Ducati MIG-RR Electric Mountain Bike Review

Ducati MIG-RR Electric Mountain Bike jumps over log.
It’s red, Italian, and has two wheels — Ducati’s MIG-RR is the first e-MTB from the brand.Milagro

This article originally appeared on cyclevolta.com.

Motorcycles and bicycles are inherently linked and always have been. The early days of production motorcycles were full of engines attached to bicycle frames, and that’s actually how Ducati itself got into the world of two-wheelers. Before World War 2, Ducati was happily churning out components for radios and other electronic goods. Post war, the market for luxury items was slim, but having basic transportation became highly important. Seeing an opportunity, Ducati came up with a 50cc four-stroke engine that bolted onto a bicycle frame. From there, the Italian manufacturer developed its own dedicated motorcycle frames, added more cylinders and, eventually, ended up with today’s 221-horsepower Panigale V4 R; now the company is returning to its transportation roots — in a way.

Just over 70 years since the “Cucciolo” auxiliary engine for bicycles, Ducati has completed the circle and re-entered the bicycle market with its new electric pedal-assist MIG-RR. The MIG-RR is an aggressive e-MTB, so feel is similar to a standard high-end mountain bike, but with extra weight from the battery and mid-mounted motor.

Ducati MIG-RR Electric Mountain Bike on white background.
The Ducati MIG-RR has not been confirmed for the United States.Milagro

Ducati’s new e-MTB comes from a partnership with Italian brand Thok, masterminded by BMX and Downhill champion Stefano Migliorini. It is a high-spec electric-assist mountain bike, furnished with quality components. Brands like Fox and RaceFace — the pedal-powered equivalent of Öhlins and Brembo on its motorcycles.

On the trail, the MIG-RR gets riders of most fitness levels to the top of the same hills, leveling the playing field even if you can’t train like a pro athlete. In situations where the trail is too muddy, too rocky, or simply too steep for most riders, the 250-watt Shimano Steps E8000 motor system helps power you through, keeping momentum up in the trickiest of conditions and helping you focus on technique more.

Three levels of pedal assist (Eco, Trail, and Boost) are selectable through the handlebar-mounted switch. In Eco or Trail, you can reserve battery power for when you really need that extra shove. Or just stick it in Boost mode and charge around flat out everywhere. When you eventually find something you can’t ride up at all, there’s a push assist button that drives the rear wheel as you walk alongside. The Trail and Boost settings can be programmed to give different amounts of assistance through the Shimano E-tube app.

Ducati MIG-RR Electric Mountain Bike riding on bike path.
Three power modes from the Shimano Steps E8000 motor system make climbing as easy or difficult as you choose it to be.Milagro

A three-hour ride in muddy, sloppy conditions used up around 65 percent of the 504-Wh battery, but that varied slightly depending on the rider. Shimano claims up to 62 miles (100 km) range in Eco mode and 31 miles (50 km) in Boost, based on a 220-lb. bike and rider combo. The battery takes 2.5 hours to reach 80 percent charge and 5 hours for a full charge. The end result is more fun and more miles on the bike.

Ducati MIG-RR Electric Mountain Bike with 504Wh Shimano battery.
Ducati claims a 62-mile maximum range in Eco mode from the 504Wh Shimano battery.Milagro

The chassis on the MIG-RR uses a 29-inch front wheel combined with a smaller, 27.5-inch rear wheel running a larger profile tire. The thinking behind this was to take advantage of the increased speed and straight line stability offered by the larger-diameter 29er wheel, but to keep a nimble chassis in tight corners using the 27.5-inch rear. Without a direct comparison with an identical bike setup to take a pair of 29-inch wheels, it’s hard to say whether the big front/smaller rear strategy works, but what is certain is that the MIG-RR does work and work well.

In wet, technical conditions, I was comfortable sliding into the very first set of turns and flicking the bike around tighter sections in the trees. This was my resounding impression of the bike’s handling: It’s natural and easy. And this was on unfamiliar trails, chasing a world champion DH racer in the pouring rain, and riding a bike I’d never thrown a leg over until that morning. I should have been beyond nervous when braking and cautious on corner entries. Instead I was hurling the bike into slick, off-camber turns with mud in my eyes and a huge idiot smile on my face.

Ducati MIG-RR Electric Mountain Bike rides on dirt bike trail.
A high-bottom bracket and motor give plenty of ground clearance on the trails.Milagro

On the way back up technical climbs, the high bottom-bracket means plenty of pedal clearance and fewer irritating pedal-to-rock interfaces halting progress. This latest Shimano Steps E8000 motor system is incredibly effective, driving the Ducati forward with fairly quick but not instantaneous response.

The Fox 36 Factory Series fork handled everything I threw at it, soaking up my excess enthusiasm on the drops and handing on over the roots in the tight corners. The conditions made it tricky to get a full feel for how the suspension will cope with repeated, hard hits on a fast rocky trail, but in the low grip, slippery forest it gave plenty of feedback and never felt like it was struggling to keep hold of the extra weight of the motor and battery. I was hard pushed to fault the MIG-RR’s chassis, my only gripe would be the constant howls of protest from its Shimano Saint disc brakes. The braking power and modulation were fine, but from the moment we rolled out of the base camp, the brakes were noisy.

Ducati MIG-RR Electric Mountain Bike jumps over log.
It’s red, Italian, and has two wheels — Ducati’s MIG-RR is the first e-MTB from the brand.Milagro

The new Ducati MIG-RR has not yet been confirmed for the US market, but in Europe it’s already in dealers and selling for £5,500 (approximately $7,000) In terms of e-MTB pricing, that pitches it against the models like the Specialized Turbo Kenevo, Trance E+ SX Pro, and Intense Tazer. If you’re used to a $150 bicycle from the mall, then that’s going to seem like an insane amount of money, but that’s like comparing a Christmas-cracker watch to a Rolex. Both will tell you the time on the day you get them, but that’s where the similarity ends.

E-assist bikes are making cycling more accessible and more fun for everyone and by including the MIG-RR in its range, Ducati is looking to tempt its fanatic motorcycle fans in to some pedal-powered fun. And man, is this thing fun. You end up hunting for steeper and more technical hills, challenging yourself to get to the top of the most impossible ascents. A quick evening ride after work can take you 25-plus miles even on technical terrain, letting you explore farther, and hit many more corners than you would on a regular mountain bike.