GenZe lent me theire 101 e-bike about a year ago. Overall, I’ve been impressed with the bike considering the quality for that price. Is it perfect? Maybe not, but that also depends on what you’re looking for and what your budget is. Is it good enough? It is well above what I expected. I see this e-bike as a great first time electric bicycle that won’t send you running from the get go upgrading just about everything.
Who is GenZe?
I first met the GenZe folks at the Santa Monica AltCar Expo in 2014. GenZe is a Mahindra backed US company that assembles its e-bikes and e-scooter in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The new company was showing a promising electric scooter and an e-bike. Truth be told, despite covering the world of electric vehicles (EV) for over a decade, it was my second time on an e-bike and first on an e-scooter. The first e-bike I rode was a homegrown contraption that weighed a ton with an oversized front wheel motor. The unholy marriage of a conventional heavy bicycle and a beefy electric motor relying on regular brakes was scary at best. The e-bike unwieldy and although seemingly enticing, it just a heavy electric conversion of a Chinese bicycle frame. And yes, I know the Chinese can make good quality.
The Genze e-scooter is a well thought out exoskeleton electric two-wheeler frame that is fully connected. But what concerns us here is the e101 mountain e-bike.
The GenZe e101 E-Bike
The e101 is the first vehicle made by Genze, with its e-scooter. Currently, the company has an updated version, but I’ll keep to the original one.
The GenZe e101 is a mountain e-bike also offered as a recreational frame, known as the e102. The e101 comes with three different riding modes: throttle full electric, pedal assist, which comes in five settings, from low to strong assist, and an analog mode, which means good-old-fashion pedaling only. I never thought anyone would use the latter, but my wife proved me wrong!
The e-bike was well thought out considering it is already a few years old. The company uses an Alton aluminum frame made to its specifications, which is assembled in Ann Arbor. The battery is neatly incorporated in the downtube, as well as sporting a rear-hub motor, which was not so common a few years ago. At the time, I knew of only a few companies that made mid-drives.
I like the visible aluminum welding on the frame. Apparently, this caused a certain amount of controversy, as some in the company's focus group seem to like it, others not so much. I know the company had a hard time decided which one to chose. I’m glad they kept the visible welding.
Performance May Vary, GenZe Gets it Close
Claimed and real-life performance is remarkably close with Genze, something that doesn't always happen with other optimistic manufacturers. I’m 5” 9’ and weigh around 175 lb. I mostly do street riding and live near the beach. So far, I’ve put 625 miles on this particular e101 in over 8 months. I put another 100 miles on a previous e101 that was loaned originally over the period of three months.
The e101 accommodates three body heights with three frame sizes: 16”, 18” and 20", respectively for 5’ to 5’ 7” folks, 5’ 8” to 6’ and above 6’.
While $1,500 buys you a lot these days, a few years back this was an incredibly low price. At that time, most e-bikes of similar quality hovered around $2,000 to $2,500.
The e101 weighs 46 lb, which is still an honorable weight these days. It rides on Alton Kenda 26”x 1.75” wheels.
Range & Speed:
I did achieve close to the claimed 20 MPH on a full charge. I averaged 19 to 19.5 MPH on a full charge. Why mention a full charge? As soon as the charge dips below 25%, the speed goes down to around 17 to 18 MPH. The company claims a 20-mile range in battery mode, which I managed to achieve, including one steep hill in the testing.
Motor & Battery:
The motor is a 250 W brushless rear-hub rated at 360V. I found this to be plenty for city riding despite its modest rating. All of this uses a Samsung 8.7 ah Lithium-ion 36V battery. It pops out fairly easily and locks in place with a key. It comes with a handle so that if you can carry it and recharge anywhere with a three-prong DIN type of connector.
As you can see from the numbers, it’s not a performance beast but this setup provides enough get up and go in almost all situations.
The derailleur is a Shimano Tourney TX 7 speed gear. It does the job well, as would be expected from most Shimano products. More serious riders will probably want to upgrade, but for an every day commuting e-bike, it does the job very well. The shifter is intuitive enough and ergonomically placed. I asked a few people to ride with no knowledge of modern shifters, and everyone understood the overall system. It doesn’t require much time getting used to for those not familiar with that sort of system.
The display is one of my favorite parts because it is generous and perfect for those of us whose eyes are not good enough to read small prints anymore. I’m over 50 and I can read this display at any time. The neat part is a backlight option, which has come in handy more than once at night.
Genze will deliver your e101 or e102 with no assembly required. The battery is covered for two years and the rest for 18 months.
Living With a GenZe e101
So far, I’ve liked that Genze e101 a lot. Considering the $1,500 price, the quality, and performance, this is a good entry-level e-bike for those needing a certain amount of quality but not yet ready to splurge in the $3,000 and above e-bikes. In many ways, it’s a perfect first e-bike for those eager to get into the market without upgrading everything within the first few months. It's a good medium riding e-bike, perfect for commuting and light off-road use. It has no suspensions and that means if you want to take it off-road, you will want to look into a front suspension fork.
The pedal assist is not the most sophisticated and can sometimes take a fraction of a second to kick in. This has surprised me on more than one occasion at a traffic light when I needed to get and up and go fast. It takes a good second to kick in, but this usually happens when I’m in the wrong gear. It doesn’t happen when I’m in a lower gear when the pedal sensor detects quicker you need power right now and delivers.
One thing I did replace was the central kickstand. For some reason, Genze uses a heavy central kickstand, probably to entice those who’ve never ridden a bicycle before. I switched it to a lighter aluminum sidekick stand I had lying around. Hey, anything to make an EV lighter!
I mostly spend my time in the fifth position of the pedal assist mode. Setting one, which has the lowest amount of pedal assist time comes in handy when riding at a more very leisurely pace with other people.
I'm not sure why throttle-only gets little love these days. It's just a choice and I like it having choices. I this option because plenty of time I find myself riding home late, tired or cold. All I want then is to keep one hand in my pocket and zip along the quickest route home.
Final Thoughts on the GenZe e101
The Genze e101 is an overall good entry-level e-bike that was affordable with enough performance and quality to please anyone without having to upgrade within the first month of ownership. Genze really kicked the mid and entry level e-bike price war, and we can only rejoice about that. Although there is more choice now in the $1,500 segment, GenZe is improving its e101 and e102. However, it seems the company is focusing on its great ex-cooter. It's a shame because I would be interested to see how much they can improve this bike, and perhaps even more what else can they offer to beef up their portfolio.
Overall, I found Genze struck a good balance between affordability and further down the road upgrades. More experienced riders will want to change the gearing system, tires and add a front suspension. When it comes to handlebars and seats, I know those run the gamut as far as style and quality. I’m sure there are improvements that can be made there.
All in all, this e-bike was a welcome boost a few years ago when similar quality stagnated into the $2,000 market segment. Genze came in well under and offered a good platform that won’t disappoint you and give you enough time before you start updating.
Stay tuned for the video.
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