- A very custom engineered mid-drive electric bike from Canada, rather than pulling the chain like other designs, it runs a stand-alone belt drive so as not to mash gears and it is very quiet
- Available in four frame sizes and two color combinations but only high-step, at ~45 lbs I would consider this a light ebike but the efficient narrow tires and lack of suspension make it feel stiff
- Hydraulic disc brakes provide smooth, powerful, stops and the adjustable-reach brake levers are handy if you're wearing gloves or have small hands, unfortunately, I did not see motor inhibitors
- Purpose-built frame keeps the battery and motor weight low, most cables and wires are hidden through internal routing, you get rack, fender, and bottle cage mounting points
eVox is a Canadian company that prides itself on designing and producing electric bikes, start to finish. You may be familiar with their City model which is used for some bike share and rental programs in Canada. That design is easier to mount and stand over but quite a bit heavier at 52 lbs. vs. the KAB 375’s 45 lbs. The KAB is a sportier electric bike, one that coasts efficiently on 700c skinny tires, provides better power transfer from a rigid diamond frame, and feels well balanced front to rear. You could still set it up for commuting by adding fenders and a rear rack because the mounting points are there… or you could upgrade to the KAB 475+ for $800 more and get those accessories plus a larger 475 watt-hour pack vs. the 375 watt-hour pack here. The KAB 375 is the least expensive, lightest weight, electric bike in the entire eVox line right now and that’s partially due to its lower capacity battery. I like how it blends into the frame visually, in part due to the inset mounting and black paint accents. Much of the motor and battery weight is positioned low and center on the frame but the unique flywheel system does move some weight towards the rear. In short, this is one of the quietest mid-drive e-bikes I have reviewed and it separates the motor from the drivetrain, reducing wear on your chain, sprockets, and derailleur. The big trade-off, however, is that you don’t get the mechanical advantage of switching gears for the motor, it runs at a range of speeds but only has one gear, that big flywheel on the left side.
The model I test rode for this review was not production ready and I decided to wait to post this article until I could gather more information from the official eVox website. I noticed that their photographs show a bottle cage mounting point on the seat tube and a slightly different steering tube. The written details are sparse, and I wasn’t able to confirm the final brake setup but my test unit did not have motor inhibitors. it’s not the end of the world because the cadence sensor was fairly responsive, but this is a feature that the City model did have. Motor inhibitors send an instant signal for the drive system to shut off which can be useful if you don’t have powerful brakes. The eVox KAB 375 has 160 mm hydraulic disc brakes that feel smooth and powerful. I like that the brake levers area adjustable so you can bring them in if you have smaller hands or wear gloves while riding (just don’t bring them too far in or you can pinch your grip fingers). You get an eight-speed cassette here, it’s the third step-up from the base model in the Shimano line. Eight gears is enough for riding around town and maintaining a ~20 mph top speed comfortably. the model I tried actually went slightly faster than 20 mph which was interesting and kind of nice for people who commute and want to arrive sooner. I wouldn’t call this a speed pedelec (those bikes can reach ~28 mph but are classified differently).
Other highlights include reflective tires and reinforced Alex rims. I do wish the bike came with a kickstand and had a removable display panel but at least you can take the battery pack off to reduce weight or charge separately. At ~$2,200 this what I would consider an affordable electric bike, but the custom motor, integrated battery, and cut away frame (to allow for a belt drive on the motor) all add up. Is it worth the extra money? Well, if you like supporting local companies and appreciate a system that is well balanced, quiet, and not difficult to use, then yes! I prefer cadence sensors in some situations because they only sense pedal movement, not how hard you’re pushing. A big downside to this type of sensor, however, is that it can create mashing if you shift gears because the motor may still be running even if you slow down and ease off of your pedaling movement. With the eVox KAB, this is completely solved by separating the motor drivetrain from your pedaling drivetrain. It’s a novel design, not quite as efficient as a single combined drivetrain but way more balanced than a hub motor. To me, the bike looks good, rides fairly well, and feels safe with a generous warranty. The biggest complaint (at least when riding in New York City) is that the bike can feel stiff and uncomfortable when riding on bumpy streets with regular cracks and potholes. If your streets are smooth, this won’t be an issue, but for the rest of us, I recommend swapping the seat post out with a suspension post that is 27.2 mm in diameter. You can get these from shops or online and Thudbuster, BodyFloat, and the Suntour NCX are just a cuple of good options. I apologize for the incompleteness of this review and early-look but I welcome your feedback if you have seen, test ridden, or owned the KAB.
- Available in four frame sizes to improve fit and comfort, only one style (high-step) so this is a more rigid, active design
- Two color schemes to choose from including blue with black or platinum with black, the motor and battery blend in with the black portions well
- Drive system weight is kept low and centered on the frame, this improves handling and provides space for adding a bottle cage and frame bag
- Evox is designed and assembled in Canada, they control the entire process which has allowed for a unique drive system and they claim to deliver a better experience for customers
- This is one of the lightest electric bikes I have tested, the narrow tires, lack of suspension, and smaller battery pack all reduce weight
- The chainring has an alloy guide (two metal plates that sandwich the chain on either side), and this keeps the chain from falling off, helps your pants slough aside vs. snagging, and also protects the drivetrain if you high-center on a curb or rock
- Acera is two steps up from the base level shifter in the Shimano line, eight speeds is good for urban riding up to 20 mph, and I like that it functions separately from the motor propulsion system despite being a mid-drive… usually the motor pulls the chain and can wear your sprockets and derailleur but eVox has designed it separately
- I appreciate the upgraded rims with reinforcement eyelets to handle more weight and force as well as the reflective paint on the tires for safety (especially for the darker blue frame)
- Hydraulic disc brakes are easier to use than mechanical and offer adjustable reach levers,
this is nice if you have small hands or wear gloves when cycling
- This is a purpose-built electric bike with the unique mid-motor position, cut-away seat stay on the left side for their belt drive, and internally routed cables, it looks nicer than converted bikes and actually blends in pretty well with the inset battery
- I really like that the display panel lists the battery percentage along with an infographic with six ticks, this is much more useful for approximating range
- I like that the KAB comes in three different setups with a larger 475 watt-hour battery and the 475+ which has a rack and fenders! You could still add a rear rack and fenders on the 375 here because it has the frame bosses in place
- The motor is very quiet, sometimes mid-drive motors produce a whirring noise at high RPM but this one felt smooth and wasn’t loud
- I like that the battery pack has a USB charging port on the side but don’t love where it’s located (down near the crank arms) because you’d have to run a cable across the frame to power lights or charge your phone etc.
- I appreciate the large, backlit display panel, it’s easy to see and can be angled to reduce glare… but it’s not removable so could take weather damage or get scratched at racks easier
- The frame and fork are rigid and the tires are high-pressure city style which don’t absorb the shock of bumps and cracks, consider swapping the seat post with a 27.2 mm Thudbuster or other suspension to improve comfort
- Most mid-drive electric bike models allow you to empower the motor by shifting gears because they pull the same chain that you pedal with… but eVox has designed a separate belt-drive which doesn’t benefit when you shift… but it also makes shifting smoother
- Cadence sensing pedal assist requires a bit more time to switch on and off and can feel abrupt compared to torque or a combination torque/cadence/speed sensor, I didn’t see motor inhibitors on the brake levers with this demo model but the hydraulic brakes are pretty strong which can help to override the motor quicker
- The unit I reviewed required a two-step power on process, first you press the battery on switch and then hold the power button at the control pad near the left grip
- I’m not sure if the production version of the bike will have a kickstand or not but I missed having one, for urban riding, I feel like it’s worth the extra weight to have for convenient parking
- The charging port on the battery is located near the bottom bracket and the charging cable could get snagged easily by the crank arms if you had it plugged in and moved the bike, I do like that you can take the battery completely off the bike to reduce weight or charge separately if you want
- Servicing the rear wheel and changing flats is made more difficult because there’s a chain and belt drive to deal with