Kuota Kathode – Electric Bike Review

Kuota Kathode – Electric Bike

Remember those rides you used to go on; long, hilly and challenging? Maybe you yearn to keep up with the group on the cafe ride but need a little support from time to time. Helping you go beyond the limits of a traditional road bike, that’s how Kuota is selling its new Katodee-bike. But will this electrically-assisted racer prove a faithful domestique or something a little less domesticated altogether?

First impressions

An Italian brand not massively well-known in the UK, Kuota focuses on racy bikes and sponsors the Cofidis professional team. Using the bulky but well-respected Fazua system, it’s safe to assume none of its riders is smuggling a motor inside of their frames. Like its conventionally powered bikes, the Kathode should be fast, with its deep carbon rims, fairly low front, and skinny tires all looking purposeful. Slinging a leg over only confirms this view. Especially if you whack the power up and extract the maximum 400 watts of assistance from the motor.

On the road

While many e-bike makers tend to stretch out their machines in the interests of increasing stability, the Kuota uses a more conventional road bike geometry. The wheelbase is extended a touch, but at 71° the head angle is pretty much what you’d find aboard a standard endurance racer.

As a result, the Kuota is less ponderous to throw around corners and responds well to aggressive riding. This turn of speed is accentuated by the wheels. Mavic’s Cosmic wheels might be a season or two old and hide a metal support structure under their fancy carbon fairings, but they’re quick nonetheless.

This pace-pushing ability is backed by a speedy non-compact chainset and comparatively narrow cassette, which makes sense as long as you don’t let the battery run fiat before the final climb. Although we would have liked to have seen them backed by slightly widen tires, the bike’s powerful and consistent brakes do an excellent job of ensuring it stops just as quickly as it starts. While the mechanical shifting might seem anachronistic on an electric bike, we were also more than happy with the performance of the Ultegra derailers.

Handling

There’s no escaping the effect wheels have on a bike and the deep-section Mavics on the Kuota do nothing to hold it back. With zero resistance from the mid-motor system, when travelling above its 15 mph cut-off point, their improved aerodynamics make maintaining speed effortless.

It’s a trick not quite managed by the Orbea, which is stymied by its hub-drive system, or the Pinarello, which rolls on cheaper rims. Along with its geometry and wheels, that the Kuota is intended as a fast bike is a point rammed home by the long stem and unforgiving saddle. Both of these might be a bit much for some riders, although neither is a killer, and each is easily changed. Offsetting them is the excellent mechanical Shimano Ultegra groupset.

Considered as a whole, we reckon the Kuota manages the most balanced spec list. Scoring consistently, it’s got the best drive system, fast wheels, and a frame that’s good, if not exceptional. A few of its finishing touches may fall a little wide of the mark, yet these won’t cost much to remedy.

The frame

The Kuota looks a little bit like a snake who’s just eaten a good lunch. Its lines are sinuous, but its belly is slightly distended to accommodate the battery and motor system. Finished in dark metallic silver, it’s not without its charms, though. Towards the rear, its skinny and uninterrupted seat stays are very slinky and keep things comparatively comfy.

Something accentuated by the conventional round 27.2 seatpost. Held in place by a semi integrated wedge design, this offers some added flex between the frame and your bottom. Like all the other bikes here, both frame and fork use bolt-thru fixings for stiffness. Twinned with the steep head angle, these mean the Kuota darts readily about when needed.

Unsurprisingly, given the size of its downtube, you won’t be pulling it out of shape any time soon, meaning sprinting remains a rewarding experience, despite the bike’s extra weight. With the battery and motor unit popping out the underside of the downtube, they’re released by a large button on the top and towards the headtube. Finally, and perhaps surprisingly, there are mounts for mudguards, along with space for slightly wider tires if required.

 

Groupset

The Shimano Ultegra groupset mixes mechanical shifting with hydraulic stopping. As a result, its control units aren’t quite as streamlined as their electronic alternatives. Still, they’re nicer in the hand than on the eye and work flawlessly. Braking, in particular, is excellent, while shifting is also just about as good as you’ll find. The need to play along with the mid-drive Fazua motor sees the crankset swapped for an FSA model. With 36 and 52t chainrings, it’s paired to a Shimano 11-30t cassette and provides quite a tall set of gears. Although with the motor assist on this is really an irrelevancy.

Finishing kit

The Deda bar and stem are both quality items. The rapid hand movement (RHM) design of the former making it easy to switch quickly between positions. The stem is stiff, although it’s a touch longer than we needed, meaning that unless you’re gangly of upper body you might want to swap it. The lightly padded San Marco Concor saddle is a little militant, but not obnoxiously so. It should suit riders with good flexibility and steel buttocks. Holding it in place is a Kuota branded carbon seatpost, which saves a little cash versus a bigger-name alternative.

Wheels

Fitted with bolt-thru axles, but using quick-release fixings, Mavic’s Cosmicwheels can be had for 250$ on top of the standard RRP. Top value considering they retail for in excess of 1250$, as they’re very fast. Made using an aluminum rim embedded within a 45 mm-deep structural carbon fiber fairing, their design is efficient, yet won’t get too blown about in blustery winds. Now a year or two old, they come fitted with matching Mavic 25c tires. Neither is able to be set up tubeless and the tires themselves are also a tad narrower than we’d like, especially given how they have to support the extra mass of the bike’s motor.

Specs

Frame: Kuota carbon, Fazua drive

Motor: Fazua Evation (400-watt max)

Battery: Downtube removable

Groupset: Shimano Ultegra R8000

Brakes: Shimano Ultegra R8000 disc

Chainset: FSA e-bike 36/52t

Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11-30t

Bars: Deda RHM 02

Stem: DedaZero2

Saddle: San Marco Concor

Seatpost: Kuota carbon

Wheels: Mavic Cosmic Elite Disc

Tires: Mavic Yksion Pro 25c

Weight: 13.86 kg

Geometry

Size tested: 54Chainstays (C): 417 mm
Weight: 13.86 kgHead angle (HA): 71°
Top tube (TT): 547 mmSeat angle (SA): 73.5°
Seat tube (ST): 469 mmWheelbase (WB): 1015 mm
Stacks (S): 579 mmBB drop (BB): 71.5 mm
Reach (R): 375 mm 

Rating: 7.8/10

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