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160 mm Enduro:

Conway eWME 727

I was really amazed when I visited the Conway stand at the Eurobikeshow beginning of July: The stand is bigger than some of the top brands and equipped with a very nice lineup of bikes of different categories - except for pure road racers. Conway, a brand of Hermann Hartje KG, doesn't (yet) have them. But what Conway has are genuine full throttle enduro bikes with Shimano motor.

I was able to ride the top model of the last season and can confirm: Very cool bike! But honestly, almost six grand for the current 2018 model are also a lot of money. What does the eWME 727 have to justify this price? Not a lot of weight anyway - with a little over 21 kg it's not a lightweight, but please, it's a real enduro bike with 160 mm suspension travel for difficult terrain. Seen in this light, the 21 kilos are not too much. With the exception of saddle and handles, the eWME 727 uses only 'Top Brand' components. And so the equipment list reads like a who is who of 'wanna have' parts: Rockshox Pike RC in boost format at the front, Rockshox Monarch Plus RC3 rear shock. In the middle Shimano's e8000 drive, which can still compete with almost any other drive system. Deceleration is with Shimano XT with brake discs of sizes 203 and 180 mm (2018 model: Shimano Saint brakes). Of course DT Swiss rims and hubs, of course Schwalbe tires with Magic Mary in front and Fat Albert in the back. With the current model now also Magic Mary is mounted at the rear, which surely fits better to the purpose of the bike. The motto of Conway is clear: No experiments - the bike has to work; even under difficult conditions. That the electronic XT Di2 is no exception has already been proven in many tests. In the front there's a single chainring with 34 teeth and 175 mm cranks, in the back all possible between 11 and 42 teeth (2018: 46) varies power and speed according to your mood. Pedalling downhill like a lunatic to get the very last kilometre of top speed out of the bike is unnecessary with a 34/11 gear ratio - but you don't do it with the enduro bike either. A Pro Tharsis stem in combination with Pro Tharsis carbon handlebar in 800 mm and a Rockshox Reverb Stealth seatpost complete the equipment list. Together with the beautifully crafted aluminium frame with asymmetric chainstays the whole thing is now called Conway eWME 727 and is a riding machine par excellence.

But when it comes to bike design, Conway is too good for me - too much understatement for my opinion. Nothing which is screaming 'hell yea I am here' and I think a cool bike design is important - especially when you spend so much money. I think the bike industry as a whole can still learn a lot in the motorcycle universe.

Freeriding 2.0 with the eWME

A badass enduro bike, which the eWME 727 is undoubtedly, is best tested where the drive system really must perform and you can also play with the 160 mm suspension travel. So off to the Alps? By no means. Because in fact only very few of us have the possibility to shred day by day through the mountains. And especially with the electric powered enduro bike you can open up trails and adventures on your doorstep. For me personally, electric enduro biking is a kind of freeriding 2.0 - you can really discover something new and ride where not everyone can get there and through. But that requires a really tough bike; an eWME 727.

The well known 8000 Shimano Steps motor fits the bike very well and is still a competitive drive. It has a lot of power, especially in the so-called 'Boost Mode', and in combination with the electronic shifting it is very easy to use. The Shimano operating concept for the different power support levels is unmatched. Unbelievable how well the gearshift works without any mechanical pull. Another great feature is the gear indicator on the display. Sure, the Yamaha PW-X and of course TQ's HPR 120S engine are much stronger than the Shimano motor, but thanks to the ingenious gearshift, it doesn't really matter. And Shimano also offers the possibility to adapt the power characteristics simply by smartphone to individual needs. I think that's really, really cool.

On the trail the bike gives me a good feeling and everything works as it should. To be honest, I didn't expect anything else either. The 800 mm handlebar is certainly a bit too wide for some bikers. The stiffness of the carbon handlebar is really cool: a noticeable difference to conventional aluminum handlebars. I think who has driven such a carbon handlebar once doesn't want anything else anymore. Definitely the ultimate tuning part for me from now on.

It's a lot of fun to boost up small and big gradients over slippery, deep terrain. That's real enduro feeling. Requires a lot of power, though. Especially in fun-oriented boost mode, the Shimano draws a lot of power from the 504 Wh battery. This has to be taken into account when planning a tour. 30 km in boost mode and the battery capacity is coming to an end. Fortunately it lasts twice as long in trail mode. Eco mode I drive only in the plain on rather boring connecting stages. It's time for Shimano to significantly increase the capacity of the battery packs; I think 750 Wh would be ok for now. I hope we will see the first battery packs with increased performance at Eurobike 2019.

While the eWME is a lot of fun on the Stuttgart 'Woodpeckertrail' with its long curves, on the Herrenberg 'Winding Trails' no real riding pleasure can arise: for the narrow lines with even narrower hairpin bends the bike is simply too big, too wide and with the 66.5° steering angle also not manoeuvrable enough for me.

Keyword 'driving where nobody drives' - the 'blades' (= steeply cut notch valleys) typical for the Stuttgart area are such a thing. There are 'blades' which only carry water in heavy rain and then drift smaller and larger rocks in front of them. A real challenge when it's dry, but it makes you feel a little bit like Graham Jarvis. The size of the Conway is quite an advantage in such a rocky 'blade'. Everything is relative.
The Rockshox chassis works fantastic. The response of the Pike fork is great. The rear triangle looks stable and doesn't make any effort to twist when boosting. The interplay of the spring elements is very harmonious overall. Of course there are many adjustment possibilities in this bike class and you should also make use of them. A too soft set-up quickly leads to unattractive bounces - fortunately a protection plate is mounted ex works. Also the long cranks get ground contact quite fast. The bike gives me the most pleasure on fast, hard downhill passages. There you can really crack it and the excellent chassis ensures that you arrive quite relaxed.
I don't need to write much about the brakes; they decelerate the bike easily and can be finely dosed. Guess the 2018 models with Saint brakes will do a little better under laboratory conditions - but I can't really understand the 'upgrade'. The XT brakes with 203 disc at the front and 180 disc at the rear can also handle longer trails downhill.

Résumé

The Conway eWME is a great, high-quality equipped enduro bike. Motor, gears and operating concept are convincing all along the line. The carbon handlebar is great and contributes its part to the overall very good handling. The very angular trails are not the strength of the bike. It wants to be driven with a certain basic speed and then the high-quality suspension components show their class: In the end, I am much faster in some sections than I should be - but thanks to the good brakes and the balanced, harmonious handling of the eWME no problem. The saddle didn't convince me; it is hard as a rock and I think you can expect more from a bike of this price class at this point. Maybe saddle and pedals are parts which each rider adapts individually anyway. Personally, I would do it that way. The eWME 727 is a real trail rocket with which you can take off practically anywhere at any time to have real fun.

We can be curious about the next evolution stage of the Conway enduro bikes; already today the eWME has closed the gap to the well-known market leaders.

Conway bikes are only sold through specialist dealers - on the Conway homepage you can find the official dealers near you.

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