Not only does the SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 share the same name with the defending champion of our enduro group test, but also employs identical suspension and drivetrain. Smells of shredding, doesn’t it? We’ve found out how the additional weight of the motor system affects handling on the trail.
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review
The SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 belongs to the new generation of light eMTBs and comes equipped with a new TQ HPR50 motor system, which churns out 50 Nm torque and draws its power from a 360 Wh battery. The latter can be expanded with an optional 160 Wh range extender that can be carried in the bottle cage. While all of this is pretty standard for a modern light-eMTB, the special thing about the 19.4 kg Rapcon Pmax TQ is that it packs it all into an enduro frame platform with 170/165 mm travel front and rear. SIMPLON’s online configurator allows you to tweak the spec of the pre-configured models to suit your needs and preferences – provided you have the necessary know-how. In the configuration we tested, the Rapcon Pmax TQ retails at €12,999.
The SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 2023 in detail
Unlike its analogue counterpart, the SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 doesn’t feature a storage compartment in the downtube, because this houses the battery. However, the bottle cage and tool mount are still there. A minimalistic remote on the handlebars allows you to switch between the three support levels (ECO, MID and HIGH) and activate walk mode, while a 2″ display neatly integrated into the top tube shows the selected support mode using circle pictograms. Unfortunately, the system isn’t very intuitive. The charging port sits on the down tube while the cables are all routed into the frame through a special headset and securely clamped at the ports, ensuring a tidy look and quiet ride together with the generously sized chainstay protector. A small mudguard on the seat stays protects the main pivot from mud and grit.
The TQ motor system provides natural support and is neatly integrated into the frame of the SIMPLON.
The spec of the SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 2023
The analogue Rapcon and Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 share nearly identical specs. The suspension consists of a FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 fork and FOX X2 air shock, which both offer externally adjustable low- and high-speed compression and rebound settings, allowing you to fine tune the suspension to suit your needs and riding style. With its 200 mm of travel, the Kind Shock LEV INTEGRA dropper ensures excellent freedom of movement on the bike. Just like Yeti’s eMTB, the SIMPLON Rapcon features SRAM CODE RSC brakes with a 220 mm rotor at the front and 200 mm disc at the rear. The high-end RSC brake lever features tool-free bite point and reach adjustments as well as SRAM’s SwingLink technology, which is meant to improve braking power and modulation. Shifting is taken care of by a wireless 12-speed SRAM XX1 AXS Eagle drivetrain, which is the flagship model in SRAM’s portfolio and super-light, because it was developed primarily for XC racing. The 800 mm carbon handlebars are built in house by SIMPLON. For the wheels, the Austrian manufacturer relies on DT Swiss HXC 1501 carbon wheelset and Schwalbe tires, combining a Magic Mary at the front and Big Betty at the rear, both in the soft ADDIX rubber compound and Super Gravity casing. While the robust casing does full justice to the bike’s character and intended use, we recommend upgrading the front tire to the softer ADDIX Ultra Soft compound for more traction. A chain guide prevents the chain from falling off the chainring.
SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165
Motor TQ HPR 50 50 Nm
Battery TQ HPR Battery V01 360 Wh
Display TQ 0-LED
Fork FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX X2 Factory 165 mm
Seatpost Kind Shock LEV INTEGRA 200 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE RSC 220/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XX1 AXS Eagle 1x12
Stem SIMPLON 40 mm
Handlebar SIMPLON Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss HXC 1501 29"
Tires Schwalbe Magic Mary, Super Gravity, ADDIX Soft/Schwalbe Big Betty, Super Gravity, ADDIX Soft 2.6/2.4
Size S M L XL
Weight 19.4 kg
The geometry of the SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 2023
The SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 is available in four sizes, S to XL. Our test bike in XL combines 495 mm reach, a pleasantly short 445 mm seat tube and long travel dropper that can be fully inserted into the frame, thus ensuring plenty of freedom of movement and allowing you to choose the frame size based on the desired reach and riding style. Chainstays are 447 mm in XL and grow with the frame size, providing consistent handling across all sizes. Additionally, SIMPLON adapt the kinematics and progression of the rear suspension to the respective frame size to ensure an even more consistent character across the board.
|Seat tube||370 mm||395 mm||420 mm||445 mm|
|Top tube||569 mm||590 mm||607 mm||634 mm|
|Head tube||97 mm||104 mm||115 mm||125 mm|
|Chainstay||436 mm||438 mm||443 mm||447 mm|
|BB Drop||39 mm||39 mm||39 mm||39 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,198 mm||1,223 mm||1,253 mm||1,280 mm|
|Reach||446 mm||446 mm||486 mm||506 mm|
|Stack||615 mm||625 mm||635 mm||645 mm|
The SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 2023 on the trail
Riding uphill, the motor of the SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 provides natural and discreet assistance. Since both the analogue and electric Rapcon share identical suspension and geometries, their riding characteristics are pretty similar. As a result, the Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 makes you feel as if you were riding an analogue bike with Nino Schurter’s stamina. However, the TQ motor provides assistance most efficiently at high pedalling cadences while the low bottom bracket requires you to time your pedal strokes carefully to prevent smashing the cranks into obstacles. Overall, the pedalling position is comfortable and the rear suspension doesn’t wallow, yet still provides good traction on steep and technical sections. Only the Yeti 160E gets you to the trailhead in a more relaxed fashion.
The Rapcon Pmax TQ can keep up with most analogue bikes downhill and makes you feel as if you were on steroids on the climbs.
Downhill, too, the Rapcon Pmax TQ feels a lot like its analogue sibling. Handling is intuitive and the weight evenly distributed between the front and rear, allowing you to shred your way back to the carpark safely, even after a long, exhausting day in the saddle. The rear suspension offers a good compromise between traction, support and reserves, performing equally well in all sorts of situations, from flowing singletracks through natural gnar, all the way to big jump lines. With its larger mass and longer frame, the size XL Rapcon Pmax TQ isn’t as agile as the analogue version but still nimbler than the Norco Range because, despite the heavier weight, the firm suspension doesn’t sink into its travel. In terms of composure, the Rapcon Pmax TQ struggles to keep up with Norco’s high-pivot bruiser but outshines its analogue counterpart, even in the air with bigger jumps – the extra weight also has its perks!
Tuning tip: Softer rubber compound at the front tire
With its neatly integrated motor system and countless frame features, the SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 is a very discreet Light-eMTB. Moreover, it shares the same suspension and geometry as its analogue counterpart, meaning that it can also keep up with its analogue competitors downhill, where the added weight of the motor comes as an advantage in fast trail sections and with big jumps, albeit at the expense of agility. The electric assistance makes this a great bike for lazy shredders.
- Integration of the motor system
- Natural support
- Excellent riding performance
- Low bottom bracket
- Display isn’t very intuitive
You can find out more about at simplon.com
The test field
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review
All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 8 (Click for review) | Deviate Claymore (Click for review) | Hope HB916 (Click for review) | Intense Tracer 279 S (Click for review) | MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 (Click for review) | Mondraker Carbon Foxy RR (Click for review) | Norco Range C1 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Nomad X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 | Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Elite Alloy (Click for review) | Yeti 160E T1 (Click for review) | Yeti SB160 T3 (Click for review)
This scale indicates how efficiently the bike climbs. It refers to both simple and technical climbs. Along with the suspension, the riding position and the weight of the bike all play a crucial role.↩
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in tight sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough trails? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry, good suspension and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with unbalanced bikes.↩
How sensitive is the suspension over small bumps? Can it absorb hard impacts and does it soak up repeated hits? Plush suspension not only provides comfort and makes a bike more capable, but it also generates traction. The rating includes the fork and the rear suspension.↩
This aspect mainly comes down to the suspension. How much pop does it have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is the bike?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the trail and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well on the trail? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver on the trail.↩
No, it’s not about racing, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along flowy singletrack and gravel roads need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret XC more like the Americans do: big back-country rides instead of a marathon or XC World Cup with the ultimate in lightweight construction! Uphill-downhill ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
...also known as mountain biking. Classic singletrack with roots, rocks and ledges – sometimes flowy, sometimes rough. For this, you need a bike with good all-round qualities, whether climbing or descending. Uphill-downhill ratio: 50:50↩
Even more extreme and challenging compared to Trail riding, riddled with every kind of obstacle: jumps, gaps, nasty rock gardens, ruts and roots. For this, you need (race)proven equipment that forgives mistakes and wouldn’t look out of place on a stage of the Enduro World Series. Climbing is just a means to an end. Uphill-downhill ratio: 30:70↩
Strictly speaking, a 200 mm travel downhill bike is the best choice for merciless tracks with big jumps, drops and the roughest terrain. Those would be the black or double-black-diamond tracks in a bike park. But as some of the EWS pros (including Sam Hill) have proven, it’s the riding skills and not the bike that define what you can ride with it. Climbing? On foot or with a shuttle, please! Uphill-downhill ratio: 10:90↩
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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker, Mike Hunger