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ELux Fat Tire Cruiser: Review

Elux Bicycles eview

We received the ELux Electric Bicycles Fat Tire Cruiser a few weeks ago and since then we’ve been able to put some miles on it. Rather than fill the first part of the review with the spec info and all that jazz, just go to their website to see all of it. For the most part I’ll be peppering in the spec info throughout the article. So with that being said, I’m just going to jump into it. Ok, so here we go. The ELux is a FUN electric bike! Yep, it’s as simple as that. Fun and functional. The fat tires do offer a different ride and when you keep the air pressure a bit low, it sorta acts like suspension and it also provides some extra traction on loose gravel and sand.

Elux Electric Bicycles

This bike’s 750w Bafang brushless geared motor is powered by a 48v 14Ah Lithium Ion battery. ELux says you can get up to a 30+mile range on a single charge with pedal assist. I was able to get 17.2 miles on a full charge, but that’s with me using the throttle about 90% of the time on various terrain such as steep hills, gravel, dirt, mud, bike path, street and sand. So you’re probably wondering, “17.2 miles is pretty far from 30 miles on a single charge…” Yes it is, but that range ELux provides takes into consideration that their test subject who determined those miles probably weighed about 150lbs and set the pedal assist to 3. But when I rode the bike I weigh over 220lbs and using the throttle most of the time on some steep hills. I figured if all my miles were simply on flat ground on the street, then I’m sure I could have reached that 30 mile range they had mentioned.

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Yes we know that the Elux isn’t what some of you would consider a “commuter bike.” But rather than beating a dead horse and repeating myself that ANY BIKE is a commuter bike, I’ll just go into why this bike got our attention for testing. First of all those fat tires rather fascinating. But we noticed it had fenders, and a rear rack. Plus it has an LED headlight that could is powered by the main battery and switched on by the control panel. Hmm, from the looks of it, this bike would fall into that ideal commuter bike. In addition, it’s electric powered.

In this photo below, we paired the Elux with our Blackburn cooler pannier to show that you can carry bags on the bike. Two things I didn’t like about their rack was it didn’t have an anchor point and the rails were too thick.I have a Banjo Brothers grocery pannier bag that I couldn’t use because it requires it to anchored on the bottom, plus the hooks on the bag were too small for Elux’s rack. However, for the Blackburn bags you see, they worked just fine because it mounts on with Velcro straps.

elux bikes review

We’ve heard from commuter purists that an electric bike is cheating. Eh, is it really? I mean c’mon…anyway. We don’t consider it cheating. We think it’s perfect for those who normally can’t pedal a traditional bike. In this case, it’s right for me since I’ve developed arthritis on both knees. Pedal assist is a welcome reprieve from painful pedaling.

The display on the LCD screen is easy to read and super easy to use. There are 4 buttons on the control panel so you can’t mess it up too much. There’s a power, Set, + and -. You hit the + to up your pedal assist and of course you hit the – button to lower your pedal assist. A great feature on this control panel is the USB port that you can access to charge your devices! Plus the panel  has the ability to be backlit so you can see it at night.

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In addition, there’s even a walking mode too. That means if you’re walking up a hill with the bike, it will give you enough power so you’re not having to lug the bike up. Mind you this is super helpful since this bike weighs 75lbs.

Components are pretty much entry level with Shimano Tourney 7 speed drive train and shifter. The bike is dressed with front and rear 180mm Tektro Mechanical Disc Brakes, which offer plenty of stopping power for this heavy rig.

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The battery can be taken out for charging by unlocking it with the provided key and removing the saddle/seat post via quick release. You can actually leave the battery on the bike while charging. Elux says charging time is 4-6 hours. After draining the battery, it took us close to 6 hours to get a full charge.

Elux stated that the bike can legally reach up to 21mph, which it can on flat ground. I asked if you could hack the system and remove the limiter, unfortunately there isn’t a way. But naturally once the battery life starts to diminish, the bike can’t touch those max speeds.

During our testing period, we never experienced any mechanical or electrical issues. In fact the bike performed rather well given the fact we took in on terrain that the company probably never intended it be ridden on. Yes, it is heavy at 75lbs and if you ever have to transport the bike, it would help if you had a rear rack that could handle fat tires or a truck/van.

Overall we liked this bike. We couldn’t find really any issues, other than the rack that I mentioned above. The 750w 48v system works like a clock and is as reliable as a Japanese car. Elux gives it an an MSRP of $2250. This might be high to some of you, but that’s actually on the low site compared to other brands out there that offer the same motor/battery combo. They do offer a decent warranty; 3 Year Frame, 3 Year limited Battery, 1 year Motor. Other brands only offer 2 years on the frame and 12 months on the battery/motor.

Speaking of which, Bafang motors are used by other brands out there. The Samsung battery that Elux equips their bikes with are also a staple brand for the ebike business. That should help put you at ease since these batteries shouldn’t catch on fire like other cheaper Chinese batteries out there. All the other parts on this bike are you standard bicycle parts that you could buy at your local shop. In fact, you’ll maintain this bike just like any other bike, the battery and motor are pretty much trouble free.

Just to keep things clear, we didn’t receive any compensation from ELux Electric Bicycles for this review.

FTC Disclaimer

 

Product Review: WTB Freedom Cruz 29er tires

So as I previously mentioned, I’ve been riding the WTB Freedom Cruz 29er tires on my Redline Monocog 29er – and I’ve now got enough time logged on them for a review!

The basics: at a 29 x 2.0″ size (they come in 26″ as well), these are not for your typical city bike or hybrid! Per product description, they’re meant to “turn your 29″ dirt-crusted steed into a quick and nimble commuter workhorse.” While in general I prefer to keep my mountain bikes on mostly dirt, I had the bike available and a new bike I was riding more, so on the tires went!

A (rather technical) caveat up front: these tires are mounted to Mavic A317 rims, which only have a rim width of 17mm. WTB recommends (per the tire sidewall) rim widths of 25mm+ (which is somewhat standard – but not universal – for mountain bike rims). So right off the bat, my experience with handling may be different than someone else’s, as a wider tire on a narrower rim doesn’t hold its shape quite as well as a wider tire on a wider rim or a narrower tire on a narrower rim. I never felt super comfortable on these on sharp turns – but that might change quite a bit if they were used with the recommended rim size.

Now back to riding impressions!

After a couple months of solid riding, I can definitely say the Freedom Cruz fits the bill for commuting! Very smooth-rolling for sure. They also seem to track well on surfaces ranging from pavement to hardpack dirt – I wouldn’t want to try them out in a lot of mud or loose dirt, but on smooth surfaces they work well (wet or dry). The suggested tire pressure is 35-65psi – after some testing, I ended up running the rear at 40psi and the front at 35psi (this for an average guy+gear load of around 160-165lbs). I also found that the tires held air pressure pretty well – I only had to add a small amount of air every couple weeks. My typical experience is that I need to add a more significant amount of air once a week, so this was a pleasant surprise. It may simply be due to the lower pressure – tire pressure on my other commuter bikes ranges from 55psi to 100psi – but it was nice nonetheless.

The hard rubber compound and sidewall on the Cruz did seem to lessen the bump-absorption properties normally associated with wide tires to some degree – I think most of my mountain tires provide a bit more cushion than these do. However, they do seem durable – after about 350 miles of riding I can’t really see any signs of wear.

For the price (MSRP is $33.99 per tire and they can be found for $6-10 less), the Freedom Cruz 29 tires are a very reasonable way to convert a mountain bike into a smooth-riding city bike. They aren’t overly beefy, and once I had my bike up to speed I felt like it took very little effort to keep it at speed. If you’ve got an extra MTB sitting around and want to give it some new life, $50-60 can get you a tire that will give you a smooth ride for a long time… and the all-black styling means your “mountain” bike won’t be hurting too bad for street cred even without the knobbies!

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Interbike 2012: Banjo Brothers

One of my favorite people to visit at Interbike would be our friends Eric and Mike also known as the Banjo Brothers. I’ve known these guys for at least 6 years and did you know that Banjo Brothers is celebrating their 10 year anniversary! A big congrats goes out to these guys who make high quality products at affordable prices.

Mike and Eric, The Banjo Brothers.
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For 2013 the Brothers are offering new frame bags.
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Another product they are offering is a cell phone bag/keeper. The clear plastic cover allows you full control of your screen while protecting it from the elements. This bag is perfect for storing your stuff all together so you can fit it in the back of your jersey pocket.
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You can keep your ID, CC and cash in there.
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This right here has to be my favorite, same concept as above, but you can mount it on your bike!
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Velcro to keep things secure on the bike.
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Another new product is this guy. It’s the same as their backpack but made with a different material. From what I recall, Eric said it was waxed canvas. So that should make some of you retro-grouches happy.
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Here’s a great example of Banjo Brother products mounted on a commuter/touring bike.
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Look hunny, the drapes match the carpet!
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I love me some Banjo Brothers. My own commuter back pack is 6 years old and it’s still going strong! I use for bike commuting and even for luggage when I travel.

Interbike 2012-It’s coming up!

If you didn’t know, America’s largest bicycle trade show is in less than 2 weeks. Last year I had the pleasure of providing the good looking readers of BikeCommuters.com media coverage of the show.

This year we’ve partnered up with our super awesome friends at Planet Bike so we can host our very first (cue the echo sound effects) BikeCommuters.com Interbike SWAG Giveaway Contest, brought to you by the handsome folks of Planet Bike!

So here’s how it’s going to work: Our Media Crew, yours truly and Hermes, will be working hard at Outdoor Demo and Interbike, collecting swag stuff from various vendors to accompany the GRAND PRIZE that Planet Bike has generously provided. What’s in the Planet Bike Grand Prize? Dunno, sexy Chris F. of PB said he’d surprise us, but whatever it is, it should be really good!
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We’ll provide more contest details as we approach closer to the show date.