- A feature-complete cruiser style electric bicycle with paint-matched fork, fenders, rear rack, chain cover, and motor casing, available in three frame sizes with adjustable stem for good fit
- Large sprung saddle, puffy stitched grips, swept back handlebars, and the deep step-thru frame make this an approachable and comfortable e-bike, your body position will be more upright and relaxed
- Internally geared 7-speed Shimano Nexus hub can be shifted at standstill and isn't as vulnerable as a traditional derailleur (though it does weigh more and can shift slower), Bosch Active Line Plus motor is light and compact
- Smaller Bosch Purion display might be harder for some people to read when upright, it's not removable and the button pad can be finnicky, rear-rack battery contributes to frame flex and speed wobble, unique seat post size
EBR charges a service fee to manufacturers to produce ebike reviews and videos. It’s the same flat fee for each bike, and it helps us to keep the site going while limiting ad clutter. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you with our opinions and data but respect your right to know that we receive compensation :)
To me, cruiser style bicycles are a perfect fit for electric assist. They tend to be heavy and inefficient and yet, appeal to riders who just want to sit upright and relax. Some of these riders might have sensitive knees or hips as I do, and some may only ride on the weekends for fun and want help climbing hills or dealing with wind. I personally believe that the cruiser design a matter of form over function, they look beautiful and fun which overshadows the oft-limited performance. Old-school beach cruisers often have just one gear which makes them difficult to start and exhausting to ride at higher speeds because you have to spin so fast… and yet, a single speed means only one chainring and sprocket so you don’t drop the chain or have mechanical complexity to deal with. To many of these challenges and trade-offs, the BULLS Cruiser E provides thoughtful solutions. It’s not a perfect electric bike, but it does a lot of things right in my opinion. You get one of the most reliable, compact, and lightweight mid-motors on the market today paired with a high-capacity battery pack and a durable 7-speed internally geared hub, headlights, fenders, and three frame size options! Compared to many of the early cruiser style ebikes I have reviewed, this one is priced a bit higher but improves weight distribution, efficiency, and overall reliability. So many times, electric cruisers will opt for rear-mounted hub motors and a rear-rack battery. This introduces frame flex and interferes with handling while forcing a cassette and derailleur which can get bent and damaged at racks or if the bike tips. Bulls has overcome these challenges but the fancier parts increase the price a bit and the bike still suffers from a bit of frame flex and speed wobble. I love that more shops are carrying this brand in the US because I think it strikes a balance between cost and performance, and you get hands-on support for fitting and warranty work (the bike has a two year comprehensive warranty). If you like the way it looks and are okay with a quieter, more efficient mid-motor from Bosch, then it could be a good fit.
Driving the bike is a brand new centerdrive from Bosch called the Active Line Plus. This thing weighs 7.05 lbs vs. 8.8 lbs on the higher powered Performance models. It’s compact, encased in a white cover that matches the frame, and runs very quiet. Most of the older Bosch motors used a reduction gear that would spin a tiny chainring 2.5x for each crank arm revolution. This conversion required a bit of extra work and probably added to the noise profile, but it offered better chain retention and faster starts and stops… ideal for mountain biking. With the new Active Line motors, you get a standard 1 to 1 chainring that still starts and stops quickly but isn’t as capable of support at higher RPM pedaling, it only reaches 105 RPM vs. 120 RPM, and that means you have to switch gears more frequently to maximize speed vs. simply pedaling faster. In practice, it’s not something most casual riders will notice, and you’ll probably appreciate the quieter, smoother feel here for cruising. Another trade-off is the 50 Newton meter torque maximum vs. 63 Nm or 75 Nm on the Performance and Performance CX systems. Again, if this trade-off is what allowed them to make the motor compact, lightweight, and quiet, then it’s a win in my book. The bike can still climb effectively, especially in the highest level of assist when you shift to a lower gear. And the gear range is pretty good here, I like internally geared drivetrains because they tend to stay cleaner and stay true longer than derailleurs. There’s a single chainring and just one sprocket at the back, just like the original cruisers, so your chain won’t fall off easily or bounce around on bumpy sections of road, but you still get gears! Shifting is intuitive with the half-grip shifter on the right portion of the handlebar. There’s even a little window with numbers to help you learn and master the gears. Higher gears have higher numbers and allow you to go faster while lower gears have lower numbers and are great for starting and climbing. I love that you can shift from standstill with internally geared hubs like this, but they can take some getting used to. If you try to shift while putting pressure on the system (either by pedaling or through the motor) then it won’t click into place right away. This is a self-protection mechanism, just ease off a bit and let it click into place. If you’re starting from rest, ease off of the pedals and shift, maybe rock the bike back and forth a bit to get it into place. The Shimano Nexus Inter7 isn’t top of the line, but it’s well-suited to cruising and I think it was a good choice for the Cruiser E.
Power is one thing, but stopping is also important! To ensure that stops could be made efficiently and comfortably for riders of different strengths and sizes, BULLS chose to install high-performance hydraulic rim brakes from Magura. They work fantastically compared to old-fashioned mechanical brakes and give you plenty of mechanical advantage over the large 28″ wheels because they grab out at the rim vs. near the center like disc brakes. They shouldn’t overheat or have any problem stopping you, the 56 pound bike, and any cargo that has been mounted to the rear rack. I absolutely love the quick-release lever design that disables the brakes and makes wheel maintenance easy, and the tool-free adjustable brake levers are a breeze to adjust. They can be brought in a bit for riders who have smaller hands or those wearing gloves or left out to feel comfortable for larger hands. Again, the bike comes in three sizes so having some adjustability on the brakes is wonderful, and that follows to the adjustable height quill stem, handlebar, and seat post. Some bicycles have tool-free adjustable stems but they can get loose, so I think BULLS chose well with standard hardware here (plus it looks nice in silver) and it’s the kind of thing you can setup once and tighten down. The one question mark for me about the frames however, is that the saddle might not go completely down because of the rear rack and battery positioning. Note also that the 28″ wheels bring the entire frame up higher than 26″ wheels would… yes, they lower the attack angle of the tires and smooth out cracks, the offer higher air volume for comfort and I love that the tires are reflective and have puncture protection lining, I just wonder if smaller wheels would make the bike more approachable and stable?
Powering the bike is a high-capacity Bosch Powerpack 500 rack-style battery pack. I’m much more used to seeing the downtube version of this battery, which weighs ~0.2 lbs less and distributes weight more evenly across the frame. I believe BULLS chose this battery because it allowed them to free up the center section of the bike and lower stand-over height. The pack can be charged on or off the frame, fills quickly with the 4 Amp charger, and has a handle molded into the back end for easy transport. Surrounding the pack is an Aluminum alloy rack with special narrow-gauge sections for hanging panniers on both sides and a flat section with spring-latch on top for quick use or a trunk bag. Because the bike does not have bottle cage bosses, this rear rack would be a good location to carry water, perhaps in a trunk bag with a bottle holster like this. All things considered, the rear rack and battery placement are good, but they do contribute to frame flex. I love that this battery powers more than just the motor, it also runs the headlight and rear light, but I feel that these accessories are kind of basic. The headlight has a plastic shell but is aimable and the back light uses one little LED but offers a wide reflective surface. The fact that this electric bicycle only comes in one color option, metallic white, and has reflective tires AND two integrated lights is still above average :)
Operating the main functions of the Cruiser E is very simple, just charge the battery pack, mount it, and press the power button at the top edge of the little Purion display panel which is situated within reach of the left grip. The display comes to life very quickly showing your battery charge level, current speed, and level of pedal assist. There are four levels to choose from and the higher you go, the more power and speed you get but the battery will also drain faster. Simply press the + and – keys to navigate through Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo mode… or you can arrow down to off and ride the bike without assist but still use the lights! In order to activate the lights, you need to hold the plus button on the display for a few moments until you see the icon appear at the lower left corner of the display. Note that the display itself is backlit constantly by a faint white glow. It works great in early morning or late night settings and I could even see it glowing in the parking garage where we filmed a portion of the video review above. The display itself is good, offering high contrast with black on white, but it’s not as big as the Bosch Intuvia display panel which can swivel to reduce glare, be removed for safe keeping, and charge portable electronics on the go with a Micro USB port. Yes, the Intuvia also has a Micro USB port, but it’s not active for power, just software updates that the shop can provide over time if necessary. I feel that the Intuvia has a more responsive button pad and that it’s easier to read because it’s larger… and there are ebike shops out there who can retrofit this display for an up-charge if you ask. For the most consistent clicking and interaction with the Purion, I tend to press near the display vs. closer to the left edge, the buttons pivot at an angle with the hinge being close to the left edge. Other special features of the Purion include switching from assist level to trip distance, odometer, and range by holding the minus key for a few seconds. Range is especially interesting because it calculates in realtime based on your battery level, current level of assist, and the last mile of usage. Considering that the battery infographic is just a 5-bar readout (20% steps) the Range readouts are much more precise.
I came into this review very excited about the BULLS Cruiser E because it looks beautiful, comes in many sizes, and uses one of the best motor systems on the market. This thing measures your rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque, 1,000+ times per second. The large battery provides incredible range, the hydraulic rim brakes are almost overkill for most applications, and the matching accessories, internally routed cables, and ergonomic fit options are wonderful. However, the steel fork and steel fenders could rust if scratched. I’m used to seeing plastic or Aluminum alloy fenders from other companies. The larger wheel diameter, rear rack battery, and mid-frame design did flex a bit when I pedaled hard and I did experience some speed wobble when riding with no hands at the 15 mph speed. I wonder how this bike would perform with 26″ tires and if they could figure out how to further strength the mid-section to reduce flex. But keep in mind, I’m a more sporty rider who is pushing these bikes and really trying to find out where the compromises and weak points are. The pedals, for example, are pretty basic and cheap and it appears that there is a mounting point for a deflopilator spring to help steady the front fork but I did not see one installed on the demo unit. Feel free to chime in with your own experience and insights if you see this bike in the wild. I trust BULLS, am excited to have options like this that improve on hub motor designs, and Bosch has been a clear leader in performance and reliability over the past several years. For most applications, I think this electric bike would perform well, but I do question how the upright body position (which puts weight further back over the rear wheel) combined with the rack-mounted battery and perhaps extra cargo on that rack to create some stability issues. I have seen comments from some riders in 2017 who complained about speed wobble on the BULLS Lacuba EVO E8 and I have done my best to present what that means and how it could impact performance on similar models (and not just from BULLS, but most cruiser rear-heavy designs). Big thanks to BULLS for partnering with me on this post, inviting me to their North America headquarters and allowing their bikes to be tested all around town, back to back. Also, to my friend Ricky for doing the test rides with me :D
- This is one of the quietest, most efficient, cruiser style electric bikes I have tested because it’s running the Bosch Active Line motor and larger Powerpack 500 battery pack
- The Active Line Plus motor uses a standard sized chainring compared to the Performance Line models (and the first generation Active Line) which means there is no reduction gear creating drag internally, you can even pedal the chain backwards which can be handy for maintenance
- You can get this electric bike in three different sizes and the deep wave style step-thru frame is very easy to mount and stand over, making the bike more accessible to people with knee or hip sensitivity
- Safety is a priority for me and the integrated lights are wonderful, they run off of the main battery pack and are activated with the control panel (by holding the plus button for a couple of seconds) so people won’t be able to steal them as easily and you won’t forget to turn them off when you’re done riding, I also love the reflective stripes on the tires!
- Rim brakes provide an enormous mechanical advantage and tend to stay cooler than disc brakes but aren’t often used on off-road models because of dust and water, they’re right at home with the BULLS Cruiser E however, and are setup as hydraulic vs. mechanical which makes them easier to pull and allows for adjustable-reach levers (that offer tool-free adjustment in this case) that work well for smaller hands
- Your pants, dress, or skirt should stay very clean and dry on this e-bike thanks to the metal fenders (also paint matched to look great) and the plastic chain cover
- The higher-volume tires, large sprung saddle, and puffy faux leather grips compliment the swept-back handlebar and adjustable-height quill stem to provide a relaxed upright body position that’s comfortable
- Internally geared hubs tend to be durable and offer shifting at standstill, this can come in handy if you stop half way up a hill and need to start again from zero, especially given the ~56 lb weight of the bike, they also tend to be tough because there isn’t a derailleur hanging down on the right side of the hub which could get bent at racks or if the bike tips onto its side
- The rear rack is very useful because there’s a spring latch on top for quick stowing, full coverage around the battery pack that can be used for a trunk bag on top, and extra support arms on the side designed for hanging pannier bags, in the future it would be nice to see some loops near the base of the rack support arm for bungees and pannier clasps but these are still pretty good
- The Bosch Active Line motor is almost two pounds lighter than the Performance Line models and it’s also physically smaller and more hidden behind the chainring, I like that they got a white casing cover to help it blend in even more… and notice how many of the black wires are internally routed on this frame to keep it clean looking
- Nice kickstand placement, it’s positioned out of the way and won’t collide with the left crank arm like center stands and the Hebie model they used offers some adjustable length, the stand is right there beneath the battery and rack which is good for stability, the rear wheel has thicker 13 gauge spokes that also provide strength for the rear rack and cargo (my guess is that you could load ~50 lbs of cargo on this rack based on what I have seen from other bikes and racks)
- The chain should rarely, if ever, fall off on this bike because there’s only one chainring and one sprocket in the back, it’s tough and requires less maintenance but the trade-off is higher price and weight for an internally geared hub
- The battery can be charged on or off the bike frame, uses a faster 4 Amp charger which only takes 4.5 to 5 hours for a complete fill, and it has an LED charge indicator built into the side for convenience, I also like that it has a handle built into the back for safer carrying
- The key that you use to secure the battery pack is also used for the rear wheel lock, this is called a frame lock or “cafe lock” and it allows you to quickly disable the bike for a short errand without messing with a full sized u-lock or cables… what’s really neat is that you also get a chain that plugs into the cafe lock for extra security!
- I like that BULLS has enabled walk mode, just press the walk mode button once the bike has been turned on and then hold + to have the motor help you slowly, this is handy if you get a flat tire, have to cross soft terrain like sand, or if you have a full rack of groceries or something and want to walk slowly with a friend or through a crowded non-bikeable area
- BULLS products are sold through shops that can help you get fitted, perform ongoing maintenance, and connect you with the two year comprehensive warranty that Bosch offers, it costs more than buying some online-direct ebikes but you get excellent service
- The frame is clearly reinforced with a top tube, down tube, and interlinking tube sections, but there is still some frame flex and even a bit of wobble if you take your hands off the bar, this is because the battery is up high and towards the rear and the relaxed geometry also puts your body weight further back… note the little hole on the fork and below the downtube where a deflopilator spring could be added to maybe help with this?
- It’s only available in one color for now, but at least it’s bright to keep you visible in dark riding conditions, and I like that the fork, rear rack, and chain cover all match
- Steel fenders tend to be sturdy but if they get scratched, they could rust compared to plastic or Aluminum, same thing goes for the steel fork which offers strength and vibration dampening but could rust
- I was really surprised to see that BULLS made all three sizes of this bike with large 28″ tires vs. lower 26″
which would make the bike more approachable but still comfortable and steady given the medium-width 2″ wide tires
- The Bosch Purion display panel is cute and compact but I prefer the larger Bosch Intuvia because it’s easier to read, has more consistent buttons, is removable for safe storage, and has a Micro USB port on the right side for charging portable electronics while riding (useful for phone GPS on the go), some shops can help you upgrade from Purion to Intuvia if you pay for it
- The seat post diameter is kind of unique at 30.0 mm vs. 31.6 mm or 27.2 mm and that could make upgrades difficult, I often seek out suspension seat posts to improve comfort but you might need a shim for that sort of thing here
- There are no bottle cage bosses here so you might want to use a handlebar adapter like this to carry your drink, or you could get a trunk bag with a bottle holster like this
- The cage style Wellgo pedals that come with this electric bicycle are not my favorite because they can get bent and don’t offer as much surface area as I’d like (as someone with medium sized 9.5 shoes) so I’d probably upgrade to some white Aluminum alloy platforms from Wellgo like this of you could go for lightweight magnesium pedals (also in white) like these
- The Bosch Active Line Plus motor is only designed to support pedaling up to 105 RPM vs. 120 RPM on the Performance Line motors, in practice this means you have to shift gears more frequently to reach higher speeds vs. simply pedaling faster, but the 7-speed drivetrain on this model should easily support the 0 to 20 mph top assisted speed
- I noticed that the rear rack is positioned further back so you can drop the saddle down pretty low… but it didn’t appear to be completely out of the way and thus, you may not be able to lower the seat quite as low as some other cruiser models (this adds to the already tall 28″ wheels vs. 26″ or even 24″ as seen on the Pedego 24″ Cruiser)