- An affordable mid-level electric bike that's comfortable on trails or commuting, offers a clean tidy look
- Offers pedal assist and throttle mode, middrive motor is a capable hill climber if you choose an easy gear
- Battery uses high quality Panasonic cells, is secured well to the frame with extra mounting points, locks to the frame but can also be charged off and is positioned low and center on the bike for great balance
- Decent six month warranty, comfortable ergonomic grips and basic suspension fork, capable eight speed cassette with Shimano Acera derailleur
$0 (0 €)$38,500 (36,190 €)
0 lbs (0 kg)175 lbs (79 kg)
0 mph (0.0 km/hr)50 mph (80.5 km/hr)
0 watt3,000 watt
0 in (0.00 cm)22 in (55.88 cm)
0 Newton meters160 Nm
The BM-Shadow is the most affordable offering from BMEBIKES, an electric bike company based in North Los Angeles that’s dedicated to off-road electric bikes. Their slogan is “electric mountain bike specialists” but to me, the Shadow is more of a trail bike because it uses the standard (larger) size front chainring that comes stock with the BBS01 mid-drive motor from Bafang (8Fun). That’s not a bad thing, in fact this model performs well on street, trail and even light mountain terrain but may struggle with prolonged climbs and ultimately overheat. That’s why all of the other BMEBIKES models come with an aftermarket Raceface NW sprocket in the front that’s a smaller diameter with fewer teeth. The Shadow 1.5 is an exciting model to me because it looks great, is well balanced, has a premium battery and comes in multiple sizes (17″, 19″ and 21″). You get a lot for your money here and there’s no reason you couldn’t pay a bit more for the smaller chain ring if you intend to climb a lot (these guys do custom orders) and upgrade the fork independently at a later date for improved performance, weight savings and lockout.
Driving this bike is a BBS01 middrive motor that’s mounted to the bottom bracket. It’s a compact, versatile drive system that keeps weight low and centered on the frame while leveraging your rear cassette for efficiency and strength. Even though it’s not as sophisticated as a Bosch or Impulse centerdrive, it’s a big step up from the older EVELO and iGo mid-drives I’ve tested. While it offers throttle on demand and pedal assist modes (using a built in cadence sensor) it does not include shift detection and may strain the rear derailleur, chain and cassette if you don’t shift gears carefully. To minimize this I found myself letting up a bit on the pedals while shifting and occasionally tapping the brakes (which have a built in motor inhibitor switch). The motor itself is compact, quiet and surprisingly strong for a 350 watt design… in practice I regularly topped out at over 600 watts when climbing so perhaps the rating is a bit misleading. I was told the amp output is slightly higher than average at 18 amps which might account for the increased power. For the money, the BBS01 is a solid aftermarket motor and the stock black casing matches the flat black color scheme that BMEBIKES is known for.
The battery powering the BM Shadow electric bike uses premium Panasonic cells that deliver a higher discharge rate (higher C Rating), offer higher energy density (lighter for the same amount of stored energy) and extended life (should age well). To really take care of the pack, store it in a cool dry place when not in use and try to keep it between 20% and 80% charged when not in use. The cells are all 18650 sized and are packed into one of the sleekest aftermarket packs I’ve seen. It slides easily onto a metal rail that’s mounted to the downtube and includes a keyed lock for security. Unlike some other packs, this one does not require you to press an on/off button before activating the display panel and that saves time and avoids confusion when troubleshooting. I really came to appreciate this battery for the price, weight, aesthetic balance it offers and even though it’s about average with 36 volts and an 8.8 amp hour capacity, you actually get a pretty decent range depending on how you ride. For a 170 pound rider on flat pavement I’d estimate 20 miles using throttle only… but if you switch to pedal assist and just tap the throttle occasionally to start or get up a small hill, you could easily double that.
The drive system on this bike offers a lot of modes but really isn’t that complicated to use and the cockpit is clean and intuitive. Once the battery is secured to the frame you press a rubberized power button on the button pad (mounted near the left grip). This activates the backlit Bafang display panel (front and center) and shows your speed, battery level, assist level (preset 1-3 but configurable to 5 or 9 levels), watt output and trip distance. Unfortunately, the display doesn’t swivel easily and is not removable but otherwise it’s sleek and easy to read. When you first turn the system on, assist is actually set to zero and unfortunately you cannot activate the throttle in this mode… that’s one of my gripes because sometimes you don’t want assist to accidentally kick in while navigating difficult terrain. Once you click up to 1, 2 or 3 then pedal assist becomes active and anytime you turn the cranks the motor begins to spin. In any of the assist levels you can also use the trigger throttle for an extra boost as an override but power is somewhat limited by the mode you’re in. This is another area where I feel like the system could be improved, I’d prefer the throttle just go to full power in any assist mode because it’s a variable speed design and I might need the extra power in a pinch. I do like that they chose a trigger throttle here instead of a half-twist design because this keeps the grips more secure feeling. As mentioned earlier, the mid-drive motor helps you pull the chain and therefore benefits from the rear cassette just like you do. If you’re climbing a hill, just switch to a lower gear to help the motor (and you) make it up. With eight gears to choose from the system is very capable and offers a smooth cadence from zero to ~25 mph when pedaling (the motor cuts out around 20).
While the BM-Shadow probably wouldn’t be my first choice for true mountain biking given the basic suspension fork and speed-geared sprocket, it’s no slouch on the trail and performed quite well for the video review. I love that the battery mount was designed with extra rivet nuts for strength and that the brake levers offer a motor cutoff switch because the BBSO1 is known for a slight lag in cutoff (the motor keeps going for a moment even after you’ve stopped pedaling). Some of the components here are basic but they get the job done and were chosen carefully to match the look and perform well. These include the rubber semi-ergonomic grips and entry level Zoom mechanical disc brakes. With this electric bike you’re basically getting a solid drive system mated to a traditional mountain bike frame and that means the wires aren’t integrated as nicely as something like an Easy Motion EVO Cross. I love that you get a six month warranty on the batter and motor here (the frame is warrantied for a year). And I love that the frame is available in three standard sizes for those shorter or taller riders. This could be an excellent first electric bike that doesn’t cost so much and is capable of double-duty as a commuter given the mounting points at the rear (for adding a rack).
- Excellent weight distribution with the motor and battery low and centered on the frame, also relatively light weight at ~46 pounds
- High quality battery made with Panasonic Lithium-ion cells, they should last longer and have a higher discharge rate than cheaper packs, I also like the the pack doesn’t require its own on/off switch
- Sturdy reinforced battery bracket, in addition to using the standard braze-ons BMEBIKES also adds rivnuts which create more mounting points on the downtube for strength
- Fairly affordable given the solid performance and true off-road capabilities, it also looks nice in all-black and isn’t busy or cheap looking
- Available in three frame sizes including 17 inch, 19 inch and 21 inch for improved rider fit
- Decent components ranging from an 8 speed cassette with Shimano Acera derailleur, 160 millimeter mechanical disc brakes and a backlit lCD display panel
- Independent button pad is mounted close enough to reach without taking your hand off the grip, the trigger throttle is also nearby and doesn’t compromise the grip the way a twist throttle might which is a good solution for off-road use
- Quick release wheels, front and rear, thanks to the mid-drive motor… this makes servicing and trail maintenance easier as well as transporting the bike if you have to stuff it in your car
- Battery is locking and removable for convenient charging and reduced weight during transport
- Mounting points for fenders at the front and rear as well as seat stay braze ons at the back for adding a carry rack if you want to use it for commuting
- Six month warranty is better than nothing and the company has been around since 2010 and has a retail shop where you can see the bikes or pick up locally
- Standard BBS01 chainring is a bit large for off-road riding and the motor may overheat and shut down if you aren’t pedaling while ascending large hills
- Bottle cage bosses are not accessible on the seat tube and the battery pack takes the space where they might otherwise mount, get a Camelbak
- Because this isn’t a purpose-built (specifically to be used for an electric bike) the wires aren’t integrated and create a bit more clutter… the black frame helps them to blend in
- Many of the extras are basic including plastic FPD pedals, non-locking rubber ergonomic grips and Zoom suspension fork
- The BBS01 mid-drive motor does not offer shift sensing and may mash gears as a result, ease off the pedals or tap the brake to cut power while shifting to reduce wear on the chain and sprockets
- Display panel can be adjusted to swivel but may require a tool and the LCD screen is not removable for safe storage
- Official Site: https://bmebikes.myshopify.com/products/bm-shadow-1-5
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/BrKhu2L8NRUjprzR8