Bike Check: Cole Bernier's Bowhead Reach 3-Wheeled Adaptive eMTB

Dec 9, 2020 at 17:11
by Sarah Moore  



You may be familiar with Cole Bernier's name from Remy Metailler's recent video at Big White Bike Park. In it, Metailler chases Bernier down some of the bike park's gnarliest black diamond tech and jump trails at serious speed. We were curious about Bernier's three-wheeled adaptive mountain bike, so we decided to do a full bike check on it.

The company that makes the bike that Bernier rides is called Bowhead, which is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The founder of the company, Christian Bagg, was injured in 1996 while snowboarding and paralyzed from the waist down. He starting inventing his way around the challenges he faced and building adaptive equipment. What started as a way to solve his own problems grew into a company that allows others experience the outdoors.

Bowhead offers several different models which are available globally, including the bike park shredding Bowhead Reach that Cole rides. However, each bike that is sold is built to order by Bowhead's team
Rider Name // Cole Bernier
Age: 28
Hometown: Williams Lake, BC
Height: 6' / 183cm
Weight: 185lbs / 84kg
Instagram: @cbreezy614
of engineers to cater to different requirements and preferences. For example, there is a quadriplegic option where you use your elbow to brake and twist your wrist to throttle.

The base model is $14,900 USD, but can cost up to $18,000 USD on a bike with as much carbon and titanium as Cole's bike. Bowhead says they're working on a lower cost model, but ultimately build the bikes to be the highest spec possible and don't cut any corners.

Cole competing in the 2020 Adaptive Gravity Tour Rolls in Silver Star this summer. Photo by Niall Pinder




Bowhead Details
Frame: Bowhead Reach
Shock: 203mm rear travel, FOX DHX2 coil with a 600lb spring
Motor: Capable of 3000 watts
Wheels: 26” fat bike rear wheel and 20” front wheels on BMX rims. All the wheels are hand built in house. Cole is running RS Animal BMX 20” rims 36 hole with Purple Hope Pro 4 hubs.
Tires: Rear: 26” x 4.80 Size EXO TR Dual Compound Maxxis FBR (8-20 psi) / Front: 20” Gravity Flow Snap tires (30 psi)
Drivetrain: Single speed drivetrain with a 13t to 40t combo, a Half link Shadow Conspiracy chain and an idler to provide chain tension.
Brakes: Magura MT7 with 203mm rotors
Cockpit: WeAreOne Da Bar Package with a 20mm rise bar and 700mm wide bars. With Raceface Grippler Grips
Width: 742.95mm from outside of each tire front tire
Length: Ti Railed Frame is 1092.2mm long, but the wheelbase from the end of the footrest to the back of the rear tire is 2032mm
Weight: 96lb


bigquotesIt’s hard to express the love I have for this thing. It handles just like a 2 wheel bike. It’s sturdy, it’s sendy, it’s smooth, and it’s fast. Ohhh bro it’s fast. I will never get enough!Cole Bernier

Bowhead offers Ti or Stainless Steel rails and Bernier's bike is built up with the Ti rails. Weight isn’t really a factor with the powerful motor, but Ti is stronger and more comfortable when sending it large in the bike park.

The articulating front end of the bike means you can stay level on up to a 30 degree slope and carve into a corner.


bigquotesI have tried a four wheel bike but width is a big factor which limits access to trails. You’re then limited to riding trails which are wide enough. This bike is 742.95mm wide, no wider than most MTB handlebars, which enables us to go on 99.99999% of MTB trails. The articulation in the front of the bike is what enable us to make such a narrow bike and this gives us so much more freedom being able to reach places we couldn’t have imagined.

Like with mountain bikes, where the front wheel goes, the back wheel tends to follow. Most the trails I want to ride have cambers or tricky traverses. Without functioning knees to help distribute weight, I found myself tipping over a lot. The articulating front end of our bike is a really crucial part of our design. It’s what took the longest to develop after 20 years of trial and error we got the where we are today. You can stay level on up 30 degree slope or carve into a corner like you are on rails.
Christian Bagg, Bowhead founder

With square edge hits, the front suspension has a maximum travel of 82.55mm. However, because of the articulation in the front end, Bowhead says the effective travel can be as much as 203mm.

The lifty stops the chairs early to help Cole get the bike on and off the lift. He pulls up parallel to the chair, unbuckles, and transfers into the chairlift. Then the lifty puts the Bowhead on the chairlift as it fits on the regular bike rack at most bike parks.

Bernier's bike uses Magura MT7 brakes with 203mm rotors and 4 piston calipers. Bowhead runs double front brakes using a splitter so that one lever powers two front brakes. Bowhead typically uses 220mm rotors, but Bernier runs 203mm rotors to match the purple rotors and hubs. Brake bleeding is the most difficult thing to service on the bike, but otherwise most parts are standard high-end MTB and BMX components.

There's a carbon composite rear fender and a single speed drive train. The Pelican case holds the big batteries for the 3000 watt motor and the odd sandwich. Cole uses a thumb throttle to operate it. The bike uses a half link Shadow Conspiracy chain with an idler to provide chain tension and a 13t to 40t combo. Bowhead produces their own rear hub and sprocket for reliability and to take the bike's higher torque.

Cole uses a Fox DHX2 coil in the rear with a 600lb spring and runs the rebound in the rear nice and slow so he doesn't get bucked when jumping.

The bike uses a 26” fat bike rear wheel and 20” front wheels on BMX rims. All the wheels are hand built in house at Bowhead. Cole is running RS Animal BMX 20” rims 36 hole with Purple Hope Pro 4 hubs and rotors to match. He has a 26” x 4.80 Size EXO TR 20 psi Dual Compound Maxxis FBR on the rear and 20” Gravity Flow Snap tires up front. He runs 8-20 psi in the rear for traction and braking benefits. The front tires take the brunt of the impacts when riding so he tend to run higher pressure, up to 30 psi.

There are Raceface Grippler Grips on the WeAreOne Da Bar Package with a 20mm rise bar and 700mm wide bars

New video with Cole Bernier
Remy Metailler following Cole Bernier at Big White this summer.



56 Comments

  • 101 0
 Cole is one of the nicest guy I met, and he is super talented at riding his bike. Could not believe how precise he was when I followed him. Great bike check! Stoked to see more adaptive bike content.
  • 3 1
 Also, his taste in components is absolutely impeccable. Purple Hope bits? Flawless choice.
  • 47 0
 Huck to flat please
  • 36 1
 as always when bowhead article comes up... www.gofundme.com/f/mountain-bike-for-quadriplegic-freerider sorry guys, but I just have to Wink thx for any support!
  • 7 0
 @nikifor88 fingers crossed mate!
  • 12 0
 Yes, and here we go again!
Please community; support nikifor to make his dream come true!
Shouldn't be too hard for us to get the money together..

and how can someone downvote his comment ?!?
  • 28 0
 great engineering behind this beast! Cole is quite impressive on this 3 Wheeler!
  • 17 0
 This is sick. Would love to see Bowhead consider an adapted Reach that can be pedaled with E-assist. My kiddo has cerebral palsy and doesn't have the core muscle control for balance, but she has some use of her legs still. She has an ICE Adventure can do some light gravel riding on it, but it doesn't have the traction to go uphill, nor the handling needed for real trails.
  • 14 0
 Hey @sarahmoore you should remove the eMTB tag. I think a lot of people with ebike filters will find this interesting.
  • 12 0
 Everything about this bike, the engineering, care, thought of the design is amazing to me. ???? Technology you beautiful son a gun, you.
  • 3 0
 One thing Ive be curious about are how these bikes limit impacts to the spine? Sure suspension and tires can help, but knees and legs take up a lot of sharp impacts that Id think would be directed right into the spine of a seated rider.
  • 2 0
 I wonder why they didn't go with 26" or 24" front wheels. I bet the added inertia and extra mass would have made the steering hard to control. That thing is so awesome! And the shadow conspiracy half link chain is ridiculously strong. I've had one on my dirt jumper for about ten years.
  • 9 0
 Another factor is turning circle. To keep the width down to something that fits on most mtb trails the front wheels are a lot closer to the rider than a bigger 4 wheel bike. Bigger front wheels would mean the steering has to be limited sooner to avoid wheels contacting the frame/rider.
  • 2 0
 @chriscarrier: Excellent point. I hadn't thought about that.
  • 6 0
 Who's leg I gotta hump for a drive side photo?
  • 2 0
 @IamTheDogEzra Have you hacked this account?
  • 5 0
 @getonyourbike: The only thing I'm hacking is this garbage I just found, and that is down. I hack it down. The garbage. With my face hole.
  • 2 0
 Such a sick ride. I got to meet Christian Bagg this summer, and both visited the shop in Calgary and rode Rupert with him in Squamish. I think we'll be seeing a lot more Bowhead bikes out there in the next few years, which is just amazing.
  • 5 0
 Best ever use of lefty hubs, fatbike tires, and e-bike motors. That is a badass machine.
  • 3 0
 "He has a 26” x 4.80 Vee Tire Fat Bike Snow Avalanche 26” x 4.80 8-20 PSI on the rear"

Looks like a Maxxis FBR 26x4.8 to me on the pictures.
  • 6 1
 You are correct. I've edited that now. Bowhead said the other tire that they like to use is a Vee Tire Fat Bike Snow Avalanche 26” x 4.80, but Cole runs a 26” x 4.80 EXO TR Dual Compound Maxxis FBR on the rear.
  • 4 0
 sick bike
  • 1 0
 Stoked to have met Cole at the BC bike show in Vancouver and ride Rupert with him and Christian. Very talented riders and all around purely kind folk.
  • 1 0
 Talk about commitment! He’s tied to his rig! Thanks for some positivity during the year that keeps serving poo sandwiches.
  • 1 0
 What a machine you should be proud of that as we are proud of you what an insperation to any rider
  • 2 0
 "Go fast & dont die".... love it
  • 1 0
 Awesome rig, y’all should checkout Outrider USA as well. So cool to see all these adaptive bikes roll out.
  • 2 0
 Hell yes. Sick bike. More stories like this, please!
  • 1 0
 So great! I'm all about earning your turns, but what ever keeps you rolling!
  • 4 0
 Ohhhhh trust me brotha, it may be fully electric driven but don't let that fool you. This thing is very much a workout with the Patented Articulating front end it handles just like a bike would. Turns are most definetely earned. As sore as anyone would be after a day of resort riding, such an awesome feeling!
  • 2 0
 @bowheadbreezy: I can attest to the workout thing, I've seen Cole riding this at Smith Creek and Silver Star, the sweat the guy generates hasn't come from standing in the sun!
  • 1 0
 Such a rad dude, although there better be a Can’t Quit decal on there somewhere Wink
  • 2 0
 So cool
  • 1 0
 This dude absolutely shreds!
  • 1 0
 That's some impressive stuff right there....
  • 1 0
 Love what these guys are doing!
  • 1 0
 Damn cool Bike. It must be a blast to ride this beast.
  • 1 0
 This is an application of eMTB technology I can get behind.
  • 1 0
 Wicked bike for an awesome guy.....keep shredding Cole!
  • 1 0
 I REALLY REALLY want to ride that thing !
  • 1 0
 Great to see if bike check, it's pretty awesome!
  • 1 0
 Wow. That's amazing.
  • 1 0
 Really cool!
  • 1 0
 This is awesome.
  • 1 0
 Ho wow!
  • 1 0
 So sick
  • 1 0
 Wonderful.
  • 1 0
 What a ride!
  • 1 0
 Badass bike ! :-o
  • 1 0
 So rad!!
  • 1 0
 Go Cole!
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