OHM has narrowed down their electric bike offering starting in 2017 to just three models, the Urban, Sport, and Mountain. But the bikes come in multiple frame sizes for improved fit, and all share the same drive system for easier maintenance and parts availability. The Sport model featured in this review is a blend of Urban and Mountain. It’s a hardtail electric bike with premium fenders, a solid but streamlined cargo rack, top of the line integrated lights, and fatter 2.4″ tires that can handle pavement and light trails alike. For the video review, I took this bike out onto the Trans Canada Trail in North Vancouver, Canada. It felt smooth and comfortable on the packed Earth and was even capable of riding over some large stumps and rocky sections. The responsive torque sensing pedal assist made me feel connected to the bike but I also enjoyed the variable speed throttle option. This is one of the few e-bikes out there with both pedelec and throttle modes and you can convert it from a 20 mph top speed Class 2 to 28 mph to speed Class 3 when you order. That decision may limit which trails you can legally ride on, but empower you to commute to work faster. And to be clear, the main differences between this model and the Urban, aside from price, are the wider fenders, different color scheme, fancier brighter lights, wider tires, and a one pound weight difference. You still get a tapered head tube, hollow spindle bottom bracket, sealed BB and headset, a premium air suspension fork with lockout, boost width hub, thru-axle, and a special chain guide to reduce chain drops. What I’m trying to get at here is that these electric bicycles are much more trail-capable than a lot of low-end hardtail trail bikes from the competition. They use better hardware and even match the stem, handlebar, and crank arm widths to the larger frame sizes vs. recycling the same parts. OHM products do cost more, but they operate very quietly and because they leverage the BionX D-Series motor system, are one of the few electric bikes to offer regenerative braking as well as four levels of controllable regen for simulated climbing and workouts.
Powering all three of the 2017 OHM models is a BionX D-Series gearless hub motor. It’s smooth, extremely quiet, produces a lot of torque for such a compact design, and dissipates heat well. Most hub motors I see these days are gearless and built into Aluminum alloy casing. BionX took a completely different approach with the D-Series by using a composite plastic casing that doesn’t connect to the spokes on the wheel, it actually sits in between them. This allows the wheels to flex a bit and means that the motor casing doesn’t have to be as heavy or thick which reduces weight. It’s interesting to note that despite appearing large, the motor does not tip the bike backward, making it rear-heavy, as almost all other gearless designs do. It offers many of the strengths of a geared design but will be more durable over time because there are no rubbing parts inside. When this motor operates, it does not interfere with the drivetrain the way that mid-drive motors do and that means your chain, sprockets, and derailleur won’t need as much maintenance. It also means you get throttle-on-demand vs. just pedal assist. Yes, there are a few mid-drive motors that offer throttle operation, but they are much less prevalent. The one limitation I noticed is that the motor is not powerful enough to climb medium sized hills with throttle-only power. You have to either come at the hill with a bit of momentum or help out by pedaling. This is not much different than geared hubs or mid-drives, I just want to be clear that having a throttle is different than being able to sit back and ascend trails without pedaling at all. And, since the bike comes with a high-end 10-speed Shimano drivetrain, pedaling and shifting is a breeze. I noticed that the chainring is a bit larger on this ebike than many other trail models I see, but that was done in part to accommodate high-speed 28 mph operation (for those who request it). I guess you can’t have everything, I was still able to climb effectively by shifting to the lowest gear and it made a big difference having a plastic chain guide on the chainring to reduce drops. Depending on your outfit, the chainring is a bit exposed and you could get some grease and snags, but the chain guide might help a bit.
Powering the bike, backlit display, both lights, and optional USB power port, is a high capacity Lithium-ion battery. It offers efficient 48 volt energy transfer with 11.6 amp hours for a total of 556.8 watt hours. That’s over half a kilowatt hour, definitely above average, but it spends quickly if you opt for the Class 3 speed pedelec setup or use the throttle constantly. I estimated range between 25 and 70 miles but that greatly depends on how you ride and whether the terrain is soft or hard packed. Higher speed riding takes a big toll on efficiency because of air resistance and throttle mode, while fun, is a battery hog because the D-Series motor accelerates so quickly. The trigger throttle is ramped so you can press gently for less power, but the movement is relatively small (to keep it compact) so precise throttling takes some practice. Unlike many competing throttles, this one is easy to reach and not so fatiguing to use constantly. It is perhaps one of my favorite throttle designs because it’s a trigger vs. twist and that means you can really grip and handle the bike well. There have been times when I was steering and gripping and accidentally twisted the throttle or lost that feeling of precise control with competing throttle designs. Anyway, you can use the throttle at full power to override assist! No need for clicking up and down through different menus to get the throttle going the way you do on some bikes like Easy Motion’s Evo line. The throttle is always active as long as the bike is moving ~1.5 mph. Yes, throttle from standstill would be nice, but this one activates super fast. Sometimes ebike manufactures are limited by what their motor supplier offers but kudos to BionX for their good work here. They offer something unique, put a lot of thought into the design, and support it well. Anyway, the battery can be charged on or off the bike frame and uses a quick 3.45 Amp charger vs. the standard 2 Amp so you can fill the battery quickly and get back out onto the road. The removability of the display, battery, quick release front wheel, and seat post, make the bike easy to transport, protect, and store. Note that the rear wheel does not use quick release because of the hub motor design which has a power cable quick-disconnect and stronger 12 mm custom hardware to handle the torque. I usually bring my battery into the office to fill up during the day before my ride home. Note that the battery does not have an obvious handle and would definitely get scratched and even damaged if dropped… at 7.4 lbs, it’s not the lightest thing, so be careful or use a bag to carry it.
I apologize for not going into the Bluetooth smartphone app, but there was a lot to cover with the included LCD display and control ring. BionX struck a balance of features and usability with their display menu system and came out with a good result in my opinion. You can choose from three default layouts (basic, advanced, and data view) but I feel that two might have been enough. The basic and advanced views are mostly the same except for some charts and icons that appear as motor power increase or regenerative braking activation. Only the right brake lever activates regen, but this reduces clutter and possibly saves money? Perhaps the flicker and movement of colors on the advanced display could be distracting for some in the advanced view and that’s why a basic readout was also offered? For those who really like to dig into the stats and know exactly what’s happening at all times, there is also a data view. This is almost like an instrument panel in an airplane, just a lot of labels and numbers in a grid. It might be optimal for night use because the background is mostly black and there aren’t colors like the other views. You can select from these three menus by clicking left or right on the button ring and you can arrow up or down through four levels of assist and regen by using the plus and minus keys. There is also a power button and lights button above the plus key. I love how easy the buttons are to reach and that if the display was removed or lost, you can still use the control ring by itself to operate the bike. It even has an integrated LED readout for battery level (five bars) and four more bars to let you know what assist level is in use. It’s like night and day to see this control ring and then look at a basic throttle on most other electric bikes that’s oversized and cheap feeling… this is part of what you’re paying for with the OHM Sport and it’s easy to appreciate in person. I also want to call out and compliment the headlight from Supernova, the M99 is cool looking with a daytime mode and very effective with a large bright beam in night-mode and it switches automatically based on a built-in sensor that we show in the video.
The me, the OHM Sport strikes a perfect balance of trailworthiness and efficiency. It’s the model I would probably purchase for commuting because of the nicer lights and included rack. OHM does offer a seat post suspension upgrade from BodyFloat and I would probably get one of those too, especially if the bike was setup as a speed pedelec. Is the Sport model worth $400 more than the Urban? Well, the larger tires do a lot to improve comfort and traction and I personally love how nice the black color scheme looks. It might not be as visible or reflective as the grey, but it does hide wires, brake lines, and shifter cables well. Sometimes, bicycles look cluttered or ugly with so many graphics and designs going on but I have to hand it to OHM for going easy and placing their designs in cool places, like below the downtube. The light grey logos perfectly match the motor casing and battery. And the battery design is sleek and integrated, you can pull the battery out from the side vs. clicking it down and that makes it easier to get at and less likely to scratch (the pack or frame). The OHM Sport is a feature-complete electric bike that was purpose built and I highly recommend test riding it if you’re near the factory store in North Vancouver. After riding and reviewing so many other electric bikes, this is still one of the quietest I have seen but it doesn’t sacrifice a sense of power and torque. Big thanks to BionX for partnering with me on this review and inviting me to their HQ for some back to back test rides.
- The OHM Sport comes with a high quality rack and 70 mm wide Aluminum alloy fenders which offer great utility for commuting or light trail riding through dirt and mud, I was impressed with how quiet they were and that they even fit bottle cage bosses onto the seat tube (for fluids, a folding lock, or mini pump accessory)
- Only the highest-end electric bikes seem to offer integrated lights from Supernova and this one uses the premium M99 model headlight with day/night sensor for automatic switching between running and bright mode, the backlight has five led’s and is protected by the rack
- There are so many ways to control this e-bike including the mini button ring near the right grip, the compact transflective color LCD panel, or the smart phone app, being able to remove the display for parking (to reduce wear and tampering) is fantastic
- Four frame sizes mean you can get an appropriate fit for your body type, the stem, handlebar, and crank arms vary between the four sizes! The top tube is angled down to make the bike easier to mount and stand over
- Considering how sturdy and well accessorized this ebike is, I was impressed with the 56.5 lb weight (only one pound heavier than the OHM Urban), it has sturdy metal lights, large tires, a high-capacity battery, and a powerful gearless motor but things like magnesium pedals, a minimalist kickstand, hollow spindle bottom bracket, and air fork all make a difference
- OHM has been around since 2005 and offers a unique 3+ year warranty on their products, they use high-end parts and are a premiere BionX partner so their bikes tend to last, since they have three models that all use the same battery design, it’s easier to get replacements
- The all-black and grey color scheme looks great with the battery casing, motor hub, and wires all blending in, the decals match are minimalist in design and cool (especially under the downtube) vs. flashy, and OHM includes some touchup paint to keep it looking nice
- Upon first seeing the bike, and knowing that the BionX D-Series motor weighs ~8.8 lbs, I was expecting it to be rear-heavy… but I lifted it just in front of the saddle nose and it tipped forward vs. back, I feel that it’s very well balanced and the weight is all kept low for improved handling vs. a rack battery, note the heavy-duty tapered head tube and thru-axle on the front wheel
- Comfortable touch points including locking ergonomic grips, finger-adjustable brake levers, a sporty Ergon gel saddle, and wider Schwalbe tires with a medium-range pressure recommendation
- For me, safety is a big deal, and since this bike is black, I appreciate the reflective graphics on the tires and and bright integrated lights, I also like the sturdy thru-axle on the fork with Boost and large tapered head tube for stable riding
- OHM offers a Body Float suspension seat post upgrade, folding lock accessories, and does a trade-in program on their older bikes so you could possibly get a discount to buy their latest stuff
- Riding this bike just feels good, it’s more polished, quiet and balanced than a lot of others… it’s also one of the few that even offer a throttle mode which is fun to use (at least for me!)
- Even though regenerative braking doesn’t put much power back into the battery, it does reduce wear on brake pads and can be used to simulate climbing with the four minus levels on the BionX system, overall it’s pretty neat
- The unique design of the hub motor casing, being relatively slim but tall, allows for the spokes to connect at the hub vs. the outside of the hub motor and this allows them to flex naturally providing a level of comfort and performance that most other hub motor ebikes lack, the greater air volume inside the hub allows it to cool more efficiently
- The battery pack clicks in from the left side vs. down from the top which means it won’t bump into the frame as easily when mounting/dismounting and the top tube can be lower, I like that the battery is rated against dust and water, uses a fast charger, can be filled on or off the bike, has several rubber pads to reduce vibration, and even has a touch-activated capacity indicator (where the charger plugs in) it lights up green at 70%+, orange between 20% and 70%, and red when below 20%
- After a few minutes of inactivity, the display panel automatically powers off… it has lots of settings where you can change brightness, units, etc. to make it fit your preferences and style
- Larger 180 mm hydraulic disc brakes provide the kind of stopping power that mountain bikers need, so it’s cool to have them on more of a sporty trail bike here, specifically because it weighs more and can be switched to 28 mph Class 3 if you want (I think you need OHM to do this and change the Class sticker before it’s shipped to you)
- Shimano Deore XT is a mid to high-level drivetrain and ten speeds is enough to let you climb and reach higher speeds comfortably… though the larger 48 tooth chainring is setup more for speed, there were a couple of times where I was riding in the absolute lowest gear because of the hilly terrain in Vancouver, I like that the derailleur has a one way clutch to reduce chain bounce (the little grey lever, point it up to tighten the chain)
- The chainring has a plastic inner guide to reduce drops, it’s not going to keep your pants or a skirt as clean as a chain guide or chain cover but it reduces weight and is practical
- The cockpit is relatively clean because of how the display and light are mounted, the handlebar clamp positions the large Supernova light below the display and they are both at the center for optimal use
- I appreciate how the kickstand is adjustable length but it still gets in the way where it’s mounted, just below and behind the crank arms, if you back the bike up or pedal with the stand down it will collide
- OHM has moved away from dealers, they only sell direct now which means it could be difficult to go for a test ride unless you live near their factory store in North Vancouver, BC Canada
- The large black hub motor casing definitely stands out visually, the design provides great torque for acceleration and climbing but may also catch a bit of side wind and attract attention compared to smaller gearless hubs, especially on off-road trails
- The display panel and battery pack don’t have an integrated Micro-USB port by default but apparently for $20 OHM can wire one in and stick it to the right side of the frame near the top of the downtube
- It would be nice if both brake levers had the regeneration switch vs. just the right one, but I guess that reduces clutter up front, a bit of weight, and expense
- The display panel takes longer to boot up than Bosch and some of the other high-end products, not much longer, but enough to be a little annoying every time you turn the bike on and are eager to get going
- As much as I appreciate the large platform and grippy adjustable pins on the lightweight Magnesium pedals… I felt like the spindle at the center was too high (or the outer portions too low), I could feel the spindle at the ball of my foot, they left me mixed vs. fully impressed
- It’s no fun to change inner tubes if you get a flat so the upgraded Performance GreenGuard tires are a welcome hardware choice, I love that the front axle uses quick release to make it easier to service, but have to acknowledge that most hub motor setups can be a pain to work with on the rear wheel because of the additional motor wire and bolts or nuts, the BionX motor has a quick disconnect point and mounts fairly easily with the correct 6M hex wrench, but it still takes more time and tools than a mid-drive
- Some of the other high-end ebike displays offer a range estimation stat which can help you plan trips, that isn’t available with the BionX setup used here but at least it does show a high precision 10-bar battery infographic and battery percentage! Their battery packs are also smart and go into a deep-sleep mode when not used for long periods