- A custom designed, relaxed upright, ergonomic electric bicycle with highly adjustable padded seat and backrest, riser handlebar, and feet-forward frame
- Available in three frame sizes, supports riders up to 400 lbs, offers eight pedal speeds, five levels of assist, trigger throttle operation, and mechanical disc brakes
- Option for black, champaign, or red frame color, unique backrest-bag provides storage space for the battery charger and other small personal items, raked fork offers stability
- Built-in bottle cage bosses, rear rack eyelets, and fender mounting points expand utility, great weight distribution and battery protection, shift detection to protect gears
Day 6 has been on my radar for quite a while, this is a company that set out to create a new type of bicycle frame that would feel natural and alleviate lower back, neck, shoulder, arm, hip, and leg pain while also reducing the chances of a tip or hangup when mounting or dismounting. Founded in 2006, they claim over five years of engineering research to create the first bikes and have since expanded to offer an five-model range of electrified product offerings. From my perspective, their unique bicycles combined the strengths of a recumbent design with those of a more traditional upright cruiser. And surprisingly, they aren’t as heavy as I had first expected, the large sized Samson that I reviewed with help from my 6’2″ friend Sam, only weighed ~56 lbs with the battery pack attached. What you get here is a crank-forward experience that offers a blend of stability and leg extension, an extra-large seat with sturdy backrest for support, and a mid-step reinforced frame that feels stiff and strong (supporting up to 400 lbs). Despite the large visual footprint, this bike is not so difficult to mount because the stand over height is just 23 inches. Notice the 26″ wheels and raked out fork, the mid-drive motor and downtube mounted battery pack that all work together for a low center of gravity. Even though the motor system is an aftermarket kit type, it has been installed in such a way that the motor is secure, offers great power delivery and efficiency, and the battery is protected by the frame tubing. Even the display panel, which is fairly large, is easy to access and interact with using a three-button control pad mounted near the left grip. One grip here however, is that the handlebar is so tall, the wire running from the display to the button pad gets stretched all the way unless you move the display towards the left a bit as seen in the video and photos above. If you’re someone who is tall and large, the Samson is going to be optimal because it can support the most weight and comes with the most powerful motor options. Compared to the more affordable Dream8 and Journey, which have 350 watt motors and rim brakes, the 750 watt or 1,000 watt Samson will climb better and stop easier with mechanical disc brakes. Just above the Journey, you could get the Cyclone model which offers disc brakes and an internally geared 11-speed hub but the motor is still just 350 watts. The Patriot is just below the Samson and does offer the same powerful motor and battery options… and the Samson is just reinforced for strength at 400 lbs load vs. 300 lb. Note that the model I reviewed here is a 2016 and the latest versions offer enlarged brakes and other minor upgrades. The company seems to be continuously improving their bikes and the founder, Kelly Hutson, had a lot of enthusiasm to share about how they had been listening to customer feedback and even planned to sell their special seat as an aftermarket accessory one day. When I read the Day 6 about-us page on the website, I discovered that the bicycles are an extension of a wheelchair seating system company called the Comfort Company which is still in business. It’s neat to see how the knowledge developed through that venture has been applied in a new way here with bicycles, perhaps the healthy lifestyle of riding longer (even with assist) could keep people out of wheelchairs a little bit longer? Before my gushing gets too far, some of the gripes I had with the model I tested were that the brakes seemed small and used mechanical action vs. hydraulic which requires more hand strength. The chain is extra long and could have benefitted from a guide on the chainring and a slap guard along the right chainstay to protect the paint. And, the kickstand felt flimsy and was not adjustable so the bike felt like it was leaning over too far. Some of these gripes are already being addressed by Day 6 from what Kelly told me.
Driving the Day 6 Samson is a 750 watt or 1,000 watt Bafang BBS02 mid-drive motor. These things are powerful and surprisingly compact. They empower you as a rider, to shift gears and achieve a mechanical advantage for climbing or hitting higher top speeds. With five levels of assist and throttle-on demand (that overrides assist and works in level zero) you get full control. That’s mixed news for people who have MS or limited mobility, because it means you don’t have to pedal to get going or restart from stops (that’s the good news), but it could mean an accidental blast of power if you make a mistake (the less good news…). We had a an “oops” moment when filming the video review as Sam was holding the bike up by the handle bar and grazed the throttle with his finger. We had left the bike on and as a result, the whole thing basically lurched forward and surprised us both. With great power comes great responsibility! And for those who want even more speed, I was told that the system can be unlocked to exceed the 20 mph stock setting. For commuters, maybe that makes sense, but I felt just fine with 20 mph and would probably ride in the lower 2 or 3 level with occasional careful throttle use to zip up to speed or get help climbing especially steep terrain. The bike gives you eight gears to pedal with and a mid-entry-level Shimano Acera derailleur… which is a good choice for urban riding. The trigger shifters have a little window that shows what gear you’re in and they shift easily, I didn’t struggle to reach them while steering and focusing on riding as I have with the cheaper thumb shifters from Shimano. Before the test ride, I was a little bit concerned about how smooth shifting would be, because the motor is quite powerful and uses a cadence sensor vs. torque or multi-sense system. If it weren’t for the upgraded physical shift detector that Day 6 has added (through their relationship with e-RAD), the motor might have put a lot more strain on the chain, rear cassette, and derailleur. As it stands, I was VERY impressed with how smooth shifting was. I had no problems with mashing or grinding during my test rides. The system protects itself and I didn’t feel distracted or worried when shifting the way I have on some other Bafang mid-drive setups.
Powering this bike is a Lithium-ion battery, packed into a sleek downtube-mounted black casing that is sometimes referred to as the shark pack. Older designs, sometimes called the dolphin pack, were taller and bulkier but had an integrated USB port which could be handy. With the shark, Day 6 is able to situate the battery low and center on the frame as mentioned earlier… and they give you the option of three capacity sizes! This means you can opt for saving money or getting the most power and range possible, all in a similar form factor. All batteries are rated at 48 volt but the amp hours range from 11.6 to 14.5 and 17.5 ah. In the video, Sam said “you could mount a second battery to the top tube” but that is likely not possible (especially if you tried to wire it in) and completely unnecessary if you just opt for a larger pack to begin with. These batteries are removable, so I suppose you could carry two packs and then swap one down to the lower mount which is wired in by default… but then that pack would be in the way when you mount the bike and raise the stand over height. No, I think the range of choices that Day 6 offers with their default single-pack setup is great to begin with. And any additional cargo would be best stowed in a trunk bag or panniers if you purchase an aftermarket disc brake compatible rear rack like this. I love that Day 6 included bottle cage bosses, rack bosses, and fender mounting points so that you can customize their products to your liking. There are so many ways to go with this thing, and the fact that it comes in three sizes AND three colors kind of blows my mind. That costs extra money to do, but it gives you more style and uniqueness if say, you and a friend or partner each get one.
Operating the bike is fairly simple and although the display panel is not removable, I like that it’s backlit and swivels to enhance visibility in different lighting environments. The battery can be charged on or off the bike and may take 6+ hours from empty, depending on the size you choose, because the charger is kind of basic. It’s compact and lightweight, but not especially fast at 2 Amps. And so, once the battery pack has been securely mounted to the frame, you just press the power button on the button pad near the left grip for a few seconds. This display blinks on and shows your speed, battery capacity, assist level, and some trip stats that you can cycle through by pressing the power button again briefly. The pad itself is simple and has two plastic clicky buttons that arrow up or down through assist settings… and these button covers are a bit vulnerable if you snag your clothes on them. I noticed that they can get bent up or even rip off if you’re not careful. I only saw this once, but it really stuck with me because I have never seen it happen on other button pads before. Both the trigger throttle and the button pad are mounted on the left portion of the bar by default, and that took some getting used to because I typically see twist throttles and some triggers on the right (like a motorcycle) but the shifter triggers were already in that spot so it would have been crowded or a longer reach had they tried to cram everything in on the right. The whole interface is simple enough that you can memorize the basics (up, down, throttle) and ride without getting distracted. The trigger throttle is especially useful for starting from rest or zipping through an intersection, climbing a short section of hilly terrain without having to shift gears, or catching up with friends or passing slow riders on the trail. As mentioned earlier, there is no USB charging port for accessories, which would have been nice considering the larger battery options, and the bike does not have integrated lights, but you could get some decent rechargeable aftermarket ones from Amazon like these. Just remember to take them off when you stop so nobody steals them… That happened to my Mom once when she was riding with friends, and it’s no fun having to ride home in the dark around cars. Shame on those thieves for endangering a fellow citizen simply for the price of a bike light.
Anyway, I apologize for the longer written review and slightly less exacting video. I should have challenged Sam on the second battery idea, pointed out the lack of a slap guard, and expanded on the importance of shift sensing. I tried to include many afterthoughts and updates in the writeup because the bike was so unique and new to me, I didn’t have the immediate realizations that I sometimes do on more typical hybrid, mountain, and road models… and I was short on time. It’s truly something special, the entire line of Day 6 bicycles. I have often felt uncomfortable on traditional recumbent bikes because the vibration from rough roads and packed trails seems to reverberate through the angled back rest (and possibly headrest) into my body because of the laid-back positioning. All of the weight is on my upper back and neck, so if I try to lift my head, the vibration would stiffen my neck muscles and I would become tired… but if I gave up and let my head rest, my helmet often bumped into the seat and I would sometimes get a headache . On the contrary, many hybrid and cruiser style bicycles still require a bit of forward leaning body position which can create tension in the wrists, upper arms, shoulders, and ultimately the neck. There are some great cruiser saddles out there, large and with rubber bumpers or springs built in, but very few have adjustable back rests. This seat offers something akin to a heavy duty backpack with shoulder, chest, and lower torso straps to help distribute the weight. I imagine that could be a big deal for some heavier riders who experience discomfort trying to manage their own body weight on a tiny saddle. It’s refreshing to experience something new, but this ebike does have its limitations and the price is a big factor. Consider the cheaper models and note that 350 watts is still impressive, and the 300 lb max weight is probably good for a great many people. I personally would not get the 1,000 watt motor upgrade, it steps just beyond the legal electric bicycle limit and that makes me nervous… but I can see the draw for some riders. Part of me was missing suspension, but the steel fork and wider tires offered some vibration dampening and stability. I thought about a seat post suspension, but the larger bars and padded saddle did a great job on their own. Many seat post suspension products could be overwhelmed by the size and weight of this seat and some larger riders and a bit of stiffness is good for control and stability so the stock post works well. Big thanks to Day 6 for partnering with me on this post and to Kelly for spending time answering questions on the phone. I hope to review more of their products in the future, the Journey, Cyclone, and Patriot all have internally geared hub options which can be shifted at standstill and improve durability (and chain stiffness) while adding a bit of weight. I hope this review helps you navigate the different models and get to know the technology a bit better. Keep an eye out for those and explore the Day 6 website for updates on the latest models.
- Specifically designed to handle larger, heavier riders! Day 6 offers a complete line of pedal-only bikes and electrified bikes, the Samson model is their largest… but it still comes in three frame sizes to optimize fit
- I appreciate the color options that Day 6 offers on their bikes, the Samson comes in gloss black (shown here), champagne, or red and the champagne is probably going to be the brightest and most visible at night
- Being a mid-step frame, this bike will be easier to mount and more comfortable to stabilize and stand over at stops, they had to reinforce the frame with an additional vertical tube to keep it stiff and sturdy but it works well
- The custom seat is a highlight on Day 6 bikes and you can see how adjustable it is here, both the base and back can be positioned for maximum comfort and ergonomics, it felt sturdy and they even sell additional base struts for extra heavy riders
- Sometimes I see electric bikes that don’t include bottle cage bosses, rack bosses, or the ability to mount fenders but the Samson appeared to be compatible with all, I loved the little integrated zipper bag that’s built into the backrest for taking a battery charger along
- The 26″ wheel size allows the frame to be lower, and the raked out (angled) fork provides more stability than if it were vertical and closer in towards the bottom bracket, it makes room for large feet too so toes don’t strike when turning as easily
- This thing breaks dow to become smaller and lighter than I had expected, both wheels feature quick release, the handlebar can fold back if you loosen the adjustable stem, the seat back can be slid off, and the battery pack is easily removable, that’s a big deal if you want to haul the bike around in your car
- Changing tubes due to flat tires is no fun, especially on a heavy electric bike, so I appreciate the upgraded Maxxis tires with puncture protection and would suggest checking the PSI which is 35 to 65 before riding to avoid pinch flats
- The Bafang BBS02 mid-drive is powerful but less fluid than Bosch, Brose, or Yamaha because it relies primarily on a cadence sensor vs. torque or a multi-sensor, the good news is you don’t have to push hard to activate it but the bad news is that it can sometimes mash gears… so I LOVE that the Day 6 e-bikes include a physical shift detection system from e-Rad to spare the drivetrain from damage
- Being able to override pedal assist with a throttle, or simply rely on the throttle 100% means this bike can help people who have knee, hip, or other physical issues like MS
- Safety is a big deal for everyone, but especially people who might be getting back into shape or in their older years, so the motor inhibitor brakes are a big deal for a cadence system like this, they cut power instantly whenever you pull the brakes
- I tested the 750 watt version of this electric bike because that’s the maximum legal limit in the USA for riding on most trails, but they do offer a 500 watt and 1,000 watt option as well as some different battery sizes which is cool for people with different price, power, and range needs
- The body position offered by the Day 6 bicycles is like a mix between recumbent and traditional upright bicycle, I like how it relaxed my body but didn’t require my neck to be bent back or forward as it is on many other bike types
- Thoughtful accessory choices here like the large and sturdy BMX platform pedals, they’re metal so they won’t flex and the traction nubs work well even if your feet are wet
- For people who want to go a bit faster, I was told that the display can be unlocked with help from Day 6 and maybe turned into a Class 3 which offers 28 mph to be used on road, maybe for commuting purposes
- You can hold the down arrow on the display pad to initiate walk mode, this is useful in crowded areas, when climbing a hill or going through grass, or if the bike gets a flat tire
- The battery pack is well protected where it’s mounted between the top tube and downtube, this is important for getting onto the bike if you can’t look down easily and are taking a big step up and over, the pack is only mounted with two bolts so it’s not a good idea to kick it, but that shouldn’t be a big issue here because of the placement… it also keeps weight low and center for improved handling and balance
- This is a minor consideration, but there’s no suspension fork or seat post suspension here, you rely completely on the fatter 2.1″ tires, padded seat, and longer bars to reduce vibration and smooth out the ride… it works well enough but could feel bumpy if you intend to ride on very bad streets
- I feel that given the emphasis on large riders, this ebike should have upgraded brakes, something like 180 mm rotors vs. 160 mm and hydraulic would be nice as they are easier to actuate and usually have adjustable levers which could be comfortable for larger hands
- The battery charger is compact and lightweight, but it’s not especially fast at 2 Amps, and that could lead to some longer charge times if you opt for the larger battery packs
- Considering how long the chain is, to fit the feet-forward bottom bracket, I think a slap guard and maybe even a pulley wheel or chain-keeper would be a good option, there’s a plastic chainring guard but no guide to keep it from falling off if the terrain gets super bumpy
- I appreciate where they mounted the kickstand, towards the rear and out of the way of the left crank arm, but it’s not adjustable and I felt like the bike was tipping pretty far to the left (maybe the demo bike was bent)
- The button pad doesn’t get as close to the left grip as it could because the wire length is limited, our display was pushed to the left a bit to make it reach a bit easier so our fingers wouldn’t have to stretch so far when interacting with assist levels
- Minor consideration here but be careful with the plastic covers on the button pad because they can sometimes get bent up and just seem more fragile than sealed rubberized buttons on other ebike systems I have tested
- Be VERY careful with the bike once it is turned on, the throttle is always hot and if you are moving the bike or trying to get off and forget this, it’s easy to bump that throttle and have the bike take off on you
- Because this is more of a kit-conversion type of electric bike (even though the frame is super custom), there are more wires running along the frame and kind of bundled up, they blend in nicely on the black frame but could still get snagged and become dirtier than a fully integrated wire solution