The A2B Alva offers more of a bicycle riding experience vs. scooter feel that the older Metro (now called the Octave) does. Previously, the Alva was called the Velociti and all of these name changes with A2B electric bicycles is the result of a merger. In 2011 A2B merged with F4W and is now a part of the Hero Eco group… Okay, now that we’re up to speed with names and such, let’s talk about the bike. A2B is known for their classy purpose-built frames with integrated wires, fenders, lights and easy to mount Y-frame. The Alva+ is no different and offers a range of high quality features and power that make it fun and convenient for city riding.
Both the Alva and Alva+ were named to honor Thomas Alva Edison who invented the “long lasting and practical” electric lightbulb. So A2B wants you to know that their gearless rear hub motor and sturdy frame will also be practical and long lasting and they’ve backed it up with a generous five year frame warranty and two year motor, battery and electronics warranty. That’s impressive for any electric bike. The differences bewteen the Alva and Alva Plus, aside from price ($3.4K vs. $3.1K), include the 500 watt motor vs. 480 and larger 13.5 amp hour battery vs. 12 on the Alva. The Alva+ even offers a battery upgrade to 17 amp hours so that works out to 612 watt hours vs. 486 for the standard Plus or 432 for the basic Alva. This is why the quoted “range” of the Alva+ is so much higher with the website stating 40 miles vs. just 20. It really depends on the battery size you choose. Also, you can extend your range greatly on the Alva+ by using pedal assist which in one of three modes: economic, standard or high power. The Alva+ also offers BB7 mechanical disc brakes instead of the BB5’s on the Alva and has another option to upgrade with Tektro Hydraulic disk brakes. The Alva+ also weighs a bit less (66 pounds vs. 69lbs) and offers eight speeds on a Shimano XT system vs. just 7 with a Shimano Alivio.
In summary, the Alva+ should go further because it has a larger battery capacity and pedal assist mode option. Depending on how you ride, this should be true and one of the other big benefits here is a higher top assisted speed of 24 miles per hour. The Alva+ still cuts out at 20mph in throttle mode, but there is a movement towards higher assisted speeds in the US with some ebikes reaching 28mph in what is called “speed pedelec” mode. Controlling the different settings on the Alva+ is a small LCD computer mounted in the center of the handle bars. To turn it on you’ve got to use a small key fob and to change settings you’ve got to twist a little dial. It’s pretty fancy and looks durable but in my experience was harder to reach than some other ebike designs that have break-out button pads located right next to the grips on one side or another. In the video review you can see me riding with one hand while I use my other to twist the little dial.
The motor powering ebike is a 500 watt gearless design that is smooth, quiet and powerful. Gearless motors are known for being durable but also large and heavy. That’s because they use magnets vs. plastic gears and require more physical space to generate power. It’s a heavy motor but it’s capable of climbing and reaching top speed with little effort from the rider. Some gearless motors offer regenerative braking but this is not the case with the Alva or Alva+. This likely saves money on the build and certainly reduces complexity, thus increasing durability. The motor may actually create some resistance when coasting simply because the magnets inside are repelling vs. geared motors which tend to freewheel with a clutch system. All in all, I love the way this motor feels.
The battery pack is mounted to a rear rack arm and connects to the drive system using the new magnetic EnergyBus standard. It’s also removable and has a nice handle built right in so you can slide it off and carry it inside the office or your house for charging at the half way point of your commute. As mentioned previously, the standard battery offers 36 volts of power with 13.5 amp hours of capacity but there is an upgrade option for a 17 amp hour pack that will take you even further. Regardless of the batter you choose you should get decent range using that pedal assist option but in throttle mode expect 20 to 25 miles. The battery itself is enclosed in aluminum and uses durable Samsung cells. One drawback to the design is where it’s mounted on the bike. All of the weight including the motor and battery are at the rear of the bike vs. spreading it out more forward with a downtube design. Also, the rear rack itself uses larger metal tubing that won’t work with many standard bags and panniers. Ultimately, since it’s welded and solidly built this is a minor gripe but worth noting. A2B sells their own rack cargo systems that work with this rack so consider those vs. something off Amazon which might not fit.
Other highlights of this bike include the oversized (but not too oversized) tires that provide some cushion in addition to the front suspension fork. Also, 24″ wheels create a mechanical advantage for the rear hub motor, making it easier to climb hills. The front and rear fenders look beautiful and are extra wide so they cover the tires adequately and should keep your pants and shoes clean in wet conditions. The chain stays on this bike protrude outward and act as a natural chain guard to keep your pants from getting greasy. There’s also a small plastic shield covering the chain and an aluminum chain guard to protect the teeth on the front sprocket. The bike also comes with front and rear LED lights that run off of a dynamo built into the rear motor assembly for improved safety at night, even if your main battery pack runs out. This bike uses torque sensing pedal assist vs. pedelec meaning it is more responsive but requires more force when pedaling to activate. The system features a higher end TMM4 sensor that is super smooth.
In summary, this is a durable commuting style bike that is meant for pedaling. It looks great, has a few neat features and offers lots of utility but it’s also heavy and hard to transport via car or bus racks. Weighing in at 66 pounds it’s one of the heavier models out there and it only comes in a 20″ frame. The step-through design is easy to use and the controls are intuitive but a bit awkward to reach at times. No ebike is perfect but if you love the design of this one, appreciate the warranty and want something that’s going to be durable it could be a great choice. I’ve seen many city dwellers successfully commuting on A2B bicycles and they do hold up. I think these newer models are more polished than ever and I love the adoption of the key fob system and the EnergyBus charging standard.
- Larger tires and suspension fork offer decent comfort though the seat is fairly rigid
- Offers both pedal assist and throttle mode with 20mph and 24mph top speeds respectively
- Front and rear lights run on a dynamo to stay lit even if the battery runs out
- Lighter weight than the standard Alva, 66lbs vs. 69 and also offers one more gear, 8 instead of 7
- Lithium-ion battery pack is durable to withstand many charge cycles and can be removed for charging off the bike
- Battery size can be upgraded from 13.5 to 17 amp hours to increase range
- Disc brakes can be upgraded from Avid BB7 mechanical to Tektro hydraulic for improved precision and reduced hand fatigue
- smaller 24″ wheels provide mechanical advantage to hub motor design offering more torque and improved climbing ability
- Large 500 watt direct drive (gearless) motor is quiet, efficient and very durable, offers more power than the standard Alva’s 480 watt motor
- Beautiful frame design, wires and cables are all integrated for a clean look
- Metal pedals are stiff and durable, offer good traction in wet conditions
- Frame design acts as a chain guard but there is also a plastic cover and bash guard on the front ring protecting sprocket teeth and keeping your pants clean when riding
- Magnetic EnergyBus battery charge port ensures better connection and avoids hurting the interface if the cord gets jerked out
- Fancy key fob provides convenience and security for locking the bike
- Seat is less plush and there is no rear suspension, though it is more comfortable to pedal than the Octave/Metro
- Y-frame design is harder to mount on some car and bus racks, frame only comes in one size at 20″ but step-through is easy to mount
- Gearless motor is larger and heavier than geared equivalents but is more durable
- The battery pack and motor are both mounted in the rear making the frame less balanced from front to back
- No lock-out on the front suspension fork, may decrease efficiency when riding due to “bobbing”
- Tube gauge on the rear rack is larger than standard size and thus, may not work with as many bags and panniers as some other racks
- Dial interface on LCD computer is inconvenient to reach when riding vs. external buttons or a display that is closer to the handle bar grips