- Affordable entry level electric bike with a unique side-mounted chain drive motor that can make truing wheels, replacing tires and fixing flats more difficult
- Offers seat post shock, suspension fork, fenders, chain guard and ergonomic grips for comfort
- Less powerful 25.6 volt battery, rear heavy design, entry level components all around
The first time I got to ride an eZip Trailz electric bike was back in 2011 but Currie has been producing them since 2005. It’s a bike that makes financial sense but sacrifices quality of ride in some ways and doesn’t offer a lot of power or speed. It’s great to see a design update with the new “Commuter” edition that extends the feature set and refines the offering. The biggest improvement over the Trailz base model is the use of Lithium Iron Phosphate battery cells verses Lead acid which weigh much more. For the extra ~$350 you also get fenders, a chain guide and ergonomic grips with the Commuter.
The 450 watt motor driving this ebike is very unique because it isn’t mounted as the hub of the front or rear wheel nor is it a mid-drive design. It sits just behind the rear hub on the port side (left side) of the frame and is mounted to a giant torque plate for stability. The motor drives a short chain that is directly connected to the rear hub. It’s a brushed design that’s not as smooth or long lasting as gearless might be and it has a more limited range of drive speeds (which I imagine is partially why the bike can only reach 15 mph). Given that the motor requires a second chain of its own, in addition to the regular chain connected to the front ring that the rider activates when pedaling, the rear wheel can be tricky to remove if you get a flat.
The battery pack driving this bike offers 25.6 volts of power with 9.6 amp hours of capacity. That’s not a whole lot compared to others available in the US that tend to offer 36 volts of power and 10+ amp hours capacity but it’s kind of the norm in Europe. It’s contained in a plastic box that slides onto the left or right side of the rear rack. The pack only weighs 5 pounds (vs. 15 pounds for the pack on the standard Trailz) and has a handle at the top making it easy to remove for charging or just to make the bike lighter for transport. The rear rack uses standard gauge tubing that works well with bags and panniers but can get loose more easily over time and tends to rattle. Still, it’s a clever system that makes mounting a second battery very easy and actually keeps weight lower than other rear-mounted battery designs like the Prodeco Stride but not quite as low or centered as the e-JOE Anggun.
The control interface on the eZip Trailz Commuter (and regular eZip Trailz) is very simple. Once you’ve selected a battery using the switch on the rear rack you use a toggle switch on the right handle bar to select from twist and go (TAG) or pedal assist mode (PAS). Contained in the switch box are three LED lights that show battery capacity by illuminating green yellow and red. It’s not as precise as some other bikes but it’s simple, durable and inexpensive. The twist throttle on the right balances out the twist shifter on the left bar and is satisfying and responsive to use. Also note, if you twist the throttle while pedaling in pedal assist mode, it actually increases the power from 50% assist to 100% assist which helps when climbing hills. It’s a neat feature that works well but isn’t obvious at first.
All things considered I’m a fan of the Commuter edition eZip Trailz. The steel frame is heavier than most aluminum ebikes but reduces some of the rattling vibrations of bumpier environments. The fenders, ergo grips and rear rack offer good utility but it would have been nice to have lights built in as well. I like the second battery option, especially since the batteries are relatively small, and I like that they used the more advanced LiFePO4 chemistry that is light weight and long lasting. If you’re looking for an inexpensive ebike this might be a good fit, it comes in one size of high step and low step frame (which I would call medium) so keep that in mind if you’re a tall person. The warranty is okay at six months and the ability to get replacement batteries for ~$350 online is pretty easy which means you could keep this bike going for many years if you take care of the frame.
- Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO) battery pack is 60% lighter (5lbs vs. 15lbs) than the regular eZip Trailz which uses sealed Lead acid (SLA) batteries
- In pedal assist mode the bike can go quite far (25 miles) and the rear rack design makes it very easy to add a second battery for increased range
- Very affordable electric bike that’s sold through major outlets such as Walmart and Amazon
- Great options for comfort and utility when commuting including a seat post shock, suspension fork, front and rear fenders and a chain guard
- Includes mounting points on the downtube for adding a water bottle cage
- Offers both twist and go (TAG) as well as pedal assist (PAS) with an easy toggle switch to select either mode (twisting the throttle while in pedal assist mode increases power limit from 50% to 100% making it more powerful)
- Seven gears on a Shimano rear cassette with an oversized ring for climbing, the front chain ring has an aluminum bash guard that doubles as a chain guide to keep the chain from falling off
- Steel frame feels solid and absorbs vibration adding some comfort but is heavier than aluminum
- Larger seat is soft and forgiving, ergonomic handle bar grips feel good and reduce wrist strain
- Metal derailleur guard protects the rear cassette and derailleur arm from getting bumped and broken
- Rear rack is bolt on which can start to rattle and get loose over time supporting the weight of batteries and add-on bags or panniers, it’s also easy to bump your knee on this when mounting the bike
- Only offers one level of pedal assist
- Top speed of 15 mph (24 km/h) vs. other ebikes that reach 20 mph
- Motor design requires an extra chain and is off-center making it trickier to take off the rear wheel
- Plastic pedals are kind of small and the rubber surface can get a bit slippery if they get wet
- No fancy LCD screen with speed, battery capacity or range but there are three LEDs in the control box on the right handlebar that go from green to yellow and red as the battery drains
- Weaker 25.6 volt battery pack doesn’t offer a lot of torque for climbing
- No lockout on front suspension, basic fork with very limited adjustment options