Fission Hellbender Max: An E-Bike Review for Adventurers

Fission Hellbender Max E Bike

Electric mountain bikes keep getting more powerful and capable of conquering rugged trails. With so many e-MTB options available, it can be tough to pick the right ride-assist beast for your needs.

In this in-depth review, we’ll be test-riding Fission’s newest and most advanced model – the Hellbender Max. This new trail-taming e-bike packs a brawny 1000W motor, long-range battery, and dialed suspension to deliver unmatched performance for shredding black diamond runs.

Unboxing the Hellbender Max

The Hellbender Max arrived in a large, well-protected box. Inside, the bike came mostly assembled, requiring only basic component installations like the handlebars, front wheel, and pedals. The parts and assembly quality appeared high-end and polished.

Specs and Features

Fission-equipped this e-bike with some robust components:

  • 1000-watt Bafang mid-drive motor
  • 160 Nm of torque
  • LG 48V, 20 Ah battery
  • Sram 11-speed drivetrain
  • Fastace rear air shock
  • EXSHO inverted air fork
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 26 x 4.8” wheels with Maxxis Minion tires

This high-performance spec caught our attention. In the next sections, we’ll analyze how these components actually perform out on the trails.

Performance

The Hellbender Max delivers incredible power and suspension performance to conquer technical trails. This section covers the motor, battery, suspension, and handling – key areas that make this e-bike such a trail-taming beast. Let’s dive into the details.

1. Motor and Power

The Hellbender Max feels unstoppable thanks to its brawny Bafang 48V/1000W Ultra-Drive motor. Compared to the 750W motor on the previous Hellbender model, this new 1000W powerplant delivers way more torque for demolishing technical climbs and plowing through rough sections.

Motor and Power

As soon as you hit the pedals, the 160 Nm of instant torque kicks in to blast you up steep pitches. We found ourselves able to climb rocky grades that were impossible on other e-bikes. The throttle provides that extra push to get over obstacles or accelerate out of slow-speed sections.

We also appreciate the very natural power delivery across the 5 pedal assist levels. It smoothly amplifies your pedaling in tune with the terrain, holding momentum nicely through dips and rocks. This finely tuned motor feel keeps you in control.

2. Battery and Range

The LG 48V/20Ah battery consistently gave us 45-50 miles of range in mixed trail riding. After multiple 50-mile trips with over 3,000 ft of climbing, we still had 15% battery remaining – much better than the 35-mile range of the previous Hellbender.

Battery and Range

Recharging the battery takes about 5 hours from empty. After 6 months of regular riding, we haven’t noticed any degradation in max range or power. The IP67-rated battery case also does a nice job protecting the cells from weather and debris. Overall, the battery delivers an outstanding range to support long backcountry rides.

3. Handling and Suspension

The Hellbender Max really shines when points downhill and the trail gets gnarly. The plush suspension soaks up rocks and roots incredibly well, so you stay in control hammering through chunky sections.

Suspension

The Fastace rear air shock offers a super smooth and lively feel that maintains momentum over uneven ground. We found the mid-stroke support to be excellent – it ramps up nicely so you don’t bottom out on big hits.

Upfront, the beefy EXSHO inverted fork tracks well holding lines off the camber, and provides a very stiff platform for charging into rock gardens. The adjustable negative air chamber makes it easy to customize the compression feel for different terrain.

Handling and Suspension

Overall, the dialed suspension gives you the confidence to push harder through techy sections. The Hellbender Max stays composed so you can focus on picking lines and carrying speed.

Features 

Beyond its high performance, the Hellbender Max incorporates durable, capable components to boost confidence on rugged trails. Details on the brakes, tires, and controls are covered below.

1. Powerful Brakes for Controlled Descents

The Hellbender Max comes equipped with 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes that provide tremendous stopping power. The huge 203mm front rotor delivers strong, consistent braking whether diving into a steep chute or crawling through technical sections.

We always felt in control thanks to the super responsive brake feel. The contact point is very easy to modulate for feathering speed on descents.

Powerful Brakes for Controlled

2. Grip and Traction with the Tires

This beefy rig rolls on 26 x 4.8” Maxxis Minion tires that offer incredible traction and control. The fat, widely-spaced knobs dig into loose surfaces and deliver a sure-footed cornering grip.

We rode the EXO Protection models set up tubeless and never experienced any flats, even when riding rocky desert trails littered with cactus thorns. The EXO sidewalls held up well to abrasions and strikes.

Combined with the planted suspension, the grippy Maxxis rubber inspires confidence when leaning hard and railing berms on a singlytrack.

Grip and Traction with the Tires

3. Display and Controls

The LCD display provides clear readouts for speed, battery level, assist mode, and other stats. We like that it auto-adjusts brightness as light conditions change. The control pad makes it effortless to toggle between data screens and change assist levels on the fly.

Accessing settings like wheel size, max speed, and suspension pressure takes just a few button presses. The display is also compatible with Bluetooth for syncing ride data to apps.

Refined display and controls elevate the riding experience and allow you to optimize the Hellbender Max’s performance.

Comfortable Geometry for All-Day Shredding

Over multiple long rides, we found the Hellbender Max to provide a comfortable and confidence-inspiring riding position. The balanced frame geometry keeps you centered and in control bombing down choppy trails.

The wide riser bars and short stem give you excellent leverage and bike control while opening up your chest for breathing. We appreciated the adjustability – rotating the bar angle and stem height helped dial in the perfect attack position.

The supportive saddle allowed us to pedal comfortably for 3-4 hours at a time. While the stock seat is decent, upgrading to something like an Ergon model could further improve comfort on super long days.

The height-adjustable Fastace dropper post lets us customize our riding stance for varied terrain. Dropping it on steep sections centered our weight for stability while raising it on climbs improved pedaling efficiency.

So, the ergonomics and rider cockpit generate a centered, active riding feel ideal for railing singletrack. We always felt secure in control rather than stretched out or cramped.

At the back, you’ll find a robust rack paired with a handy trailer! This bike is perfect for hauling loads, and we were particularly impressed by this feature right from the start.

Overall Impression

After extensively testing the prior Hellbender Max and now the latest Max model, we’re convinced this new version is a huge upgrade for aggressive trail riding.

The increased 1000W motor power broadens the realm of trails you can confidently tackle, while the long-range battery lets you explore further between charges. The plush suspension and 4-piston brakes boost control and confidence pointing downhill.

Compared to the previous Hellbender, this bike climbs technical grades with noticeably more ease. It also handles chunky terrain at higher speeds with greater stability. We feel the Max version is ideally suited for intermediate to advanced-level trail riders looking to step up their technical skills and downhill capabilities.

Some competing e-MTBs may offer more travel or weight savings, but we don’t think they match the Hellbender Max’s well-rounded performance. It hits a sweet spot between power, efficiency, and downhill-focused handling.

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Saiful Emon

Emon is a tech enthusiast who loves to explore and write about the latest gadgets and innovations. Now he uses his passion and knowledge to cover topics like artificial intelligence, gaming, wearables, and the potential of computers. When he is not writing, he enjoys playing video games, watching sci-fi movies, and discovering new places.