The EVELO Galaxy line offers something very unique, a mid-drive motor combined with a carbon belt and continuously variable transmission. This is a combination of parts that offer efficiency, shifting at anytime (even standstill), and durability. The belt is clean, won’t fall off as easily as a chain, and will last longer. The NuVinci continuously variable transmission hub is completely sealed and doesn’t rely on a vulnerable external derailleur to change gears. The Bafang Max Drive motor is not only responsive, because it relies on a torque sensor, but also exceedingly quiet and efficient. The Galaxy TT is the “top tube” high-step model which is slightly larger than the ST “step-thru” frame and only comes in one size and color. It’s the best choice for taller riders, those who want a more masculine look, and those who value stiffness and performance. The frame doesn’t flex as much as the ST and it may be easier to lift and hang on some car and bus racks. The bike isn’t perfect however, it’s pretty heavy at ~58.5 lbs and kind of expensive starting at $3,499, but that custom drivetrain is not cheap. Rather than using a stock frame, this one has a cutaway section in the right chainstay to accommodate the belt. In order to still hit their 300 lb max weight rating, the frame has to be reinforced… but they also managed to route most of the cables internally through the frame tubing, add bottle cage bosses onto the seat tube, and implement a precision horizontal dropout system to tighten the belt. In short, I feel that they did a good job and that the end result justifies the higher price. This is about the furthest you can come from a do-it-yourself electric bike or a basic hub motor design, it’s the kind of thing that only a company with buying power and engineering expertise could pull off. And Evelo has been around for many years doing just that. They offer renowned customer service and now have a physical outlet in Seattle (where I filmed the video review) so you can drop by and test one out yourself. Before digging in too much deeper, the other trade-offs I discovered were the basic tires, limited throttle functionality, and mechanical disc brakes. For an additional $400, you can get upgraded hydraulic disc brakes with adjustable reach levers and an electronic auto-shifting NuVinci harmony drivetrain vs. the stock mechanical one. It’s pretty amazing to ride a bike and have it automatically adjust the gearing so you can pedal comfortably at a set cadence without even thinking, and that’s what the Harmony offers…
Propelling this electric bike is a Bafang Max Drive internally geared mid-motor. It’s relatively compact, impressively powerful (producing up to 80 Newton meters of torque), and ranges from 350 to 750 watts of power output. It’s a beast, but a quiet one, very quiet. Seriously, I have tested all of the mainstream mid-drive motors that are out right now in the USA (mid 2017) and the Max drive strikes a balance between responsiveness, affordability, and quiet-smooth operation. I like it a lot, even though it doesn’t have shift detection like Bosch… and with the single-sprocket belt system here and the internally geared CVT drivetrain, you really don’t need shift detection. As you pedal, the motor controller measures rear wheel speed and pedal torque. The more torque you apply, and the higher level of assist that you select, the more power and speed produced by the motor. It’s up to you to shift thoughtfully in order to reach higher speeds or climb more effectively, but as you do, the motor benefits and becomes more efficient. It’s a fancier design than a hub motor and this is part of what makes the bike cost more. The NuVinci N380 continuously variable transmission hub in the rear wheel uses orbs to pivot and translate sprocket spinning speed into wheel movement speed. It’s smooth and durable (because there’s no derailleur sticking out the side) but it weighs and costs more too. If you get the upgraded Harmony electronic NuVinci, the system looks to you for guidance on pedal speed and then automatically shifts to keep your input constant. The speed of the bike will change but you won’t have to change how hard you’re working or think about shifting with the right grip as you ride. Both systems look similar but the electronic Harmony hub has a plastic box on the right side to house electronics.
Powering the bike is a 36 volt 13 amp hour Lithium-ion battery pack that slides into the rear rack. I was told that the cells inside are made by Samsung and are of A and B quality so they should age well and maintain a higher average capacity. And Evelo backs this up with a solid two-year comprehensive warranty. In fact, they offer up to four years for everything except the battery pack which is an industry leading plan. I visited their shop and saw several returned products and those which were undergoing service, and I came away very impressed. It is not cheap or trivial to offer this level of service but they pull it off and instill a level of trust that most other brands just don’t reach. Evelo is a mid-sized company, they answer the phone when you call and jump on issues as they come up… even going so far as to service competing products that use similar systems like older iGO models. So anyway, the battery design and size isn’t the world’s most impressive setup, but it’s still above average and should work well for most customers. The position of the battery isn’t ideal, up high and towards the back of the bike, but I understand that they used the same battery and rack for both the TT and ST models which makes it cheaper and easier to service. It wouldn’t have made sense to use a mid-mount battery on the ST because that would have gotten in the way of the wave step-thru frame. The rear rack design felt solid and had pannier side blockers and a nice bungee attachment hole near the bottom which made it seem very useful and versatile. It’s a capable rack, and only a portion of the 53 lb max capacity is used by the 7.4 lb battery pack, so you could use it for books, groceries, or riding gear like a lock and the battery charger. Range will vary depending on whether you use pedal assist or rely on the throttle, how much weight is being moved, what the terrain is like, and what level of assist you choose. But, you can bring the compact 1.1 lb charger along for a fill-up very easily. It’s a standard 2 Amp design and should offer 50% in just a couple of hours if the pack is near empty.
Operating the Galaxy TT electric bike is pretty simple. You charge and mount the battery (the pack can be charged on or off the frame for convenience) and there’s no on/off switch or key that has to be left in here, you just seat it into the rack until it clicks and then press and hold the M button on the control ring, located near the left grip. The King Meter display comes to life pretty quickly and shows many stats. It’s large, backlit, and easy to read, and even pivots to reduce glare. This display is not removable, but it is well sealed against rain and light water contact. The basic interaction is to press the up or down arrow on the control ring to add or remove assist power. Level zero allows you to ride along like a normal, albeit heavy, bicycle. Levels 1 through 5 provide increasing power and this setting applies to both pedal assist and throttle operation. And this is where I have a big gripe, the throttle only becomes active after you’ve reached six miles per hour! At that speed, it kind of feels like why even have a throttle? I mostly use electric bike throttles to accelerate from stops so I don’t have to work as much and stress my knee. Thankfully, the Bafang motor torque sensor is responsive enough that I wasn’t straining too much, but it just meant that I rarely used the throttle once the bike was moving. A few times, when climbing a hill, I tried using the throttle to see how powerful the motor was on its own, but in order to climb I had set the gearing to low… and this has the consequence of reducing the speed of the bike… So guess what, the motor cut out in throttle mode and I had to pedal again. I believe this is a factory setting that Bafang configures and it is not my favorite. I would prefer a throttle that did not cutout at all or if it had to (for safety concerns about bumping the throttle while the bike is parked) at least make it 2 miles per hour vs. 6 mph and then let the throttle offer full speed vs. limiting it! This is a variable speed trigger throttle with a range of motion that can be used to control speed, so why cap it electronically by the assist level. Bafang!!! Okay, anyway, there are still times that it’s nice to sit back and give your feet a rest when you aren’t climbing a steep hill and are able to maintain 6+ mph, and for those moments, this throttle works okay. It does however, push the control ring further in towards the center of the bars, making changing assist levels less comfortable with your thumb. There are other settings you can control with the button ring as well, such as walk mode (hold the down arrow) or cycling through trip stats (press up and M simultaneously). I did not see a USB charging port anywhere, which is another minor opportunity for adding utility that Evelo could consider in the future.
In conclusion, the Galaxy TT is one of my favorite new Evelo electric bicycles… even though it feels like there is a missed opportunity with how the throttle functions. I like that they offer two versions of the bike to keep the base level affordable and understand why it costs as much as it does. This is a special e-bike and it’s a pleasure to ride. Despite not having a suspension fork, it felt comfortable and possibly stiffer and more stable than it would have otherwise. The aesthetics are a big win and even the mechanical disc brakes get the job done. Safety is addressed very well with the motor-inhibiting brake levers and the throttle activation design. The bike is quiet, offers lots of utility with the rack and fenders, and is below average in terms of lighting and reflectiveness, but at least it comes with lights. The rechargeable flashing headlight is a good and somewhat rare choice, just make sure to take it with you so nobody steals it at the bike rack. This happened to my Mom once when we were out for a ride and it really upset me… stealing someone’s cheap light could result in them being killed by a car or accidental collision with another pedestrian during the dark ride home, is it really worth it people? Tire and inner tube upgrades might be a good idea if you live somewhere with thorns or sharp objects on the road because the stock tires don’t have puncture protection lining and I doubt the inner tubes are slimed or extra thick. A suspension seat post is an interesting upgrade option for those with back and neck sensitivity like me, but it will raise the minimum saddle height by a few inches so keep that in mind. I love how Evelo offers a full range of accessories that are guaranteed to work with their bikes like trunk bags, chain locks, and security hardware for the front wheel and seat tube collar. To me, this has always been one of the nicer companies to work with, they are polite and hard working. Big thanks to the Evelo team for partnering with me on this review and providing the TT and ST back to back for comparison in such a beautiful location. I personally like the ST better for how easy it is to mount and love that it comes in two colors (a slightly more feminine light blue and more masculine brown).
- I like the motor that Evelo is using for their Galaxy series of electric bikes, the Bafang Max Drive is powerful, smooth, and incredibly quiet (even compared with Bosch, Yamaha, and Brose)
- The combination of a mid-drive motor pulling a belt drive and shifting a continuously variable transmission hub is the cleanest, quietest, and most reliable you can get
- Considering that the Evelo Galaxy ST has such a nice rear rack (with pannier blockers and bungee connector hole), I’m glad that they opted for a heavy-duty double-leg kickstand so you can load it up without tipping the bike
- I like having fenders for those wet days and the hardware chosen for the Galaxy electric bicycles is a bit longer and has mud flaps at the bottom, I noticed that there are extra support struts for strength but there was still some rattling when riding over bumps
- The NuVinci CVT hub allows you to shift gears at standstill which is handy if you stop on a hill, it should hold up well even if you shift while the motor is working (though it requires more effort)
- Gates is a leading producer of carbon belt drive systems and the CDX uses a center track to stay on track, the belt should hold up longer than a chain and won’t make as much noise or be as messy in most cases, note that the frame had to be custom built to work with a belt drive… it has horizontal rear dropouts to keep the belt tight and a cutaway on the right seat stay to get the belt on and off for replacement
- The saddle and grips match beautifully, overall, the paint job and silver accents blend together nicely to make this look like a more premium product
- Most geared hub systems are well protected against side tips and banging up against other bikes at the rack because there is no derailleur sticking out of the right side, that’s the case here for sure, it’s just ore durable
- Evelo was able to fit bottle cage bosses onto the seat tube and I love this, you can reach your bottle easier here than if it’s in a rear bag and if you don’t care about fluids, you can use this spot for mounting a folding lock or mini-pump accessory
- Evelo has a bunch of accessories on their website including a nice trunk bag that works well with the rear rack on this bike, I like that the bag has reflective accents for safety and some zip-out panniers for increased capacity
- The bike seemed really sturdy, the diamond frame is stiff and solid, the double walled rims have reinforcement nipples, and the spokes are 13 gauge which is thicker than average
- There seem to be very few mid-drive electric bikes that have throttle on demand, it’s a neat option for when you want to take a break from pedaling, but I noticed the throttle wasn’t active at zero and is also limited by the level of assist you choose… so, you have to be going 6+ mph to use it and then you can’t go faster than you already were which is useful to catch up or climb a hill, I think Bafang should offer more options for how their throttle operates to make it more useful, or maybe they did this limitation to protect the motor or something? Most other bikes allow you to use the throttle from standstill at full power or limit the the throttle to 2+ mph but 6+ mph is a bit silly to me
- Minor pro here, it’s great that the bike comes with lights and I like that the headlight is rechargeable, but it’s even nicer to have integrated lights that just run off of the battery and don’t have to be turned on/off every time you use the bike, these independent lights are also easier to get stolen (especially the headlight)… but it’s great that the headlight has a blinking mode (very few integrated lights do that)
- If you hold the down arrow, walk mode will activate and help you push the bike forward which is really useful for steep inclines, or just hanging out with a friend and navigating a crowded area off the bike
- This e-bike is a bit expensive but I understand why it costs more… the mechanical NuVinci CVT hub, belt drive, and mid-motor are not cheap, I like that they have a $400 upgrade option for nicer hydraulic disc brakes and the electronic NuVinci Harmony drivetrain with automatic shifting
- The stock mechanical disc brakes are decent, you get 180 mm rotors to handle the heavier weight and motor inhibitors to stop the powerful motor in an instant, but the levers aren’t adjustable for reach unless you pay for the upgrade
- Weighing in at nearly 59 lbs, this is not a lightweight electric bike, the battery alone is ~7.4 lbs but at least it’s removable for easier transport or charging independently
- There’s only one frame size and color option for the high-step TT model, but you could always opt for the slightly smaller, slightly lighter step-thru ST model which comes in two colors, the TT frame looks more masculine and is a bit stiffer but I really liked the ST and appreciate the brown color scheme option there
- The cockpit is a bit crowded with the large display and trigger throttle and there’s some wire clutter up front because of the extra motor inhibitor cables coming out of the brake levers… but this is such a minor thing, the wires route through the frame just after the head tube which looks nice and reduces snags
- This is a slightly more rear-heavy electric bike because of where the battery is positioned in the rear rack, thankfully, the mid-drive motor brings a lot of weight down and low, but the NuVinci hub also adds weight at the back so overall there’s just more weight there which can cause frame flex and slow the turning speed and handling
- There’s no suspension fork or seat post suspension present which could smooth out large bumps, but the sprung saddle, padded grips, 2″ high volume tires, and swept-back handlebar all work together to reduce vibration
- The stock tires are pretty basic, they don’t have reflective sidewall stripes or puncture protection lining and it’s no fun to get a flat tire… so I might use some Slime tubes or just upgrade the tires with a 27.5″ x 2″ model from Schwalbe like the Big Ben with Race Guard or skinnier Marathon Plus
- Minor grip here but the electronic wires up front use press fit connectors vs. threaded better-sealed connectors that I see sometimes on other expensive ebikes
- I noticed a bit of speed wobble (where the front wheel jitters side to side as you go faster) in part because of the heavier frame with the rear weight, but it wasn’t a big issue when my hands were on the bars
- The display is not removable, which means it can take more weather wear if parked outside or get scratched up at a bike rack… but it does angle forward and back and won’t get lost as easily or get loose