A few years ago we saw this huge wave of electric/e-assist bikes that came out. At one point I thought that it was a “fad” and that it would eventually die out. Well, to my surprise, E-bikes are back at Interbike with further developments in battery and motor technology. Here are a few examples:
Yuba has a beautiful cargo bike that has an electric motor kit that is powered by Bionx.
Bionx is known to be the leader of e-bike technology. In fact, they even offer regenerative braking. So that means if you’re going down the hill while applying your brakes, it recharges your batteries.
Our friends from Urbana have a redesigned e-bike, also powered by Bionix.
I had received the OHM Urban XU700 to test a few months ago and this bike has probably seen the most abuse of any other bike I’ve tested. I’ll get into the test procedures later.
My time spent on this bike is a mixture of bike commuting to and from work, errands as well as taking the occasional Saturday morning rides through town.
The OHM XU700 offers a variety of riding options:
1.There are 3 other levels of assist from this bike. 1 being the lowest amount of assist from the motor and 4, being the greatest amount. I spent most of my time on level 4, no pedaling required.
2. Regenerative braking. You read it right. Basically what this means is you can adjust your motor from the control panel to generate electricity and recharge your batteries while going down the hill. Regeneration also works by adding resistance to your pedal stroke. This allows your to pedal and recharge at the same time.
If you take a gander at the detailed spec sheet found HERE, you’ll see that the OHM XU700 is outfitted with some decent parts such as hydraulic Tektro brakes, Shimano Deore drivetrain components and many more. I do have to note that the Suntour NCX fork was pretty plush and when combined with the Suntour suspension seat post, this bike rode like a dream. Pot holes, bumps and any imperfections of the road or trail were quickly absorbed.
Power for the headlight and tail light was generated by the Shimano dynamo hub. Keep in mind that this is more of a “be seen” light rather than one to see with.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of the OHM Urban XU700. There are a few things that most people would want to know about an e-bike. I’ll break it down in various sections below:
Battery life between charges-I was averaging about 20 miles per charge. Keep in mind, that I was at the highest level of assist, meaning I barely pedaled while riding. So I relied heavily on its battery power to move my 206lb body.
How long does it take to recharge?-Once the battery is fully depleted, I recharge it and that cycle takes about 5 hours. Typically what i do is when I arrive at my office, I remove the battery pack and charge it. By the time I head out to get some lunch, the battery is about 3/4 charged. Once I return, the battery is back on the charger. By the end of my day, it’s fully charged and ready to go.
How does it handle?-There’s no difference in the way the OHM rides than any other bike out there. The geometry suggests a more relaxed stance and has a comfort bike feel to it.
How fast can it go?- On flats, I was able to take it up to 21mph.
How does it work? -“In auto assist mode, the system automatically provides boost proportionate to the rider’s pedaling effort. The harder the rider pedals, the more the boost the system will provide. Alternatively, rider can use the throttle to propel the bike without pedaling. Note: throttle can only be engaged after 2 km/h.”
Stopping power?The hydraulic brakes make stopping on a dime easy.
Is it user friendly?-Yes, it’s very easy to use. Turn it on, set your pedal assist level, then ride!
Is the bike reliable? In a short and simple answer, yes. The OHM Urban XU700 has been down trails that it wasn’t meant to go on and I’ve tested its durability in more ways than one.
For starters, the bike did well on the street. Not once did I have any problems with it. The electrical system worked as designed and it made my commute easier because I hardly had to pedal. As far as testing its durability, I took this bike through various mountain bike trails as well as a Super D and Downhill course at the Southridge Challenge back in November. The photo below was taken moments before a downpour. I have purposely left the bike out in rain to see if that would cause any problems. To my surprise, everything worked perfectly. The drivetrain has never needed any sort of tuning or adjustments.
In fact, when I rode it down the Super D and DH courses, people would stop and stare because they couldn’t believe that this e-bike was able to handle the abuse I was giving it. I tried to beat up this bike, but the only thing I did to it was a pinch flat and it caused the rear wheel to come out of true. Other than that, the bike is in great shape!
I’ve gotta admit, the OHM Cycles Urban XU700 has me very excited. It’s an absolutely entertaining bike to ride. Everyone that has tried it simply falls in love with the pedal assist. During one of my Saturday morning, 15 miler rides with the OHM, I had stopped at the local 7/11 and a gentleman came up to me asking about the bike. He said that he was in the market for an e-bike, but had never tried one. So I offered him the OHM to ride in the parking lot. Much like the responses that people have when they ride the OHM, he too fell in love. He made it a point to write down the brand and model name.
Fortunately, this bike does come with some accessories that a large number of our readers love: fenders, rack, and lights!
In closing, the OHM Cycles Urban XU700 has been a very fun bike to test. It has taken me on some great adventures and its durability has been pretty stellar. But the question is, would I buy one at the price of $3299? If I had the cash laying around — yes, I would.
As we reported back in August, E-bikes were supposed to be a huge presence at Interbike this year. Since this was my first year attending the massive tradeshow, I have no way of gauging whether or not electric/e-assist bikes were so visible in previous editions, but I can say with confidence that they were EVERYWHERE in 2010. It seems like every major manufacturer had one or two e-bikes on display, with a number of large booths displaying a number of different models. And I saw every setup under the sun: batteries hidden in the racks or built-in to the frames, hub motors, friction-drive setups or motors built into oversized bottom brackets. I took a ton of photos of various e-bike flavors, but don’t have a lot of information to accompany them. In many of the photos, the manufacturer will be visible. Take a look at some of the stuff we spotted:
Here’s one from Achiever Bike that incorporates an electric-assist motor in the oversized bottom bracket shell. The battery pack is under the rack and the drivetrain is mated to the new NuVinci N360:
Here’s a sharp-looking cruiser by Pedego, with large rear hub motor. Pedego had a big display with a lot of varieties to choose from:
Here’s another by Pedego, this one a trike with some smart cargo boxes instead of a typical wire basket:
Here’s a friction-drive electric assist kit by Pedalix — their “Hidden Power” system . It won a gold award at this year’s Eurobike, and appears to be mountable to most bicycles. In this photo it is mounted to a Specialized Langster NYC:
IZip had a large floor display with a number of e-bike setups. I liked this one in particular due to its stout rear rack, “angry bee” paint scheme and color-matched basket on the front. The battery pack on IZip bikes is hidden within the frame’s downtube.
This is an e-bike by Kilowatt. One of the things I noticed about some of the more “complete” e-bike offerings was that the smart companies were choosing the tried-and-true BionX system. More on this in a bit…in the meantime, check out this Kilowatt:
We’ve already seen the Torker Interurban-E drop-bar touring bike in a previous post, but here it is again…so nice! Alfine rear hub, disc brakes on both ends, sweet pedal assist…a great setup:
Here’s a sneak peek at the Urbana electric-assist bike. We’re hoping that we can get an example of this beauty to test for you:
Urbana (a Bikecommuters.com “Editors’ Choice” winner for 2010) also chose the BionX system for this model. As I was talking to a respected industry representative, I asked “what do you think is holding the U.S. back from embracing electric and electric-assist bikes the way Europe and the Far East have?” This rep had an interesting take: three or four years ago, electric bike kits flooded the market in the U.S. Many of them were comprised of sub-standard or immature technology and were prone to early failure. This sort of turned off many potential e-bike purchasers and the current crop of bikes using the (relatively expensive) BionX system is an answer to those earlier problems. The BionX has a great track record and is worth the extra investment, or so our industry rep indicated…she might be onto something, because as I mentioned earlier, BionX appeared on all the top-shelf models.
Here’s an interesting one…spotted in the Stromer booth. I can’t find my notes, but this one appears to be a folder with the battery hidden in the center of the pivoting portion of the frame:
The above is just a sampling of the myriad e-bikes on display at the Sands this year. Some rough general observations — most of these bikes have a range of about 20 miles with heavy e-assist use/40 miles or so when the user pedals more. Top speed of the e-assist motors hovers around 20 mph (the top speed might be regulated in different states; check your municipal and state laws for specifics). Battery voltages range from 24V to 36V, and charge times vary but with most in the 4-5 hour range. And most importantly: e-bikes are coming! This segment of the market is maturing rapidly, and as battery technology improves, this segment is just going to get bigger and bigger.
Of course, there is some evidence that not all U.S. consumers…or even sellers…are “getting it”. One Clearwater, Florida-based retailer is selling moped-style e-bikes as “DUI Scooters“. Looks like we have a way to go before things get more serious in the electric/electric-assist bicycle field….