Newport Review: My First Two Months

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The Scoop

I’ve benefitted tremendously from the insights and tips from everyone on this board, so I wanted to add my experience to the mix. Since I’m a complete noob to the electric bike universe, I suspect my observations will only be helpful to those who are coming from a similarly inexperienced place, but here goes....

The Search

46 year old male. Moderately out of shape, with some back and knee issues that have kept me off of non-stationary bikes for more than 20 years. At 6’1, 185 pounds I was looking for, above all else for a bike that would be comfortable to ride. Upright riding, pedal forward, cushy seat, easy to handle. I’m lucky enough to live just steps away from the coolest beach bike path on the planet (in my humble opinion), but in the six years I’ve been living here, I haven’t set foot on it once. Totally nuts, I know. So after wistfully watching the bikes fly by for years, I decided it was time to jump in. A pedelec beach cruiser seemed like the perfect solution to allow me to get back in shape without taxing my joints and back too much.

The Budget

I decided that something in the $2,000 range would be fine. While I could afford to go higher, $2000 was the most I was willing to spend on a first attempt at an ebike -- something that might ultimately wind up collecting dust in my garage if I wound up making a tremendous mistake. I did a little bit of research, found this terrific site, when to the Expo in Long Beach. Was ambivalently drifting toward Pedego, as it seemed to meet most of my specs (except my budget), when I stumbled upon...

The E-Lux Newport Step Thru. Definitely love at first sight here. Based on absolutely nothing, I heard the voice in my head say “You must have this bike” At around $1900 before extras, bells and whistles, it was a good $1000 cheaper than similar Pedego models, and I was hard pressed to find much of a difference. My biggest hesitation was that Pedego is a much more established company, and I worried that ELUX’s startup status might make service and parts an issue down the road. I also wanted to take a test ride to see if the ride lived up to the fantastic visuals.

The Test Ride/Buying Experience

Decided to drive about an hour down to Orange County, the home of ELUX’s headquarters and rental operation to take one out to the beach for a couple of hours, and ask a few questions from their sales staff. To be honest, I was sold after my first ten minutes on the bike. It was precisely what I was looking for, and even the well-travelled rental rode beautifully. And while I’m still concerned about the long-term advisability of buying a big ticket item from a small company with a shorter track record, this was balanced by the OUTSTANDING customer service I received during the sales process. Renee was the sales rep who assisted me with the rental, but she also patiently answered all of my questions during the follow up, and eventual sales process. All of the costs, pros/cons were spelled out clearly, and I never felt the slightest bit of sales pressure at any point. They should give some pointers to the car dealerships! Even though there is an ELUX dealer in Santa Monica (very close to me), the OC location had a slightly better price, and they offered to have it delivered completely assembled to my home up in LA. The model with the particular specs I wanted was already in the warehouse, so I ordered the bike on a Saturday morning, and had it pulling up to my house on a Sunday afternoon!! The guy who delivered the bike was (I believe) one of the co-owners of the company, and couldn’t have been nicer. He took the time to walk me through some of the last minute setup questions I had, and made sure everything was in working order before leaving. Customer service should always be this terrific. With an upgraded battery (from 10AH to the 14AH) and a decision to upgrade the standard comfy seat to a SERFAS CRS-1 Super Cruiser, my total cost wound up being around $2200. And while this is hardly a cheap bike, I do feel like it’s a tremendous value for what I got.

The Ride

In almost every way, the ELUX Newport Step Thru met my primary goal of a comfortable ride. The pedal-forward design has given my knees a real break, and the upright riding position and wide handle bars, have me sitting straight and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Ocean vistas! Because of my limited flexibility, I chose the low step thru model versus the step over. And after a moment of embarrassment for choosing the one clearly designed as a “women’s bike”, I was super glad that I did. Hopping on and off of the step thru is a breeze, and the absence of the top bar seems to compromise the stability of the bike only very minimally. The frame is sturdy and can stand up to quite a bit of punishment. Even though 80% of my riding is on the well-paved beach bike paths, I do take it out on to city streets, and it absorbs quite a few potholes and bumps. The construction of the ELUX frame seems solid, and holds up fine. The look of the paint and fenders is fantastic. The Newport comes in White, Black, Powder Blue, and Sea Foam Green. Each color is so vibrant and stark, that I genuinely had a hard time choosing, ultimately going for the sea foam green to go with the beach vibe that I wanted. And while I have picked up a scratch or two in my first two months of use (about 300 miles), this is probably more due to my carelessness than the quality of the paint job, which seems to weather quite well. Simply put, it is a gorgeous bike.

One of the complaints that I had read in some reviews of the ELUX Newport was that the back end weight of the battery can lead to a slightly unbalanced ride. And while this is hardly a deal breaker, I can confirm that the rear end weight (particularly on a bike that is so heavy overall) is noticeable. I probably exacerbated this problem a bit by choosing to zip tie a basket over the rear cargo area, rather than the front. Something to keep in mind. Also, I’m constantly concerned that the bike it going to tip over when I have it parked, especially if I have any cargo whatsoever in the rear basket. Even empty, it seems to teeter a bit, in spite of a well-made, heavy duty kickstand that is provided with the bike. That said, the placement of the battery itself is intuitive and simple. Removing and reinserting the battery is a breeze, and it makes for great recharging flexibility.

The LED display on the ELUX is, from everything I can tell, identical to the one on most Pedago models, and it’s pretty simple to use, giving you all of the essential controls at your fingertips. Moving between levels of pedal assist is easy, and in short order becomes as intuitive as you could ever want. For me, having the option of a throttle only override was a must, and I think it should be for you too. There are just too many occasions where you want that instant boost of power to pass someone/something on the road. Personally, I like the trigger throttle of the ELUX over the twist throttle of the Pedago, but that may just be me.

The grips on the ELUX Newport were comfortable and quality, but I can’t say the same for the cheap, poorly made bell. Mine was shifting in place and junky from almost day one. When I get around to it, I’ll replace with something more reliable (for safety reasons). Not a big deal though.

If I did have one structural complaint about the bike itself, it would be in the area of suspension. Now granted, I don’t have a lot to compare it to, and I realize that this is definitely NOT a mountain bike. It’s a beach cruiser, and the suspension is not designed to absorb every tiny bump on the road. Nonetheless, comfort was a big priority of mine, and even with the cushy seat and the mostly even terrain that I ride, I do find my self feeling it in the seat when I come up against small rattles and shakes. Ultimately, I may explore adding some kind of additional suspension, so if there’s anyone out there who’s had similar issues with the Newport, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

I’ve been pretty impressed with the quality and efficiency of the motor so far. I had heard comments in other reviews that it was on the noisy side, but I’ve found mind to be unnoticeable, and almost whisper-quiet (perhaps because I’m riding near the ocean, or on city streets). Regardless, it’s fairly responsive, even though I find myself often riding in the least responsive, battery saving, “ECO mode” most of the time. I haven’t done enough hilly riding to comment about the power of the motor for steep climbs, but I will say that in the highest power mode, I’m zipping from 0 to 20 mph in a flash. I have had one or two incidents where the motor did not kick in upon initially powering the bike on. This was instantly remedied by powering the bike off and rebooting. Never a big deal, and overall reliability of the motor has been very good.

The Battery

I’m only able to get out riding a couple of times per week, but when I ride, I like to ride far. My dream trail takes me about 19-20 miles each way, for a total of 38-40 miles. So the question is, can you get that far on the Elux Newport? The answer: yes... pretty much. I learned the hard way on my first few outings that there are some severe limitations to the accuracy of the LED display power indicator. I purchased the 14AH battery (A MUST, as it turns out) which on a full charge starts you with about 54w. The owners manual indicates that an empty battery is 42w, but this is complete nonsense. In reality, once the display dips to 46-47ish you are on borrowed time. And since it is a bad idea to run a lithium battery all the way down to empty, it is really annoying that there isn’t more precision in the gauge. I suspect that this is a drawback of most non-super high end ebikes, but having a more reliable and accurate power indicator would be a big help. As it is, I had to do some trial and error to figure out precisely how far a full charge could take me, and do so independently on the display number, which I find draws down very slowly early in the ride, and then tumbles down rapidly once it dips below 50w. The power bar is similarly unreliable. You start with 5 bars, and it takes quite a while to drop to 4 or 3, but then 2 bars disappears very quickly. Apart from the damage it probably does to the battery, I can say from personal experience that running out of juice on an obscenely-heavy beach cruiser.... really sucks. Fortunately, I’ve made my mistakes in that department, and won’t make them again. I’ve also taken to carrying my charger with me when I ride (it weighs very little), and feel better knowing that I can sneak into a cafe for some emergency recharging when push comes to shove.

The good news, (in spite of all my complaining) is that the actual range of the 14AH battery is actually quite reasonable. I find that I’m able to make my full 40 mile ride on one charge, (without completely going down to fumes), if I am diligent about putting in a decent amount of exercise on the pedassist as I go. On an average trip, I’d say I’m doing 10% at level 1, 50% at level 2, 30% at level 3, and 10% at level 4. With this distribution, and paying close attention to the display, I’m able to complete my full ride without stopping to recharge. What this will do to the lifespan of my battery, I can’t really say. I’ve read so many comments on the board about keeping your battery in the middle range to prolong it’s life, and I’m obviously not doing that. Mine is more of a carpe diem approach, and I’m just hoping that I can enjoy my bike and not worry too much about battery life. If I can get a couple of years out of it before noticing diminished range and having to replace it, that will be ok by me. If anyone thinks I’m deluding myself, or has any advice, I’d be eager to hear your thoughts.

The Bottom Line

Having only had the ELUX Newport for about two months, I can’t speak to long-term issues (service, replacement parts, durability, etc). But I can say that, so far, ELUX delivered on exactly what I wanted: A beautiful bike with a hassle-free, comfortable, FUN, riding experience that has gotten me back outside, enjoying the sun, and exercising far more than I thought I would. In short, I’m having a blast. If there are others out there looking for a similar biking experience, I can highly recommend the Newport. I’m eager to connect with other ELUX owners, particularly those who enjoy (as I do) the gorgeous 20 mile stretch of beach between Santa Monica and Torrance on the Braude Bike Trail.

HAPPY RIDING!!!


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