- A powerful, fast hybrid style electric bike with excellent weight distribution (mid-drive motor, downtube battery pack)
- Comfortable ride thanks to the basic suspension fork, seat post shock, padded oversized saddle and mid-rise handlebars
- Professional conversion using mid-level parts (8Fun motor, Lithium-ion battery, Shimano Altus) at a great price with a 2 year limited warranty, wires are not integrated into the frame but blend in well
Warning, in some configurations this electric bike is classified as a moped or motorcycle and may not be ridden on cycling trails or paths. It may require licensing, insurance and lights when used on public roads.
Hi-Power Cycles is known for building custom electric bike solutions that push the limits on power and speed. They all ship street-legal with 750 motor watt output and top speed of 20 mph. From here, the user can increase speed and power by increasing the voltage and amp settings using onboard controls. Even the Freedom, which is one of their lowest priced and weakest offerings, delivers well above most of the low speed electric bikes I’ve tested. If you own private property or ride off-road frequently it’s nice to have access to the full potential of the bike without having to build it yourself from scratch… especially because with HPC you get a comprehensive year long warranty with limited coverage up to two years (you can replace your battery for half price in the second year if it fails). The HPC Freedom is all about comfort and ergonomics with mid-rise handlebars, an entry level suspension fork, seat post shock and padded saddle. It comes in three frame sizes for improved fit and offers the convenience of quick release wheels for transport and tuneups. The only downsides I really observed are the messier wire integration (they aren’t run through the frame like a purpose built ebike) and lack of shift detection for smoother gear changing. For the video review above I tested a 19 inch model and was amazed at the ~45 pound weight (with battery and all other drive components attached). This thing is well balanced, very capable and enjoyable to ride.
The HPC Freedom electric bike comes with a seven speed cassette and entry-level Shimano Altus derailleur. This is fine for around-town riding and empowers the mid-drive motor for climbing or reaching up to 26 miles per hour (if you adjust the speed limit setting using the Bafang display panel). The motor itself is a 750 watt 8Fun/Bafang BBS02 middrive which receives up to 26 amps and is capable of ~880 watts again… if you adjust the speed limiter. It’s extremely fast, powerful and responsive here. Normally I complain about the BBS01 and BBS02 mid-drive systems having a delayed shut off in pedal assist (meaning they spin longer than I’d like once I’ve stopped pedaling) but that was much less of an issue here, possibly due to some custom settings that Hi-Power Cycles is using. While this motor doesn’t offer shift sensing and may therefore mash gears and strain the chain compared to a hub motor setup, it’s very well balanced and efficient on hills. In the video above, one of the HPC employees named Justin is using throttle mode to scale a very steep and long hill and he has no problem. I’m sure larger riders could also accomplish this and if you plan to do a lot of hills, I believe Hi-Power Cycles can deliver a custom chainring adapter with a Race Face sprocket for better leverage.
Power this ebike is a 37 volt 11.6 amp hour Lithium-ion battery pack that’s custom made for HPC. It contains standard 18650 cells from Panasonic with a higher discharge rating of 3C (though HPC has said they set the unit to 2C) and the battery gets a full year warranty as mentioned earlier. The pack isn’t as sleek or narrow as it could be but the mid-frame mounting position is balanced and well protected. The battery locks to the frame but doesn’t require the key to be left in while riding and can easily be taken off for charging inside at home or work. I suggest storing the battery in a cool dry location and always maintaining between 20% and 80% to keep the cells healthy, check that they aren’t below 20% every few months if you haven’t used the bike. Aside from taking up the space where a water bottle cage might otherwise mount, the battery pack has one other con and that is independent activation. You have to press an on/off switch on the pack before you can activate the bike itself with another on/off switch at the left handle bar area. Some quick highlights worth calling out are an LED charge level indicator and USB charging port located on the right side of the pack.
Operating the Hi-Power Cycles Freedom is pretty straight forward. Once the bike is powered up the backlit LCD display panel comes to life showing your battery level, assist mode (1-5), speed, timer and trip distance. You can arrow up or down with the independent button pad on the left for more or less power. Unfortunately, you need to be in one of the assist modes for the trigger throttle to work and it seems to be capped based on which level you’re in. In practice, I tend to ride at a low assist level and boost with the throttle from stop signs or when climbing hills. It takes a bit more effort to simultaneously arrow up for more power (especially because the button pad and throttle are both on the left) but it’s doable and I favor the trigger throttle design over a half-grip twist. The button pad and throttle are very easy to reach and the cockpit is clean but the display isn’t removable and jumbled out in front of the handles is a bunch of wires from display, shifter and brakes. Speaking of brakes, the left lever has a motor inhibitor built in which comes in handy for smoother shifting. the one on the right is combined with two levers for shifting gears. The brakes on this electric bike are basic rim brakes with mechanical v-brake design spec that are easy to service and repair but might suffer in muddy or wet conditions compared with a disc brake. If you’re sticking around town mostly then these brakes are fine and they help to keep the price low.
With the HPC Freedom you’re getting a more basic frame and component offering but it’s still hand-picked and optimized for power. The real value is in the motor and battery pack which perform much better than the stock BBS02. They blend in with the frame nicely and are mounted low and center to improve stability. The fact that this electric bike comes in three sizes, can be adjusted to perform above 20 miles per hour and comes with a generous warranty and battery replacement program is astounding. For the rider who doesn’t want to do a conversion themselves with a BBS02 kit (likely an overlap with those who want to buy a hybrid bicycle and not a souped up mountain bike) this bike is a winner. It will get you up hills, take you 20+ miles in throttle mode and is easy to transport, service and upgrade. It’s also just comfortable to ride, and that’s important when your back and neck aren’t in the mood for bumps and vibrations.
- Very affordable given the high quality battery cells and larger capacity combined with the powerful BBS02 mid-drive motor
- Battery and motor are mounted low and center on the frame for improved balance and handling, available in three frame sizes for improved fit
- Mid-drive motor leverages the cassette for efficient climbing and allows the front and rear wheels to use quick release for easier tuneups
- The suspension fork, seat post shock, padded saddle and semi-ergo grips reduce vibration and improve ride quality, upright seating position feels comfortable
- Solid one year warranty with two year’s limited, you can get a replacement battery from Hi-Power Cycles for half cost in the second year if yours fails
- Utilitarian frame offers sturdy mounting points for front and rear fenders as well as a carry rack thanks to threaded eyelets near the rear drop out and sides of the seat stays
- The BBS01 and BBS02 seem to run a bit long in pedal assist but on this bike it felt very responsive and cut out more quickly during my ride tests
- Battery pack has an integrated USB charging port on the right side covered by a small rubber protector
- Only the left brake lever has an integrated motor cutoff switch (which comes in handy for stopping the BBS02 and shifting more smoothly in pedal assist), the right brake lever does not
- Basic parts including plastic pedals, no-adjust suspension fork and v-brakes
- The downtube area is completely occupied by the battery pack and blocks the seat tube bosses for adding a water bottle cage or other accessories
- Because this is a professional conversion and not a purpose built frame, wires are not integrated into the tubing and create a bit of clutter
- The battery pack has an independent on/off switch which takes a few extra seconds to activate and might confuse users who go straight for the power button on the control pad