- The Espin Reine is an approachable and feature-rich mid-drive city commuter that includes plastic fenders, integrated lights, a rear rack, and a Suntour NEX suspension fork. It is a new offering from Espin and their first bike with a mid-drive motor instead of a rear hub motor
- The upright relaxed riding position, swept-back ergonomic grips, Suntour NEX suspension fork, and an upgraded saddle provide a comfortable ride, while the step-through frame and adjustable stem make it easy to fit most riders
- The TTIUM Discovery mid-drive motor provides smooth and responsive electric assistance and features an I-Sport mode that automatically manages assist level based on riding style and terrain, Shimano Acera 1x9 system is a nice upgrade, and the hydraulic disc brakes from Zoom provide solid stopping power
- No reflective striping or puncture protection on the tires, reduction gearing in the motor causes a small amount of drag when pedaling without electric assistance
To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This in-depth review was sponsored by Espin Electric Bikes. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased with you, this video and writeup are not meant to be an endorsement of Espin products. I welcome your corrections, additions, and feedback in the comments below and the Espin electric bike forums.
- Espin uses a hybrid distribution model. They started selling direct to consumer and continue to do so, but they also work with dealers in the US. At the time of filming there are about 10 dealers available in the US, and Espin is working on adding more. Since there are only 10 dealers so far you may not live near one, but if you do you can take advantage and visit the dealer for fitting and test riding – not to mention maintenance and support down the road!
- This isn’t specific to the Reine, but I’ve noticed that Espin has made steady improvements for its other models (the Sport and the Flow) year after year with minimal price increases – they only just increased the prices on those two by a mere $100 after several years of remaining constant.
- Feature-complete with a rear rack, fenders, and integrated lights! The rear rack houses the battery pack and uses standard gauge tubing, the fenders are plastic and include rubber toe strike guards on the bottom, and the integrated headlight does a great job illuminating the road ahead. The taillight is integrated into the battery pack and includes an optical sensor so that it can turn on automatically.
- Very approachable thanks to the step-through design and wide range of adjustability. The step-through frame is great on a bike with a rear rack, since having a bag or other items strapped to the rack can make it more difficult to swing your foot up and over if the frame is high-step. The handlebars have a nice back sweep and the stem is highly adjustable for both height and angle, making it easy to fit this bike to the majority of rider sizes.
- TTIUM Discovery motor is a relatively new contender for the mid-drive field and I was impressed with its performance. We have reviewed one other bike with a TTIUM motor, the PESU Monster, although that was the Efficient EX instead of the Discovery we have here. This motor has 250 watts of power but a whopping 80 newton-meters of torque, which means that it gets started easily and can tackle steep hills easily. This motor measures torque, cadence, and rear wheel speed, and I found it to be pleasantly responsive – in fact, it is reported to have a mere 10ms response time for the torque sensor! This makes it easy to get started without having to rely on the thumb throttle. Other specs of this motor include a max cadence of 110rpm and a max support level of 250%.
- Mid-drive motors are typically more efficient than rear hub motors and the TTIUM Discovery is no exception. In addition to the standard assist levels (Eco, Sport, Turbo, etc) it features an automatic mode called “I-Sport” that uses sensor data to automatically adjust the assist level as you ride. I’ve seen similar modes such as the “Auto Mode” on Giant bikes, I-Sport works the same and I love it here as well. It’s a “set and forget” feature that allows you to just leave the bike in I-Sport mode and not worry about switching up and down assist levels.
- This bike has bottle cage bosses included on the frame, these are great to see. Aside from the obvious use case of mounting a bottle cage you can also use these bosses to mount all manner of accessories, and they allow for much more stable mounting than simply mounting directly to a frame without bosses.
- A comfortable ride thanks to the upright relaxed riding position, ergonomic locking rubber grips, comfortable swept-back handlebars, and an upgraded Velo saddle that offers a little bit more width and cushion than a generic saddle. The Suntour NEX suspension fork gives 70mm of travel, which isn’t a lot but is more than adequate for city and commute riding.
- Smooth and reliable shifting performance from the Shimano Acera groupset, this is a nice quality upgrade compared to the Tourney or Altus setups that we often see on similarly priced Ebikes. This is a 1×9 setup with the rear cassette offering an 11-36T range, and controlled with Shimano trigger shifters on the right grip.
- Solid stopping power from Zoom hydraulic disc brakes that have dual-piston rotors and 160mm calipers in the front and rear. Hydraulic won’t require as much adjustment as mechanical and it also doesn’t require as much hand strength to use
- The color LCD screen is easy to read even in direct sunlight, and it offers an excellent array of information readouts… I also found the settings menu a lot easier to read and navigate than many other screens out there.
- Weight is centered and well-balanced, making this bike easy to ride and also easy to maneuver at a bike rack or in your garage – I found it easy to pick up with one hand at the center of the frame. Keep in mind that putting a lot of weight on the rear rack will make the bike rear-heavy and it will handle differently while loaded this way.
- Covered by a one-year comprehensive, three-year frame warranty, which is pretty solid for an ebike that is sold direct in many cases
- It’s rare to see a mid-drive powered ebike that also has a throttle, and I love how this throttle offers full power in all levels of assist vs. being limited
- The motor is very quiet, sometimes hub motors and mid-drives have a noticeable whirring or zipping noise to them but this TTIUM didn’t make that much noise
- This is something we didn’t cover in the video, but these TTIUM motors use reduction gearing (similar to some Bosch motors) that enable the small chainring to spin faster than the crank arms rotate. Here the 15-tooth chainring spins 2.8 times for every revolution of the crank arms. The downside of this setup is that you get some drag when pedaling the bike without electric assistance, or pedaling past 20mph when the electric assist shuts off. This drag is minimal and doesn’t effect coasting, but it is present and you will certainly notice it if you ride without any assistance from the motor.
- You only get one frame size option which is 17″. As we mentioned earlier this is a very approachable and adjustable bike so you can fit it to most riders… but the very short and the very tall (like me) will find that it isn’t a perfect fit. If you aren’t an average height rider I would definitely recommend taking advantage of an Espin dealer where you can test ride it first!
- The step-through frame means that you will experience some “frame flex”, which is exactly what it sounds like – the frame can flex or bend a little bit. This is most noticeable as wobbling or a feeling of instability when traveling at a high speed or with extra weight on the back. The use case and Class 2 status for this bike means that you probably won’t notice the frame flex, just be aware that it won’t be as stable as a high-step frame.
- I mentioned the plastic fenders already, every type of fender (plastic, steel, aluminum alloy) comes with tradeoffs… the tradeoff for plastic is that they will audibly rattle more than metal fenders. On the plus side they are immune to scratches, rust, and dent/dings that can happen to metal fenders, and they are lightweight.
- These tires are somewhat basic and don’t include any reflective striping or any puncture protection. Fortunately we do have the side reflectors on the spokes, and if you need puncture protection where you live you can add it yourself for a fairly low cost. Having the mid-drive motor here is a bonus in case you need to remove that rear wheel to add sealant or protective liners… or change a flat!
- The taillight is integrated into the battery pack and has a button for turning it off and on manually. I appreciate that it’s integrated into the battery (no separate batteries to change out), but having the button to turn it on and off can be frustrating… it’s easy to leave it on by accident and drain your battery! To mitigate this, there is an optical sensor on the top of this battery that can turn the integrated light on and off. To me this is both good and bad. Good because your rear light can turn on automatically in the dark, but bad if you happen to leave your battery pack switched on, park your bike in the garage, and then turn off the light… which would cause your taillight to turn on and start draining the battery. It’s good practice to switch your battery pack off when not in use anyways, so be sure to get into that habit to prevent accidentally draining your battery when your bike is stored.
- No USB ports on the display or battery pack for charging small electronics such as your phone or additional lights.
- Ideally, the weight of the motor and battery would be as low and central as possible, to improve stability. The motor is there but the rear rack with battery is just top and rear heavy, which also adds a bit to that frame flex
- The rear light must be activated individually vs. the front which is turned on/off via the display, this just adds some time and additional steps to remember when you’re riding to be safe and also maintain the battery optimally
- There’s no lockout on the suspension fork, but if you remove the caps on top of both crown tops you can find clickers to dial in preload, which helps if you’re a heavier rider who is bottoming out
- Mid-drive motors put more force on the chain and drivetrain (sprocket teeth) and this one doesn’t have a shift detection system, so ease off when shifting gears and be careful if using the throttle to minimize wear given the higher potential torque output
- The Reine does not have a slap guard on the right chainstay, so the chain can scratch off paint when you go over bumps. Fortunately there are lots of aftermarket solutions for this, a low-tech solution is just putting some clear tape on that chainstay