The Surface604 Shred is a bit of a unicorn in the affordable eMTB category, and that’s for a few reasons.
The first is the fact that it uses a 500W rear hub motor as opposed to the more common mid-drive motor. Hub drives are more commonly associated with commuters and electric fat bikes, but in this case it’s powering a slimmed down and relatively capable eMTB.
Second, it’s unique for the price. We don’t often see e-bikes billed as electric mountain bikes for this cheap. With an MSRP that’s several hundred less than $3,000, the Shred is angling for that rider who wants to ride some singletrack without coughing up $4k or more for an eMTB.
And while many affordable hub-driven e-bikes try to sell an image of off-road capability that they can’t quite back up in real life, the Shred can.
The Surface604 Shred is a hardtail eMTB with geometry, componentry and a ride quality that, all added together, makes for a versatile e-bike at home most anywhere you’d like to ride it. It’s not a thoroughbred eMTB in the sense that it wouldn’t be at home on a bike path or city street, but the Shred’s natural habitat is going to be smooth singletrack trail or dual-track fireroad.
While the 500W rear hub motor may be an unconventional choice for an e-bike built specifically with an eye on trail riding, Surface604 has made it work. Much of this is due to the Canadian brand’s choice to use a torque sensor over a cadence or speed sensor, which gives the motor’s power a much more malleable feel.
Diving into the bike’s componentry, we see lots more evidence that this bike was designed for off-road use. Much of this bike’s stock specs are on par with an entry-level to mid-tier eMTB, but should you choose to up your budget a little bit, Surface604 offers a host of upgrade options that make the Shred even more trail capable. Our review model of the Shred came with a few of these upgrades, including a suspension seat post, an upgraded Wren inverted fork and a huge 960Wh battery.
The Surface604 website says this bike comes with a SRAM X5 9-speed drivetrain, but our review bike arrived with an equivalent Shimano Alivio 9-speed setup. These two drivetrains are direct equivalents from two name-brand competitors, so the substitution, in my opinion, is no big deal.
Smoothing out the rough stuff is an inverted suspension fork from Wren. As I mentioned before, this is an upgrade option over the stock SR Suntour XCM suspension fork, and it’s probably one of the most significant improvements you can make to this bike should you intend to really spend time on trail.
Rounding out the component package are hydraulic disk brakes from Tektro, some more aggressive CST Patrol tires and a SR Suntour NCX suspension seatpost, which, like the Wren fork, is also an upgrade option.
Lastly, Surface604 said they really wanted the Shred to look the part of an eMTB. Many affordable eMTBs on the market today have weird styling or component choices, such as the inclusion of floppy plastic fenders or odd frame shapes. Surface604’s bike, in contrast, is slimmed down for off-road use. Though, if you wanted racks and fenders, Surface604 does make a few options designed specifically for use with the Shred.