Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Review

Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Electric Bike Review
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Bosch Performance Line Cx Emtb Motor
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Bosch Powerpack 400 Removable Ebike Battery
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Compact Bosch Purion Display
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Suntour Xcm Rl Spring Suspension 100 Mm Travel
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna 9 Speed Shimano Deore Cassette
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Shimano Br M315 Hydraulic Disc Brakes 180
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Fast Electric Bike Charger From Bosch
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Electric Bike Review
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Bosch Performance Line Cx Emtb Motor
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Bosch Powerpack 400 Removable Ebike Battery
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Compact Bosch Purion Display
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Suntour Xcm Rl Spring Suspension 100 Mm Travel
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna 9 Speed Shimano Deore Cassette
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Shimano Br M315 Hydraulic Disc Brakes 180
Focus Jarifa 27 Donna Fast Electric Bike Charger From Bosch

Summary

  • A mid-level cross country style electric mountain bike with remote lockout fork, Shimano Deore 9-speed drivetrain, powerful Bosch CX mid-motor, and mounting points for fenders, a rear rack, and bottle cage
  • Seems oriented towards female riders because it comes in a smaller frame size option, uses 27.5" wheels vs. 29" on most cross country models, has an angled top tube and lower seat tube height, and uses adjustable-reach brake levers
  • Purpose-built frame routes cables internally for a nice look and reduced snag potential, the frame, fork, wheelset, and saddle are color matched for style, weight is positioned low and center for optimal balance and handling
  • The smaller Bosch Purion display panel is not removable and does not offer Micro-USB charging, the Bosch CX motor can be louder than some others and the chain is very close to the right chain stay, lower-capacity Powerpack 400 battery and slower compact 2 Amp charger vs. 4 Amp on some other models

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Video Review

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Introduction

Make:

Focus

Model:

Jarifa 27 Donna

Price:

$2,799 USD

Body Position:

Forward

Suggested Use:

Trail, Mountain

Electric Bike Class:

Pedal Assist (Class 1)
Learn more about Ebike classes

Warranty:

2 Year Comprehensive

Availability:

United States, Europe

Model Year:

2017

Bicycle Details

Total Weight:

48.6 lbs (22.04 kg)

Battery Weight:

5.4 lbs (2.44 kg)

Motor Weight:

8.8 lbs (3.99 kg)

Frame Material:

6061 Aluminum Alloy

Frame Sizes:

15.75 in (40 cm)17.32 in (43.99 cm)18.9 in (48 cm)20.47 in (51.99 cm)

Geometry Measurements:

Small 40 cm Specs: 16" Seat Tube, 21.5" Reach, 28" Stand Over Height, 27" Width, 73" Length

Frame Types:

High-Step

Frame Colors:

Gloss White with Purple and Light Blue Accents

Frame Fork Details:

Suntour XCM-RL Spring Suspension, 100 mm Travel, Preload Adjust, Remote Lockout, 100 mm Hub, 9 mm Skewer with Quick Release

Frame Rear Details:

135 mm Hub, 9 mm Skewer with Quick Release

Attachment Points:

Rear Rack Bosses, Fender Bosses, Bottle Cage Bosses

Gearing Details:

9 Speed 1x9 Shimano Deore Derailleur, SRAM PG-920 11-34T Cassette

Shifter Details:

Shimano Alivio Triggers on Right

Cranks:

Miranda, Aluminum Alloy, 170 mm Length, 18T Chainring with Alloy Guard

Pedals:

Concept Plastic Platform

Headset:

FSA 1-1/8", Threadless, Internal Cups

Stem:

Concept, 7° Rise, 55 mm Length, Two 10 mm Spacers, Two 5 mm Spacers

Handlebar:

Concept Low-Rise, 690 mm Length

Brake Details:

Shimano BR-M315 Hydraulic Disc with 180 mm Rotors, Shimano Levers with Adjustable Reach

Grips:

Concept, Rubber, Ergonomic, Locking

Saddle:

Concept Branded MTB Lady by Velo

Seat Post:

Concept, Aluminum Alloy

Seat Post Length:

240 mm

Seat Post Diameter:

27.2 mm

Rims:

Concept, 6063 Alloy, ETRTO 584x23, Double Wall, 32 Hole, Reinforcement Eyelets, Gloss White

Spokes:

Stainless Steel, 14G Diameter, Black with Adjustable Nipples

Tire Brand:

Continental XKING 2.2, 27.5" x 2.2"

Wheel Sizes:

27.5 in (69.85cm)

Tire Details:

65 Max PSI, Reflective Logos

Tube Details:

Presta Valve

Other:

Locking Removable Downtube Mounted Battery Pack, 1.5 lb 2 Amp Compact Charger

Electronic Details

Motor Brand:

Bosch Performance Line CX

Motor Type:

Mid-Mounted Geared Motor
Learn more about Ebike motors

Motor Nominal Output:

350 watts

Motor Peak Output:

570 watts

Motor Torque:

75 Newton meters

Battery Voltage:

36 volts

Battery Amp Hours:

11 ah

Battery Watt Hours:

396 wh

Battery Chemistry:

Lithium-ion

Charge Time:

4 hours

Estimated Min Range:

20 miles (32 km)

Estimated Max Range:

65 miles (105 km)

Display Type:

Bosch Purion, Fixed, Backlit LCD Control Panel with Integrated Button Pad, (Hold - to Cycle Through Readouts, Hold - and Press Power to Change Units)

Readouts:

Speed, Assist Level (Eco, Tour, Sport, Turbo), Battery Level (1-5), Trip Distance, Total Distance, Estimated Range, Lights

Display Accessories:

Micro-USB Port for Diagnostics and Software Updates Only

Drive Mode:

Advanced Pedal Assist (Measures Wheel Speed, Pedal Cadence and Pedal Torque, Power Output Relative to Pedal Input: Eco 50% 40 Nm, Tour 120% 50 Nm, Sport 210% 60 Nm, Turbo 300% 75 Nm)

Top Speed:

20 mph (32 kph)

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Written Review

Focus is a Germany based bicycle company that designs and produces higher quality e-bikes. They are part of the Pon Group which also owns Kalkhoff, Gazelle, and Faraday but Focus offers more of the sporty and mountain concepts which is what the Jarifa 27 Donna is… Actually, this bike spans a couple of categories in my mind because the frame geometry, 100 mm suspension fork and knobby wheels are cross-country capable but you get a remote lockout on the fork for easy transitions to concrete, a rear-mount kickstand, and mounting points for fenders, a rear rack, and bottle cage. In my opinion, it would be well suited to women because it comes in a range of four sizes that start at extra small. The top tube is angled and the seat tube is fairly low, allowing for people with shorter inseams to mount and stand over more comfortably. Even the 27.5″ wheelset seems to have been chosen to lower the overall height of the bike vs. a more traditional 29″ wheelset on many other cross country bikes. A few additional highlights that might suit female riders, who tend to be more petite, are the adjustable-reach brake levers which are connected to hydraulic disc brakes that tend to provide great stopping power without as much hand effort and fatigue. The slim ergonomic grips reduce hand numbness and are another nod to the urban+trail capabilities of the Jarifa Donna. And finally, the color scheme appears to be more femanine with purple and light blue accents. Focus went all the way with this design choice and has matched the frame, fork, wheelset, and saddle accents to the white theme. I’m not sure if it’s my personal favorite, but I cannot deny that white stands out from the side, especially at night, and is more reflective than black or some other dark color. The only downside here is that Bosch only produces a dark grey plastic housing for their motor and battery pack… and most shifter, brake, and electrical cables are wrapped in black plastic. Focus has used stickers to help the battery blend in, but we are seeing more internally mounted batteries and compact integrated motors now that make this setup look dated and clunky. In terms of performance, it’s fantastic, and I feel that the reputation of focus, premium Bosch drive systems, excellent 2+ year warranty, and reasonable $2.8k price point makes this a fantastic electric bike.

Driving this bike is the mountain specific Bosch Performance line CX motor. It offers up to 75 Newton meters of torque and is one of the fastest responding drive units I have tested. This is critical if you’re climbing steep trails and working through varied terrain. It might be overkill for a cross country model but you do get one unique advantage over the standard Bosch Performance line motor, and that is eMTB mode availability. Because the Jarifa 27 Donna was introduced in 2017, it’s possible that you may need help from a shop to get the firmware update that enables eMTB, but it could be worth it. Basically, in this mode (which replaces the Sport level) you get access to the full range of power output without having to click up and down on the control pad. It allows you to focus on the trail, steering, pedaling, and shifting gears and it works very well in my experience. I believe that this mode relies more on torque to extend the power band while all of the other assist options are limited and focused. The motor controller measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque over one thousand times per second! It’s a smart system that is also durable and well supported by a network of Bosch Certified technicians across America. In addition to the three signals that activate the motor, there is also shift detection built in that makes it easier for the chain to switch between the nine gears without as much banging and strain. Note however, that the smaller chainring does not provide as much clearance as a more traditional sized sprocket and thus, will drag and slap into the right chainstay more than average. This is true for most of the current-gen Bosch motors that do not have pulley wheel risers or mount beneath the stay. But, Focus includes a thick Neoprene slap guard to make sure you won’t get frame damage from the chain, and that’s nice to see.

Powergin the Jarifa 27 Donna is a standard Bosch Powerpack 400 battery pack. I’d call it average in terms of capacity, but the power can be used very efficiently if you shift gears thoughtfully. Unlike a hub motor, the mid-drive gets a mechanical advantage by leveraging the same gears you do to pedal with. You can even get a realtime update for how far the bike might go in each assist level by navigating to the Range menu on the display panel. Just hold down the minus key for a few second to switch from assist level readout to trip meter, odometer, and eventually range. These Powerpack batteries can be charged on or off the bike frame, have a sturdy loop at the top for safe handling and transport, and even have built-in LED charge level indicators so you can check on them occasionally during periods of disuse. I have read that storing Lithium-ion batteries in cool, dry locations is best, and that they will last longer if you store between 20% and 80% if you aren’t going to be using them for extended periods (in fact, that is how they often arrive, charged to ~30%). This battery does not offer as much range as the newer Bosch Powerpack 500 but it is slightly lighter weight and less expensive. Note also, that this bike comes with the Compact Bosch charger which provides 2 Amps of output vs. their larger 4 Amp charger… which I am guessing is another way to save money. It’s not a huge issue given the slightly lower capacity. As someone who stores his bikes inside, I usually remove the front wheel and battery when lifting or transporting with my car rack. This makes the bikes easier to work with and lighter to lift and is applicable here with the Focus Jarifa Donna. Both wheels offer quick release, the only part that is not easily removable is the display panel.

Interacting with the bike is very easy thanks to the mounting position of the Bosch Purion display. This the most compact model they offer, designed to keep your handlebars clean and clear, but it is not removable, does not have a Micro USB charging port that is active (just for software updates), and it does not offer as many readouts as the larger Bosch Intuvia. Some shops will actually upgrade the display panel for you if you pay extra, but for most applications, the Purion is good enough. I mention the USB port because of the urban use cases that this bike might work well for. If you wanted to use GPS or add a headlight and charge from the display, you would need to upgrade to the Intuvia. Anyway, you power the bike on by pressing the power button at the top of the display and then press + or – to add or remove assist power. There are four levels and I find myself using the lower two the most. Sport and Turbo are fun, but they drain the battery quicker, produce more noise, and sometimes take me faster than I’d like on technical trail sections. This, and most other electric bikes can easily be pedaled above the 20 mph top assisted speed, and they certainly cost downhill very quickly. There is no extra drag on the rear wheel because of the motor system but there is a touch of mechanical drag when pedaling due to the gearbox design of the motor. One quick tip about the display is that the buttons activate most easily if you press in near the screen vs. lower near the left edge. I didn’t understand this at first and was frustrated by inconsistent action. Near the base of the display is a walk mode button which you can press to initiate and then hold + to use. This can be handy if you are walking up a steep section of trail or taking a shortcut across some grass in a crowded area… or if you have loaded up the rear rack and prefer to walk vs. ride for safety. Not all electric bikes with the Bosch system have enabled walk mode but it did appear to work on this Focus bike. And finally, you can hold the minus key to cycle through different menus or hold it and tap the power button to switch units from miles to kilometers and back.

All things considered, I would rank this as a mid-level cross country bike with high-level motor systems and special attention to women riders. The nine-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain should hold up well under the rigors of mountain riding and mid-drive use, but will benefit from shift detection. You don’t get the Shimano Shadow Plus clutch that some Deore XT derailleurs offer (which tightens the chain and reduces slap) but the trigger shifter mechanism offers two-way action and a multi-shift low shifter. The 180 mm Shimano disc brakes are excellent for stopping and very easy to use. And the most unique thing here is just how the frame is setup with that shorter reach, lower stand over, and smaller size option. Note, the bottle cage might not fit an actual water bottle on the smallest frame, but at least it’s there for other accessories. It appears that Focus is no longer offering their proprietary Impulse drive system in the USA because their lineup of products is more limited… and perhaps they do not want to support additional systems without the same support that Bosch can offer. I think that says a lot about the Bosch motor and battery, that you can find a great number of dealers who are familiar with it and willing to provide service. I want to call out that the Bosch Performance Line motors support higher cadence RPM operation which means you can pedal up to 120 RPM vs. just 100 on some competing products from Shimano and Yamaha. You can always upgrade the fork on this bike and switch to tubeless on the tires for improved performance, but the motor is something you cannot easily swap later. So, even though it stands out a bit more in terms of integration and colors, it’s actually a big win here. If you wanted to improve comfort beyond the large knobby tires and 100 mm suspension fork, you could always swap out the rigid seat post for a suspension model like this, but it will raise the minimum saddle hight by a few inches so keep that in mind. BodyFloat, the company that makes this post, also has a lightweight version for riders in the 100 to 115 lb range that might be relevant to petite riders. Another suggestion for upgrading might be the plastic pedals, if you do not use clipless (clip-in) pedals, you could always swap to lightweight magnesium platform pedals that have adjustable pins like this, which provide more traction and durability and come in white to match your frame :)

Pros:

  • This would be a great platform for cross country riding or “all terrain” commuting because it has rear rack and fender bosses, the 27.5″ wheel diameter might be easier to stand over than a 29″ for petite female riders and the frame comes in four sizes to ensure a great fit
  • I’m a fan of light colored bike frames because they increase your visual footprint from the side, this is especially relevant if you do ride to work or school and end up in low-light conditions
  • Great attention to detail with the protective alloy chainring guard and neoprene slap guard, these should protect your pants or skirt from snagging and keep the frame in good shape when riding over rough terrain
  • Both wheels offer quick release for easier trail maintenance, portability, storage, and reduced weight if you need to lift the bike (and the battery can be easily removed as well)
  • The fork offers remote lockout making it easy to transition from trails to pavement with optimal efficiency, the ergonomic grips were a nice little upgrade in terms of comfort
  • Bosch produces one of the most reliable motor, battery, control system combinations in the industry according to a lot of the shops and end users I speak with, the weight of this system is positioned low and center on the frame and you get a solid two year comprehensive warranty with five years on the frame from Focus
  • The frame is purpose-built to be electric and the cables are all internally routed for a clean look with better protection, I appreciate that the bike also comes with a kickstand while many electric mountain bikes do not
  • Because the Focus Jarifa 27 Donna is outfitted with the Bosch CX motor, it can offer eMTB mode with a software update, this changes the sport level of assist to a full-range output mode that behaves more like a torque sensor… you don’t have to switch levels while riding to get more power, just push harder (which happens automatically when climbing much of the time)
  • Focus did a great job matching the frame, fork, wheelset, and saddle (which are all white or have white accents), this is what you might expect for a higher priced ebike but I think the price is pretty good for a Bosch CX drive system at $2.8k, the only challenge is that the black battery and motor casing do not blend in quite as much
  • I was super impressed that this bike had bottle cage bosses on the seat tube! unfortunately, there does not appear to be enough space to actually fit a bottle rack on the smallest frame size (that we were reviewing) but you could still use these for a mini-pump or folding lock and it might work with even more accessories on the large frames

Cons:

  • Minor gripe here, but it sounds like the color scheme hasn’t fully resonated with a lot of the potential buyers who saw the bike at the New Wheel in Marin, I noticed that the battery and motor are not as integrated into the frame as some other Bosch powered electric bikes like the comparable BULLS SIX50 E 1.5 here but that may have to do with the smaller frame size availability and making room for an angled top tube which can still allow for a downward battery interface vs. side slide-in
  • Bosch motors are extremely responsive and the CX offers great power delivery but it also produces more noise than the standard Performance line product, especially in the highest levels of assist and when pedaling at a faster RPM
  • The Bosch Purion display panel is compact and possibly more durable than the larger Bosch Intuvia but it is not removable, does not have a functional Micro-USB port for charging, and does not offer as many readouts such as shift recommendation, average speed, max speed, and timer
  • Bosch is now offering a 500 watt hour battery pack which offers 25% more capacity and range but only weighs 0.4 lbs more, that would be nice to have on this bike but perhaps they went with the Powerpack 400 to keeep the weight low, the good news is that you can get a Powerpack 500 later and it works with the same mounting interface
  • Compared with some other mid-drive motors, the Bosch Performance Line offers shift detection and is extremely responsive for starting and stopping but the chainring is a bit smaller and relies on a reduction gear to spin 2.5x for every crank revolution which does add some friction and noise (even when pedaling unpowered), the bike coasts just as efficiently and offers great range under power but you might be dealing with just a bit of extra friction as you pedal
  • Some of the more affordable Bosch powered electric bikes now come with the 2 Amp compact battery charger which is lightweight and small but takes longer to fill the battery, it actually makes sense with this e-bike because of the smaller battery size but is a minor gripe for me

Resources:

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Rakesh Dhawan
22 hours ago

Dear Mr. Nelson,

Thank you for your interest in Falco.

Mr. Harry forwarded this thread to me. I thought it necessary to clarify few points as you have some knowledge about Falco.

I am afraid to say that Your facts are incorrect and outdated about Falco. That Dealer you refer to was a great friend of mine in the UK. I miss him everyday. We were like two brothers from different mothers. We were starting in Electric Bike business and he chose to become a dealer. He was trying to get into electric bike business with little or no resources and no ability to provide after sales support. Also, He and his staff thought they knew a lot about electric bike business and they dictated the specs of how the system should be used in spite of our repeated warnings. We learnt a great lesson. We do not allow that kind of discretion to any of our dealers today unless you are an OEM. When that Dealer faced a medical problem, he chose to get out of electric bike business. That was back in 2013.

Other fact is called Product evolution. Here are some questions for you to think about which could provide you some insight into Falco as a brand, as a philosophy and as a way to engineer.

1. Is BionX still in business?
2. What year did they start?
3. What customers do they have?
4. What problems did they face?
5. How did their product evolve over the years?
6. How many times did Bosch do a recall of their products in Europe?
7. Why Bosch is still in Business?
8. What year did Falco start?
9. What products Falco offered before and now?
10. How has Falco product evolved over the years?
11. What other products does Falco market or sell?
12. And the last but not the least, which company has the highest warranty in the world?

Answer to these questions will lead you to how Falco thinks about Electric Bike industry and how we plan to move forward.

Otherwise, please try not to downplay our tremendous sacrifice, blood and sweat, passion, commitment and entrepreneurship in making a small difference in the electric Bike space.

We have over 150 dealers in the US and several small OEMs. We specialize in converting Trikes, Recumbents, Tandems, Cargo bikes etc.

Our journey, Mr. Nelson has been to stay focused and deliver an extraordinary product to the market. We learn and improve every day and we have a very long list of extremely passionate and committed fans who use their Falco everyday for last several years. These fans know about our tremendous passion and staying power.

We have succeeded in making a difference in the life of countless number of our seniors and we will continue to do so.

I do not wish to sell my product to you or anyone. I do care about making a difference in people’s lives using our technology. That has been our driving force and our greatest passion.

I am happy to answer any additional questions or comments you may have.

Sincerely,
Rakesh Dhawan
President
Falco eMotors Inc.

Dmitri
1 day ago

I have had a good experience so far. I don't experience any major drain -- of course, I have 1kWh overall so perhaps if you only have half that it's another story. The only real issue with M99Pro is that it's driven directly by the battery, which is why the on/off switch on the Bosch bike computer does absolutely nothing.

Interestingly enough, my rear light (Toplight) is also unaffected by the switch, which is weird because I would suspect it runs through the ordinary motor based port. Not 100% sure if that's the case though... actually, I plan to change the rear light to have directional indicators. I'm surprised ebikes don't do this by default. I would maybe be tempted to install Magura's MT?e lights, except that I found Magura brakes to be generally terrible, so this particular option isn't tempting right now. Maybe will just build some sensors that attach to existing brakes, not sure yet.

I suspect R&M swapped to the smaller light due to sheer effing greed. Did they reduce the price when swapping to the simpler light? I don't think so. I can maybe buy the reasoning that people complained about inability to switch off the M99 while the bike is running. But whose fault is that? That's right, a bike maker could go the extra mile and either detect the Bosch switch and relay it to the light or, you know, maye a separate switch. But I guess that's too much work when you're beeing fed ready-made engineering schematics; you can just focus on the frame. (Don't want to sound bitter here; I am also spoon-fed Bosch engineering schematics and I kind of enjoy them.)

Oh, I'm awaiting delivery of a new fatbike (Haibike FullFatSix) and guess what front light I will install on it. Manufacturers might skimp on good light but I won't.

NeilCruz
1 day ago

@evhead

It doesn't mater the "size" (i.e. 12aH, 17ah, 19.2ah) - all 48 Volt systems use the 48V columns, so you just need to use the above post from @karmap and just focus on the 48V columns.

:)

Over50
2 days ago

I've generally been reading that pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in general are on the rise in the US and hit-and-runs are soaring. I feel like I'm seeing news stories of a hit-and-run with a fatality in my area on a weekly basis. Sure can't help that my area has almost zero traffic enforcement. I think someone posted this in another thread:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/hit-and-run-fatalities-soar-as-more-people-bike-to-work-1524735001

https://www.caranddriver.com/news/with-bicycle-deaths-rising-theres-a-renewed-focus-on-sharing-the-road

christob
6 days ago

Following other forum members, I wanted to share my observations now that I’ve accumulated 1,000 miles on the Café ebike from https://www.vintageelectricbikes.com/ Vintage Electric Bikes (“VEB”) of California.

Background: In January with my 50th birthday looming in August, being out of shape and at least 75 pounds overweight, I suddenly decided I would pursue an ebike. I hoped it would introduce enjoyable (and sustainable) exercise into my too sedentary lifestyle. I tipped the scales at 303 pounds (6 feet 2 inches tall) when I received the ebike on March 2. I figured the ebike would comfortably get me back into biking (with Assist eliminating the pedal-bike “miseries” such as hills I couldn’t tackle, range/fatigue limitations, etc.) And with a 6.7-mile one-way office commute on paved trails, I had no excuse not to attempt biking to work – which would then introduce at least 50 ‘unavoidable minutes’ of some level of exercise into those days.

I assumed the riding experience would eventually be fun – based on a throttle ebike rental years ago for a Golden Gate Bridge ride. But it has exceeded all my hopes & I’ve ridden nearly every day the weather permitted since early March 2nd (including some commutes on mornings in the low 30’s.) I now take a long detour after work to triple the ride home. With 1,000 miles and 22 office commuting days so far, I’m optimistic this has gelled into a new, enjoyable habit -- exactly what I wanted an ebike to do. I love that I can’t wait to get back on the bike – I’ve *never* looked forward to exercise, ever…! Even when I actively lost weight in the past... Now, it feels good getting home dripping sweat, as I see the pounds melting away…!

This is my first ebike, and my first sustained bike riding in at least 20 years. I took advantage of a deal on a demo bike VEB had – 74 miles clocked on the master odo plus a very minor scuff and a tiny dent on the rear fender – was enough for them to offer an attractive discount. (This was after a lengthy round of emails to answer my many newbie questions about ebikes. Eddie in Sales was very helpful and responsive.) The bike was shipped to Velofix, a mobile outfit, to do final assembly and deliver to me.

Key bike specs; 750w rear hub motor, 5 pedal-assist levels (no throttle mode), Class 3 / assist to 28mph, 48v 10.4Ah battery, chromoly steel frame, stocked tires 29x2 Schwalbe Fat Frank w/ Kevlar Guard, Shimano M365 hydraulic disc brakes, metal fenders in matching paint, Supernova 6v headlight and saddle-integrated red LED lights.

Likes / Positives (in no particular order):

[*]Looks, style and finish! I was immediately drawn to the style of this bike when searching. Test rode 3 other brands, but this kept calling me back. I find it a very handsome bike with a nostalgic character that reminded me of bikes from childhood memories. I really like the “Skyline Bronze” paint color vs. the ubiquitous black. The bike draws positive comments from folks on the trail, at the local bike shop and the office.
[*]VEB’s “small shop” outfit; I liked that the VEB team is a small, bike-enthusiasts-turned-makers outfit in the USA. I realize there can be pros & cons to a smaller size (vs. a huge player like Trek) but it held an appeal for me and hasn’t posed any problems (see Issue, later on.)
[*]2 - 3 hours full recharge. The charger (now) is 5 amps.
[*]Power. Level 4 and 5 are impressive and a lot of fun on an empty stretch of road. I’m not a speed junkie on the bike; I tend to hit max trip speeds for brief intervals, somewhere around 22-26mph on commutes or leisure rides (usually a downhill run.) Since I want exercise from most rides, I tend to stay in Level 1 whenever possible (gear-shifting regularly) while reserving Level 2 or 3 for when losing steam or on more serious / extended grades. In hindsight, I probably would have been fine with a 20mph ebike (VEB doesn’t have one in their lineup) – but I do like having that punch of power when I need it, and when I want the rush of that smooth speed!
[*]Leather-wrapped Velo saddle had integrated LED tail light. (Though I lost that in a saddle-change.)

Dislikes / Negatives (in no order):

[*]No suspension elements available; makes for a stiff ride over pavement cracks, tree-root buckled asphalt, etc. I sort of wish I had focused on this more, during my research & trial rides.
[*]Certainly not a lightweight ebike at 56lbs w/ battery. (But feels solid as a tank.)
[*]No mounting lugs anywhere on the frame for a water bottle cage!
[*]The included Supernova headlight only has steady-on; would like a daytime flash/pulse mode.
[*]I sort of wish the display panel offered more detailed battery / energy data (as EBR Forum posts have made me more curious about all that. Although I’m honestly not sure how long I’d sustain interest in those detailed figures, realistically!) The display panel does provide: Current Speed, Avg Trip Speed, Max Trip Speed, Master Odometer, Trip Odometer, Trip Time Duration, a 5-bar battery gauge, plus an active ‘graphical, segmented arc’ bar-meter as a visual depiction of motor input in real time.

Gear Updates:

[*]My initial purchase added a rear VO Campeur rack, Abus Bordo Centium lock & Spurcycle bell.
[*]Replaced the stock, leather-wrapped cylindrical style grips with Ergon GP1 leather.
[*]Added Mirrycle mirror and Topeak cage-mount accessory onto handlebar.
[*]Banjo Brothers canvas pannier bag; not weatherproof, but I’m not riding in rain (at least, not deliberately, yet!)
[*]Replaced stock perforated Brooks-leather-clad Velo saddle with a Brooks B67 spring saddle, which meant losing the integrated LED rear light of the stock saddle; so…
[*]Added strap-on rechargeable LED’s – seatpost-mounted rear red flasher, and handlebar mounted white flasher for daytime.

Issues and Outcomes:

[*]A chirping rear-wheel squeak developed in the first couple weeks of riding. Between calls to VEB and investigations at my local shop, they couldn’t eliminate the sound (regardless of Assist level, pedaling or coasting.) VEB eventually sent me a whole new rear wheel / hub motor assembly, assuming it might be something faulty with the motor itself, after exhausting everything else.
[*]Curiously, the first full day of riding after the new wheel was installed (which by the way, did eliminate the chirp!) the Assist died completely, perhaps after 15 miles tallied that day on the new wheel. (This was at about 815 total miles on the bike.) It stopped assisting in any Level, on any terrain. (Although Walk Mode still worked to spin the rear wheel.) Later that same evening, the display panel would no longer power on.
Speculation was that the new wheel’s install could have inadvertently loosened or damaged wiring inside the controller (all within the metal battery-mount-bracket on the downtube.) So VEB sent a new controller / battery-mount, installed by my local shop. That restored the power-on capability and Walk Mode but did not resolve the Assist issue. At that point, VEB decided it was time to send a brand new replacement Café bike.
I found this outcome especially impressive since I’d purchased the first bike at a nice discount for being slightly used.

I personally suspect an electrical short occurred while riding after the new wheel went on; a short that fried the pedal-assist sensor at the bottom bracket. (I’m not a mechanic by any means!) That would seem to explain why Walk Mode worked (hub got juice from battery) yet Assist did not, with both the old and new controller. The pedal-assist sensor was the only thing that was NOT replaced during VEB’s troubleshooting… And during this failure period, the bike was behaving exactly as if it didn’t know I was actively pedaling. (I.e., it is a pedal-assist only, no throttle.)

I’m waiting on VEB’s autopsy of the first bike. But the “something shorted” idea may also be supported by what appeared to be slightly-melted plastic surrounding 2 of the female sockets on the battery mount receiving socket of the old controller. I only discovered the melted-looking bits the night Assist died, when I did an inspection of the bike at home to check all wiring connections while VEB prepared their trouble-shooting plan. I’m 99.9% sure that same plastic area was pristine when I got the bike; though it wasn’t an area I regularly examined since it was frequently covered by the installed battery.

Summary: So – now 1,000 miles in (all miles from both Café bikes) 14 weeks after delivery. (Winter weather, some travel, and finally the Assist failure left about 53 bike-able days in that 14 week span; though I managed about 25 pedal-only miles during the “no Assist” time; quite a different workout experience! ;) ) At this point, I’d say the lack of suspension is the only serious shortcoming I’ve got with the bike. Although I do plan to try out a suspension seat post (and maybe even the Redshift Shock Stop stem?) after I drop 25 more pounds… I’m thrilled to share I’ve already lost 26lbs in those 14 weeks – yay, ebikes!

VEB support and service has been exemplary during the troubleshooting and ultimate replacement; I’m happy to say their “small outfit” presented no challenges! (At one point I called their HQ to check on the latest action plan – a new guy I’d not spoken to before answered. As I said my name, he knew instantly who I was – turns out it was the owner of the company who’d answered; while I was appreciative of his apology about the situation, I was even more relieved that he was completely in the loop on my case. I’ll never know whether I would have received this level of resolution and smooth handling from one of the larger manufactures, but I’m glad I don’t have to find out, either!

Chris Hammond
6 days ago

So I can offer you a bit of perspective. My commute is 30 miles each way. I historically did this on my road bike, but fighting headwinds on the way home alot had me taking the train far more than I wanted. I began researching ebikes late last year, I quickly zeroed in on the Juiced CrossCurrent S as being a great value for high speed, long distance commuting. I continued researching for a good while, and flip flopped between the idea of building a bike, or buying a pre-built. I obviously finally settled on the CCS with the 52V/ 21Ah battery option. I received my bike May 9th, and have put over 1000 miles on it since.

Here are some things I would place priority on in your search:
1) Battery, battery, battery!
Any bike with a 500 Wh battery or less should be crossed off your list. On my commute I average ~ 500 Wh each way; high use days fighting headwinds have had my use over 600Wh. I only charge my battery to 80% to promote longevity of the pack, and have yet to drop it below 30%. Any ebike will experience a drop in performance as the voltage in the pack drops. I can notice this as well, but its not dramatic as my pack voltage remains relatively high. Dropping batteries below 20% negatively affects longevity as well.
Plan on a minimum of 20 Wh / mile, more if you want to be travelling over 30 mph. Higher speeds require exponentially more power due to the poor aerodynamics of the riding position.
2) Bikes designed as class 3, high speed commuters should be your focus. These bikes tend to have a more forward seating position improving aerodynamics some; they also tend to have better brakes; and tires that are bigger to absorb high speed bumps, etc.
3) Mid-drives are less advantageous as high speed commuters. The basic physics of the design dictate that the motor cannot apply full motor torque to the rear wheel when you are using the higher gears in your cassette (smaller cogs). The Bosch Performance Speed motor is the best mid-drive in this regard as it uses an internal gearing to allow for a small front charinring.
Hub drives do not experience this loss in torque at high speeds and are in fact at their most efficient when operating at high motor speeds. Many individual builders actually use direct drive hubs for their high speed builds, as it is where they become their best. However, a geared hub motor with a high speed winding is a great option in this regard as well.
4) Go test ride several bikes if you can. The Trek SuperCommuter 8S is a great bike that I really enjoyed riding. If it had a bigger battery and lower price, I'd have been happy to own it. You will find out quickly, just because a bike says Class 3, doesn't mean you can maintain or even attain 28 mph on level ground. The Magnum Metro+ is a great example. On paper it looks very similar to my Juiced CCS. The ride performance is like a family sedan versus a Corvette.

Good luck in your search.

Reid
1 week ago

My overall ebike experience is life-changing in an extraordinarily good way.

I first had an ebike a little over ten years ago. It was not very good, a cheap commercially produced bike with lead acid battery. It was not very satisfactory. A year later I got a front wheel geared hub motor kit from Canada, bought locally a basic cruiser bike, and ordered direct from China, a Ping brand battery.

I soon crashed the bike! I did not know how to ride a cruiser bike! Went head over the bars when I foolishing pedaled while going through a roundabout, and the low-hung cruiser bike pedal hit the pavement and pogo'd me a number of feet though the air, landing me on grass and then the bike went just over me and landed on the grass too. Well! That caused me to lose interest in ebiking.

But I watched and waited many years. I knew what I wanted to wait for: A lithium battery bike with pedals that will never accidentally touch the pavement. I recognized the value and performance of the Juiced Bikes https://www.juicedbikes.com/products/crosscurrent-s.

My CCS arrived late last December. I have ridden it every day since. I gave up driving the car and use the bike for most all my needs. For the occasions when I cannot ride I will very reluctantly use our family car. When I go and tune and repair pianos I may summon a rideshare.

But, daily I ride my ebike manually for exercise. And when I want to go fast or far and not break a sweat, electric assist is there.

I have ridden manual bicycles casually since 1960 when I was six.

With an ebike I can confidenly state I will ride a bike productively and for my health, for my remaining life.

We all just want to get by. An ebike and some fortitude, enjoying that car traffic can be ridden around, and yes, recognizing that car drivers today are particularly dangerous because they are less attentive to their death dealing vehicles than ever before, I will still ride my ebike for health and for practicality, and extoll its virtues to every person I meet while rolling the bike.

"What a beautiful bike," is the universal compliment I get from every person who sees the bike, whether I am cresting a bridge and they are on foot looking at the bridge view, or in the store like our local Home Depot, where the bike and its fold-out basket in the rear serves as a shopping cart, "What a beautiful bike. Is it an ebike? I am afraid to ride a bike because of the traffic, it's crazy."

The more of us who exemplify the the lifestyle of the Dutch and just ride a bike, manual or electric assist, the more we help those poor drivers understand that yes, they can do it too.

I am trying to encourage other riders. Do you agree with my posting of this video?

The more people will ride a bike, the healthier we all will become emotionally and otherwise. There is safety in numbers of more people riding bikes.

bob armani
1 week ago

Vasu-If I can suggest you also try some different rear hub driven E-bikes. You will find that some of them are very zippy and take little effort getting up inclines, etc. My preferred brand is the 350 or 500 watt Dapu motor that companies like Easy Motion use with a torque sensor. They have also improved the responsiveness of the sensor on later models. I have a 2015, and the sensor is extremely sensitive and gets you up to 20mph in a matter of seconds on flats. I have to add that I am 135 lb rider, so heavier weight riders are better fit for the 500 watt hub motors.
Good luck and happy shopping. :D

Alaskan
1 week ago

Mike, I went through this process back in January. I spent loads of time reading Court's reviews, watching his videos and then test riding bikes in four different bike shops in Seattle and one on Vashon Island.

I live in Bellingham, have been ebiking since February and just love it. I am 67 and peaked out at 238 lbs last year. I now ride my bike almost every day for at least averaging 17 miles. The only time I drive my car is if it is raining or I need to haul something too big for the bike. I am now down to 208 lbs. I wake up every day and look out the window to see if I can ride. The feeling of freedom, health and vitality is addicting.

Keep up the good work doing research. There are a wealth of shops to visit in Seattle. Resist the urge to buy until you do some more test riding. You will find one that feels right for you soon enough.

Make your next trip to Seattle Electric & Folding Bikes in Ballard http://electricvehiclesnw.com/ They have been around longer than anyone else in the area, are very helpful and friendly.

Next go up to G&O Cycles at 85th & Greenwood https://familycyclery.com/. They are the Riese & Muller dealer and have a good number of demo bikes to ride...nice people as well.

Seattle Electric Bike https://seattleelectricbike.net/ is nearby. They carry Cube, Bulls, Raleigh, Felt , Focus and others. My experience with the owner was quite offputting though. PM me if you want details.

After you have visited these three shops, the style of bike that will work best for you should begin to emerge.

vasubandu
1 week ago

I am totally new to electric bikes and find myself torn between finding a good mainstream product and taking a flyer on something different. I am trying to think of the last thing I did normally and am coming up empty.

My bike will be have a primary function as a commuter. The commute will be 7.5 miles each way, and each direction has a hill 300 feet high over a mile. I am 53 and in decent physical shape. I think I want a mid-drive bike. I am focused on pedal assist, but the idea of pedal assist plus throttle is just the kind of idea that gets me going.

The BikTrix Monte 1000 is currently sold out, but I have patience. Even with the max battery, it still looks like it would come in under $3k.

If the bike had issues, I could not fix them. I would have to pay someone else to do it.

So would this bike for someone like me be a colossally stupid idea or just a situation that had manageable risks?

michael mitchell
1 week ago

I live in the area, so maybe I can contribute my 2 bits. If you want an easier trip, you should look at bike which only uses cadence sensing. So Something like a Rad Rover, or a regular bike with a luna cycle type of kit. I have a cadence sensing bike, which can get me up Cougar Mountain with minimal pedaling effort, but it obviously slows down on the steeper stretches. In west seattle, you could get a bike without a front suspension, but I'd highly recommend adding a redshift shockstop in that case. It won't be as cushy as a front suspension or fat tires, but it'll take the painful jolt out of streets around here. That dude who told you to hop curbs is a clown. Don't do that on an ebike.

I also have a torque+cadence sensing 28mph bike. With more effort, it climbs faster than my cadence only bike. But the key is more effort. That may sound like a negative, but over time, you'll find yourself pushing a little harder, because you know you'll be rewarded even more. Sort of like when parents tell a kid they'll match whatever $ the kid saves.

It comes down to what your long term goals are. If you simply want to avoid the hassle of parking and sitting in a 5 mph misery box (that's what cars are around here), I vote cadence only. If you see yourself one day riding around mercer island, I vote torque sensing.

vasubandu
1 week ago

My wife took our sons to Oregon for her grandmother's funeral and to visit her mother for a few days, and i stayed behind to take care of the dog and not spend time with her mother. That will give me the chance to do what everyone is telling me to do, namely get out there and try so some bikes.

Today's stop was Seattle E-Bike, which seems to be the most prominent electric bike store in Seattle. When I went in the store, I was surprised at how massive all the bikes looked. I have seen plenty while driving around, but when I looked at them as something to ride, they suddenly seemed very large. They looked so wide that the pedals seemed too far apart. The salespeople were all busy, which gave me some time to wander the store uninterrupted. I now know enough to recognize that many of the bikes were slightly older models, and at the lower end of their ranges. They have some very nice bikes, but the focus is on the under $2,000 market.

They do carry Stromer, which has been of some interest, and I was surprised at how the size and mass of the bikes increased as you moved up the line. The ST 1 looked fine, but the ST 2 felt bigger than what I would want to ride. A salesman finally came up to me, and I explained my interest in a commuter and the nature of my commute. He immediately suggested looking at their entry level bikes, and I told him my focus was higher.

SInce I was familiar with them, I asked to test the ST 1. It was a nice looking bike, but had neither front nor rear suspension.

The the guy walked me through how to use the bike, I was surprised that it did not have a throttle. Somehow I had gotten into my head an expectation that electric bikes would have a throttle. It just seemed like an electric bike should go on its own, and I had images of just motoring up the big hills in my commute.

The controls that he showed me were disappointing.

There is a small monochrome box on the right side that controls the amount of boost. To change it, you have to press a toggle switch on the side to cycle through the options. It would cost $50 to have a 3x5 color touch screen instead. The ST 1 has derailleurs on both wheels. I asked what the purpose of the front derailleur was, and he could not say. I don't think that there is power to the front wheel, so I really don't get why its great would matter.

Armed with this knowledge and nothing more, I took the bike outside and took off into the street. It was one of the oddest sensations I have ever had. I pedaled, and the bike surged ahead as if it had a mind of its own. It was very unsettling. I understood what was happening, but it was just an odd sensation. It took me several blocks to become comfortable with it. And then over a few more, I started to be able to anticipate the boost, and it became welcome. Over about 10 minutes, I started to get a sense for how it works and its potential. With experience, a person would develop a good sense of the bike's capabilities and would learn to use them in different situations. You could create a sudden burst when you needed it, and you could maintain a very easy steady pace on level ground. The possibilities became clear.

My ride included a moderate hill, and I was pleased to see how the bike essentially turned the hill into level ground. It would eliminate the drag of coming to a long hill, and I thought about how when I do go biking, there always seems to a hill to climb at the end, that burns me until I get off and walk. That would go away. I saw no difference shifting the front gears. Still have no idea what that is about.

I stopped to take a picture of the bike, and when I did, a guy asked if I wanted a picture of me with the bike. I told him I was just testing it, and he said, "I know, I saw the tag." We got into a discussion about the bike and electric bikes in general. He was very knowledgeable and helpful. His first comment was that it was a very stiff bike, and he explained that it had no front suspension. He said that in Seattle, you frequently have to hop up on a sidewalk, and that without a front suspension, you would pop a lot of tires. I asked him about a rear suspension, and he said that it was a matter of choice, but that he has a hardtail. He said that he rides his bike hard, and that there is dust on his seat because he never sits on it. If he had a rear suspension, it would absorb some of power from his pedaling. We talked for quite a while, and he had many insights that I thought made sense.

As an aside, I am struck by how friendly and helpful electric bikers have been. You might think it odd that I would be surprised by that, but the media tends to portray electric bikers as rude people who cut everyone off and disregard traffic rules. The laws and regulations that are being adopted seem to be based on this perception. My own experience has been just the opposite. Hard to imagine a nicer bunch of people. I am sure there are jerks too, but not greater percentage than any other group.

When I got back to the shop, I asked if they had a throttle bike I could try for a comparison. They had a few, but they were low end bikes of little interest. The guy told me (1) there are almost no mid drive bikes with a throttle, and (2) E3 28 mph bikes cannot have a throttle without being treated as something else and having equipment like blinkers, etc. Both of those statements were news to me. I have since done some more research, and there are a few mid drive bikes with a throttle, but it creates issues, and an E3 bike can have a throttle that is regulated to 20 mph. As a general rule, however, what he said seems to be true. It certainly changed some of my basic expectations and gives me even more to research.

After checking out their other bikes, I next decided to test an Easy Motion ATOM DIAMOND WAVE PRO. I liked the way it looked and it had a back rack.

I also thought that its controls were more intuitive and friendly, but it was 8 speed, rear derailleur only.

My experience with it was going to be different because now I had some idea what to expect, but for me this bike was immediately vastly preferable. If felt lighter and quicker to respond to my control, and the power level control made more sense. Most of it was just that "right fit" that people have talked about.

I took the same route as I did with the Stromer, and I learned a valuable lesson. I do not know if it was because the Easy Motion was an 8 speed, but when going up the hill, I did reach a point where I started to really struggle like I would in a normal bike. The comments that people have made about shifting suddenly made a lot more sense, and I realized that even with an electrical bike, you still have to be mindful of our riding. I was in 6th gear because I thought I could just cruise on up.

Overall, I now realize that electric bikes are about making biking more efficient and easier, not little motorcycles to cruise to work. The experience itself is still biking, and people who don't want to ride a bike likely will be disappointed. Electric bikes also are more complicated than I thought in that to extract the maximum benefit, you have to pay attention to what you are doing and know how to use a bike in the first place. There are so many different kinds of electric bikes because there are so many different kinds of bikers. Which bike of a specific kind you get may not matter much, but getting the wrong kind of bike would be like wearing your shoes on the wrong feet. The advertised speeds for bikes are complete BS. It would take a lot of effort for me to get either of those bikes to 20 mph, and in my current shape, I could not sustain that kind of speed for very long. In city traffic, there are lots of stops and starts. Bikes don't start like cars do, further reducing the effective speed. The perfect feature set cannot be found on a single bike because the features are found only on certain kinds of bikes, and when you pick a certain kind of bike, you lose the incompatible features.

All of this may sound very negative and disappointed, but my reaction is just the opposite. Becoming a happy electric bike commuter is going to require some significant changes in my thinking, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I am going to have to plan on a 30 minute commute, not a 15-20 minute one. In the beginning, I may not be able to go all the way up my big hills without taking a break or walking part of it. I can get there, but I am going to have to work up to it.

But I spend too much of my life sitting at my desk, and I need a more active lifestyle. I am not going to to a gym, and biking is more engaging than walking, plus it offers a broader range. So now, it is half back to the drawing board and half testing more bikes. What an adventure.

Martin Schmidt
8 months ago

I dont like the colors but i think bc Its a Ladys bike. the mid drive is top notch. The frame is of course made as a ebike frame although Its Not integrated good. The other parts are also good. :)

ilikewasabe
8 months ago

Good observation on the chainstays. They could have lowered the bb a bit to alleviate the problem like what you see on a regular mtb.. Maybe they didn't account how small the chairing is..

Mark Ramil
8 months ago

Can you do a review of the M2S All Terrain Kush R750? I've been interested in it but can't find any decent reviews. Thank you

Mark Ramil
8 months ago

I tried their chat in their website but didn't get any replies. Their lack of response scared me away a bit from the company.

I plan on using it on sand dunes in Utah and those sand dunes can get pretty steep. There are also really soft areas. It might be a stretch but if you can take their Kush R750 (750w rear hub motor version) in one of those sand dunes, that would be a great watch and helpful.

I'm still interested in their bikes so I'm looking forward to it. Thank you.

ElectricBikeReview.com
8 months ago

Hi Mark, I'm in touch with the M2S team and hoping we will get some reviews later this year or early next. Looks like a good value and the man behind it is responsive and friendly

Robert Green
8 months ago

Is it just me or are these bikes all starting to look the same!

GameOn
8 months ago

Yeah, really mature answer. English is not my first language, so i really don't see your point. BTW i was fucking joking! They all have motor and battery in the same place so that is why they look similar.

Robert Green
8 months ago

GameOn Anyway, I meant all these ebikes are morphing into the same mtb like form. You rarely see a cruiser and even less recumbents. I just wish there was more diversity so that it wasn't so boring.

Robert Green
8 months ago

GameOn When you learn English , you can criticize. You mean, don't not doesn't.

GameOn
8 months ago

Doesn't all MTB look the same, electric or not? It's bicycle!

D Danilo
8 months ago

Great perspective, Court! I think we're in the midst of an exciting era for e-bikes. Technical progress is coming quickly to the consumer; manufacturers and dealers are trying hard to keep up and be responsive to the market. Thanks for another great video...you're "leading the pack" in the Review Department!