New Owner comments - Used Optibike 8 series

Prabha Gopinath

New Member
I have been hankering after an Optibike R15 for a while now - ever since I moved from Minnesota to Boulder and was confronted with an approach road that gains 1500' elevation in 1.5 miles from Olde Stage Rd to my house. Back surgery in 2014 and bad knees mean that I cant push my Mavericks up this road.

I have been attracted to the Optibikes because I am a sucker for innovative engineering, Made_In_USA, locally made etc. This, despite the advice of someone whose opinion I greatly value, that I should look at a Haibike or a Bulls.

I found a used 850 with a new battery and motor (replaced in 2016) for a very reasonable price and purchased it yesterday. My comments below are after about 24 hours of use.

I have been riding bicycles from the age of 6 - now 58 so I have a lot of muscle memory built up around location of brakes and shifters. Front brake left, rear brake right, front derailleur left, rear derailleur right etc. On teh Opti it is Front brake right, throttle right, rear brake left, shifter left.

The Optibike controls are modeled after a motorcycle. Optibike is clear about this in their videos and their website. While i had read this and thought I understood this, riding a bike configured this way is an unique and potentially dangerous experience.

The rear hub has a standard cassette vs the Rohloff that current Optis have. Mine was set at a fairly high gear when I got it home. My driveway slopes uphill from the garage. The first time I mounted it and pushed off with the pedals I noticed the the high gear and decided to shift down. Despite telling myself "shifter on the left throttle on the right", in the excitement of trying not to fall over my muscle memory kicked in an my right hand cranked the throttle fairly hard. That was my first, potentially deadly, mistake. The bike took off heading towards the edge of my driveway where I have a fairly steep 100+ foot down slope. Now, panic kicked in hard and I went for the rear-brake-front-brake sequence and it was all muscle memory at work. I hit the right brake lever hard and promptly went OTB. Landed hard on the driveway and narrowly missed going past the edge - was held back by some large rocks. I lay there feeling my legs arms back etc. All well except for the wind being completely knocked out of me. Bike was fine with no damage at all.

I think after this very brief experience, and some circling in a turn-around in the sub division, that there is a definite learning curve associated with an Opti. I own and ride other non-electric bikes and worry that the transition back and forth could be a problem. For me at least, going from normal bike controls to the current Opti setup may be problematic. It panic situations muscle memory always kicks in and I am concerned about how this will factor in commuting and street riding conditions. I am going to look at putting the controls where all bikes have theirs - if that is feasible.

I am glad I bought this vs going all out for an R15. This is a good and low risk way to get to decide whether this is for me.

I appreciate comments and feedback from more experienced riders.