2016 Faraday Cortland S Review


Technical Specs & Ratings


2016, 2017

Cortland S


Class 1, Class 3




Mechanical Disc



290 Wh

290 Wh

41 lbs / 18.61 kgs


Prestine Sealed Bearing, 1-1/8", Threadless

Faraday Forged 6061 Aluminum, Ahead-Style

Faraday 6061 Aluminum, 25.4" Long

Faraday Dura-Cork Ergonomic

Faraday Forged Aluminum


Faraday Comfort

VP Touring, Aluminum Platform

Mechanical Disc

Promax DSK-300R Mechanical Disc with 160 mm Rotors, Shimano R550 Levers

More Details


2 Year Motor, Electronics, Frame and Battery

United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, France


19.3, 20.5

Small (844 mm Seat Tube, 566 mm Top Tube - Effective, 400 mm Reach, 150 mm Head Tube, 598 mm Standover Height, 1077 mm Wheelbase), Small (5224 mm Seat Tube, 580 mm Top Tube - Effective, 401 mm Reach, 190 mm Head Tube, 615 mm Standover Height, 1092 mm Wheelbase)

Classic White, Slate Grey

Fender Bosses, Rear Rack Bosses

Promax DSK-300R Mechanical Disc with 160 mm Rotors, Shimano R550 Levers

Video Reviews

Written Reviews

Update! The Faraday Porteur S and Cortland S moved from $2,799 to $2,499 in 2017 and the review listing price here has been updated to reflect that.

The Cortland is a step-thru, city style, light weight electric bike from Faraday and their S model is the more affordable version. You get a more traditional chain, derailleur and cassette based drivetrain verses a belt and internally geared hub and some of the touch points are downgraded but otherwise it’s very similar. So what do these trade-offs really mean? Well, the Cortland S is actually slightly lighter because internally geared hubs use more metal than sprockets and derailleurs. You’ll probably incur more maintenance with the S because derailleurs are exposed to drops, kicks and other bumps during transport and in my experience they are messier – requiring lubrication and regular cleaning. Chains tend to be noisier than belts but they are more common, affordable and easier to replace or fix for many shops.

While the standard Cortland delivers leather touch points on the saddle and grips, the S uses synthetic leather and rubberized synthetic cork which both feel good and are still an upgrade from a lot of the other products I test and review. But even this starting model is priced at a more premium level when compared to similarly equipped ebikes. You get a modest 250 watt motor and 290 watt hour battery vs. 360 w and 350 ah respectively which I’d call “average” but being a pedal assist-only bike and relatively light weight at just over 40 lbs the Cortland S delivers solid range. It just looks beautiful compared to the rest and because the batteries are actually built into the downtube it’s one of the stealthiest e-bikes around. It’s quiet, the motor at the front is stylish and small and the classic colors and vintage handlebar and pedals distract from the question of “is that electric?” that often comes up with more powerful electric bikes.

Some of my favorite features here include integrated LED lights at both the front and rear… The headlight is especially well integrated with no exposed wires and a tough metal housing. The swept-back gull wing style handle bar is comfortable because it comes towards you creating an upright “alert” body position and the cockpit is clean and open. You don’t get an LCD display with this ebike but the Eink display shows battery charge level and takes very little energy to power. Below the display on the left grip is a custom designed slider switch that goes from off to standard to turbo. It’s the kind of interface that anyone can understand and operate without much thought or distraction. For those who want more feedback, Faraday is working on a mobile app which should become available towards the end of Q3 in 2016 showing your estimated range and allowing you to configure power output and light operation (solid, flashing, off).

The Cortland S isn’t not a perfect bike for everyone but it stays true to the original Porteur design and concept which has become an international favorite. The battery is hidden but is designed in such a way that it cannot be easily removed for charging independently. To address this, for people who need to ride further or want to top off at work, Faraday is launching a saddle pack style battery that actually clips below the seat (onto a plastic buckle mounted to the saddle rails) and this pack daisy chains into the main bike battery with a short power cord. My favorite part about this optional secondary battery is how good it looks. It’s also convenient, allowing you to plug into one spot and charge both batteries vs. charging separately. Faraday also offers a front and rear rack (the rear being compatible with Yepp! child seats and other accessories). One of the other big trade offs between the S and standard model is the fenders with some people actually preferring the S option because they are curved steel vs. flat bamboo. Faraday sells the bamboo separately if you want to upgrade and match the slats used in the carry racks. The color choices are also a bit different for the Cortland S with Slate Grey being an option here vs. Stingray Blue on the higher offering.

For my style of riding (more actively pedaling along) this is a perfect platform and the step-thru frame is easier to mount and hold at stops which is handy if you’re not tall enough to steady the high-step Porteur design. I say this about all of the Faraday models but it’s especially true with the Cortland, the bike feels comfortable even though it looks like a city bike. The tires are now wider, the bar and grips comes back further to meet you so you don’t have to lean forward stressing your back and arms and the steel frame offers good vibration dampening without feeling overly flexy. There is some frame flex however and that will increase with the addition of a rear rack and cargo but it’s not too bad. The front rack mounts directly to the frame and does not turn with the wheel as many aftermarket racks do which means steering is not compromised and you won’t see your groceries dumped when you park the bike (as the wheel naturally swings to one side). One more minor difference between the models is that the Cortland S features a more traditional single-side kickstand vs. the scissoring double sided hardware on the standard. For people who appreciate the aesthetic of a Faraday, are okay with pedal assist only and want a slightly smaller frame with lower seat options this could be a solid choice and quite a bit more affordable than the standard if you’re okay with more basic hardware. Note that both the Cortland and S offer eight gears so they’re pretty good at climbing, cruising and topping out at the set 20 mph top speed… I’m told that the future smart phone app will allow users to hit 28 mph by adjusting settings and this will change the bike to a Class 3 ebike which is very exciting.


  • The pedal assist sensor measures speed as well as pedal force so it won’t accidentally activate the motor if you’re stopped and simply resting your foot on the pedal
  • Awesome smart phone app (iOS and Android compatible) shows your location, controls your lights (you can turn the lights completely off!) and can adjust speed (even going up to 28 mph!) and power with two profiles to match the two physical switch positions
  • Solid drivetrain with eight speeds to choose from for climbing or hitting higher speeds while commuting
  • Available in two frame sizes to fit a wider range of riders, handle bar is swept back for upright body position and is shorter than the standard Porteur model, optional stem extender
  • Mechanical disc brakes offer good stopping power and tend to stay cleaner in wet conditions, plenty of strength with 160 mm rotors for one rider plus cargo or a child
  • Lots of high quality matching accessories including the front porteur rack, rear traditional rack, add-on battery (that doubles range) and bell
  • I love the clean, smart aesthetic… wires are integrated but all tubes are round vs. having welded-on covers, frame colors are beautiful and unique, the additional battery pouch matches the leather accents on the grips and saddle and the bamboo fenders and rack slats are beautiful
  • Surprisingly comfortable with 26″ by wider 1.75″ tires (that are kevlar lined to reduce flats), even though none of the Faraday ebikes have suspension forks or seat post shocks as of this review they still feel comfortable on rough city streets
  • The new GPS recovery system is cool for those who may be exposed to bicycle theft and I love that older models can be upgraded to work with this feature by replacing the controller
  • Despite being a step-thru the Faraday Cortland is stiff and responsive, I didn’t experience much frame flex during my demo rides
  • This is one of the lighter weight, better balanced electric bikes I’ve tested and it functions well even if you’re not using the motor (if you run out of juice or just want exercise)
  • Optional seat-mounted battery pack upgrade will double your range and make charging in-office easier because it clicks on and off the frame so quickly, the primary downtube battery is also removable but you need tools so it’s really meant to stay in


  • Relatively expensive compared to similarly specced electric bikes (modest 250 watt motor, 290 watt hour battery) but you get high quality drivetrain and aesthetic components and the S model is cheaper than the standard Cortland
  • No throttle mode here, you have to pedal in order to make all of the Faraday electric bikes go but their torque sensing bottom bracket is smooth and responsive, the app allows you to dial it in to your preferences
  • The thumb switch control module is easy to use while riding but limited on what is shown (an e-ink display shows approximate battery charge level) to get speed, estimated range and other information you’ll need a smart phone with the app plus a mount and that could drain your phone battery (no USB charging ports on this e-bike)
  • No quick release systems on the wheels or seat tube but this is really a city bike designed to be theft-resistant (you can even get special locking bolt kits from Faraday)

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