The following review was created by Mikey from Blue Monkey Bicycles in Salt Lake City Utah. Normally, Court Rye does the reviews here (he’s the guy that owns and created EBR) but Mikey is a friend, he’s knowledgeable, and he had the bike on hand! Mikey was paid $200 by ElectricBikeReview.com for his efforts filming, photographing and writing this review. What follows are his words, with some amendments by Court. My own take, having tested and reviewed competing models and other electric bike products that use the Shimano STePs drive system is that this is a truly unique cargo style electric bike due it its relative light weight and low price. It’s one of the only electric cargo bikes that I know of which is sold in multiple frame sizes for improved rider fit. Felt is a recognized and trusted name in the bicycle and ebike space and they opted for name brand components here such as the 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain with Shadow Plus clutch. You get plenty of gear range for moving heavy loads, enough torque to climb effectively and a removable battery and display panel to lighten the bike for transport or keep the sensitive bits safe at the rack. I love how intuitive and adjustable the Shimano STePs display panel is, even though they’re using the smaller non-transflective model here (maybe some of the newer models will have the upgraded taller display unit). You can turn off the beeps, adjust the font from black to white, and control the lights with this interface. And I appreciate the sturdy double-leg kickstand for loading. Both wheels have quick release for easy maintenance and even though there’s no suspension here, the ride looks comfortable thanks to large Schwalbe tires. This e-bike compares well to the Yuba elBoda Boda in terms of size and application.
The Tote’M is one of two electric cargo bikes from Felt Electric. Both have a very similar design, though the Tote’M is scaled down in size, price, and especially length. The Tote’M is very light weight, even for being a cargo bike it feels very nimble and easy to use at just under 59 lbs. The longer cargo rack design allows you to transport two full side bags and a child seat simultaneously. If you need even more hauling capacity, Felt does sell a matching front rack accessory but it was out of stock at the time of this review. The large balloon style tires improve comfort and you get ergonomic grips as well as an adjustable angle stem but the frame and fork are rigid. Consider swapping the seat post with a suspension post if you want an even more cush ride. If by chance your Tote’M (or one in store you’re buying) doesn’t have a front cargo rack, contact your local dealer to supply that part, because apparently it does come included with the bike.
The Shimano mid-drive unit is a good choice for keeping the cost down and it competes very well with other mid-drives in the market. The top speed feels a bit limited even though it’s stated as 29 mph, you’ve really got to push it to reach 20. Given that this system is in use for a cargo bike (perhaps with children), I think that the slightly lower top cruising speed of 18.5 mph to 19 mph is just fine and it operates fairly quietly. The 36v 11.6 Ah battery pack provides really good range. Blue Monkey Bicycles range tested both the Bosch system (as found on the BruHaul) and the Shimano system (as found on the Tote’M) and scored 48.5 miles and 47.4 miles of range respectively. The refinement of the Shimano system (such as pedal sensing shifting technology) isn’t quite as nice as the Bosch system, and Bosch is constantly sending software updates to dealers, whereas Shimano has yet to provide that kind of support network across the country. Nonetheless, the Shimano system is pretty peppy, and it’s a great fit for light duty cargo bikes like the Tote’M.
KevlarGaurd tires, fenders, lights, front and rear cargo rack and the pannier bags with rain covers to boot make a really nice complete package for someone wanting to get an electric cargo bike that is almost fully loaded. The Tote’M includes one bamboo plate for the rear cargo deck, rather than two plates on the BruHaul. Two bamboo plates simply wouldn’t fit on the smaller deck, so if you’d like to have a full wood deck, you’ll have to find a custom shop that can help out. The matte metallic finish Root Beer color is a very good look for the bike. For being an uncommon size of bicycle (not quite full cargo, not quite conventional size), the color scheme and paint really help the Tote’M to blend in as a good looking bicycle all-around.
- Quick release front and rear means wheel and drivetrain maintenance is easier and more familiar (no extra electronics or wires to deal with), also makes it easier to transport the bike, the battery is also removable
- Excellent weight distribution front to rear, the motor and battery are mounted low and center for improved handling
- I love that Felt included a pair of bosses along the rear support tube for use with a bottle cage, folding lock, mini pump or other accessory.. there wasn’t room in the main triangle where the battery is mounted but they figured out another way to make it work
- The wheelset matches so you get two 24″ wheels vs. a smaller 20″ wheel at the back, this makes replacing tires and tubes less expensive but it also improves comfort because larger wheels roll smoother over bumps and cracks, one other advantage is that the running boards aren’t so low and may not collide with curbs or other obstacles as easily
- High quality Schwalbe Crazy Bob tires offer KevlarGuard to reduce punctures, because they are fatter than traditional tires they also improve comfort and can be ridden at lower PSI, I believe the labeling is reflective for added side visibility
- Both the front and rear LED lights are wired in to run off the main battery and can be switched on and off by holding the Menu button on the Shimano keypad, you don’t have to worry about them being left on or running out of batteries the way you might with independent lights
- Felt is a mainstream performance brand known for high quality bicycle builds, the put a strong emphasis on frame and component quality
- Purpose-built frame (CNC Aluminum Ferrules) conceals most wires for shifting, braking and motor systems on the bike
- Solid two year warranty on drivetrain, components and electronics with a lifetime warranty on the frame and a good reputation from Felt
- Includes a well positioned double-legged kickstand so you can load it up more easily than a single-side leaning kickstand, note the chain tensioner pulley wheel which elevates the chain and protects it
- The Felt Totem comes stock with two Felt logo embroidered pannier bags, they offer lots of hauling capacity and match the frame and black accessoriesbeautifully
- Front Porteur rack (on back-order as of July 2017) is great to carry quick access items such as backpacks, purse, etc.
- The rear rack has a square window that is Yepp! child seat compatible, it works easily and there is also a bamboo deck for putting a trunk bag on as well
- I like how the frame, fork, and saddle accents all match, the bike is very stylish and purpose built vs. slapped together from different basic accessories
- The bike feels nimble to steer, it has a shorter wheelbase which allows it to corner more quickly and ride naturally, it might fit into some garages and sheds easier given the shorter overall length
- One trade-off for having two 24″ wheels vs. 20″ wheels is that the larger rear wheel forces the rack to be higher which decreases stability and means you have to lift gear higher to mount it
- No throttle mode available here, this is a pedalec only and requires rider pedaling input to activate the motor, if you’re trying to start with a lower gear (forgot to shift down before stopping) this can take longer and require more effort so shift consciously
- The rubberized plastic pedals can slip when wet and the ergonomic grips don’t have lockers so they can spin a bit easier, consider something like this which is wider and has sturdy metal nubs for improved traction
- Light Duty cargo bike means carrying two kid seats, or copious amounts of cargo isn’t as much of a possibility. tor large loads try the Felt BruHaul, Pedego Stretch, Yuba Spicy Curry, X-tra Cycle, or Urban Arrow
- The battery charger uses a dongle to connect to the battery when it’s off the bike vs. when it’s on the bike,
this little plastic piece could be easy to lose, there’s no leash to keep track of it but it does click in to the end of the plug
- Most full-sized cargo bikes have running boards at the back rack which can support longer panniers and be used to put your feet on (for a second medium-sized passenger) but the Tote’m does not have this