My review of the ZEM Samurai


New Member
Buying an ebike was a daunting task. I was particular with the bike I was willing to commit noticeable dollars to. I wanted a mid-drive and belt drive, no questions. By fluke I stumbled across the ZEN Samurai. I love the fact it is a Canadian made bike with both of the major components I was looking for. It was extra cool when the Co-founder (Ravi) reached out to answer any questions. Blair in service has been excellent, especially considering the online purchasing of a bike. I've been riding my bike for a couple of months now and feel I can give a legitimate review of my experience. The Bosch Powertube 500 easily meets my riding needs, and it exceeds the estimated range. On a full charge and set to Eco mode, the estimated range has always been over 100 km (even as high as 121 km). The Bosch CX motor has been a disappointment for me though. The ZEN has made me realize when riding my traditional pedal bike, I must ride faster than I had realized. Considering the CX is a class 1, with the motor cutting out at 32 km/hr (31.7 to be precise), I find it doesn't add to my riding capabilities. By that I mean, I can ride beyond 32 km/hr but when the motor cuts out, the weight of the bike becomes very noticeable, and maintaining a speed beyond 32 km/hr becomes a less than desirable challenge. What the CX does do is allow me to maintain a constant riding speed (below 32 km/hr) in any conditions, that's it. One of my regrets is not signing the liability waiver to get the Speed motor. I believe I would have been much happier with that configuration. Part of my leaning to the CX was potential bi-law changes to address ebike use on AT pathways. Not sure if that will ever be a concern, but I played it safe. I am also not the first to draw attention to the charging port cover. It is a real pain in the butt to get closed, especially on the first try, or second, or... I hope this is something ZEN addresses in the future. I upgraded to the Kiox display and it generally has been good. Every now and then it fails to connect to the Bosch eBike connect app, forcing me to force close the app in order for the Kiox to connect to the app again. And don't be fooled by the lock feature (it fooled me). Basically you can pay $12 CAD to activate the lock feature which basically bricks your motor if the display is removed from the bike. Not much of a lock IMO. My suspension choices is my other regret. I decided to stick with the stock Manitou fork and upgrade to the Kinekt seatpost. Please learn from my mistake; upgrade the fork and do the seatpost if money is not a concern. After constantly playing with the Manitou, I can't get a good feel though it. I find it harsh and springy and it takes away from riding over any bumps. I've ridden a Fox 32 for years and I wish I upgraded to the Fox 34. If ZEN had a buy back option, I'd be all over it. The reverse arch of the Manitou pushes the front fender down way too low. Yes, I could remove the fender extender but the arch is an unfortunate oversight. I couldn't imagine using this in the snow. It would act as a big scoop for snow. The Kinekt is ok but I would highly recommend using the upgrade money towards the Fox. The Enviolo has been ok, but still getting used to a twist shift vs triggers. I upgraded to the Magura MT brakes. They have good stopping capabilities but they are noticeably more noisy than the Avid Juicy 7 from my old bike. And by noise I mean my front disk squeals when stopping and both brakes have a distinct grainy sound and feel. I really hope they improve over time. The Johnny Watts has been a nice upgrade. One unforseen downside is that the Racktime rack does not accommodate my old painiers, boo. Do I regret buying the bike, absolutely not. ZEN has been great with excellent support. My intention is not for this review to sound negative as the Samurai is a solid bike, but I want readers to be aware of things I wish were better in my configuration.
Thanks' for Taking time to review this ebike.

If I buy samurai, I'd keep your inputs in mind.

I ride Serial 1 Rush Cty Speed ( have 1000 miles ) and it has been an absolute pleasure to ride this bike with Enviolo AutoMatiq. With AutoMatiq, I don't even need to change any gears which I love. Also, no maintenance of shifter cables.

I wish Ravi offers automatiq with all his ebikes.
Great review. My wife recently received her Photon from Zen. A big factor for her was the throttle. It was a "must have" for her.
I also live in Canada and have a gen 4 motor on my Cannondale Lefty 3. The cutoff on my bike was even lower than yours-30.5km/h.
I ended up purchasing a de-restrictor for my motor, which is great when I want to cruise at higher speeds.
When you brought Zen Samurai with Bosch CX motor, was it the same price if you had decided to get the Bosch Speed motor(so no discount getting the CX motor)? When I test rode the Zen Samurai bike with Bosch Speed motor, I felt the top speed was 40km/hr(not 45km/hr) as was indicated by the Electric Bike Report review. A de-restrictor means it's not restricted to 32km/hr or 45km/hr(heard of these things being available for Bosch motors, but done at the owner's risk).
Generally eBike brands with same model, with the only difference the Bosch CX & Speed motor, the one with Speed motor is more expensive(not same price). To my knowledge Deacon Blues Cannondale Topstone gravel bike in the US is only sold with Bosch Speed motor. I have no interest in the Cannondale gravel bike with Bosch CX motor, unless I get a de-restrictor afterwards as Deacon Blues did.