Eminent Cycles has released a High Pivot eMTB with enduro-worthy travel numbers; the Eminent Drive. Despite the overhaul of their AFS suspension platform, the Drive is unmistakable as an Eminent with the massive seat stay rocker and isolated dropouts. But, it is not simply an Onset with a motor and battery slapped on it; far from it, in fact.
The Eminent Drive ditches the shock tunnel, moving the floating shock forward of the now continuous and complete seat tube, and with it, moving that all-important main pivot to a much higher location resulting in a majority rearward axle path. We spoke to Eminent’s founder and engineer to get a better understanding of the new suspension layout. Before we dig into that, let’s get a quick overview of the numbers.
Eminent Drive High Pivot eMTB(s)
The Eminent Drive is a full carbon, full suspension, 29er eMTB available in two rear wheel travel configurations; the 140mm LT and the 160mm MT, paired with a 150mm and 170mm travel fork, respectively. The LT and MT bikes have subtly different geometries, but both feature a fairly slack head angle, steep(ish) seat tube angle and reasonably long reach figures, suitable for the bikes’ aggressive trail and enduro riding intentions.
Within those travel configurations, geometry is further adjustable by virtue of a flip-chip at the top shock mount, a simple change that Eminent say can be made trail side with the use of a 6mm Allen wrench. The flip-chip gives the shorter-travel Drive LT head angle options of 64.5° and 65°, and the longer-travel Drive MT slacker options of 63.5° and 64°. Concomitantly, effective seat tube angles are impacted by the new upper shock mount position; the LT drops from a relatively steep 77° to a slacker 76.5°. According to the geometry chart, the effect is much smaller on the MT, with a subtle 0.2° change to an effective 76°.
While Eminent’s Onset enduro bike may have received some criticism for its relatively short reach figures, the Drive is unlikely to see a similar reception, with both the MT and LT versions endowed with roomier front ends. The 140mm LT sees a 455mm to 515mm range from M-XL, while the 160mm MT is a little shorter out front with a range of 446mm to 506mm. Chainstay length is consistent at 440mm, across the M-XL size range as well as the LT and MT models.
Eminent Cycles chose not to take forward the split seat tube design seen on the Onset, choosing to mount the floating shock forward of the seat tube rather than through the middle of it. This means the Drive eMTB can run a longer travel dropper seat post than the Onset is able to, thanks to a straight and uninterrupted seat tube.
Another important difference between the Onset and Drive is the dropouts, which move to 157mm spacing on the eMTB. Why? For the increased lateral stiffness that a wheel laced to a wider hub permits. Not satisfied with the stiffness of Super Boost alone, Eminent Cycles has also introduced a keyed axle that effectively locks the two dropout plates together, increasing torsional stiffness in high stress circumstances.
A final key difference, also seen at the dropouts, is the position of the rear brake mount. On the Drive eMTB, the dropout houses the brake caliper in its entirety, in contrast to the situation on the Onset where the articulation of the rear suspension necessitated the use of a floating brake mount between the dropout and the chainstay. The Drive’s High Pivot AFS layout makes a floating brake mount redundant. Here’s why.
High Pivot AFS
The concept of the rear axle tracking rearwards through its travel, as the front axle does upon compression of the fork, has become popular over the last few years with a number of top brands introducing various iterations of high pivot suspension; Norco, Cannondale, Commencal, and GT spring to mind. Few brands are yet to introduce a High Pivot eMTB, however (though Ethic Bike, sister brand of Bird Bike, are working on one as we speak).
The Eminent Drive eMTB runs a high pivot evolution of their patented AFS suspension platform, resulting in a majority rearward axle path that lengthens the effective rear centre length by a maximum of 15mm as the bike is pushed through its travel. It’s not 100% rearward (unlike the Deviate Highlander), though; the rear axle begins to track a forward path at around 78% of the way through its travel. Here’s how the Drive’s multitude of pivots work together to achieve that.
Because the main pivot (the lowermost pivot articulating about the seat tube) sits higher than the axle of the rear wheel, as the suspension compresses, the rear wheel moves up and backwards relative to the bottom bracket, to a maximum distance of 15mm measured horizontally.
In front of the seat tube sits the shock, mounted to the rocker-seat stay piece of the rear triangle at the top, and a floating link at the bottom. This highest point of the floating link is connected to the seat tube directly, though it is also connected to the seat tube indirectly about half way down its length; here, three pivots allow the link to articulate, pushing the lower shock mount forwards a small distance, away from the seat tube.
We asked the Eminent engineers why this was necessary. “The reason why the link moves is because we wanted to increase the leverage ratio from the current design [Eminent Onset] to the new bike design and we weren’t able to achieve the higher leverage ratio without adding an additional link to the new bike design” – Eminent Cycles.
On the topic of leverage curves, the Eminent Drive is has an overall progression of 30%, with the starting leverage at 3.25, dropping in an almost linear fashion to 2.2 at full travel (160mm on the MT). Eminent Cycles tell us the result of this is a rear shock that behaves predictably, with no funky changes in gradient, which tend to translate to harshness on the trail. They go on to say there is also better mid-stroke support which equates to less “wallow,” whether it’s in corners, pumping, or in big compressions.
Where has the floating brake mount gone?
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the Drive eMTB doesn’t feature the floating brake mount we saw on the Onset ( apologies, we don’t have a decent non-drive side image to share with you). That’s because it doesn’t need it. We quizzed the Eminent Cycles engineers as to why that is.
They said, “because of the way the suspension articulates on the Onset, we needed to add a secondary bracket to articulate the brake in a different way than the chainstay to allow us to get anti-rise values below 100%. On the second bike [Eminent Drive] because we went to a high pivot design, the suspension articulates differently [the chainstays and seatstays remain parallel throughout the stroke], and didn’t require us to have a secondary bracket to achieve the same anti-rise performance that we have on the Onset bike design, so we achieves the same result with two different designs. That is what our goal is; to always have a low anti-rise number so that we don’t have any braking impact while riding the bike”.
If the whole anti-rise thing is a bit too bamboozling, you’ll probably understand the whole thing better by simply watching the following short video.
It’s clear from the video that, if the Onset were to lack that floating brake mount on the chainstay, locking up the rear wheel would also prevent the bike’s suspension from working properly (aka, brake jack). As you can see, the brake caliper on the Drive eMTB is mounted solely to the isolated dropout, so locking the rear wheel up, or braking at all, has no influence on the bike’s suspension. The mounting of the caliper in this way does mean that you can’t play around with rotor size, however, all models of the Drive eMTB come with a decent size 203mm rotor.
What about the motor?
Apologies. There’s so much going on with this bike we almost forgot to cover the bits that make it an E-MTB. The Eminent Drive downtube houses a 504Wh battery; it is removable but only with the prior removal of the Shimano EP8 motor. Inconvenient as that may be to some, there are clear advantages to the lack of battery down on the underside of the downtube, including a stiffer front triangle and a slimmer downtube/motor area, helping to keep weight down.
Pricing & Availability
The Eminent Drive LT and MT eMTBs are available immediately in three build models each. As the LT and MT models share the same carbon frame, with only the suspension links setting them apart from one another, the two bikes are interchangeable with an aftermarket conversion kit from Eminent Cycles.
Pricing starts at $8,399 USD on the LT with the longer travel MT starting price a little higher at $8,499 USD. Head to the Eminent Cycles website for full details on pricing and spec lists.