As fun as it was to zip up a fire road and then dive into a steep descent over and over (and over) again aboard the Repeater, my favorite rides were more exploratory in nature, seeing where little-used moto trails took me, and getting into areas that were a little further off the beaten path. The Repeater's geometry works well for both styles of rides – it's slack enough to get rowdy, but it's not so slack that it feels sluggish on more rolling terrain.
That being said, it does feel more alive at higher speeds versus picking and poking down a technical line. Those higher speeds make it easier to really lean into the turns, and to take advantage of all the traction that comes from the extra weight of the motor around the bottom bracket area. In addition, the suspension is well supported, which helps keep it from getting bogged down on really chopped up sections of trail. I could have run a little more sag to make it feel even plusher, but the setup I ended up with delivered plenty of grip without feeling too mushy on smoother sections of trail.
Jumping a 50-pound e-bike comes with a little bit of a learning curve – it can take a few runs to get used to how the extra heft handles in the air, especially if you're coming from a lighter, non-motorized bike. It's a little trickier to find the balance between going too far and not going far enough, but the good news is that throughout it all I didn't experience any harsh bottom outs – the Float X2 does a great job of dealing with bigger hits.
It's been mentioned countless times before, but the Shimano EP8 motor does make a rattling noise on rougher decents. How noticeable the rattle is seems to depend in part to the frame design – some frames are quieter than others. I'd place the Repeater in the middle of the road – the noise is there, but it wasn't that distracting. I'd still like it eliminated altogether, especially since it's not like we're talking about inexpensive bikes here. How Does It Compare?
I had the Repeater on hand at the same time I was testing the new Santa Cruz Heckler, so a comparison between the two seems apt. When it comes to geometry, the Repeater has 10mm more rear travel, and a half-degree slacker head angle. The reach on the Repeater is a little longer, at 480mm vs. 472mm, but not by much. I'd place both bikes in the same category when it comes to intended usage, although the Repeater has a better spec for more aggressive riding thanks to the Fox 38 or Zeb fork depending on the spec, burlier tires, and a longer dropper post.
Price is always a sticking point when it comes to e-bikes, especially ones with carbon frames - these things are damn expensive, and the Repeater is no exception. The GX AXS version of the Heckler is the same as the Repeater at $10,999 USD, but there are a few differences. The Heckler gets a Performance Elite Fox 36, while the Repeater has Factory level suspension. The Heckler has Code R brakes, compared to the Magura MT7's. There's also the aforementioned difference in tires, but it's the battery capacity difference that really separates them - the Heckler has a 720 Wh battery, versus the Repeater's 630 Wh.
What does all that mean out on the trail? Well, I was able to get in more miles before running out of juice on the Heckler. The range on the Repeater is still decent, but I wouldn't have said 'no' to an even larger battery. As far as the suspension feel goes, both bikes have great traction, although I'd give the nod to the Heckler when it comes to small bump sensitivity. The mixed-wheel Heckler was a little easier to handle in tighter, more awkward climbs, while the Repeater needed more room to really come alive. Out of the box, I'd say the Repeater is going to be a better fit for aggressive riders who tend to ride at higher speeds, while the Heckler is a little more of an all-rounder, and would likely need a couple component swaps for someone who was more focused on all-out descending performance.