The Lithium-Ion can take you up to 60 miles on a single charge and makes the hills feel almost hat courtesy of a Shimano STEPS pedal-assist system with three levels of assistance and a 250W output. Promising all the added zip you could need to enjoy being on two wheels without the fatigue, its makers claim it can be ridden anywhere a regular bike can and will carry a load without effort. Big claims from Pinnacle then, but will the reality live up to the marketing spiel?
The budget Pinnacle uses Shimano’s STEPS electric motor, battery and display unit. Not quite as slick as some fully integrated models, this nevertheless drives down costs and should keep the bike riding more like a conventional hybrid while freeing up budget to spend on the groupset. With a low-friction mid-mount motor, the Lithium does indeed feel pleasingly zippy when first getting underway, which is helped by its relatively low weight.
In fact, without the motor switched on, it rides remarkably like a normal bike. Power it up and the motor adds a tailored degree of additional push to easily take you up to cruising speed.
On the road
The Shimano STEPS system takes care of adding the bike’s extra drive. Well proven, with a 250Woutput providing up to 50Nm of torque, it’s pokey enough without making the Lithium feel like it’s going to take off. With a large central display showing all the key metrics, a remote by the left-hand grip allows you to switch through different modes and adjust the amount of assistance. One of our small gripes about the STEPS system is its slightly homebrew fitting. We can excuse the battery’s plonked-on appearance, but more annoying are the flimsy-looking wires, which are tagged to the handlebars or alongside the other cables and are not nearly as neat as we’d like.
Still, the overall performance of the system is reliably good across each of its three assistance modes. Besides the drive system, the Pinnacle is defined by its above-average kit list. The crisp shifting provided by the mix of Shimano Deore and SLX components is very welcome, especially combined with the wide-ranging 11-36 cassette. Just as good are the brakes. Given the extra weight and forward momentum provided by the motor, their ability to consistently arrest your progress in any weather is a real boon.
With relatively conventional geometry, the Pinnacle is the nippiest of the bikes on test. With a shorter wheelbase and regular head angle, it turns quickly meaning it’s happy navigating through cycle gates or switching lanes in slow moving traffic. A medium-length head tube is parlayed by a backswept bar and upright stem into something quite comfortable and stately. If you want to go faster, flipping the stem will drop the bars down into a much racier configuration. With 50mm wide tyres, the Lithium is able to go most places you might fancy pointing it without it getting out of its depth.
Given the extra weight of the bike, we found dropping a few psi from these provided a smoother ride. After all, the motor assistance will easily compensate for any increase in rolling resistance. Providing a little less torque than some motors the Pinnacle won’t win any drag races when the lights change and won’t stomp up hills at maximum speed either. Rather than throttling away in a cloud of tyre smoke, the Lithium is best when coaxed to max speed gradually.
The Pinnacle’s motor is integrated into the center of the frame. Sitting at its lowest point this keeps the weight more balanced than when using a hub-based drive system. Less neat-looking is the battery, which is bolted onto the down tube. However, other than a marginally increased risk of theft there’s no significant downside besides slightly clunky aesthetics. Looking to the nonelectric elements, the Lithium’s frame is fairly conventional. With a long head tube and plenty of stand over it’s easy to jump aboard and happy to be swung about once rolling.
Relatively long and slack, its crucial statistics mean it’s stable and won’t get flustered, even on canal towpaths or other rattle inducing terrain. Towards the back, there’s a mount for a kickstand, which would be a good first upgrade. All its tubes are relatively conventional in profile, and the welds joining them together perhaps a little more functional than lovely. The various cables are all sensibly housed inside the frame or pinned to the outside of its tubes, as dictated by the requirement to service them.
Here the Pinnacle really pulls away. A top-spec Shimano Deore/SLX10 speed- drivetrain provides excellent shifting and superb chain retention, meaning the gears keep working regardless of what silly terrain you find yourself riding. Similarly, the brakes are Shimano models. We’ve used them over thousands of miles and never had so much as a squeak out of them. The single-ring Shimano STEPS chainset features a neat guard to both protect your trousers and help keep the chain in place. With the support of the motor and a broad ratio 11-36 cassette it provides all the gears you’ll ever need.
With a 30-degree back sweep the Pinnacle’s handlebars are easy to keep hold of. Held in place by a moderately rangy 90mm stem, this allows them to come back towards the rider without making the cockpit too cramped. The saddle is an anonymous model, inoffensive in shape and decently padded, it does the job without excelling. Similarly, the single-bolt post does what it’s supposed to, although we’d have preferred the security of a twin-bolt design. The full-length mudguards are color matched to the frame. Potentially a little more damage-prone than some, we’ll forgive this as they look very handsome.
The Pinnacle employs small and nippy 650b wheels. Secured with standard 9mm quick-releases, they roll on quality Novatec sealed-bearing hubs and high-spec Alex FR-30 rims. A tough combo, they should be well able to take the additional stresses placed on them by the weight and power of the battery and motor. They’re wrapped in balloon-like 50mm Schwalbe Big Ben tyres, which should keep punctures to a minimum. With a bit of tread, they’re most at home on the road but happy to take on paths or unpaved trails.
Frame: 6061-T6 double butted aluminium
Groupset: Shimano Deore M610/SLXM675
Brakes: Shimano M446 hydraulic disc
Chainset: Shimano STEPS E60 38t
Cassette: SRAM PG 105011-36t
Bars: Pinnacle 6061 City Bar, 660mm
Stem: Pinnacle City stem
Saddle: Pinnacle Comfort Mens
Seatpost: Pinnacle aluminium 27.2mm
Wheels: Novatecsealed hubs, AlexFR-30 rims, 650b
Tyres: Schwalbe Big Ben, 50mm
|Size tested: M||Weight: 19.6 kg|
|Top tube (TT): 582 mm||Seat tube (ST): 447 mm|
|Stacks (S): 590 mm||Reach (R): 407 mm|
|Chainstays (C): 450 mm||Head angle (HA): 71°|
|Seat angle (SA): 74°||Wheelbase (WB): 1110 mm|
|BB drop (BB): 65 mm|