- An extremely affordable, handsome and feature rich (fenders, lights, rear rack) city style electric bike
- Only available in one size (medium) with a low-step frame style and either black or white
- Rear heavy design with motor and battery at the back, weaker than similar ebikes with a 250 watt motor, key must be left in battery to operate the bike which can jingle or get bumped more easily
The EG Athens 250 is a value priced around-town sort of electric bike with with many utilitarian features but just one type of frame (low step) in one size (medium) and two colors (black or white). It’s hard not to appreciate the value here with front and rear LED lights, a removable Lithium-ion battery pack, fenders, a suspension fork and two drive modes (assist or throttle) but the smaller 250 watt hub motor won’t be ideal for larger riders or those planning lots of steep ascents. It’s also not the easiest ebike to find at dealers and test ride and I’m not sure if EG sells direct… Still, if your dealer does carry them, the one year comprehensive warranty and clean aesthetic make this a difficult bike to ignore – especially for ~$1,200.
The motor driving the “Athens 250” offers… you guessed it, 250 watts of power! That’s not a lot compared to other electric bikes being sold in America but it’s standard fare in Europe based on different laws about power and top speed. It’s capable of powering the bike up to 20 mph but that’s hard to confirm because the basic LED display panel doesn’t have a speed or distance readout. The hub motor itself is a light weight, small form factor geared design that feels peppy on flat pavement and climbs alright with riders under 150 lbs. As shown in the video, it may struggle on steeper inclines but with a bit of pedaling help the bike will still get there.
Powering the bike is a standard sized 36 volt 10 amp hour Lithium-ion battery pack that slides into a mounting fixture on the rear rack. In my opinion, everything about this pack is normal and good except the key slot… While it’s nice to have a lock on this thing for security, I don’t enjoy leaving the keys in while riding (which is required to operate this bike). They can jingle around more and are exposed to bags and panniers with cargo that could snag or even bend the key depending on terrain. At the end of the day, the battery works and I like the integrated LED taillight for safety but I’m more impressed with mid-mounted battery packs that keep weight low and center on the frame. That can be more difficult to achieve on a step-thru bike like this and usually costs more.
Operating this ebike is very simple. Once the battery is charged and locked in place, just press the power button on the LED console mounted to the left bar. It lights up, displaying your general level of battery capacity and drive mode (assist or throttle). There are three levels of pedal assist and a 12 magnet cadence sensor activates the motor in a fairly responsive and smooth manner. The trigger throttle near the right grip is also responsive and nice to have if you’re riding through a puddle or rough terrain while trying to balance cargo. In terms of rider input, the Athens’ 7 speed cassette is good enough for around town use and keeps complexity and need for tuneups down. The Shimano Acera derailleur is pretty solid but the thumb shifter isn’t my favorite. The large levers are easier to activate when wearing gloves but don’t feel as natural or quick as a trigger shifter in my opinion.
The most exciting thing about the EG Athens is its price. If it cost $500 more I wouldn’t be all that impressed because there are lots of these “rear battery, basic systems” ebikes floating around. It’s a popular segment because it addresses the primary use case for ebikes right now – cruising for fun or exercise and commuting short distances to neighborhood stores or work. EG is a smaller company but their warranty is solid and they’ve been around for several years. This ebike isn’t as easy to find in person and that makes it difficult to test ride and ultimately purchase but the adjustable stem and relaxed bars make it fairly adaptable for a wide range of riders. Again, with just one small/medium step-thru frame and a weaker motor this isn’t the right answer for larger riders. The frame itself isn’t as stiff as some and also isn’t super light weight at ~54 lbs but I do appreciate the lights, suspension, fenders and chain guard which all contribute to that weight.
- Excellent price point, one of the most feature rich “affordable” ebikes I’ve reviewed to date
- Integrated LED lights (front and rear) for safer commuting at dusk and dawn – the full length fenders and chain guard also add utility
- Comfortable upright ride with swept back handle bars and adjustable angle stem – cushioned by the padded grips and a basic suspension fork
- Decent seven speed Shimano Acera drivetrain with stiff aluminum alloy pedals
- More stable double leg kickstand pairs nicely with the built in deflopilator stabilizing spring at the front (both make the rear rack easier to load)
- Locking removable battery pack can be charged separately from the bike and also makes the bike easier to move (lighter weight) when taken off
- Not as easy to find and test ride at dealers, limited distribution at this time (based on what I have seen while traveling)
- Smaller 250 watt motor might not be enough for larger riders or those with lots of hills and rigorous terrain
- Rear heavy design with both the hub motor and battery pack as the back of the bike (and higher up), not as balanced or stable as something with a mid-frame battery
- More basic hardware including the SIS thumb shifter and Suntour suspension fork (with limited adjust and no lockout feature), no quick release on the wheels, no bottle cage mounts and a cheaper kickstand
- It seems like you have to leave the key in the battery pack to activate the electric systems on the bike and it sort of jingles around and could get damaged more easily by panniers or other cargo accessories
- Only available in one frame style (step-thru) which isn’t as stiff as a diamond frame, one size (medium) and two standard colors (black or white)
- Official Site: http://www.egbike.com/EGUSA/index_files/Page1051.htm
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/tCMq5yvDZvwzzS8A7