The Evelo Galaxy is a mixed bag because it delivers a unique belt drive and continuously variable transmission that works seamlessly with the quiet Bafang Max Drive motor… it gives you lights, fenders, a sturdy rear rack, and even comes in two colors for a his/hers setup. But, the lights are independent vs. wired in, the fenders rattle a bit despite having extra support struts, the step-thru frame flexes a bit (especially because the battery pack is mounted high up and in the rear vs. low and center), and it just costs a lot. The base model is $3,499 which gets you everything but hydraulic disc brakes and fancy electronic shifting. For people with wrist sensitivity or limited hand strength, the “Fully Loaded” upgrades are worth it. Stopping is easier, the brake levers are adjustable so you can bring them in a bit, and the grip shifter is sending electrical signals vs. pulling a wire. In addition to the Fully Loaded option, Evelo also sells a range of accessories like bags and locks. This is a company that really stands out for their customer support and post-purchase service, especially for an online-mostly business model. Yes, they do have a physical store in Seattle, Washington (which I visited for this review) but most of their sales happen online. You get a comprehensive two year warranty along with four years of extended coverage and a special battery replacement plan where you pay based on a sliding scale for how long you’ve had the bike vs. full MSRP. I was amazed to see some of the earliest Evelo electric bicycle models still being supported when I visited the shop, even being refurbished and sold at a discount. This behavior is inspiring, and full of effort at times I am sure, but they keep on going. The company has been around since what I would consider the early days in the US, around 2012.
Driving the Evelo Galaxy Step-Thru is a Bafang Max Drive, one of my favorite new motors to hit the ebike space… sort of. Just like the bike, this motor comes with a strong list of likes as well as a couple of missed opportunities. It’s powerful, putting out 350 to 750 watts, and it can definitely climb, with peak torque rated at 80 Newton meters. For those who are new to the space, that’s in the upper range, what you would normally see on electric mountain bikes. It’s also very compact, quiet, and responsive. I never felt like the motor was running longer than expected or delaying to start (which can cause muscle and knee pain if you’re sensitive like me). The motor is right there when you need it, measuring a combination of rear wheel speed and pedal torque. But stopping is important too, so it’s great that Evelo has opted for the fancier brake levers with integrated switches that cut power to the motor whenever they are pulled. This results in a bit of clutter near the front of the bike (brake lines, motor inhibitor lines, shifter lines, display lines, throttle lines) but almost immediately after, they are channeled through the frame and hidden from view. So what are the misses? The biggest one for me is actually how the throttle performs. Instead of being active all the time, you need to have the assist in levels 1-5 and the amount of power you have access to is related to which level you choose. This is frustrating considering that the throttle offers a variable signal output, like you push it further and get more power… just not all of the power you might without first arrowing up to the highest level of assist. And, once you do arrow up in assist, your pedaling experience is going to be a lot different. I frequently use the throttle system on other e-bikes to add power for hills, catch up to friends, or zip across a street… and then return to my lower assist level to save power or slow down to a more comfortable pace. This is still possible with the Evelo Galaxy, it just takes more clicks on the button pad. The other frustrating thing about the throttle is that it will not engage unless the bike is already going 6+ miles per hour. This means that there are times when riding in a low gear and climbing, that the bike just won’t go fast enough to use the throttle… and yet, if you shift to a higher gear, it could strain the motor. I wish the limit was more like 2 miles per hour vs. 6 mph as that is the setting on most other systems that opt for a speed limitation.
Powering the bike and backlight display panel, but not the lights, is a rack mounted Lithium-ion battery pack. It offers slightly higher than average capacity at 36 volts 13 amp hours, and can be charged on or off the bike with the basic 2 Amp charger. When you mount the battery to the rack, you have to use the key to lock it in place. I noticed that during some of my ride tests, on very bumpy streets, the battery and plastic fenders made some rattling noise. Not a whole lot, but more than some Aluminum fenders and mid-mounted or downtube-integrated battery packs I have seen on other products. The battery position is not ideal for handling, and I did notice some speed wobble when riding with no hands during part of the test. Speed wobble happens in some cases based on weight distribution, frame stiffness, and headtube angle. Basically, the front wheel can start to shake a bit from side to side and become unstable, but this doesn’t seem to be an issue at slower speeds and if you hold the handlebar like a responsible rider ;) The best part of the battery for me, is that it is covered by that great warranty and is positioned out of the way so mounting and standing over the frame is a cinch. This e-bike is very approachable, but it only comes in one frame size, so I guess the approachability is dependent on your body size. An adjustable-angle stem or even a shorter stem could make a big difference in fit and would be relatively affordable. The saddle height is very easy to adjust up and down, and I love the faux leather sprung saddle and padded grips.
Powering on and controlling the electric drive systems is pretty easy with this bike and the display is large and crisp. Once the battery pack is charged and mounted, simply press the M button at the base of the control pad and the LCD will blink to life, showing your current speed, assist level, odometer and other stats. The control ring also has an up and down arrow, which let you navigate from 0 to 5 for different levels of assist and throttle power. The throttle does not work at level zero, and as mentioned earlier, you need to be going at least six miles per hour for it to function at all in levels 1-5. A few quick tips for using this control system: hold up and M to switch from average speed to max speed readouts, hold up on its own to activate the display backlight, and hold the down arrow to initiate walk mode. This last one can be useful if the bike is loaded up with groceries or you’re in grass or a hill but preferring to walk vs. ride. Note that the display panel can be swiveled forward and back to reduce glare, but is not removable. So there could be some weather exposure and scratches from parking outside and at bike racks. Also note, the throttle and control ring are both mounted to the left part of the handle bar, and reaching the buttons requires that you reach over the throttle mount which can be a stretch for smaller hands. Some people prefer having the throttle on the right side, but that isn’t possible due to the grip shifter for the NuVinci N380. All in all, the cockpit works well enough and the swept-back handlebar is comfortable and relaxed.
Even though I’ve expressed some complaints here, the Evelo Galaxy ST is still one of the more approachable, powerful, and dynamic cruiser style electric bikes I have seen. The belt drive is clean, quiet, and more reliable than a chain. The continuously variable transmission is not as vulnerable to the forces of a mid-drive motor as an internally geared hub or traditional cassette+derailleur would be, especially because the Bafang Max Drive motor does not have shift detection. The addition of bottle cage bosses, a sturdy double-leg kickstand, thicker spokes and rims with eyelets, and a max weight rating of 300+ lbs makes this a great platform for many uses and types of people. And, because it comes in light blue or light brown, it can fit your personality better while enabling you to be comfortable. Big thanks to Evelo for partnering with me on this review and taking me to such a cool spot to film in Seattle! There were people swimming, the day was beautiful, and we really got to stress test the bikes on some steep hills. It was incredible just how strong the bikes were when climbing, and I was relatively comfortable on the sprung saddle despite there being no suspension fork or seat post suspension. The tires, swept back bar, padded grips, and saddle provide good enough comfort while keeping weight and flex down.
- Evelo has been in business selling electric bikes in the United States longer than most of the other brands I have reviewed for, since 2012, they offer one of the best warranties and proactive customer service that I would rank close to the top
- I really like the motor they chose for the Galaxy line of electric bikes, the Bafang Max Drive unit is powerful, efficient, and super quiet, if you opt for the belt drive and continuously variable transmission (shown in the images and video above) it performs near perfectly because you don’t have to worry about mashing gears or the chain falling off
- The frame and wheelset on this bike felt very solid, considering it is built around a deep wave “step-thru” design, it’s rated to 300+ lbs, the benefit is that it’s approachable; easier to mount and stand over
- The faux leather saddle and matching grips look nice but are also soft and comfortable, the swept back bar and spring design on the saddle offer just enough cushion to help smooth out vibration and bumps, note that this e-bike does not have a suspension fork… you could further smooth out the ride by swapping the rigid seat post with a 27.2 mm suspension post like this but keep in mind, it will raise the minimum saddle height by ~3 inches
- Even though this electric bicycle only comes in one frame size for the step-thru setup, you can get a slightly larger high-step frame called the Galaxy TT, I like that at least you get two colors here which reflect a sort of his and hers setup (light blue or light brown)
- It’s really expensive to develop a frame that can work with belt drives, so that’s a big deal and something that really sets the Evelo Galaxy models apart, they had to engineer a cutout on the rear right seat stay for the belt to go through since it cannot be unlinked like a chain
- The motor is very capable, offering up to 80 Newton meters of peak torque, it should be able to climb anything as long as you shift down to a lower gear, I like that both brake levers have motor inhibitors that cut power instantly when pulled so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the power of the bike
- Stable double-leg kickstand makes the bike easy to load up (like the rack at the rear) if you’re someone who commutes or would ride this to the store for groceries etc.
- Minor pro, they bike has bottle cage bosses on the main tube! This could get in the way and possibly kicked because there is no tubing over them, but you could always use this for a folding lock or mini-pump which wouldn’t stick out as far
- It’s cool that Evelo has some “guaranteed to fit” accessory options like the quicklock chain and the trunk bag with zip-out panniers, I like the bag a lot because it’s reflective and has some Evelo branding on it
- I was told that Evelo uses A and B rated high-quality cells and I like that their battery pack can be charged on or off the bike because that means you can store it inside away from the cold or heat to help protect it and last longer
- Very few electric bikes offer the Harmony electronic shifting and I noticed that the grip shifter was so easy to turn with this option, it didn’t require the same hand strength to use and that could be a big win for someone with sensitive wrists or strength limitations
- The frame only comes in one size and the stem is a bit long and forward, I think this electric bike would be a good candidate for a quality adjustable angle stem (or you could just replace the stem with a shorter one if you’re a smaller person with shorter reach)
- Priced at $3,899 for the “fully loaded” model, this is definitely one of the more expensive electric bikes that isn’t from one of the big brands like Trek or Specialized, but it does really pack in the features (electronic shifting, belt drive, continuously variable transmission) so I think it’s actually worth it
- Evelo has done the right thing by adding motor inhibitors on both brake levers, but the extra wires up front can get a bit cluttered and messy looking, thankfully, once they curve back towards the frame they are mostly internally routed
- I wish the throttle would activate at 2 mph instead of 6 mph because in the lower gears for climbing, the bike just isn’t going to go as fast and the throttle might not work… so you’ll have to pedal
- The Galaxy models are definitely on the heavy side, this one weighing in at about 58 pounds, and some of that is due to the reinforced frame, fenders, and rack, as well as the continuously variable transmission hub, note also that some of the weight is high up and towards the back (in that battery pack) which is not ideal for handling and stability, I did experience some speed wobble when riding with no hands because of the weight distribution, but at least it opens up the main section of frame for easier mounting
- I like that the bike has LED lights, but I wish they were running off of the main rechargeable battery vs. being independent battery powered because this requires more time to turn on/off and disposable cells
- The kickstand hangs down a bit low, I didn’t have and issue with it dragging at all when I turned sharp, it just made me wonder if there would be times when it bangs on curbs or other obstacles
- I don’t know a lot about the tires on this bike but it appears they do not have puncture protection lining or reflective sidewall stripes, considering how expensive this electric bike is, that sort of bums me out… fixing a flat tire on an electric bike is no fun, especially with the fancy NuVinci CVT and belt drive, consider upgrading to something like this from Schwalbe
- The throttle power is limited by whatever pedal assist level you choose, in some ways, this bothers me because I often use the throttle to get extra help up a hill or pass a slow rider… but this system would require me to arrow up to a higher level and then use the throttle even though the throttle has a full range of motion built in, I wish I could just push further for more power