BESV is part of the Darfon Innovation Corp. which, at the time of this review, was the world leader in producing integrated laptop keyboards. They also make power supplies, human interface devices and other electronics and have over 20k employees worldwide… that’s a solid foundation to build electric bikes from and some of their earliest models from 2015 impressed a lot of people including me. The Jaguar model is brand new for 2016 and builds on some of the strength of the earlier Lion LX1 and Panther PS1. The JS1 looks great and has a lot of purpose built electronics but is quite a bit more affordable than those other two models. Overall, I’m impressed that they were able to offer a 500 watt motor, brand name Lithium-ion battery cells, integrated lights, quality fenders and a mid-level Shimano Alivio drivetrain for under $3k with a two year warranty (on the motor and battery) and also have two separate color choices!
The JS1 is my favorite bike in the BESV lineup so far because I appreciate, and am willing to pay more for, some of the quality touch points like ergonomic grips and upgraded suspension fork. Considering the bike only comes in one frame size, it’s pretty adaptable to short and mid sized riders and offers a comfortable and safe upright seating position. I’ve commuted to work by bicycle for many years and the zippy 20 mph top speed offered here is perfect. Even though this is a Class 1 pedal assist only electric bike, meaning it doesn’t offer throttle mode, I noticed that it was very responsive and not overly tiring to pedal with. With some torque sensing ebikes you really have to pedal and push… which might suite mountain bikers but can be tiring and defeat the purpose for people who just what to get somewhere efficiently. The system uses a dual-sensor torque sensing bottom bracket to respond naturally as you pedal along. This helps to extend range and qualifies the bike to be used legally in the greatest number of environments vs. Class 2 or Class 3.
At the end of the day, the Jaguar ebike is all about city and urban riding and the slick 700c tires are both efficient and tough. They’re made by Schwalbe and include puncture resistant lining meant to reduce the potential for flats. If something does go wrong, you’ve got a quick release skewer on the front which makes servicing easier but the rear wheel is standard bolt-on so you’ll need tools for that. I noticed the seat tube is not quick release but if you’re the only one riding and want to avoid tampering or seat theft at a public bike rack, that’s not such a bad thing. There’s actually a lot in the way of “built in” and security on this electric bike. The battery pack, while removable, clicks in using a keyed lock and the display panel is completely integrated into the custom stem. There’s no way to angle the display or remove it but it also stays out of the way, is better protected in the event of a tip or during transport and it’s more aerodynamic than a bar mounted aftermarket option. This is where BESV / Darfon shine, they make custom electronic solutions for computers and they are leveraging their knowledge to refine electric bikes.
Riding the BESV JS1 is fluid and extremely quiet but it also feels capable. You’ve got a 500 watt gearless direct drive hub motor from TDCM (a longstanding ebike motor maker) at your disposal. And while it’s heavier than a geared alternative, it’s also probably more durable. I would love to have regeneration or regenerative braking here (the levers have motor inhibitors and could activate it, you think Darfon would be able to add this sort of functionality easily given their expertise in power supply manufacturing) but at this price point I don’t miss it too much. The battery pack offers an above-average 36 volt 11.4 amp hour capacity and is fairly small and light weight so the cells are likely the premium energy dense options from LG. The pack slides in and out easily and even has a little carry handle. You can charge it on or off the bike which is handy for those who park their bikes inside and want to avoid extra steps and potential drops of the battery and the charger itself is super light weight ~1.1 lbs as mentioned in the video review above.
There’s really a lot to say about this e-bike and to me it’s exciting because it feels within reach in terms of price. For something that looks so beautiful, it doesn’t compromise on comfort and is easy to mount. The bike has a great warranty and lots of upgrades included in the price. I would like to see a bottle cage mounting point somewhere and I’d like to be able to remove the key when riding as it could jingle or even snag and get bent if you swing your leg through without looking. The frame felt solid but did suffer from a bit of jiggle as with most single tube step-thru designs and this type of frame may be difficult to mount on busses or certain hanging style car racks without an extra bar adapter like this. Apparently BESV stands for Beautiful, Eco-Friendly, Smarter, Vision and I can appreciate the beauty in their designs compared with some other ebikes that feel more generic. It appears they’ve won several design awards for their products over the years in China’s Taipei Cycle Show and Germany’s Red Dot as well as Eurobike. I loved the matte black color option because it matched the suspension fork, motor and other accessories and hid the cables. I also liked the remote lockout for the fork because there are times (especially on paved roads) where you just don’t need or want the extra bob but also don’t want to bend far forward or stop to change the settings. Good stuff all around with this one, I’m excited to see how BESV continues to innovate with their designs and keep prices reasonable in the years to come.
- Excellent feature set with high quality fenders, front and rear lights, a bell and a kickstand, the only additional feature might be a rack and bottle cage bosses
- The oversized Schwalbe Energizer Plus tires compliment the urban suspension fork nicely to smooth out little bumps and uneven terrain
- Available in two beautiful color schemes (his and hers possibly?) the matte black helps the cables to blend in a bit more and matches the motor hub and suspension fork perfectly
- Mid-grade component set including large 180 mm mechanical disc brakes, locking ergonomic grips and a nine speed Shimano Alivio drivetrain
- Compatible with a smart phone app using Bluetooth connectivity, track your rides and get more detailed information about performance
- In my opinion the Jaguar ebike offers some of the best value from BESV at the ~$3k price point and their warranty is longer than most other companies including two years for the battery and motor
- The torque sensing pedal assist is some of the most responsive I’ve tested, you really don’t need to push hard in order to activate it and the Smart mode is actually pretty good at saving energy but still feeling enjoyable to use
- The key must remain in the “ignition” slot in order to use the electrical systems on the bike and it’s positioned on the downtube where it could get kicked or kneed more easily, I would prefer to be able to remove it because I keep my keys on a keychain and they would probably dangle around a lot possibly scraping the paint and making noise, consider a little carabiner like this as a possible solution
- The frame (being a deep low-step) is a bit more flexy than a traditional triangle, I noticed that the front of the bike felt less stable at high speeds and may be prone to speed wobble
- The gearless direct drive motor is super quiet and smooth but there’s no regenerative braking or energy recapture system in place which is too bad, this type of motor weighs more than geared options so it’s nice to recapture some energy if that option is present
- The seat post is sort of custom (with a hole in the back) designed to work with the integrated rear light and corresponding electrical wire, if you decide to swap it out for a Thudbuster or other seat post suspension you may have to run the wire outside or just not use the rear light
- Only available in one size and it’s fairly short (creating an upright riding position) this is fine for medium and even smaller sized riders but might not work for taller people, I’m 5’9″ and it felt very comfortable
- No quick release on the seat tube which means you’ll need a tool to dial in fit but theft of your seat post and saddle are less likely… but the front wheel does have a quick release making it a target (unless you run a cable through the wheel, I actually like the front quick release)
- No bottle cage bosses on the downtube or seat tube, I’d suggest using a saddle rail adapter but the light is already mounted there, consider a disc brake compatible rear rack with a bag that has an integrated bottle holder like this
- Because the frame on this ebike is more of a step-thru it might not work as well with the hanging style car racks, the front wheel and battery come off to reduce weight so tossing it into a truck could work but if you are using a hitch rack you’ll probably need a platform style rack like this and then the fenders might get in the way of the swing arm that pulls the wheels down into the rack