This new Cairn Brave e-bike aims to open off-road adventure to more riders, pairing an affordable alloy mountain bike frame and its Shimano E7000 powertrain with either flat bar or drop-bar builds to suit individual style. Whether you are a mountain biker looking to head out for some pedal-assisted bikepacking or more of a road rider looking to go monstercross exploring, the rigid 29er Brave looks like a versatile, do-it-all e-bike option for all sorts of off-road riding…
Cairn Brave is a rigid alloy adventure gravel or mountain e-bike
As many e-bike brands try to cram bigger tires into e-gravel to get the most adventure capability possible, Cairn’s new BRAVe e-bike just jumps into that gap in between gravel and hardtail eMTB. After trying to figure out how much tire clearance to build into their original E-Adventure gravel e-bike without compromising handling, Cairn’s new Brave eMTB simply chooses a more trail-ready rigid mountain bike as its starting point.
Powered by Shimano’s more affordable and maybe most smoothly-performing Steps E7000 motor with their largest 630Wh battery on the downtube for as much range as possible, the Cairn Brave e-bike fits proper mountain bike tires, all the accessory mounting you could hope for, and then lets each rider pick whether they’d prefer a mountain bike flat bar or a gravel bike drop bar.
Off-road Gravduro Geometry, comparing flat or drop bar fits
With a 68° headtube, 74° seat angle, 46cm chainstays, and a suspension-corrected fork, off-road-ready mountain bike frame geometry was settled. So, Cairn’s designers set about figuring out how swapping cockpits around would affect rider position and handling. Ultimately they settled on the same 60mm stem for either bar, seeing the impacts of the differing hand positions from the 76cm wide mid-riser bar to the 42cm flared drop bar.
It’s quite interesting to see the actual rider geometry similarities when comparing a modern low-rise MTB bar to a compact flared gravel drop bar.
With the wider flat bar, the MTB rider sits just a bit (5°) more upright with slightly bent arms and a more open chest vs. the gravel rider on the hoods with a slightly straighter arm & more bent back, positions familiar to either type of rider. The drop bar setup of course gets more hand positions, with hands on the tops sitting more upright than the flat bar rider, and moving down into the wide flared drops getting lower and bit more forward. In the end, weight balance and handling are effectively the same with either bar setup, leaving it up to rider preference to pick which style is best suited for them.
The Brave is sold in four sizes (S-XL) that Cairn says will cover riders from 5’2″-6’4″ (157-193cm).
Whether you pick flat or drop bars, both e-bikes share the same Boost-spaced, thru-axle 6061-T6 alloy frame and matching full alloy fork.
Developed for adventure riding, frame & fork get tons of accessory mounting points, including 3 bottle cages on the frame even with the big downtube battery (only 2 on size S) and a top tube mount for the Fuel Bag that will come with every e-bike, plus 3-pack anything cage fork mounts and front & rear rack mounts.
Besides the included Fuel Bag, every complete e-bike sold will also come with a rear rack, full-coverage fenders, and a kickstand to extend its multi-purpose versatility.
The shaped alloy frameset features clearance for up to 29 x 2.5″ tires (e-bikes are spec’d with Maxxis Rekon Race 2.35″ on 30mm internal tubeless rims) and gets an internal 1.5″ tapered headset and internal cable routing, including the ability to fit a stealth routed 30.9mm dropper post as an upgrade.
Cairn Brave e-bike – Build option, pricing & the dreaded availability
Two versions of the Brave are being offered. The rigid trail bike style Cairn Brave Flat Bar e-bike build is the most affordable at $3032 / £2189 / 2789€. It gets a 76cm wide, 12mm rise bar with a 6° backsweep, a MicroShift Advent 10sp 38T x 11-46 drivetrain, and Tektro M275 hydraulic disc brakes.
The monster gravel Cairn Brave Drop Bar e-bike build will cost you more at $3530 / £2549 / 3249€ with its ultra-compact 42cm wide, 80mm drop, 65mm reach, 36° flare, 4.5° backsweep Ritchey Beacon Comp gravel drop bar. The drop bar e-bike gets a SRAM Apex 1x 11sp hydraulic disc groupset with a tighter 38T x 11-42 gearing spread.
This last bit is where it hurts. Remember those bike supply chain delay woes we’ve been talking about since the start of this year? (before the whole Ever Given saga, even!) They are especially hitting small brands like Cairn hard.
If this Brave e-bike looks perfectly suited to you, get ready to wait. Cairn has officially launched pre-order of the e-bikes today, but deliveries aren’t expected until NEXT December at the end of 2021. That means you won’t be riding one until 2022!
Cairn has already ordered the bikes and are in early stages of production, but current lead times are ludicrous if you aren’t one of the 5 or so biggest bike brands, so they’re gauging interest to make sure that the right number of components are ready when it’s time to piece it all together.
It’s not all terrible news, though. You can pre-order paying the full-price now, or just a 300€ full-refundable deposit to lock in one of the first deliveries. And, you still likely to be able to order one later next fall/winter in time for riding NEXT spring. We’ll likely even try to get on for a test ride later in the year to share our own thoughts on the Brave’s off-road run-about versatility.