- A powerful gearless hub motor kit capable of being installed as a front or rear wheel, sturdy and relatively quiet
- Gearless motors tend to be heavier and this one is ~12 lbs and does not offer a regeneration option for regenerative braking
- The display console is more basic (LED lights vs. an LCD screen) but also takes up less space, the kit comes stock with trigger throttle but has a twist throttle as an opion
- Quality Samsung cells in the battery pack, larger capacity at 14.5 amp hours, solid one year warranty on all parts
The EBO Front Range Kit is a mixed bag for me. I appreciate the more powerful 500 watt motor but given the gearless direct-drive design it weighs more than the more affordable planetary geared kits. Gearless motors are said to be tougher (no gears rubbing inside) and often allow for regenerative braking but that isn’t an option here. What you get is a relatively affordable, medium-power ebike kit. It operates quietly and should last well (you get a one year warranty which is great) but the display is more basic and there’s not throttle-only mode which can come in handy for off-road riding on bumpy terrain.
Even though the Front Range kit is compatible as a front or rear wheel motor, I would almost always choose to put it in the rear. The added weight in the front would definitely impact steering and might even spin out on loose terrain. At the rear, you get a more solid mounting point (especially if you’ve got a suspension fork up front as the demo bike I tried did) and you’re still balancing some of the weight forward with the downtube-mounted battery. The battery is actually one of my favorite parts of this kit because it uses quality Samsung cells, offers more capacity than some of the smaller kits and is easy to remove or lock onto the frame. This pack style is called a “Dolphin” and it can power your bike as well as a USB accessory given the female port on the right side. I’d mostly use this off the bike as a backup power source because when you’re pedaling it’s easy to snag this are of the pack (and any protruding USB plug and wire) with your shoe or leg.
I accidentally snagged the power cable running to the motor on this kit during the video review above and that goes to show how cable management can be a chore on any ebike kit. It’s nice to have your cables all zip tied up but even the best cable management can still look a bit tacky… that’s why all-black frames are a good choice because the cables blend in more. In addition to cables, this kit also has an independent controller box which can be mounted to the seat tube or possibly a rear rack. It’s just one more thing to deal with and it completely takes up the space for any kind of accessory or bottle cage when paired with the downtube style battery.
Overall, this is a solid package but generic gearless motors aren’t my personal preference. I’m a light weight guy who likes to pedal so I tend to opt for geared hubs or mid-drives. Some ebikes like the Stromer ST2 and Specialized Turbo show off what’s possible when you go high-end gearless because their motors are light, fast and offer regeneration but you’ll spend quite a bit more for that performance. I feel like the EBO Front Range motor could benefit from a 48 volt battery here to take full advantage of the extra copper windings inside but as it stands you’re going to get more power and drive than with some of their lighter kits. For true power however, I’m more excited about the EBO Mountaineer for just $100 more.
- There’s a built-in female USB port at the top right portion of the battery pack and this can be used to power a phone or other mobile device while riding the bike or as a backup source of power off the bike
- Solid value at just over $1k considering you get a powerful 500 watt gearless motor and an oversized 14.5 amp hour battery! Most ebike kits offer 350 watt motors with a 10 ah battery, the cells on this bike are also Samsung and I trust that they are higher quality
- Not only does Electric Bike Outfitters offer a one year comprehensive warranty, they also provide a 30 day money back guarantee and in my experience have been very willing to do custom swaps to get you the right wheel size or a different throttle unit (twist vs. trigger) free of charge or for very little money
- Great wiring hardware (color coded makes it easier to setup and repair), the 5 Star brake levers are more generic but they do include motor inhibitor switches to cut power whenever you barke
- Pedal assist is great for conserving the battery and getting some exercise and three modes is alright but I love that you’ve also got a throttle that can override at any time to help power up a hill or pass a fellow cyclist
- The hub motor design on this kit is compatible with disc brakes but you can also use standard rim brakes as well, the one thing that requires a changeout is hydraulic brakes because the included levers only work with mechanical systems, you could use hydraulic levers of your own but if they don’t have electronic brake inhibitors built in you won’t be operating as safely (especially given the “all the time” pedal assist design)
- The kit comes in several configurations to replace a 26″, 27.5″ or 700c wheel, to fit a 100 mm, 120 mm, or 135 mm dropout, and to work as either a front or rear wheel drive kit (though I’d highly recommend rear given the weight of the motor so as not to adversely impact steering)
- The battery pack snaps on and off easily and quickly for convenient charging or lighter weight transport, you also get a solid locking core built into the battery for when it’s mounted to the frame
- Especially for trail and mountain use the default trigger throttle works very well as it does not compromise your grip though it might take more space on your bars than the twist throttle (I just don’t like full-grip twists)
- I like the USB charging port but it’s positioned on the side of the battery which makes it easier to bump with your leg when pedaling or to snag the wire… would be better on the top or front end of the pack vs. the side
- The controller unit for this kit is built into a separate black box which adds clutter to the frame and means more wires have to be dealt with
- On the demo bike I filmed and photographed above the battery was mounted to the downtube using the stock water bottle cage bosses and the controller box was fit onto the seat tube so there wasn’t anywhere to add a bottle… Consider an aftermarket saddle rail adapter, a rear carry rack with bottle bag or using a Camelbak
- The LED console offers several readouts (mode, charge level and speed) but is still more basic than an LCD which could show trip distance, time, max speed etc. the unit they chose is fairly small, tough and more affordable so it’s not too bad
- The battery pack has an independent on/off button built into it which has to be activated before the display panel is turned on, this extra step makes the pack easier to leave on accidentally and can be confusing if you forget and try to activate the bike just using the display
- There are no lights built into this kit and I think it would be difficult to wire them in, I like when I can run everything off of one battery but you can always get some aftermarket lights that are rechargeable if you ride at night a lot
- While the cadence sensing pedal assist worked alright, it only uses a five magnet system vs. 12 on a lot of newer builds and kits I’ve seen which means it is less responsive (especially in higher gears where pedal rotation can be slower at low speeds)
- Gearless motors are very durable and operate without producing much noise but they do weigh more and this one is ~12 lbs, the battery is also a bit heavier because it’s a larger capacity pack so ~7 lbs
- Sometimes gearless motors offer regenerative braking which can extend rides by ~10% but that feature was not included with this kit (likely to keep the price down)
- There is no throttle-only mode with this kit, you have to enable one of three pedal assist settings in order to use the throttle and this means that any pedal movement can also activate the motor which could cause instability for some applications
- The pedal assist sensor is not a clip-on design so you actually have to remove the crank arms in order to mount it, once it’s on however it feels solid and is actually quite responsive
- Official Site: http://www.electricbikeoutfitters.com/ebo-frontrange.aspx
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/AMsQPSkZUVtrUx3Y6