Review: Motiv Electric Bikes’ Shadow is the first blog review site to have had a go with the new Motiv Shadow. Cameron Pemstein handed us two battery options to test, the 36V and the 48V. The price difference between the 2 battery packs: $400.

This was one of 3 demo units they have available. The Shadow will be available in Spring 2014, MSRP: $2,249.99.

Battery pack with a built in power level indicator.

New for Motiv is this LCD control panel, with backlighting. You can set how much pedal assist you want to have. 1-5, 5 being the most. The control panel is very user friendly. Simply turn it on by hitting Mode on the remote by the bell, set your pedal assist and you’re ready to hit the road!

The Shadow is equipped with Tektro Novela Mechanical Disc brakes with 7” rotors. With rotors that size, you can pretty much stop on a dime. I’d have to say this is good planning on Motiv’s part. Here’s why: if you’re using the 48v battery pack, there’s a bit of torque there. You can hit 23MPH within a few seconds. So that means if you’re going that fast, you’ll also need to stop; 7″ rotors are the way to go. If you really wanted to, you can later upgrade the mechanical Tektro brakes to a hydraulic set, but during the testing period, these mechanical brakes worked well enough to stop me going 30mph down a hill and I weigh 195lbs.

With an electric bike, we’re not all that concerned with how it shifts and all that jazz. But since we are a bicycle review site, I’ll delve into that a bit. The Shadow is equipped with entry-level Shimano 7 speed components and a 44T chain ring up front. I thought that having a 44T would make climbing difficult. But if you have the bike set on pedal assist, climbing is actually a breeze.

As I mentioned, I tested both battery packs on the Shadow. On the 48v with full pedal assist level of 5, I rode 15 miles on a single charge. This is a mix of gravel roads, dirt trails, steep hills and streets. With the 36v, I was on full pedal assist level of 5. By the time I finished my 17 mile ride, I looked down at the control panel and saw that I still had 3/4 life left on the battery pack. So that means if I wanted to keep going, I could easily reach in the upwards of 30+ miles on pedal assist. But if I turned down the pedal assist levels to 1-3, then the Shadow has a potential battery life of over 50+ miles.

Charging took a minimum of 5 hours. I’d basically charge it the night before, then in the morning I’d head out for a test ride. After I got back, I would recharge it.

Here are some more details about the difference between the 48v and the 36v: in terms of performance, I’d consider the 48v as the High Performance battery pack. It delivers so much more torque which translates to a quicker bike. With the 48v battery, I was able to get up to 25.4mph in just seconds. The Shadow does have a safety feature where the power will be cut off once you hit 25.5mph. With the 48v battery pack, you get on the Shadow, set the pedal assist to 5, then pedal. The motor kicks in and you’re zooming down the road. The pull on it is so quick that you can’t help but smile the whole time.

The Shadow’s frame does allow the installation of a rear rack and fenders. I recall having a conversation with Motiv E-Bikes’ Cameron Pemstein that commuters want to make sure that the bike they buy can accept fenders and racks. Well, I am happy to report that he listened and took that into account when designing the Shadow. If you look at the photo above, you’ll find tabs on the rear seat stay and on the bridge is a spot for you to screw in some fenders. Another feature that the Shadow has is an RST Headshok style fork. This makes for a more comfortable ride. It absorbed potholes and other road imperfections.

One thing that has won me over with the Shadow is its styling. In my opinion, it looks better than many of the e-bikes that are currently available. I do like that it looks like…a regular bicycle. The battery pack can be found behind the seat tube, which makes the Shadow a well-balanced bike. Other E-bikes that I’ve tested in the past have the cumbersome battery pack on the rear rack, which affects the bike’s handling. Often, batteries mounted on the rear rack have this flip-flopping characteristic that make the bike squirmy. But the Shadow felt great to ride; it handles really well, is very comfortable and easy on the eyes. In other words, it’s a sharp looking bike. Motiv plans on making 3 color choices available, Red, White and Blue…Merica!

There was only one complaint I had with the Shadow: the magnetic speed sensor that is very similar to most cycle-computers out there. There’s a magnet mounted on the spoke, while a sensor is placed on the fork. When I was riding up some rougher terrain and I’d hit bumps, the sensor couldn’t get a good reading. At times it showed that my speed was 32 and 54. When this occurred, the safety switch would turn off the power to the motor. But once it did that, the speed would go back to normal. Mind you this would only happen when I was riding up a bumpy fire road. Like I mentioned, the bike was tested in various types of terrain just to make sure we put it through its paces. However, I did have this issue a few times while riding on the street after hitting a pothole really hard.

In closing, the Motiv Shadow really is a great example of what a great E-bike should be. It’s not super complicated, is very easy to use, looks good, and I like that they have 2 different battery pack choices available. I’m sure some of you are thinking that an e-bike should have regenerative capabilities. Well, this one doesn’t. But that’s ok. I’ve tested 2 different e-bikes before that had that option and in all honesty, the regenerative system didn’t regenerate enough energy to help put more power back into the battery. The Shadow is attractive, simple and a load of fun to ride. But before you get the 36v, you might want to consider getting the 48v battery pack, you’ll have more fun with it!

FTC Disclaimer


  1. Raiyn November 6, 2013 11:42 pm 

    A freewheel on a $2200 bike?

  2. Mike Myers November 8, 2013 4:47 am 

    I’m really looking forward to the e-bike price drop. Right now they’re as expensive as scooters or even small motorcycles. Given a choice between spending $2000-$5000 on a Motiv, a Specialized Turbo, or a Strommer and a 250cc scooter or motorcycle, the latter win every single time.

    However, get the cost down to a grand or so, and the choice becomes easier. It is a bit strange, I suppose. I have bicycles which cost more than the Motiv, but they’re multipurpose handmade bicycles. I can shop with them, get my workout on them, and I can tour with them. With most of the e-bikes, they’re only really useful as an urban commuter, but their top speed is so limited they really don’t make much economic sense. Why spend that much cash on a bike which isn’t legally allowed to go as fast as my bicycle does? If they could do 35mph, I’d be more interested also. But 2 grand or more to do 20mph doesn’t make much sense to me.

  3. Mike Myers November 8, 2013 4:50 am 

    Hate to double post, but the e-bikes are marketed as commuter bikes, taking the place of a scooter or a motorcycle, right? So why not make them USEFUL? It doesn’t look like the Motiv would be very good in the rain, has no lights(a Sanyo dynohub and a light are very cheap and a no-brainer in this case), has no fenders, and no capacity for carrying anything. So what’s the purpose of it? Every motorcycle has fenders, and scooters have a place to carry groceries.

    Grumble, grumble, grumble. LOL

  4. Raiyn November 8, 2013 11:11 am 

    Never mind the constantly bent rear axles

  5. RL November 8, 2013 11:18 am 

    Bent rear axles?

  6. Ghost Rider November 8, 2013 2:10 pm 

    Yeah, I want to hear more about these “bent axles”. Are you referring to the freewheel hub’s alleged tendency to bend axles due to the uneven support offered by the bearings? I have heard of that, yet I have never EVER experienced that. And, this comes from years of freewheeling abuse, including MTB back in the pre-cassette days.

  7. Raiyn November 8, 2013 10:30 pm 

    Nothing “alleged” about it. I’ve replaced my fair share of bent rear axles both during my time as a shop wrench and on our personal bikes that I assure you were NOT abused. I replaced 2 on my Varsity in about a year before the 700c conversion and one on my better half’s Ol’ Jamis Explorer commuter before replacing it’s rear wheel neither of which had seen the kinds of use and abuse we’ve put our freehubed mountain bikes through.

  8. RL November 9, 2013 4:43 pm 

    mmkay…but what does that have to do with the Motiv?

  9. Raiyn November 10, 2013 9:47 pm 

    One: It’s a $2200 bike I’d object to it having a freewheel on principal alone. At this price point we need to stop dealing in stuff you find on a K-Mart rig for a tenth the price.

    Two: It’s heavier than a normal bike out of the gate ESPECIALLY in the rear. Combine that with someone of Clydesdale / Athena stature and that axle is toast.

    A freehub would make a ton more sense in this application. Frankly I’m disappointed that they cheaped out that much. I get the whole “hitting a price point”, but that’s crazy. For ~ $10 more (at RETAIL prices)that puppy could have a seven speed cassette. Heck lose the aero rims and they’d have made money on the deal.

    That’s how I see it.

  10. Dave K November 15, 2013 1:08 pm 

    I just put a Q100 front wheel motor kit on a $200 Schwinn ClearCreek comfort bike with a 36 volt 15ah battery on the rear rack. Kit was $200 and battery was $375, shipping from China included. The pedal assist works well and the throttle does a decent job. The bike will exceed 20mph with some pedaling, and that’s as fast as I want a bike to go in NYC. Since I have a 25 mile r/t commute, that works just fine. Some nice paniers on the rear rack and it’s really a nice way to commute. I’m 61 and was getting pissed at having to ride up bridges and into headwinds, now it’s back to being fun again.

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