- A relaxed cruiser style ebike with higher top speed (~28 mph in pedal assist) and powerful 500 watt motor system
- Completely accessorized with fenders, chain guard, carry rack, suspension fork and LED lights, they offer great utility but are more generic in terms of quality
- Good weight distribution across the bike with a mid-mounted battery, the kickstand is a bit short and unstable on soft terrain
- Solid one year warranty on all parts, available in black or white, one frame size but there is a step-thru variant with the same drive system that's a bit smaller called the EG Maui
The Oahu 500 EX is a high-step cruiser style electric bike that offers a slightly larger frame size (with longer reach) than the step-thru EG Maui 500 EX. Aside from color options (black and white for the Oahu vs. blue and white for the Maui) the bikes are largely the same and offer a “his and hers” opportunity… as long as one member is shorter and prefers the less rigid low-step frame. Both ebikes are stiffer and better balanced than older versions from EG which used rack mounted batteries and offered less power. In the case of the older Oahu, it only offered 36 volts of power vs. 48 here and that impacted power output of the 500 watt motor (which has not changed). This 2015 model also offers larger 180 mm disc brakes for improved stopping power and it actually weighs less than the old model which is really impressive to me. It’s a solid product for the price but there are some limitations. Many of the accessories are cheap (fenders, lights, bell) and the kicstand can be less than perfect on soft terrain because the contact pad is relatively small. EG products strike a balance between cost and performance but you still get a solid one year warranty on all parts. If you’re someone who wants a comfortable ride but needs extra power for climbing or pulling a trailer then this could be an excellent choice. I could see it working well as a commuter bike and I love the suspension fork and longer bars because they take the edge off of encounters with potholes, cracks and curbs.
Driving the Oahu is a somewhat generic looking 500 watt geared rear hub motor. I’m guessing it’s built by Bafang and maybe designed by 8Fun but there weren’t any logos to confirm. It’s zippy and quite capable of moving the 56 lb bike, even climbing modest hills with throttle power only (though I do weigh just 135 lbs). This motor produces a bit more noise when starting as seen in the video but that’s not abnormal for a more powerful internally geared hub in my experience. In short, you get efficiency and light weight with this design, it freewheels without any drag and is connected with a break-away cable that’s useful during routine maintenance (if you have to remove the rear wheel). The human-powered drivetrain on the Oahu 500 EX is an eight speed Shimano Alivio with trigger shifters near the right grip. This is a step or two up from the bottom in Shimano’s lineup of drivetrains and offers a decent range for city riding. I’m glad they went with eight gears instead of just six or seven because the higher top speeds that this bike is capable of might otherwise outpace the cadence range. To stop this e-bike you’re given a pair of matching Tektro Novella mechanical disc brakes. They’re a bit generic but good sized. The levers are slightly upgraded with rubber strips on the leading edges for improved grip and vibration dampening. I like that both include motor inhibitors and that they can be adjusted or fixed so easily (much more so than hydraulic). The hardware matches the price but is well suited for cruising and commuting.
Powering the EG Oahu is an impressive 48 volt 10 amp hour Lithium-ion battery pack. You get 120 more watt hours than the 2014 model here and some of that juice goes towards effectively powering the motor but it also increases your range. The cells inside are from Samsung which is a step up from generic in my opinion (again, nice to have that year warranty). The pack that houses them is a “dolphin” design with LED power level indicator, replaceable fuse, locking core and female USB charging port. Given the downtube mounting point of the pack, the USB port is within easy reach of the handlebars, where I’d expect to mount my smart phone or MP3 player. The battery weighs ~7 lbs when off the frame and has a nice integrated handle for easy transport. To really extend the life of this pack I’d recommend storing it in cool, dry locations and avoiding extreme heat and cold. If you were commuting with this ebike it would make sense to take the battery inside each time you park it and top it off with the included ~1.5 lb charger. The battery mostly takes up the space where a bottle cage, pump or other accessory might mount but the rack somewhat addresses this with the addition of a trunk bag… I do like that the battery bracket is attached to the frame with three screws and not just two, it seems a bit more sturdy than converted ebikes that attach with bottle cage bosses only. The wires on the Oahu are also run mostly through the frame and this creates a nice aesthetic while reducing the possibility of snags.
Activating this electric bike is very easy and fast. While the display and button pad somewhat generic they work well enough and are easy to use once things are up and running. To power on the bike, just press the silver circular button on the battery and electricity is immediately sent to the display and it turns on. With many other electric bikes I’ve reviewed this is a two step process with the battery and display both requiring an “on” button and that can make it easy to forget to turn the battery off when you park. The display (like the motor) does not have company logos on it but it reminds me of King Meter which has been around for several years on the bikes I’ve tested. It’s a monochrome LCD with a nice six-bar battery level indicator, speed assist level and odometer/trip meter. You press up or down to change assist and the bike starts in level two which is a smooth, sweet spot. At any time when the e-bike is powered on you can override assist with the trigger throttle and this is wonderful for those moments when you want to relax or pick your feet up to avoid water splashing. The cockpit on the EG 500 EX is fairly standard but the grips are something of an upgrade… they’re ergonomic but not especially soft. I like the larger diameter because they fit my hands more comfortably than skinny rubber ones. I like the longer cruiser handlebars used here as mentioned earlier and the adjustable stem really lets you dial in the fit and change the reach. The one downside to the control systems/cockpit is that the display isn’t removable. You can swivel it to reduce glare while riding but once you park the elements could take a toll on the LCD.
To be completely honest, I was surprised that this electric bike was designed to be a speed pedelec (meaning it can go above 20 mph in pedal assist mode). I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable with that on the older versions of the Oahu or Maui just because the frame wasn’t as balanced, all the weight was towards the rear and you’d get a “crack the whip” feel at times. EG has created a nice city commuter here and done it for a reasonable price. I enjoyed testing the bike but did feel a bit uncomfortable at moments when assist was set at the highest level (level 5) and I was moving slowly. The cadence sensor is so responsive that it felt like the bike was accelerating at times when I didn’t mean for it to. That feeling went away at lower levels of assist because the motor was activating at a much lower power level. Overall it’s comfortable but the addition of an XLC suspension seat post could improve things further (the seat post diameter is 28.6 mm so make sure you get the correct size). Overall, I like the changes that EG made to their 500 EX models and it seems like they were listening to customer feedback (in the US) about wanting higher speeds, more power and lighter weight. It’s difficult to achieve all of that without raising the price but at ~$2k this is still a good deal in my opinion.
- The battery pack position is lower and more central than the old Oahu which improves balance, there is also a USB charging port on it for use with portable electronics and this is much closer to the handlebars (presumably where you’d mount a music player or phone) so it’s convenient
- The stem is adjustable (angles up and down) which also improves fit and can either increase or decrease reach as you angle the bars
- Even though the suspension fork is a bit basic, it smooths out the ride considerably and works well with the ergonomic grips, padded saddle and swept-back cruiser style handlebars
- This is one of the most powerful cruiser ebikes I’ve tested with the highest top speed in assist level 5 of ~28 mph (top speed with the throttle is ~20 mph)
- Great price point considering how feature rich the bike is… you get fenders, a rack, basic lights, a suspension fork with lockout and two drive modes (throttle and assist)
- Battery is locking and removable for security and convenience respectively, makes the bike lot lighter and to transport, store and charge it inside to prolong life
- The 12 magnet cadence system is very responsive, you don’t have to pedal very long before the motor kicks in or stops as you stop, at assist level 5 it’s almost too responsive at times because the motor kicks in with a lot of power, I prefer level 3 and use throttle override for extra juice
- LED headlight and tail light are a nice little extra for safety but run off of disposable batteries and aren’t super high quality
- While it’s only available in one size and frame style (high step) it does come in black or white and uses standard more affordable 26″ wheels, you also get a solid one year warranty
- Stiff alloy pedals, improved stopping power with 180 mm rotors on the disc brakes, easier to work on with mechanical brakes vs. hydraulic
- Quick release skewer on the front wheel makes transport easier because it reduces weight and shortens overall length, take the battery off as well to further reduce weight
- Larger 180 mm disc brakes offer good stopping power (important at high speed) and the brake levers include motor inhibitors to shut down the drive systems quickly
- There’s only one on/off switch and it’s built into the battery, many times you need to press a second button at the display to activate but not with this ebike
- The kickstand isn’t my favorite, it locks in the down position which can trip you up in a hurry and the base is very small so it sinks into dirt, sand and even soft lawns, the bike also leans pretty far when parked and might be easier to tip over
- The suspension fork feels decent and is color matched but doesn’t offer much adjustability (no lockout here), the preload adjust is independent on each leg which means it could get unbalanced if one is twisted more than the other
- No bottle cage mounting point on the seat tube or top tube in large part because of the battery pack position, consider a saddle mount or a CamelBak to stay hydrated
- Official Site: http://www.egbike.com/EGUSA/index_files/Page4474.htm
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/d3rEFcqAt3RcaMNi9