Karbon Bikes launches sub
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Karbon Bikes launches sub

May 18, 2023

Carbon components and mid-capacity motor keep weight in check

This competition is now closed

By Tom Marvin

Published: April 27, 2023 at 4:00 pm

Massachusetts brand Karbon Bikes claims its Powerline SL is one of the lightest ‘full-fat’ enduro-focused electric mountain bikes on the market, coming in at a claimed 18.6kg.

Electric mountain bikes tend to be relatively heavy, with their motor and battery adding bulk. Factor in longer-travel suspension components (because, why not?) and tyres fit to handle rugged terrain, and it's no wonder many weigh in at the 20 to 24kg mark.

The Powerline SL features, unsurprisingly, a carbon frame built from high-modulus carbon fibres. It has internal cable routing, routed through the head tube – something we’re seeing more often in 2023, especially on eMTBs.

At the front, Karbon supplies a 160mm fork, and this is paired with 150mm of rear-wheel travel via a 4-bar suspension linkage.

Karbon has gone to Bafang for its electric bike motor and battery, in a similar move to the Vitus E-Mythique we also saw at Sea Otter.

In this case, it's the Bafang M820 motor, paired with a 410Wh battery. It kicks out 75Nm of torque – this sits below the 85/90Nm torque we see in many ‘full-fat’ eMTBs, but is more than the 50/60Nm found commonly on lighter-weight rigs such as the Orbea Rise.

The system has an on-bar remote to toggle between modes. It contains LEDs to signify power mode selection and battery level.

The Powerline SL has up-to-date geometry.

The size-Large bike has a generous reach of 480mm, while there's a 64-degree head angle and a 77-degree seat angle. The rear chainstays are fairly long, at 457mm.

This is paired with a number of Karbon's own carbon components, including a very tidy-looking combined bar and stem, and its own hoops.

These have a 40mm external width and 34mm internal width, which should provide ample support for the 2.5in (f) and 2.4in (r) Goodyear Newton tyres. The rim itself is asymmetric, enabling a stiffer construction, and is built around Karbon's own hub set.

The launch-edition bikes will come with a RockShox Zeb fork and Deluxe shock, as well as SRAM's new T-Type XO transmission and Code brakes.

Neat finishing touches include the ribbed rubberised chainstay protection, there to protect the rather special paintjob.

The Karbon Powerline SL will initially be available only in the US, with an official launch in July.

It will join two other current Powerline families – the Powerline 840 and Powerline 700, the number representing the Wh capacity of the batteries – as well as the Stampede enduro bike, Krusher trail bike and Azur XC bike.

Senior technical editor

Tom Marvin is a technical editor at BikeRadar.com and MBUK magazine. He has a particular focus on mountain bikes, but spends plenty of time on gravel bikes, too. Tom has written for BikeRadar, MBUK and Cycling Plus, and was previously technical editor of What Mountain Bike magazine. He is also a regular presenter on BikeRadar's YouTube channel and the BikeRadar podcast. With more than twenty years of mountain biking experience, and nearly a decade of testing mountain and gravel bikes, Tom has ridden and tested thousands of bikes and products, from super-light XC race bikes through to the most powerful brakes on the market. Outside of testing bikes, Tom competes in a wide range of mountain bike races, from multi-day enduros through to 24-hour races in the depths of the Scottish winter – pushing bikes, components and his legs to their limits. He's also worked out that shaving your legs saves 8 watts, while testing aerodynamics in a wind tunnel. When not riding he can be found at the climbing wall, in his garden or cooking up culinary delights.

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