their site looks even better
  • 6 1
 Their non-ebikes are hideous. I think they're still on closeout at Jenson USA. This silhouette is MUCH nicer, IMO and they should make a regular pedal bike out of it. Reminds me of a Lawill suspension design.
  • 6 6
 I am surprised eminent can afford to release an ebike but Banshee can't.. I see way more Banshees on the trail than I do Eminent.
  • 3 2
 Wheeling down 8mile????
  • 11 10
 @stumphumper92: Banshee does not want to release an ebike.
  • 3 1
 Their frame seem better suited for ebike than traditional mtbs.
  • 8 7
 @jmhills: no no they said they cannot afford to and then added some fluff to make it seem like it was also due to other reasons
  • 5 4
 @stumphumper92: more like eminent can’t afford not to, and banshee can.
  • 3 5
 @stumphumper92: The afford part is true as they are small. The rest though did not read like fluff to me.
  • 5 5
 @jmhills: Fluff is the wrong word but def tried to make it seem more like they care when really it was probably mainly bc they cannot afford it.
  • 3 0
 it's for dam sure better looking than the rest of their bikes!!! Smile
  • 1 0
 @AckshunW: They did, but They might pull through. Here's hoping Smile
  • 4 2
 Wow, fair play. Seems unanimous from the comments that this bike is a looker. I think it's gross. The diversity of humanity is a beautiful thing.
  • 47 1
 This might be a first. A brand whose bike got MORE aesthetically pleasing by adding a motor. Their other bikes have been kind of weird looking, but this one is pleasing to the eye.
  • 3 1
 true
  • 21 2
 Soon buying a bike is going to be like buying a car, with a financing area, the place where they talk you into unnecessary upgrades (bigger batteries, faster chargers, cool protection stickers, ...) Frown
  • 6 3
 Sounds fine - as I assume next door there will be a parking lot full of old rusting 27.5 bikes, with greased up Rockshox, and sawdust in their 10 speed derailleurs sale now on, low low prices, 60% off today only.
  • 16 2
 You act like this already doesn't already exist for regular bikes.. Many shops offer financing and will promote upgrades for all bikes, not specific to ebikes.
  • 6 0
 Finance manager trying to sneak in ride wrap frame protections, extended warranty, and anti theft etching options.
  • 2 0
 Already here. I was offered financing and extras like frame wrap, tubeless conversion, extended shop warranty in 2019 when I bought my specialized.
  • 3 0
 "yea but I'm sayin', that TruCoat, you don't get it and you get oxidation problems!"
  • 20 1
 Great job Eminent - one of the cleanest looking rigs to date with that Lawwill looking rear end. And ditching the long shock actuator. Mean and clean.
  • 1 0
 Agreed. Who else has a better looking ebike than the rest of their lineup? Their interrupted seat tube for the shock actuator was a terrible choice. But they seemed to have nailed their ebike at least.
  • 16 1
 okay I'll admit it, this is prob the best looking ebike I've seen yet
  • 9 3
 I hope to read a bike review one day on PB that doesn’t use the term “monster truck”

Also the brief time I’ve spent on ebikes has left me really disappointed with the control loop tuning on shimano units. Specifically, I believe they have issues around set point hunting, but that just might be the systems engineer in me being hypercritical. I’ve tried multiple ep8 bikes which I expect run different tunes, and have noticed it on all of them. Bosch units have felt better but not enough to make me want to hand over my money.
  • 5 0
 What are you talking about?
  • 6 1
 I think they're doing a lot of clever things here. The short chainstay, small-ish battery and weight under 50 pounds (for the low-end build) means it's gonna ride a lot closer to a "regular" bike. Also the comp build seems really smartly specced, though still super pricey. A left-field contender perhaps.
  • 6 2
 Not going to mention that this bike uses the Lawwill suspension design that hasn't been seen on a bike (as far as I know) in 20 years? Is the author even aware of that part of mountain bike history? The Lawwill patent just expired a couple years ago, I doubt the design similarity is just a coincidence.
  • 4 1
 Its on the Eminent non-ebikes!
  • 2 1
 They've been in denial regarding this for some time. I was told at Sea Otter a few years back that they were not aware of the original when they designed it? Regardless of all claims to being "unique", it's not - Mert was there first.

All that said, I like the look of this bike and will wait to see how things go with gen 1 battery and motor.
  • 1 0
 Rotec has been using the Lawwill for years... Smile
  • 2 0
 @PB-J: Wow that looks sick! I had no idea Rotec was still around.
  • 1 0
 @mecabeat: Doesn’t it just! As on old DH8 owner I’d love to sling a leg over one
  • 7 1
 I thought they went outta business! But that is one HOT ebike nicest 1 i've ever seen
  • 7 1
 Restructured through bankruptcy, I believe. But definitely still in business.
  • 3 1
 Not a comment on this bike specifically - but Eminent overall:

Looks, at an uneducated first glance to be a prime candidate for the @cedric-eveleigh Lal-bikes Supre drivetrain.
Mount the derailleur to the rear link and integrate the tensioner with the idler pulley.
Looks like the system would integrate without impacting the suspension layout or overall aesthetic of the bike too much (which for this brand is a polarizing concept.....)
  • 2 1
 Are motor mountings standardized? As in, will you be able to upgrade without needing a new front triangle when a newer, more efficient motor is released? So, you have this Shimano one right now and a newer version can then just be bolted on if you wanted?
  • 6 1
 not between brands as far as i know but the ep8 and older e8000 motors share the same mounting holes but i wouldnt imagine this will stay the same long term. I predict in a few years time there will be alot of ebikes with shagged motors unable to get replacements as the manufacturers will have moved to different monting patterns and no longer make the old motors....
  • 3 0
 @McMeta666: It’s a shame really that there isn’t a popular effort to make the motor and battery mounting standard (like derailleur or brake mounting). The future I could see for eMTBs is one where there are upgradeable/replaceable motors, and hot-swap battery capability. My thinking with the latter is that it seems possible that bike parks could become even greater in number now that eMTBs free them from ‘having’ to exist where ski resorts have lifts that are dormant in the summer months. Just about any area with decent terrain could be a site for a bike park. Just offer fresh batteries and voila ride all day.
  • 1 0
 This is the bike industry we are talking about
  • 1 0
 @McMeta666: But you can't really buy an EP8 and even if you get holf of one its too expensive to make sense.
  • 1 0
 @KalkhoffKiller: true i was kind of just using that as a general example as i knew those two motors share the same mounting pattern
  • 2 0
 @sngltrkmnd: This was my question. The upgrade path should allow for motors to be swapped.
  • 2 1
 Battery is tiny. My 504wt is 87% health already. In one season. It gives noticeably less range, just 38-40 km in Trail mode now and I'm pretty light myself. It's pretty flat where I ride. I like Shimano motor though, it's especially useful for Europeans, set region to NA in an app and boom - 32 km/h limit instead of 25.
  • 4 1
 It’s pretty cool to see Eminent releasing bikes like this after seemingly stumbling with their first two designs.
  • 5 1
 They have finally made one look good!
  • 8 5
 Its nice, I guess. I just get more enjoyment from human powered stuff, always have, always will.
  • 5 5
 This.
  • 5 5
 Making a 50 pound bike lighter by limiting battery size is completely wrong think. Underpowered Shimano motor with small battery is a recipe for no thanks. To bad its a nice looking bike. Fly Rides in San Diego has a limited edition Mondraker with similiar spec, Bosch motor bigger battery....
  • 5 0
 how is the EP8 underpowered?

maybe you rode one with tuned down assist levels?
  • 1 1
 Why do you call it Active Float System if your shock isn't floating? The lower shock mount is static...

Not only that, it's been known that a "floating" shock is actually a detriment to performance. So much so that even TREK has completely left it behind
  • 1 0
 Probably cause the suspension stays active during braking because of the floating brake mount.
  • 1 1
 @hitarpotar: I can tell that you have no clue what you're talking about because this frame goes from 90% anti-rise to 60%.

These bike companies could say a few catchy marketing terms and you'd fall hook, line, sinker.
  • 2 0
 Great looking ebike considering it doesnt look pregnant like so many others out there...reasonable weight, nice travel, reliable parts, all Good..
  • 4 1
 Eminents bikes DO actually exist - I heard Bigfoot rides one.
  • 5 2
 Starting at $8500 for the low end build. I know its an ebike but ouch!
  • 1 0
 The prices are eminent domain.
  • 4 1
 its just high pivot after high pivot after high pivot... love it!!!
  • 5 1
 Good looking bike
  • 5 4
 Another company that can't be bothered to vary seat tube angle or rear center length by size wants you to believe that what you really need is a motor and battery.
  • 1 1
 So with the idler and no chainguide, only a quarter of the chainring is engaged. Not really an issue with my noodle legs, but on an ebike is it too much torque? Will it wear out chainrings too quickly?
  • 3 3
 CEO: yo marketing, whats the 3 most wanted things in a bicycle today?
marketing: a motor, high pivot, and a price tag taken from depths of your a*shole
CEO: yo engineering, to the thing
  • 2 2
 Great looking bike but tapped out on Stuperboost. With going considerably faster through the tight trees and tech sections I do not want the back end of my bike to be as wide as a Buick.
  • 5 0
 There are some reasons to not be a fan of super post, but this is a bad reason.
  • 4 0
 @nskerb: yup - I am trying to picture a ridiculous fictional scenario where that comment makes sense and am coming up empty.
  • 2 0
 so you currently have no feet, and run bars that are less than 157mm wide???
  • 2 0
 So it's a Horst link with a short seat stay and a gigantic rocker. What does that do to the anti-rise?
  • 2 0
 Well, I just learned that 76,2 Sta is considered slack nowadays? I'd say it's pretty spot-on.
  • 2 0
 Woah... I have never heard of these guys before but they have some WICKED looking bikes! I love oddballs like this.
  • 2 4
 Yes . A bit heavy for only having a 504w battery.
  • 3 1
 How many pivots do you want?
What a silly question.. all of them!
  • 3 1
 we heard you like pivots so we put pivots on your pivots.
  • 1 0
 They were so close ... should have named the company Eminence, and then the Front could be one of their models.
  • 3 2
 i feel sorry for the wee idler. best have a spare in the kit?
  • 1 1
 Yep, that was my first thought.
  • 6 7
 “As eMTBs gradually become a staple of each brand's mountain bike range”

Just no. An eMTB shouldn’t be a staple product in a mountain bike company’s offerings.
  • 2 2
 That's a great looking bike,hopefully they make an MTB with the same shape,that would be sweet.
  • 2 1
 MT = moar travel
LT = less travel
  • 2 0
 HT = hate travel
  • 1 1
 I make 500k a year and I'm going to be priced out of mountain biking soon. How do people afford this sport.
  • 1 1
 A matching fork would look much better
  • 2 3
 That small batt though. They should've just committed to making it a SL bike to compete with Spesh and Orbea.
  • 2 1
 looks like a mondraker
  • 1 2
 sure if have 20/200 vision and corrective lenses that are grease smudged! lol

I actually might be the only person that can say this, but....

I both have an Eminent Onset and Mondraker Foxy in my garage right now....they do not look the same. Smile
  • 2 1
 @conoat: If you cant see how they have taken design ideas from Mondraker you do need corrective lenses.

I ain't complaining though, it's a great look.
  • 1 2
 @inside-plus: well, since I know the owner/designer personally, all I have to go off is what he says. lol.
  • 1 1
 @conoat: Oh yeah, so you're the designer and the Foxy in your garage is the one you copied the lines off? Makes sense.
  • 2 0
 @inside-plus: lol. I wished all that were true!
  • 1 1
 It needs a square profile dropper post to go with the seat tube
  • 3 3
 Premium money for an Ep8 with a 504wH, I would pass on this.
  • 1 1
 Where's the slow-mo squish?
  • 1 1
 Where is the kick starter?
  • 1 0
 Marshal matter
  • 3 4
 504wh is a deal breaker for me on any full powered ebike.
  • 2 2
 100%
  • 1 1
 Did Mert get on yet?
  • 2 4
 Small batteries and loud ass annoying motors..no thanks ebikes have ways to go..
  • 1 2
 Does the motor rattle and clunk like the other EP Eights ive ridden?
  • 3 0
 It will, that is intrinsic to the motor. You get used to it.
  • 5 7
 504w battery is a fkn joke. Dropped the ball on this one.
  • 4 3
 I think it makes sense for their intentions. It's a self-shuttle bike for smashing the downs. Better to keep it lighter and more natural feeling than using a big battery for adventures it won't be going on.
  • 3 3
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: I'm sure its great for after work local trails . But if you're buying a fat you want a battery that will last .
  • 2 1
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: its 49 lbs with a 504w. Turbo Levo is 49lbs with 720 w battery .
  • 3 1
 @THE-GUNT: the Levo is rad, you won't get an argument from me. Different strokes, variety good, etc.
  • 1 2
 I wouldn't say they dropped the ball but I agree that batteries are getting bigger so am surprised that they decided to offer a smaller one.
  • 1 1
 @stumphumper92: the 440 chainstay and the high pivot definitely puts it into its own category. Probably just figured it would get used as a shuttle bike and didn't want to make it a total monster truck. I can see the logic.
  • 1 1
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: I think the thing that we don't think of is that with a high pivot those chainstays grow when you want them too. The wheel base expands as the bike goes further in travel. Makes total sense when you think about it. You want them shorter on less bumpy terrain so the bike stay nimble. Most designs do the opposite and shrink when going gets rough so the trend has been to go to longer chainstays to try and make up for it, but you lose some low speed handing characteristics as a result and are never getting the true benefits of the long stays when things get rowdy. Long story short a, a 440 makes a ton of sense on a HP bike.
  • 3 4
 $12000.

For a bicycle.
  • 2 0
 Blame Inflation and Covid :-)
  • 1 1
 @zoobab2: I'm not convinced either of those have anything to do with it.
  • 2 0
 @cmi85: do you have any idea of freight costs these days? it's insane, man.
  • 2 1
 @aj-allen97: at least $28
  • 2 4
 e bikes r dumb
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