LONG TERM REVIEW: HUSQVARNA MOUNTAIN CROSS 7 EMTB
It’s been a few years since we first laid eyes on a Husqvarna at the Eurobike show in 2017, but it was exciting to see a company with such a storied legacy in off-road motorcycle history looking for a groove in the e-bike world. Well, the time has finally come for us to put our two cents in on the latest version of Husky’s all-mountain effort. Along with the Mountain Cross 7 at $5999, there is also the option of a Mountain Cross 5 for $4399 with lower-end components. Husqvarna also offers downhill- and enduro-specific electric-assist models. In short, it’s e-bikes full steam ahead for Husqvarna, and they even have 24-inch-wheel kids’ e-bikes.
Since this is the first bike we’ve tested from Husqvarna, and we only know it with the latest EP8 from Shimano. You’ll find 85 Newton-meters of torque and really great cooperation between the cadence, torque and speed sensors. The sensors work well together to give you efficiency and a natural feel. It rewards a higher cadence, and proper shifting technique helps, too. You can feel when the motor is giving you the most torque, so shifting to keep it in the meat of the power is very beneficial. It takes a second to get the hang of it if you haven’t ridden this motor much. This motor uses a lightweight magnesium case that is protected from impact by a skid plate. The Mountain Cross features a 630-watt-hour battery, which we feel is a happy medium for most riders.
An aluminum frame and rear triangle make for a smooth yet predictable ride experience. The battery is integrated into the downtube with an easy-to-remove cover and key for removal. A simple thing that is normally over-thought yet not practical enough is the location of the charge port. Husqvarna placed it out of the way of the cranks near the bottom of the downtube with a rubber cover that is easy to latch.
The Husky was designed with a “biggie smalls” 29-inch front-/27.5-inch rear-wheel combo or what’s more often referred to as a “mullet.” There is nothing extreme about the geometry numbers on our size-medium test bike, with most of them falling into the middle of typical all-mountain-category geometry numbers. The 65-degree head angle is paired to a 460mm reach and 76-degree effective seat tube angle. A chainstay length of 439mm is found across all sizes of the Mountain Cross. An aggressively sloping top tube helps maintain a lower standover height that will give riders with shorter legs extra clearance.
The Mountain Cross 7 rides on big-chunk-approved DT Swiss H 1900 rims, which are DT Swiss’ second-tier e-mountain bike rims. Those are fitted with a fast-rolling Maxxis Recon 2.5-inch tire on the 29er front wheel and a 2.6-inch Recon on the 27.5-inch rear wheel. We think most people would want something more aggressive in the front, although these tires get the job done in most cases.
The Mountain Cross will come stock with 160mm cranks, even though our test bike has 170mm cranks. Pedal strikes have not been excessive, even with the longer cranks. A 34t front chainring drives the Shimano CS-M6100, 10-51t ,12-speed cassette, which made it easy to get a high-enough cadence to climb any challenging climbs. The gear shifter is a mid-tier Shimano SL-M6100 and operates the Shimano Deore XT derailleur. On the left side of the handlebars, though, you’ll find a Shimano SW EM800-L electronic shifter for switching power modes in the motor. Slowing down in a hurry will be no problem with Shimano Deore XT brakes and 200mm Ice-Tech rotors.
The house-brand 780mm-wide bars are held to the steerer tube with a 35mm stem. The dropper seatpost is a Husqvarna 31.6mm diameter with 150mm of travel, and we had no issues maintaining a smooth operation.
A Horst-link-style Full Active four-link rear-suspension design is paired with Fox’s latest DPS Float Factory shock to achieve 150mm of travel. You’ll get a three-position compression lever, as well as another three positions of adjustment, for making it even plusher or stiffer. The rebound is easy to adjust on the fly as well. The 150mm-travel Fox 36 Factory fork comes with high- and low-speed compression and rebound, which can be a bit of a mental overload to set up. If you’re a tinkerer, the Fox Grip2 damper is hard to beat, though, and when set up properly, it is a dream to ride.
The Mountain Cross fits in between the trail and all-mountain categories, which is fitting for the way this bike handles. Uphill flow trails with tight corners suit the Husky well. Any time we’ve tested a mixed-wheel bike, it usually means tight corners are easier to manage. The Mountain Cross was no exception, and when it came to getting over obstacles going up the trail, the bike felt very lively. When hopping over logs or going up technical rocky sections, the rear end cooperated with us, too. The bike seemed willing to lunge forward with ease, helping us manage some pretty technical segments.
The Shimano EP8 motor is growing on us, because it is so smooth and quiet when climbing long fire roads. It has plenty of torque, and the power is as natural and immediate as any assist system available for Class 1 e-mountain bikes. The 630Wh battery never left us worried about how much range we had left. One test rider got 4000 feet of climbing in Boost mode the whole time and came back with range to spare.
This bike really shines on tight, twisty downhill sections, particularly at slower speeds when you’re just picking your way down. There’s a feeling of being able to push right through chunky sections. Although a little flexible on the big hits, the Fox fork offered more compliance and comfort through rougher turns compared to bikes with 38mm forks.
It was noticeable that in really high-speed rough sections, we didn’t feel as confident as on some of the all-mountain bikes available now. Maybe it was the mixed-wheel setup, but jumping was more comfortable, even for some members of the wrecking crew who do not pursue jumping regularly.
UPGRADES AND MODS
Although the Fox 36 fork is adequate, we would be interested to see what kind of difference a beefier fork, such as the Fox 38 or a RockShox Zeb, would offer this bike. There’s always a trade-off, but the fork upgrade would give the Husky added big-hit ability. We feel the Maxxis Recon tires didn’t do as much justice to the Husky as maybe a Maxxis Minion or something more aggressive, especially up front.
A rider wanting to get the most out of a ride can count on the Mountain Cross 7. It’s a bike that can do many things. Comments such as, “It had a very balanced feel,” were made by more than one test rider.
The bike has plenty of battery range to get through more riding than the majority will even want to ride. We liked having enough range for a full day at the bike park without recharging. The skid plate was surprisingly tough and useful as we smacked it on a few logs and rocks without issue. Best of all, the price of $5999 gets you a really nice build and handling that rivals that of bikes with a much higher price tag.
SUSPENSION: 150mm (front & rear)
TIRE SIZE: 29″ (front), 27.5″ (rear)
Husqvarna Mountain Cross 7
CONTACT – www.husqvarna-bicycles.com
Price – $5999
Weight – 54.19 lb.
Sizes – S, M (tested), L, XL
Frame – Aluminum
Motor – Shimano EP8
Controller – EP8 thumb switch
Shock – Fox Float DPS Factory
Fork – Fox 36 Factory, Grip2, 150mm travel
Wheelset – DT Swiss H 1900
Tires – Maxxis Recon tubeless ready, 2.4 front, 2.6 rear
Seatpost – Husqvarna 31.6mm
Handlebar – Husqvarna MTB35, 780mm
Stem – Husqvarna 35, 40mm
Grips – Husqvarna MTB, lock on
Brakes – Shimano Deore XT
Rotors – IceTech, 200mm
Rear derailleur – Shimano Deore XT
Shifter – Shimano SW-EM800-L
Crankset – Shimano 160mm
Cassette – Shimano CS-M6100 10-51t 12 speed
Chain – KMC e12s
Chainring – Husqvarna 34T
Geometry – Bike Size Medium
Head tube angle – 65°
Reach – 460mm ( 18.1“)
Stack – 628mm (2.67“)
Effective seat tube angle – 76°
Bottom bracket drop – 12mm (.47“)
Chainstay length – 439mm (17.3“)
Wheelbase – 1,129mm (44.5“)