- One of the most powerful cruiser style electric bikes on the market today, available in three classy colors, two frame styles (high-step and step-thru), but only one frame size with an adjustable stem
- Single-speed drivetrain is simple, quiet, and durable, but makes starting from standstill difficult without using the trigger throttle, mounting point for adding a derailleur if you want gears
- Bright integrated lights help you see at night and keep you visible in traffic, two battery size options help you go further, extra safety fuses and temperature monitoring for the battery with five year warranty!
- Unique integrated charger with retractable cord for quick top-offs at the cafe, optional 5-amp fast charger, matching silver hardware and leather touch points look great, puncture resistant tires and pre-slimed inner tubes, powerful 180 mm hydraulic disc brakes, integrated USB charging port on display and lots of unique accessories to add to the bike
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[Update] The founder of Electric Bike Company reached out to me after this review was posted and asked to include a bit more information about how the company operates. He said “One of the main things that differentiate our company from other brands is that we 100% factory build custom ordered bikes in California, USA. We have our own factory with all of the parts, expertise, and knowledge to assemble, repair, troubleshoot, maintain, and replace parts. This also allows us to to do custom branding and graphics on our frames.”
The Electric Bike Company only really makes two ebikes… and they are basically two versions of the same powerful cruiser. There’s a step-thru (which they call the Model S) and a cantilever high-step (which they call the Model C). Both models only come in one frame size, and they leverage the same powerful hub motor and rear-rack battery, but you do get two battery capacity choices, along with several classy colorways. Why only make two models? The founder, Sean Lupton-Smith, explained that when he launched the company back in 2013, he wanted to make the best cruiser possible while still maintaining a reasonable price point, and then focus in on accessories and upgrades that worked seamlessly. You can see that with their optional color matched steel fenders, front basket, and suspension seat post. The little details definitely add up! I noticed the matching leather grips and saddle visually but also appreciated that the grips have two locking rings and the saddle is actually comfortable and forgiving with rubber bumpers below. Everything is branded… you see the Electric Bike Company logo on the display, the grips, the saddle… and I don’t really care about that, but it does communicate an attention to detail and customization that other brands seem to disregard or compromise on. Notice how all of the metal parts are silver? Even the optional suspension seat post from SR Suntour. And these are not bottom-of-the-barrel components either, the pedals were chosen for performance as well as aesthetic and safety while the adjustable stem aims to accommodate riders of different heights. Even the way the saddle can go all the way down without hitting the rear rack, to allow for a more stable and confident ride for those with shorter inseams. I don’t mean to gush too much here, it’s just worth noting that these guys really seem to care. You can see that in their outstanding 5-year warranty, individually fused battery cells, unique integrated charger, high-quality front basket with light mount, e-bike specific puncture resistant tires, slimed inner tubes, and international shipping. None of that comes for free, but the sub-$2k price point is very reasonable for such a powerful, beautiful product. The one thing you really don’t get here, is gears. This is a single-speed electric bicycle with the option to add your own derailleur post-purchase. The company does offer two rear sprocket choices, 16 tooth for comfortable high-speed riding or 18-tooth for easier starts and slower riding. With only one gear, the chain stays tight and on track, there’s less grease, less chain slap and noise, less weight, and a cleaner-simpler handlebar. Without the fenders, this ebike weighs about 60 lbs (27 kg), which is not super light… but the double-tube design keeps it stable and can support loads up to 360 lbs (163 kg) which is way above average. Most competing products advertise support for up to 250 lbs (113 kb). There’s more to explore below, I haven’t even talked about motor performance, there’s just a lot of little details to appreciate with this bike and from this company. Which, by the way, has launched an ebike chain in Africa to empower efficient sustainable transport and built entrepreneurial opportunities for local business people. How cool is that!
Driving this bike is a planetary geared hub motor rated at 500 watt nominal and 1,280 watt peak. They didn’t provide a Newton meter torque rating, but I’m guessing it would be in the 50 to 60 Nm range because it feels VERY powerful. The Model S and C are both speed pedelecs, meaning that they can be pedaled up to ~28 mph with motor support. You can definitely lower that top speed by entering into the settings menu of the display (discussed later on), and the throttle will only ever support up to 20 mph for legal reasons. Being geared, the motor is compact and lightweight, but it does produce more zipping noises under full operation. I reached ~25 mph when testing on a limited stretch of road at a mall in Southern California called Fashion Island. This is one of the pop-up locations that the company has been using to conduct demos and sell their product in person. For most of the rest of us, you can order online… and that comes with a bit of added cost. The flat-rate shipping for the USA is $225, but Electric Bike Company also sells to Canada and will work with international companies. This is where the shipping price can really start to rise. The good news is, I am told that the bikes come fully assembled and nearly ready to ride (I’m guessing that there is some handlebar adjustment to be done). And that is another important point to cover. The extra-long handlebars provide an upright body position and dampen road vibration, but they also stick out quite a bit. This could make navigating between cars or through doorways a bit tricky. I have definitely scraped walls and door frames with ebikes similar to this one when walking bikes out of shops to do test rides. Sorry! Just keep this in mind and be careful.
Powering these cruisers, their integrated LED lights, the backlit display panel, and an integrated USB port (below the display) is a 48 volt rack-mount battery. This pack comes in two sizes, and is actually rated higher than what EBC advertises… They call it 48 volts, but the display indicates nearly 52 volts. You can get a 10 amp hour or 16.8 amp hour configuration to increase your range, and both fit into the same rack space. I’m guessing that they also both weigh about the same because the number of cells remains similar but the energy density of the higher capacity pack is just increased through more expensive cells which offer the latest technology. Speaking of tech… batteries are one area where the Electric Bike Company has really positioned itself as a leader. Apparently they have a tight partnership with a manufacturer which custom builds each battery to have individually fused cells along with two temperature sensors. I asked Sean about this, and he explained that they wanted to make the best battery on the market so that it could hold up to extreme environments… like what they might face in parts of South Africa. That makes sense! My own experience and learning has revealed that batteries last the longest and perform the best in cool, dry environments. You want to avoid extreme cold or heat, and keep the pack charged above 20% whenever possible because the Lithium-ion chemistry is most stable there. To make charging as reliable and easy as possible, the battery mounting dock in the rack has an integrated fan and retractable cord (like you might see on a vacuum cleaner). Whenever you stop for lunch or visit a friend’s house, just pull the cord and plug-in for a quick top-off. Yes, this does add some complexity and weight to the bike. But, it saves you the hassle of forgetting the charger at home. For those who cannot park near charging outlets or simply prefer to store the pack in a more stable environment (since the bike might not easily carry up stairs), they do offer a $99 portable fast charger that puts out more than twice the energy for even faster fills. The only real downside to all of this, is that the battery position is high and towards the back of the bike vs. low and center for optimal handling and stability. With such a rear-heavy design, these bikes do suffer from a bit of frame flex. I did not experience speed wobble, the larger tires felt comfortable and stable, even when riding with no hands. In order to have the batteries all be interchangeable and allow for the deep step-thru design of the Model S, the rear rack battery was chosen.
Operating the bike is a bit of a trick. Simple, once you’ve learned all of the steps, but a little more involved than some. So, once the battery has been charged, mounted, and locked into the rear rack, you need to make sure the toggle switch on the bottom is set to on (the line, not the 0 symbol). This is yet another safety feature, and a handy way to prevent tampering at bike racks. Next, you need to hold the center button on the control pad, which is mounted near the left grip. At this point, the display LCD boots up and your current speed, assist level (defaulted to 1), and some trip stats begin to show. At this point, the trigger throttle mounted near the right grip is active and offering full power. BE CAREFUL not to bump this trigger, or the bike will take off. You can use the little up and down arrows to raise or lower assist, but that doesn’t really do anything in throttle mode. You can click down to zero, and this will turn the throttle off, while leaving the display and lights accessible. You can activate the lights by holding the up arrow for a few seconds. This also turns on the LCD backlighting feature. And, as mentioned earlier, there is a full-sized USB port built into the backside of the LCD screen. This is a great way to keep your phone charged while using GPS or run the portable Bluetooth speaker that the Electric Bike Company sells separately. Getting back to the different ride modes, you can hold the down arrow for a few seconds to switch from throttle mode to pedal assist + throttle. You will see a little text appear with the word “ASSIST” when this has been completed, and then the 8-magnet sensor located at the bottom bracket becomes active. I have used some higher-resolution 12-magnet sensors before, but eight isn’t too bad… the real limitation is only having one pedal gear. Without a low gear, it can really take some time to get the bike moving, and the sensors won’t pick up for a moment because the cranks are turning so slowly. This is where throttle override really comes in handy. I found myself using the trigger throttle to get the bike moving at about five miles per hour, then switching to pedal assist so I could relax my thumb. By arrowing between assist level 1-5 I eventually found a comfortable support level that matched my pedal speed. At this point, the bike becomes a joy to ride. Even with the added weight of fenders, front basket, and cargo, the motor supports the bike easily. To enter into the settings and change units or lower the top speed of the bike, make sure the backlight is not on, and then hold the up and down arrows for a few seconds. Press the power button to confirm each menu and the up and down keys to make adjustments.
There’s a lot to say about this product, and I’ll admit that the stability of the company over the past several years, the emphasis on global empowerment, and the well-chosen components and accessories has won me over. The final big factor to discuss here is braking, and that is handled very well also. Electric Bike Company has opted for large 180 mm rotors with hydraulic brakes verses mechanical. This makes them much more consistent and easy to pull, especially for people with limited hand strength. Both levers have motor inhibitors that instantly cut power to the drive system when activated. It’s the right choice, and adds to the sense of control and durability. There are a few trade-offs here with the lack of bottle cage bosses, mid-mount kickstand that gets in the way of the left crank arm if left down, and protruding power cable from the right side of the hub motor, but overall the bike just works, and these are not unique issues to EBC. It’s interesting that pedal assist is not enabled by default here, but perhaps that makes the bike safer to approach? Trigger throttles are very intuitive and less easy to activate by mistake (compared to half-grip twist throttles). It’s still best-practice to leave the bike powered off, until you are mounted and ready to ride. I just love how low that saddle can go, and appreciate how comfortable the bike felt, even without a suspension fork. Steel offers some vibration dampening qualities as well as durability… the chain cover and fenders are sturdy, but could rust if you get scratches over time. I have heard that some owners use car touch-up paint or even fingernail polish. Finally, you get a wireless remote with the bike that activates a motion sensor on the bike and triggers a siren (like a car alarm) when bumped. I’m not sure exactly how practical it is vs. annoying, but it’s up to you to arm and it might be a real handy feature in some neighborhoods, to keep you aware of your investment. Again, perhaps this is a feature that fits life in different countries where the bike might actually be used as a daily transport and represent a higher proportion of income to its owner. I do appreciate how nicely the wires and cables are organized at the head tube and that they are internally routed for protection and aesthetics. My personal choice of color would probably be white, to stay extra visible in low-light conditions… and I would love to see reflective tires at some point (though this may be non-allowable for a Class 3 ebike in parts of Europe). I’m excited to see where this company goes and want to thank the founder, Sean, for meeting with me and partnering with me on this review. I’ll do my best to answer any questions that come up and welcome you to chime in with feedback or post your stories and pictures in the forums.
- The founder of this company is super friendly and authentic, they are easy to get ahold of via phone or online (in my experience), their 5-year warranty is one of the best that I have ever heard of (and they have been around since 2013), they are working on an ebike program for South Africa based on the products being sold in America, and they are partnered with their battery supplier to bring a higher level of reliability and safety to each pack (cells have individual fuses vs. just one for the entire pack)
- I love attention to detail and aesthetic upgrades (silver stem, handlebar, cranks, chainring, pedals, kickstand, seat post (and optional suspension seat post), locking grips and matching saddle, paint-matched chain cover and optional fenders)
- This electric bike is very powerful, and fast… that’s a great thing for heavier riders, people who live near hills, and those who intend on carrying cargo with the rear rack and optional front basket
- The display panel is large, easy to see, easy to navigate (thanks to the remote button pad), and has an integrated USB port for charging your phone, the optional Bluetooth speaker, or another portable electronic device
- The integrated lights work pretty well and run off of the main battery pack, so you don’t have to fiddle around with extra buttons or disposable batteries, I love that the Electric Bike Company sells an upgraded high-capacity battery for people who want to go further or use the lights at all times
- For as powerful and heavy as this e-bike is, especially with the optional battery upgrade, fenders, and basket, it’s really nice that they opted for 180 mm hydraulic disc brakes to improve stopping power and reduce hand fatigue, the levers are adjustable for people with different sized hands or those wearing gloves
- The brake levers both have motor inhibitors built-in, so the motor will stop immediately whenever you need to stop or even start applying the brakes, that’s an important safety feature considering the 8-magnet cadence sensor and trigger-throttle
- The stock tires are fatter than average (which offers stability and comfort), they offer SilkWorm puncture protection, and the inner tubes have puncture sealant installed so you won’t get flats as easily or have to wrangle with the bike to change the inner tubes as often… just keep them inflated between the recommended PSI to avoid pinch flats
- The saddle can go very low on this bike, making it easier to approach and stabilize for many riders, because the rear rack is pushed out a bit and doesn’t block it
- To further strengthen the wheels and provide a stable ride, this bike has wider rims and uses thicker spokes, the rear spokes are 13 gauge which helps to handle the weight of the rack, any additional cargo, and the force of the motor pushing the wheel, I was told that it can handle up to 360 lbs! which is way more than most ebikes that are rated for 250 lbs
- To help protect the bike when parked, there’s a built-in alarm system (like some automobiles have) that will sound a siren if the frame is jostled, it’s a neat little extra… and you get a wireless remote to arm and disarm the system
- These bikes are a bit heavier at ~60.5 lbs (without the fenders and baskets) because they come with a sturdy welded-on rear rack, integrated battery charger, longer handlebars, fatter tires, and bigger comfort-oriented saddle and grips
- You’ll probably rely on the throttle and electric assist more heavily with the Model S or C because they only come with one gear, that keeps the bike simple but makes it difficult to start from standstill without a bit of help… and could be a real bummer if you drain the battery all the way down to zero
- I like how the kickstand looks, appreciate the adjustable length, and feel that it supports the bike well, but it is positioned in the center of the frame and can block the left pedal if you don’t stow it (especially when backing the bike out of a garage)
- Minor consideration here, the fork, handlebar, chain cover, and optional fenders are all made from Steel… which is strong and tends to be quiet, but can start to rust if it gets scratched, the optional front basket is aluminum alloy (along with the main frame and integrated rear rack)
- Minor consideration, the headlight does not point where you steer because it’s mounted to the head tube or front basket by default, this can be a little disorienting when making sharp turns in the dark
- The frame only comes in one size, but at least there’s a step-thru and high-step option, as well as an adjustable-angle stem to dial in fit
- Despite the double-tube design of the step-thru frame, there is still some frame flex when you pedal hard or turn quickly, the rear-mounted battery and motor make the bike rear-heavy and contribute to this flex
- You can angle the display to reduce glare but it isn’t removable, this means that it could get scratched at the rack or take more weather wear when parking outside
- I think the integrated battery charger is neat, but it only offers a standard 2 amp flow and might take a bit longer for the big battery option, you need to spend even more money ~$99 to buy a stand-alone charger if you want to charge the battery off-bike but at least it puts out 5-amps which will fill the pack super fast
- Be careful with the right side of the rear axle because the motor cable protrudes here and could get snagged or bent if the bike tips over, this is a design vulnerability than many hub motors experience and just something to be considerate of
- Minor consideration, with extra-long handlebars like this, the bike just cannot fit between cars or through doors as easily and might scrape them if you aren’t especially careful… I recommend turning the bike off when walking it so you don’t accidentally activate the throttle or pedal assist
- We found a little quirk with the display during this review, you cannot get into the settings menu if the backlight is on… so hold the up arrow to turn backlighting off (if it’s on) then hold up and down to get to settings