VMG Typhon E-Mountain Bike: Tested

By Aus Geo ADVENTURE April 25, 2024
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This Aussie-designed e-MTB is a new entry into this fast-growing cycling segment. We’ve spent four months riding it, to see how it stacks up on the trails.

Hidden in a tiny workshop in the backstreets of an industrial estate in the Sydney MTB mecca of the Northern Beaches, a homegrown e-bike movement is forming. Amongst the car mechanics and random mishmash of industrial warehouses lies VMG Bikes, a relatively unknown brand that has accidentally taken the game of enduro e-mountain bike to the ‘big boys’ and, in doing so, is starting to turn heads. 

This boutique e-MTB brand is the brainchild of dreamer, mountain biker, windsurfer, paddle-boarder, carbon-fibre whiz, and tech guru Chris Ting in his humble efforts to produce an affordable e-MTB to fill a gap in the burgeoning Australian electric bike market. Starting as a coffee-fueled ambition to design an Enduro e-MTB for himself and his mates, the project rapidly escalated into collaborations with renowned suspension gurus, European kinematics experts, international motor manufacturers and specialist carbon manufacturers to finish with the present-day production of a modern, aggressive, full-gas, all-carbon, e-MTB. With such a broad band of experts behind the bike, and the ability to personalise each bike with a custom graphics package, it appears VMG’s first bike, the Typhon, is a serious competitor for established brands in the e-MTB world.

VMG Bikes’ Chris Ting is justifiably proud of the end result of his e-MTB dream.

 Over the past six months, VMG has quietly garnered a core following of riders beyond its humble ambitions. So, we thought it best to throw resident senior gear tester, self-proclaimed e-bike lover, and somewhat ‘loose’ rider, Mark ‘Watto’ Watson, into the deep end to see what all the fuss is about. Over the past four to five months, Watto has managed to pull together endless hours of riding alongside experts, enthusiasts, and seasoned veterans; all stoked with any excuse to demo the Typhon on everything from loamy rainforest switchbacks to janky sandstone downhills. He has also discovered a newfound love of pedalling uphill; a pastime previously considered a reluctant necessity only to reach “the fun trails”. So, settle in for a tale of over-frothing, sweet trails, and occasional rock bashing … for the VMG Typhon is one hell of a bike that might just become an accidental Aussie super hero. 


Let’s not beat around the bush. The VMG Typhon is for those who prefer gravity over grinding uphill. But don’t let the Typhon’s slack head angle fool you; it has a big enough battery, a short enough rear-end and steep enough seat tube angle to hook happily into tree-clipping singletrack, tackle technical climbs, or take on an all-day epic. Newcastle MTB legend Dane Critchlow summarised the bike during his first ride aboard the Typhon; “I have ridden and raced many e-bikes, but for a brand to get the geometry right so early in its life is rare. It handles, jumps, turns, and stops great. Bang for your buck I don’t know a better e-bike.” 

If you’re a marathon-bred XC whippet, the torquey, big-hitting prowess of the Typhon may not be on your radar; however, if you lean further into the all-mountain, enduro, gravity realms, then the Typhon might be the most affordable all-carbon all-mountain weapon out there.

VMG Typhon E-Mountain Bike
The Typhon geometry is firmly biased toward trail and enduro riding, with the fitted components well up to that job.

With a 63.5-degree head-tube angle, 78-degree effective seat tube angle, and mullet wheel setup (29-inch front / 27.5-inch rear), there is no doubt the VMG Typhon is aimed at those who enjoy the ‘Downs’ more than the ‘Ups’ but still want to be able to punch out some serious kilometres. The carbon-fibre frame (with four-bar Horst link suspension) offers 160mm of travel, and when coupled with a 160mm or 170mm fork, the Typhon sits smack bang in the mid-range travel arena for enduro/gravity e-bikes. Weighing in at 23.9kg, the Typhon is a few grams heavier than some of the other big hitters, and a 476mm reach is tighter than some competitors, although it doesn’t feel cramped. A short 443mm chain stay keeps the bike snappy and playful, and it rides lighter than the specs suggest. A 340mm bottom bracket height keeps the centre of gravity low but, in doing so, feels a tad exposed for jankier trails, although only on super technical terrain. 

The four-bar Horst link suspension setup is well proved in the enduro MTB world. As is that monster Fox Float X2 Factory shock.

The bike is powered by a Bafang M510 48V motor with 250W of power and a rather generous 95nm of torque for a compact 2.9kg motor. If you’re a V8 kinda-rider, the bike can also be equipped with a 3.3kg Bafang M560 powerplant, delivering a massive 500W of power and 130Nm of torque. The lockable, removable large capacity 840-watt-hour (Wh) battery delivers masses of juice and lengthy battery life across all the Typhon Trail and Enduro models. The Trail is a lighter weight 160mm all-rounder whilst the Enduro up-specs components and is offered in three iterations: Enduro, Enduro Coil and Enduro Ultimate. All Typhon models run a full carbon frame and rear triangle, with Alloy 780mm bars and 40mm stem, a 160mm rear shock, KS i900 dropper post (170mm or 190mm), Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH), Miranda 160mm crankset, Maxxis Assegai 29 x 2.5 EXO+ tyres up front and Maxiss Minnion DHR II DD 27.5 x 2.4 tyres on the rear, as standard. At present, the frames are available in medium and large sizes.

Our test rig had a 180mm Fox 38 Factory fork, and reliable Magura MT5 brakes. Both proved excellent during testing.

The 23.7kg Typhon Trail delivers 160mm travel (front and rear) via a Suntour Edge LOR 205 x 65 shock and a 160mm Suntour Auron (36mm stanchion) fork. The bike is adorned with a Microshift Advent nine-speed shifter, derailleur, and cassette, Tektro HD M750 4-piston brakes, and 180mm rotors for stopping. Novatec steel freebody boost hubs are threaded to Mach1 Trucky rims with Pillar spokes and Maxxis rubber. The bike is aimed at all-mountain use and delivers solid reliability with an emphasis on both weight-saving and affordability, hitting the shelves at an impressive $6600.

The Typhon Enduro and Typhon Enduro-Coil are more expensive, but the payoff is an additional 10mm of travel up front, 10-speed Microshift Advent drivetrain, and Magura MT5 brakes with 203mm rotors as standard. The Typhon Enduro boasts a 23.9kg trail weight with a Suntour Tri Air 3CR 205 x 65 trunnion mount shock and Suntour Durolux 36 170mm EQ PCS R2C2 fork. The Typhon Enduro-Coil (24.5kg) enhances plush travel and big-hitting prowess with a Suntour Voro Coil 205 x 65 trunnion mount shock and upgrades to the 38mm stanchions of a Suntour Durolux 38 170m EQ PCS R2C2. The Enduro comes in at $7600 and the Enduro Coil at AUD$8600.

A number of experienced riders, including Freeride guru Sam Poulton (pictured here), sampled the Typhon across a variety of trail terrain types, from the sandstone-riddled Northern Beaches, to the fast, big berms and jumps in the Lake Macquarie region.

The flagship Enduro-Ultimate (23.9kg and around $11,600, depending on final spec), features a Rockshox ZEB Ultimate 170mm fork and a Rockshox Super deluxe Ultimate 205 x 65 trunnion mount shock. The drivetrain is upgraded to wireless SRAM GX AXS 12-Speed, and the brakes are upgraded to Magura MT7, and it all rolls on an Industry Nine Enduro S1/1 30.5mm wheelset. For Shimano and Fox lovers, you can opt for a wireless Shimano Di2 drivetrain or Fox Float X2 Factory shock/Fox 38 Factory forks. 

Our test bike was a custom variation of the Enduro Ultimate, adorned with a 180mm Fox 38 Factory fork up front and Fox Float X2 Factory shock. A complete wireless AXS system was fitted with Rockshox Reverb AXS 170 seat post and 12-Speed SRAM GX AXS Eagle shifter and chain complimenting a super light Ingrid 12S 48T-10 cassette. The team at SQ Lab came to the party with stems, bars, grips, and seats. Graphics and frame protection are created by Peter Reynolds at Bunnyhop/KYSO. Whatever model Typhon you look at, as far as e-MTB bang-for-bucks goes, you’ll be hard-pushed to find much better. 

In the field with the VMG Typhon

Straight out of the gates, the torque of the Bafang M510 is noticeable when you start pedalling, and there’s certainly no shortage of power from the 250W/95Nm motor. It kicks in relatively sharply if you’re not ready for it, but a couple of clicks on the thumb pad sees the 1.9” TFT display dial back from BOOST to TOUR or ECO mode, and the bike settles. The Typhon has WALK, ECO, TOUR, SPORT, SPORT+, and BOOST. I found the SPORT and SPORT+ modes best for singletrack climbing. With so much torque, flowing switchback climbs are nearly as fun as adrenalin-inducing descents. The 840Wh battery means plenty of BOOST-fuelled hooting and hollering on ups and downs without concerns about draining the battery. If your Sunday morning blast does turn into an ‘epic’, to preserve battery life, the Battery Management System (BMS) backs off pedal-assist input when the battery drops below 30 per cent.

VMG Typhon E-Mountain Bike bar-mounted display unit.
The bar-mounted display unit is easy to read and has all the info needed for riders.

The mullet wheelset takes a few corners to get used to, and the slack front end wants to push a smidge wide on the slower switchbacks, but the short rear end snaps the bike into place quickly enough. Technical rock garden climbs are never my favourite, and whilst the Typhon eats them for breakfast, a relatively low 340mm bottom bracket/motor clearance can be prone to rock strikes if you don’t pick an intelligent line. Fortunately, the short 160mm Miranda crankset limits pedal strikes, and a $100 upgraded bash-guard handles poor line choices, especially if you’re a ‘creative rider’ like me. 

My home trail nemesis had always been a super loose, steep, boulder-strewn fire-trail climb. However, the Bafang M510’s low-end torque excels in slow-cadence-climbing, and when coupled with the Typhon’s steep seat-tube angle (centering body weight on climbs), even my chicken legs can haul bike and body to the top.

Our tester’s drivetrain is a mix of SRAM 12-Speed SRAM GX AXS Eagle shifter and chain combined with a super-light Ingrid 12S 48T-10 cassette.

It is at the top, with the seat post lowered, when the real fun begins. The short chainstays keep the bike inline on tighter singletrack, which means for a responsive bike out of the corners, making meandering flow-trails a blast. When it gets steeper, rockier, and ‘jumpier’, the Typhon excels. On our Ultimate build, the boulder-absorbing prowess of the Fox Float X2 Factory shock marries happily to a Fox 38 Factory fork up front. On descents, the slack head angle and low centre of gravity provide loads of confidence to roll through nearly anything. The bike feels comfortable and stable at speed, in berms and over slow techy rock gardens, while remaining poppy and playful. The more the trail points down, the better the bike gets – enough to confidently advance my mediocre riding happily to black diamond-grade trails. 

Watto lets the Typhon’s slack head angle and 180mm Fox 38 fork lead the way on a steep and technical Northern Beaches trail.

As we move into the fourth month of ‘product testing’ (aka, finding excuses to ride), the bike continues to perform above expectations. It has endured everything from sandy coastal singletrack and rutted boulder-ridden 4WD trails to loamy rainforest berms and root-strewn downhills. 

The experience hasn’t been without incident, however. A decent high-speed sideswipe on a boulder led to an over-the-bars moment that saw the frame take a few cartwheels, with an expensive AXS rear derailleur destroyed in the process. The Typhon frame is rated at more than 70% above ISO 4210 strength requirements and so, fortunately, escaped with only minor scratches. Whenever I have contacted VMG with tech questions, the response and follow-up has been very quick. It is this type of efficient after-sales customer service that is as vital to VMG as developing a homegrown e-MTB, with the company about to get busier, thanks to a contract to provide Typhon bikes (and a custom-designed aggressive hardtail e-MTB) to NSW Police and Emergency Services.

The final word on the VMG Typhon

VMG has developed a high-end full carbon e-MTB frame with modern geometry settling right into the sweet spot for an all-mountain e-MTB, delivered in a range of price options for all riders, enthusiast to expert. If you’re in the market for some of this fandangled battery-assisted pedalling malarky and want a quality build without breaking the bank, then the VMG Typhon is most certainly worth a look. 

See VMG Bikes for more info on the Typhon range.