The new Ekano 2 is Propain's take on an electrified freeride bike, one that, in their words, is designed to 'power up, party down.' It's also the first eMTB in Propain's lineup to use their Pro10 suspension layout, a dual link design previously found only on the German brand's non-motorized options.
All of the bikes in the Ekano lineup roll on a mixed wheel setup, with 170mm of rear travel and up to a 190mm fork. The aluminum frame houses a Shimano EP801 motor (a lower priced EP6 version is available in Europe only), and a 626 Wh battery.
Prices start at $5,294 and go up to $8,999 USD, although the build kits are really just suggestions – it's possible to customize everything from the suspension, wheels, brakes, and cockpit components by selecting from a variety of options on the Propain website.
Ekano 2 AL Details
• Wheel size: 29" front / 27.5" rear
• Aluminum frame
• Shimano EP801 motor
• 626 Wh battery
• 170mm rear travel, 180 or 190mm fork
• 64° head angle
• 445mm chainstays
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weights start at 23.5 kg (51.8 lb)
• MSRP: $5,294 - $8,999 USD
The Ekano's frame is comprised of several different aluminum alloys – 6066 is used for the main tubes, 6061 is used for the milled and forged parts, and 7075 is used for the links and axles. The new suspension layout provides room for a water bottle inside the front triangle, and there are tube or tool mounting bolts on the underside of the top tube.
The derailleur, dropper, and brake lines are routed internally, and yes, they unfortunately go through the headset. Propain's take on this trend is better executed than some of the other versions, with stainless steel bearings and a rubber plug under the front of the stem that helps minimize water ingress. The headset spacers are split in order to make stem height adjustments possible without needing to bleed a brake.
Other details sealed bearing covers on all pivot locations, generous chainslap protection, and a universal derailleur hanger.
The bike's charging port is located part way up the seat tube, where it's less likely to get totally doused when riding through puddles.Geometry
With a 180mm fork the Ekano has a 64-degree head angle and a 78-degree effective seat angle. It's approved for use with up to a 190mm fork; going 10mm longer would make both of those numbers a touch slacker.
Reach numbers range from 435 to 495mm, and the size large I tried had a reach of 475mm. The chainstays measure 445mm across the board.
All of the Ekano's geometry numbers are fairly typical, except for one – the seat tube length. That's on the longer side, and it could make it difficult for some riders to run longer travel dropper posts, which is unfortunate considering the bike's gravity-oriented nature. For comparison, the large Ekano has a seat tube length of 455mm, while on an Orbea Wild it measures 435mm, or 430mm on a Santa Cruz Bullit. Build Options
Propain's à la carte menu system makes all sorts of builds possible. Riders can choose either a coil or air shock, 180 or 190mm fork options, and several brake and wheel choices.Ride Impressions
I was able to escape the chaos of Crankworx Whistler and head out for a couple of laps on the steep, root-filled trails over on Blackcomb. A recent rainstorm made things a little spicier than usual, and extra care was required to keep from getting spit off line.
The climb up was mainly on a rubbly fire road with a short section of slower speed singletrack switchbacks, nothing that gave the Ekano any trouble at all. The climbing position is upright and comfortable, and it pedals well, especially considering how much travel you're sitting above. Its focus may be on the descents, but there's plenty of fun to be had trying to scale tricky steeps.
I've been spending a lot of time on the new Propain Tyee lately (a review will be up soon), so it was interesting to see how the Pro10 suspension design felt on an eMTB. On the Tyee, there are times when the design seems to favor efficiency over traction, but that trait never came up during my relatively short time on the Ekano. The extra weight around the bottom bracket likely plays a role, and the suspension curves aren't exactly the same between the two bikes, but whatever the case may be the Ekano does a great job of soaking up hits of any size.
It's good in the corners too – 'shralpy' is the word that I wrote in my notes as an attempt to describe the controlled drifts I was able to successfully pull off. It is a bigger, heavier bike, and it will reward more aggressive riders, but it's still firmly on the more manageable side of the spectrum – I never felt like I was trapped on a runaway train.
At a time when some companies seem to be competing to see who can create the most expensive eMTB on the market, I'm glad to see options emerge at slightly more reasonable pricepoints. I wouldn't mind if the Ekano had a shorter seat tube and an option for a bigger battery for an even longer ride time, but its on trail performance does make it an intriguing option for riders looking for an easier way to access their favorite rowdy runs.