- Approachable, affordable, step-thru electric bike that comes stock with a rear cargo rack, flexible plastic fenders, an integrated headlight and basic taillight
- Proven Bafang 500-watt planetary geared hub motor helps get the bike reach 20 mph with cadence sensing pedal assist using a responsive 12-magnet sensor, or you can use the trigger throttle
- Comfortable ride thanks to an extra-wide saddle with rubber cushions, adjustable angle stem, and spring suspension fork with 60 mm of travel and preload adjust
- The company is easy to communicate with and offers a good warranty but this bike uses entry level and generic components to keep the price down, only available in one color and size, the step-thru frame suffers from a bit of flex and the battery must have the key left in when riding
The City Bike from DJ Electric Bikes is an approachable step-thru electric bike at an affordable price of $1,399. Aesthetically, the bike looks pretty clean and has a nice pearly white finish that has a sort of luminescent quality in low light — it’s really pretty. The splashes of red on the frame and black fenders, handlebars, saddle, battery, spokes and rear rack do a good job of rounding out the look. As far as components go though, almost everything here is entry level, which makes sense given the price point. Even still, there’s quite a few features here that help make this step thru to be a comfortable ride. The Top Gun spring suspension has 60 mm of travel, which feels ample when riding around neighborhoods and on sidewalks at slower speeds. When riding, the bike suffers from a bit of frame flex and rattling when taking bumps at higher speeds due to the seat post mounted battery and deep wave step-thru design. There’s simply a lot of weight positioned towards the back of this bike. This bike comes stock with plastic fenders that cover almost half of the front and rear wheels, and this is great to help prevent getting that racing stripe on your back when hitting dirty puddles. Even though they’re plastic, rattling is reduced to a minimum thanks to three attachment points on each fender. The adjustable angle stem, high-rise swept back handlebars and extra cushy saddle further add to the comfort factor here and during my test rides to the grocery store and back, I gained a deeper appreciation for this bike and step-thrus in general — they’re just so approachable and easy to ride!
The brakes on this bike are mechanical disc style with 160 mm rotors, and while they provide adequate stopping power, they’re configuration might be a bit counterintuitive for some. The front brake lever is on the right, and the rear brake lever is on the left. It’s the same way on the DJ Bikes Mountain Bike, so it looks like this is the style DJ Electric Bikes prefers, but I just wanted to point this out as I think it could be a safety issue because it’s less common in the US. Just imagine slamming on the “rear” brake and realizing too late it’s actually the front brake. The City Bike, like the Mountain Bike from DJ Electric Bikes, is direct order only. I’ve found there to be one great pro and handful of potential cons with direct order only business models in the electric bike space that I want to talk about. The biggest asset to this method is that, generally speaking, the price points are going to be lower compared to buying at a brick-and-mortar shop. This makes sense to me given direct order only businesses don’t have to pay for physical locations, keep tons of inventory stocked around the globe and require fewer employees to maintain operations. So as far as price goes, definitely a pro. But on the other side of this coin there can be issues with the final product. In some instances, I’ve found pieces don’t fit quite right and require some bending and finessing to assemble. Furthermore, in some cases I’ve even seen discrepancies between the specs of the bike on the website and what was actually delivered. Lastly, there can be communication difficulties, both in understanding and getting a hold of customer service at all. Now, all that being said, with DJ Electric Bikes I can honestly say none of this applies, at least in my experience. This is a family run Canadian company that goes above and beyond with service and communication while keeping the price of hardware as low as possible. The City Bike was incredibly easy to assemble, everything fit together nicely. I didn’t have to reshape the fenders or cargo rack, or anything for that matter. And when it comes to customer service, I was able to get a hold of the company each time I called. I called from several different numbers by the way, just ensure I wasn’t getting special treatment. When I had questions about some of the specs on the bike, Daniel, the owner, was knowledgable and helped me out. I think this is an important aspect to talk about with direct order only companies because potential buyers won’t have the option to see the bikes in person before they buy, so being able to chat with the company about their products and understand what is being said might make or break the deal. One of the biggest drawbacks here though is the City Bike only comes in one frame size and color: 19 inches and white with red accents. This might exclude some riders who are particularly tall or short, or who want a different color option. The stem is adjustable at least, so that should help accommodate a slightly wider range of riders compared to a traditional stem. However, the stem can get loose over time or even slip forward if you’re braking hard or putting a lot of force on it. I’m a 200 lb guy who rides off curbs and really puts bikes through their paces for reviews, and I did have the stem slip a bit. The City Bike is a bit heavier than the Mountain Bike and weighs in at ~58.9 pounds, and since most of the weight is positioned towards the back, there is a bit of frame flex when going over moderate bumps (specifically going onto or off of steeply inclined curbs). The gusset towards the bottom of the frame adds a bit of rigidity, but with this step-thru there is some frame flex. Again, I’m a ~200 pound rider and I was carrying about 25 pounds of gear with me during my rides, so it’s possible lighter riders may not experience this as much.
Driving this bike to a maximum pedal assist or throttle speed of 20 mph is the same Bafang 500 watt hub motor found on the Mountain Bike. This motor offers up to 65 newton meters of torque and is peppy enough to quickly get going from a dead stop. In pedal assist mode, the motor responds to a cadence sensor with 12 magnets, which has a higher resolution than the common 6 and 8 magnet cadence sensors, but is still pretty slow to detect the starting and stopping of pedaling compared to a torque sensor. There’s about a .5 second to 1 second delay when starting from a dead stop, and sometimes even more than that when pedaling at a solar rate (like starting out or using a high gear). Thankfully, the throttle is live from 0 mph and can override pedal assist, so what I do if I want to start quickly is press the trigger throttle to get going, start pedaling gently and then after a few rotations of the cranks I’ll let off the throttle and let the pedal assist take over completely. Perhaps this isn’t optimal in terms of energy use from the battery, but it kind of goes with the territory more often than not when it comes to cadence sensors, and not every bike has a throttle… so I like to use it when it’s on offer. In my experience, cadence sensors are lower quality and less expensive compared to torque sensors or advanced sensors (which take measurements at multiple points on the bike) and it makes sense that DJ Electric Bikes would try to save some money here with this component. Honestly, I find this to be less of a big deal compared to the Mountain Bike model, since I for one wouldn’t take the City Bike on off-road trails where responsiveness is more of an issue (except for maybe a tightly packed dirt road), which is where I can run into trouble with cadence sensors. I also like that the throttle is live from 0 mph because it means I can use it to help me power the bike up my stairs. This is especially nice since the bike is so back heavy and is rather unwieldy to carry (especially if you don’t remove the battery pack first). The only caution I have with this throttle, and all throttles that are live from 0 mph, is that an accidental activation can cause the bike to run away. This has happened to me on more than one occasion when I wasn’t paying attention and in an area where there are cars or pedestrians this could be a serious safety hazard. Try to leave the bike powered off unless you are mounted and ready to ride.
Powering the City Bike, the integrated headlight, taillight and the backlit LCD display panel is a 624 watt hour silver fish style Lithium-ion battery pack that weighs roughly 9.2 pounds. This is pretty much the exact same setup found on the Mountain Bike, and it looks like DJ Electric Bikes just ported everything over from one bike to the other to reach economies of scale and make replacement and repairs easier. Smart. The main difference here is that this bike has a taillight! The taillight automatically powers up on whenever the lights are toggled on, and actually gets brighter when the brake levers are depressed… That’s a really unique feature for a more affordable e-bike, something I don’t see very often. This makes sense given the name of the bike and it’s intended use, city riding, and I like that DJ Electric Bikes included this feature. The battery has 624 watt hours of juice, which is a bit above average and should help to extend the ride quite a bit. It’s nice that they charging port for the battery is located on the top so the cord stays clear of the cranks while charging on the bike. The key must be inserted and left in to operate the bike, and while they key does fold down to make it a bit thinner, it can still get jingle around and possibly snag your pants when pedaling if a long keychain is attached. Another downside to this battery setup is that the seat post must be fully removed in order to take off the battery. The good news however, is that the seat can be fully let down without hitting the battery pack, which is great for those riders who want to be able to put their feet flat (or almost flat) on the ground when at a stop.
The control center is a J-LCD King Meter and can’t be adjusted with tools. This means that trying to angle it to reduce glare on the fly is pretty much a no-go unless it’s kept loose enough to spin around with a little force. It also means that it can’t be removed easily when parking, so leaving it at a bike rack might result in some unwanted scratches. This display has quite a few readings: tripometer, odometer, current speed, average speed, max speed, battery level (4 bars) and assist level (0-5). With the J-LCD display, whenever it’s turned on it reverts to the default pedal assist level 1, regardless of what assist level the bike is left in when it’s powered down. It should also be noted that to ride the bike without the pedal assist or throttle, it must be placed in pedal assist level 0. Holding the up arrow and mode/power button turns on and off the backlight and front and rear lights, holding the down arrow activates walk mode and holding the up and down arrow enters into the settings menu, where the top speed can be adjusted from 7.5 mph all the way up to 24.9 mph. The stock settings have the max speed at 20 mph. Just like with the Mountain Bike (since it’s pretty much the same setup here) the different pedal assist modes basically just limit the top speed and it doesn’t really feel like it’s affecting the power output very much, if at all. That’s a little disappointing because sometimes it’s nice to have a weaker and slower start with lower levels of assist vs. a zippy jerky one, that spends battery power faster. So at pedal assist level 1 the top speed is around 10 mph, at 2 it’s around 13 mph and so on until you reach the top speed in level 5. Out of the box the layout of the control center, independent button pad and flick bell feels a bit out of whack. From left to right it’s bell, button pad, display. In this configuration it’s difficult to reach the button pad without repositioning my hand or reaching far. If this were my bike, I would probably move the flick bell to the right side of the handlebars, scoot the button pad all the way to the left and slide the display closer to the center of the handlebars. Of course this may just be my personal preference.
I like that this bike comes stock with a good headlight, fenders and a cargo rack that is positioned far enough back that it doesn’t interfere with the seat post even when it’s dropped to the lowest point. The rack feels sturdy and has four attachment points and even pannier blockers, but given that this bike is already back heavy, loading too much weight onto it might further increase frame flex for heavier or more aggressive riders. I also dig that the chain cover spans the entire chainring and extends almost the entire length of the chain to keep your pants or skirt clean. In conjunction with the extra long fenders, this makes the bike useable in all sorts of weather, adding utility. The City Bike feels like a good choice for those looking for an affordable step-thru electric bike for cruising through neighborhoods and the city, and maybe the occasional off-road trail, though I do want to caution against tackling anything too intense. I want to mention the color again because video and photos don’t really do it justice. The pearly white looks good in the sunlight and really glows. It also should be pretty highly visible at night, especially with the headlight and taillight active. Although almost everything on this bike is entry level, from the Tektro mechanical disc brakes to the non-locking rubberized grips, the Top Gun spring suspension, and Bafang hub motor, it’s still a comfortable ride and gets the job done. The one area that could be worth paying more for is hydraulic brakes, which tend to be easier to pull. You can see an example of this (on a slightly more expensive ebike) from Surface 604 that approximates the step-thru frame of the DJ City. I want to thank DJ Electric Bikes for partnering with me on this review and please feel free to leave any questions or comments here or in the DJ Bikes forum and I’ll do my best to answer them! Ride safe, EBR-ers!
- Comes stock with extra long fenders, a rear cargo rack with pannier blockers and spot to attach a mini-pump and integrated front and rear lights
- Has motor inhibitors which help ensure the shortest possible stopping distance, this is a good safety feature and especially important on bikes like this that have a cadence sensor, which can have a slow response time to starting and stopping of the motor
- Adjustable angle handlebars can be raised or lowered for a more aggressive or relaxed riding style, this ability also widens the range of rider heights the single-sized frame can accommodate
- Headlight and tail-light are integrated into the main electrical system and draws power from the battery, it also has a pretty decent beam pattern and can be effectively used to illuminate a path while riding at night, also serves well to increase overall visibility especially since this bike also has a taillight and many reflectors
- Ride is comfortable thanks to 60 mm of travel in the front suspension, rubber cushion on the extra wide saddle and upright riding position
- Fenders are extra long and cover a large portion of the wheels which will help to keep the racing stripe away when going through dirty puddles, they also have multiple attachment points to the frame to help significantly reduce vibration and rattle
- Pearly white color looks like the Toyota Prius pearl white paint and almost glows in the sunlight, it’s very pretty and will also help increase overall visibility in low light conditions
- Step-thru frame offers a very low standover height making it far easier for riders to place their feet flat on the ground when stationary compared to traditional frames, and because of the positioning of the battery and cargo rack the seat post can be lowered almost completely to the bottom
- Plastic chain cover extends almost the entire length of the chain, this in conjunction with the extra long fenders should help keep riders very clean
- Cargo rack design seems well thought out and is positioned rear of the seat post to avoid collision, also has pannier blockers to keep panniers from hitting the spokes and interfering with travel, spring-loaded hinge on top allows for thin items to be securely stored and there’s also a built-in spot for a small air pump
- Battery has charging port located at the top so the cord stays clear of the cranks during charging, the battery also has a USB Type A port for charing accessories and because it is removable, it can be charged on or off the bike and can be easily stored in a cool, dry location to help extend the life of the cells
- Price point of $1,399 makes this bike a good value buy with entry-level components but also some extra features that aren’t always found on similar step-thrus with the same price point
- Bike was easy to put together and every component fit well without having to be twisted or bent into place like some other direct order electric bikes, customer service was also above average and all my phone calls were answered with the first try
- Integrated taillight remains on whenever the lights are on and grows brighter whenever the brake levers are depressed, just like on a car, this is good not only for increased visibility in low light conditions, but also to let vehicles and pedestrians behind the rider know the bike is slowing down
- Control center, button pad and bell setup seems a bit out of whack from the factory and it’s difficult to reach the button pad with it being so far to the right of the grip… so you might want to adjust those yourself and reposition the bell
- Grips are ergonomic and comfortable but aren’t locking, so they might spin around if they are torqued on or as they wear over time
- Control center can’t be adjusted without tools, making angling it to avoid glare on the fly difficult, and leaving it attached to the bike while at a public bike rack could result in a scratched screen, this is not uncommon for more basic displays
- Brake setup is opposite of traditional bikes in America with the front brake lever on the right side of the handlebars and the rear brake lever on the left side, this might be confusing for people accustomed to the traditional setup and might even result in an accident
- Adjustable angle stem only has one point of contact for securing the position and the stem could slip if the screw isn’t tightened and the rider places hard pressure on the handlebars, like when climbing a steep hill or going over a big bump, this is a another potential safety hazard so just remember to tighten the screws extra tight and maybe add some Loctite or other similar product to help ensure they stay in place over time
- Headlight is placed on the arch of the suspension making it unsprung weight and therefore susceptible to more bumps and vibration compared to a frame mounted headlight, if the screw becomes loose over time the headlight might fall down during riding
- Shimano SIS Index Shifter and Shimano Tourney derailleur, Top Gun suspension and many of the other components are entry level or generic and are aren’t as high of a quality compared to bikes that fall into a higher price point, the big thumb shifter just isn’t as quick to use or easy to reach for me
- Chain cover might not actually help the chain from derailing towards the outside, and lack of a chain guide makes it easier for the chain to pop towards the inside, and because the chain guard extends so far along the length of the chain, getting the chain back on without taking off the chain guard could be difficult at best
- Seat post must be fully removed before the battery can be taken off the bike, thankfully there is a quick release on the seat post but it’s still an extra step to get the battery off, the key also has to be left in the battery during operation and it’s possible to get an ankle or shoe strike on the key during pedaling (especially if there’s a keychain attached) which could hurt the rider, or damage the key and/or battery
- Rear cargo rack is paced far enough back on the bike to be clear of the saddle, but the position also means the weight on top will be positioned further back on the bike, adding to the already evident frame flex when going over moderate bumps or at higher speeds
- Minor consideration here, the motor has a silver finish which kind of stands out compared to the white and black color scheme of the bike, while the battery might be a giveaway for some that this bike is electric, the silver motor will be a giveaway to almost everyone at a glance
- One frame size and one color limits the potential riders that this bike will fit for, extra tall or short riders, or those who want a different color may have to look elsewhere but will probably have to spend more