- Full suspension, forward positioned pedals and comfort seat make this bike feel like a Vespa scooter
- High power 500 watt gearless rear hub motor provides torque and speed without a lot of noise
- Unique frame design and extra wide tires make parking and locking the bike a bit challenging at times
- Integrated fenders, front and rear lights and computer display work well and look great
The A2B Metro is one of the most iconic electric bikes out there. Its unique design turns heads because unlike other electric bikes, it resembles a scooter and has full suspension. It was one of the earlier entries into the US market, arriving in September 2008, and features top of the line battery, motor and computer system… but it will cost you. The bike is powerful, ergonomic and easy to mount with the low step design which has evolved over the years. It isn’t perfect for every application but it’s one of my favorite bikes for cruising around town because it’s so comfortable and cool.
Worth noting real quick is that Ultra Motor, the UK based company that created the A2B Metro, was acquired by India based Hero Eco in January 2012. For this reason some people refer to the bike as an Ultra Motor, others by just A2B and still others as a Hero Eco. Hope that helps ;)
Back to the bike! The downsides of this design are weight, challenge in locking at bike racks and noise created by the chain running through the spring loaded chain guide. Most electric bikes weigh in around 50 pounds while the Metro is 72. This isn’t a deal killer because the motor is so strong and efficient but lifting the bike and even pedaling can be a challenge.
The vast majority of electric bikes out there use 26″ or 29″ wheels but the A2B Metro uses much smaller 20″ wheels. One benefit is increased torque and the other is lower center of gravity. The rear wheel on this bike needed room to travel up and down because of the built in shock. Had the bike been designed with larger wheels like it’s sister the A2B Velociti, the rider would have been positioned much higher and the relaxed position would have been compromised.
The wheels themselves work well but the distance between the rear hub and bottom bracket (where the pedals connect to the frame) is quite far. In order to keep the chain from falling off or whacking the frame, a spring loaded chain guide has been added and that makes a bit more noise with added friction when pedaling. I do feel like there’s one downside to the current design and that is ground clearance. Look at the picture below real quick, even though the chain is elevated way up out of the way, the kickstand still hangs down and can hit curbs and other elevated obstacles. To me this is a miss and I wish the kickstand was placed more out of the way. In my time riding this bike the kickstand also bounced when going over bumps which is annoying. I’m not a big fan of these motorcycle-style double sided kickstands. I usually take them off and replace with a side folding design but with the Metro, since weight is such a factor, it’s worth leaving on.
The tires on this bike are a blessing and a curse. The upside is that they absorb energy and shock because they are wider and contain more air than traditional tires. They corner well, grip the road and look amazing. The downside is that the increased surface area exposes them to more punctures and many riders have expressed frustration in the overall quality of the tire material itself. They work fine for streets but considering the dual suspension setup and temptation of going off road, flats could be an issue and they aren’t as easy to fix at a bike shop because the tubes are an untraditional size.
My favorite part about this bike is the seat and upright positioning. It feels a lot like riding a Vespa, and that’s a good thing! The seat is soft and comfortable, the handles are close so you don’t have to lean forward and strain your neck and back. You’re kept relatively low to the ground so leaning sideways isn’t physically demanding. Check out the picture again, see how the pedals are further forward? This makes for a more comfortable ride. Your feat easily reach the pedals and feel relaxed. None of this really helps you pedal the bike but that’s not really one of the strong suites of this model, it doesn’t even have pedal assist.
In terms of parking and locking this bike, there are a few challenges worth noting. The tires are extra large which makes them harder to squeeze into some racks. The frame is thick and doesn’t incorporate a large triangle, like most standard bicycles, which means you have to be creative and use a cable to lock up. The good news is, this bike requires a key to start and it’s heavy so that makes it much harder to steal. While we’re on the topic of keys I should note, on the first generation design of the A2B Metro the key was actually placed on the top side of the downtube vs. the handlebars. This made it susceptible to getting kicked when mounting or dismounting. The design has been changed in subsequent generations but it’s one way to tell older models apart. Now the ignition switch is positioned on handlebars and a fancy speedometer has also been added.
This bike does well on range with the stock battery which is mounted inside the downtube. This positioning helps to distribute weight evenly from front to rear and keep the center of gravity low, making it natural to handle. The downside here is that the battery is harder to remove for charging; it’s really designed to be charged on the bike. If your commute is extra long, there is an option for a second battery pack that mounts to the rear rack portion of the frame. This changes the weight distribution a little bit, and makes the shock more bouncy, but looks good and is much easier to remove for charging.
If you’re looking for a smooth ride with comfortable seating position and powerful motor, this is a great choice. The A2B Metro is a very capable bike and it’s fun to ride. The cables are all integrated into the frame, the speedometer is sleek and the keyed ignition creates good security, especially paired with the weight. If you’re shopping for a stylish, efficient transporter ,this is a good choice. But if you want to blend in a bit more and take advantage of traditional bicycle racks and accessories, this bike may not be right for you.
- Built in front and rear LED lights
- Built in front and rear fenders
- Keyed on/off switch to prevent tampering at the bike rack
- Integrated cables for a clean design
- Dual shocks smooth out the ride without creating flex in frame or wobbling
- Super comfortable seat and upright riding position
- Powerful, smooth and quiet 500 watt rear hub motor is brushless and gearless
- Harder to attach on bike racks or car racks
- Larger surface area on mid-grade tires susceptible to flats
- Pedals don’t offer as much traction as some with spikes, be careful in the rain
- Louder pedaling because of chain guide and extended chain
- Low hanging kickstand, bounces when going over bumps
- Official Site: http://a2b.ultramotor.com/en/metro
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/qRfPvViwD6PMkXj56