quite the review! I share some of your thoughts, in particular the no gear indicator on the XT shifter and the external cable routing. The no shift indicator is actually okay IMO as the handlebars are already pretty cluttered with stuff. More of a nice to have as I see it. The external cable routing is a bit surprising, and the use of zip ties is pretty cheeseball in my view, esp in this price range.
I haven't had a chance to take the bike off road, and it may be a few weeks before I can get around to that. My commute is fairly flat and the bike has been pretty comfortable on that ride. I've taken it to work a few times, mostly keeping in the eco mode and occasionally in the tour mode. Sometimes I shut off the assist altogether, but these bikes are heavy and with no assist launching from a dead stop is tough and not advised if cars are around. I've played with the other modes but on flat ground they aren't that interesting to me just yet. I'm sure things will change when I get it off road though.
The way I'm using the bike, the range on the battery is more than sufficient. Looks like I'll be able to ride to work for at least two full weeks before recharging.
So far I've only been on hilly streets around Cheyenne Mountain (former home of NORAD). What kind of range estimate is your bike giving you in all 4 modes?
After todays ride and then a full charge, for my next ride it's estimating 12/15/20/40 (from Turbo/Sport/Tour/Eco). Every time I ride in my neighborhood this estimate for range on the next ride gets smaller, because there's so many hills.
But I still believe that I'll have enough juice for that 32 mile ride I mentioned above, for which I will only use OFF, ECO, and TOUR on the 16 mile ride out out, and then on the way back I'll only need some pedal assist on two small hills. On previous rides we'd just get off and walk the bikes for those two small hills, but I'd have my oxygen with me (while getting a shuttle ride for the 16 miles uphill to the mid-point, skipping the uphill bike ride).
In any case, it would be easier for me to put a 5lb spare 500WH battery in my Camelback than a 10lb oxygen tank. So it looks like a spare battery may be in the cards for me.