The Polaris Strive electric bike offers a unique combination of efficiency and power. On the one hand, you’ve got a 450 Watt brushless geared hub motor paired with ~30 Volts of power which is on the higher side of mid-level. On the other hand, you’ve got regenerative braking paired with a fancy control system designed to actually limit top speed but extend range and ride time. Compared to bikes with similar motor and battery specs, this one feels a little slow and weak. It’s really meant for efficiency and range, and it accomplishes that pretty well but comes at a high price point that for me left something to be desired.
The Strive weighs just 53lbs including the battery pack which is mounted to a rear rack. That’s pretty light considering all of the features it has along with the front shock absorber. Thankfully, Polaris did not use a bolt-on rack to integrate their battery. Instead, they welded it directly onto the frame. It’s the kind of battery mounting design that many other ebikes go for as well but it does create a rear-heavy feel and makes the bike harder to lift from the middle when mounting to racks etc. The good news is, if you get the high-step version of this bike it’s actually possible to mount to cars and busses. Most of the other models from Polaris lack a straight top-tube so that might be a deciding factor if you’re choosing between the three models.
This bike rides pretty quiet and the sprung seat and front shock smooth out minor bumps in the road. The battery pack is encased in plastic which mounts directly onto the metal rack and because of this, there is some rattling noise. The spring loaded top rack is kind of weak and doesn’t offer a lot of storage capacity but could help with mail or other thin light weight objects. The unique square tubing and battery pack limit what kind of panniers you can use with this bike and I recommend a “slung over” style pannier set for best performance. One of my favorites is the Basil Elements.
A good word to describe this bike is “controlled”. It’s smart, efficient, relatively light and potentially powerful but not directly satisfying. The three modes of pedal assist are the best feature here and really let this bike reach its full potential, they just don’t feel the same as a heavier more powerful ebike. This has actually been described as a benefit to me by Polaris representatives who were trying to design a system that didn’t feel so jerky when pedaling. I tend to like the feeling of torque however and the Strive is a sportier model so it would be nice if the thumb throttle had more kick in it and could reach higher top speeds. Remember, even if you do pedal faster than 18mph the bike actually kicks in regenerative braking so it slows you back down in favor of extending range.
Taking into account the relatively high price point of this bike, the technology and offering may be right for some but it’s definitely not for everyone. For people who enjoy a smoother feel, lighter frame and solid company reputation, this bike could be a fit. But keep in mind, this is the first generation of the Strive and Polaris worked with a third party company to create it. For those who like the idea of a smooth ride but might benefit from fenders, chain guard and upright positioning I recommend the Meridian from Polaris over the Strive. All in all, the Strive is one of the few bikes out there with regenerative braking and its unique torque sensing system is in a class all its own.
- Rear rack and battery holder are welded onto the frame reducing rattling and wear
- Front and rear disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power, front shock and seat springs smooth out the ride
- Computer is easy to use, provides some fun extras such as carbon footprint savings
- Rapid fire trigger shifters work well and are my preference vs. twist shift on other ebikes, especially for the sportier Strive model that is setup like a mountain bike
- Advanced computer system provides smooth acceleration and regenerative braking
- High end Lithium ion battery will last 1,000+ cycles and reduces overall weight of bike
- Polaris is a well established brand with experience building other light weight vehicles like motorcycles and snowmobiles
- Plastic chain guide helps keep the chain on track when riding and using mid-drive
- The high step version of this bike is easier to lift, mount to cars and other racks because of the open triangle and straight top bar
- Built in water bottle mounting eyelets
- Rear mounted battery puts weight up higher (like many ebikes) but means the bike is Rear-haevy and a bit less stable
- Drive system leaves something to be desired in terms of peppiness
- 18mph top speed motor may be frustrating for those wishing to go faster down hills or just in general
- Expensive price point considering the motor power and battery system
- Plastic battery pack design can rattle around more than an integrated design
- Rear rack is not ideal for clip on panniers, works best with double sided ones that lay across the rack.