- The Espin Sport is a feature-complete commuting and mixed-use Ebike that includes a rear rack, plastic fenders, integrated lights from Spanninga, and an SR Suntour suspension fork
- The suspension fork works well with locking ergonomic rubber grips and a large Selle Royale Freeway saddle to provide comfort for long commutes, and the Sport can also handle trails and some off-road riding, especially if you add some low-cost improvements such as puncture protection and perhaps a suspension seatpost
- Ample power from the rear hub motor by Bafang using either cadence-based pedal assist or the variable thumb throttle, hydraulic brakes by Zoom are easy to actuate and include motor inhibitors, and the Shimano Altus 1x8 setup provides a reliable shifting experience
- The cadence sensor is not sealed leaving it vulnerable to damage or loss of magnets, there is no puncture protection or reflective sidewall striping for the tires, and there are also no reflectors on the spokes
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 Ebikes. 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 has another model called the Flow, it is sold as a separate model but it is essentially a step-through version of the Sport as everything except for the frame is identical. We reviewed the Flow back in 2018, you can check that review out here to see how things have changed: Espin Flow Review
- 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!
- Josh Lam, one of Espin’s co-founders, has lived in Shanghai and speaks fluent Mandarin. This has allowed him to select factories effectively and work with them very closely, and it seems to be a big part of how they’ve been able to provide so much quality at a low price point for all of Espin’s Ebike models
- The Sport is what I call “feature-complete” as it comes standard with a rear rack, fenders, a suspension fork, and integrated lights
- The rear rack is a standard rack with a weight limit of 55lb (25kg). A rack like this isn’t as strong as a weld-mounted rack, but having a standard rack is attractive for a lot of people because it’s easy to find accessories such as trunk bags or panniers that can attach to the standard gauge tubing… and of course you can also remove it if you need to do so, for example you might want to mount a trailer or another accessory that needs to mount at the same points
- The fenders on the Sport are large and plastic, which means they are more lightweight and a bit more resilient than steel or alloy
- The integrated lights are made by Spanninga and they are high quality, emitting plenty of light for visibility in addition to being great for safety. Having both the front and rear light integrated makes them easy to turn on and off from the control pad, as opposed to some Ebikes that have a separately powered and controlled rear light
- A good range of adjustments available for different sizes of riders, I was particularly impressed by being able to raise the saddle far enough to get full leg extension while riding. I am 6’3″ and it is rare for me to find this comfortable of a fit on a one-size-fits-all bike like the Sport. Also helping with the approachability is the angle of the top tube, it’s what I call a “mid-step” since it’s lower than a high-step but not into step-thru territory
- The Sport shines as a mixed-use bike. The rack for storage, fenders to keep you clean and dry, and considerations for comfort make it a solid commuting bike that also has plenty of range thanks to the 696 watt-hours of battery capacity. The suspension fork and forward riding position help it to perform well for trail and off-road use as well, although if you plan to do much of that you should probably add some puncture protection to the tires and perhaps a suspension seatpost for particularly bumpy terrain
- Plenty of power from the 500-watt Bafang rear hub motor accessible through cadence-base pedal assist or by using the thumb throttle on the left grip. This is a good (and common) combination on Ebikes in this price range, cadence sensors are great for cost-savings but there is some delay when starting and stopping, so it’s nice to have the throttle for getting started before the cadence sensor kicks in
- Another note on the motor: The Sport ships from Espin as a Class 2 ebike but it is capable of higher speeds, so if you wish you can increase the top speed to 28mph which pushes it to a Class 3. There are a lot of considerations to make first, make sure you check the laws and regulations in your area, and keep in mind that operating at a higher speed will mean more wear and tear on the motor
- Plenty of stopping power thanks to hydraulic disc brakes from Zoom, these are using dual-piston calipers and 160mm rotors and are easier to actuate than mechanical brakes. Another benefit is that hydraulic brakes require less maintenance, and I also appreciate that these brakes are equipped with motor inhibitors. This means that squeezing the brake levers even a little bit will cut off power to the motor, an important safety feature on a bike like this that uses a cadence sensor since there is a delay between when you stop pedaling and when the motor shuts off
- The Shimano Altus groupset is a step up in quality compared to Tourney, Shimano’s entry-level groupset. This is a 1×8 setup with trigger shifters and a range of 11-30 teeth on the rear cassette, and I appreciate the large plastic bash guard on the chainring which offers protection and keeps the chain from bouncing off when riding on bumpy terrain
- The ride experience is comfortable thanks to the Selle Royale Freeway saddle, locking ergonomic rubber grips, and the 100mm of travel in the suspension fork from SR Suntour. This is a coil suspension fork so you can adjust the preload on both sides, good to do if you are a heavier rider or carrying a lot of cargo. Everyone can appreciate comfort but it becomes even more important when riding daily for a medium or long distance commute!
- Full throttle power is available from any of the four assist levels, this is my preferred configuration… for comparison, some Ebikes will limit throttle power according to assist level. I prefer having full throttle even when riding in assist level 1, it’s nice if you’re riding at a slower pace and just need to accelerate to catch up with a friend or pass someone on a bike path
- Clean and efficient integration of electronics components make the Sport look sleek, and this also helps to lower the theft risk. Many Ebikes are very obvious and scream high-dollar to a thief, but the Sport is fairly stealthy thanks to the seamless battery integration in the downtube and the rear hub motor being less obvious than a mid-drive motor
- The monochrome LCD is fairly big and incredibly easy to read even in direct sunlight
- The included multi-tool is impressive, offering a range of Allen wrenches and even socket wrenches, this is a nice upgrade when most manufacturers will only give you one Allen wrench and maybe a screwdriver
- The cadence sensor has 12 magnets for high resolution, a nice upgrade compared to the four-magnet sensor on last year’s model… but it is not a sealed sensor. It is positioned well between the bash guard and the frame, but it is still vulnerable to getting bumped and bent, and to magnets falling out. If you notice odd behavior from pedal assistance, this sensor should be the first place to inspect.
- The Sport is only available in one frame size which is a 17″ frame. It is adjustable and you can also check out the Flow model if you prefer a step-thru variant, but if you’re a very short or very tall rider I recommend you test ride at an Espin dealer before buying.
- The right chainstay does not have a slap guard and is thus vulnerable to getting scratches by the chain when you go over bumps. You can pick up a proper slap guard for cheap at any bike shop, or go with a more low-tech solution and just add some clear tape.
- These Kenda Komfort tires are fairly basic and do not include any puncture protection or reflective striping, and actually there aren’t even any side reflectors on the spokes. This is a bummer for me because side visibility is important for safety, especially when riding at night, so I recommend at least adding some reflectors to the spokes. Adding sealant or a puncture-resistant liner is low cost to do yourself, just keep in mind anything that requires you to remove the rear wheel on the Sport will be more difficult due to the rear hub motor.
- Every type of fender has its trade-offs, the downside of plastic fenders is that they tend to rattle more than steel or aluminum alloy fenders. The plus side is that they weigh less and are immune to the scratches, rust, and dents/dings that can happen with metal fenders.
- The suspension fork has decent travel but is coil only which is fairly basic and doesn’t offer lockout, however you can still use the clickers on each side to adjust preload if you find yourself bottoming out
- There are no bottle cage bosses which would be useful not just for bottle cages but also for mounting all sorts of other accessories. You can still mount directly to the frame but it won’t be as stable as mounting to bosses.