- One of the fastest, most powerful and well balanced electric cargo bikes I've ever tested, excellent warranty
- Unique custom built mid-drive motor is able to leverage the rear cassette for improved efficiency and range
- Increased strength and durability with decreased vibration thanks to the steel frame (made by Yuba), maximum load of 750 pounds, noisier than many ebikes, more chains and complexity when servicing rear wheel
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 a Southern California based electric bike builder that offers a range of custom solutions. The HPC SuperMundo is their premiere cargo bike and it’s built on the steel-frame Yuba Mundo platform. It comes in one standard size (with adjustable seat height and stem angle) and is compatible with most of the Yuba accessories for hauling gear, a child, a second adult rider or even a second bike! While Yuba offers their own electric cargo bike called the elMundo with a 350 watt BionX drive system the SuperMundo is quite a bit more powerful and capable… and heavy… and expensive. This thing is not for everyone but but I loved the way it performed during our tests and could see bikepackers, hunters and those who want truck-like hauling performance taking interest.
Driving the stock Super Mundo is a 2,000 watt Crystalyte hub motor mounted just behind the seat post in the rear triangle of the frame. Depending on your needs, Hi-Power Cycles also offers a 2,800 or 3,500 watt option. These motors are typically spoked into the rear wheel of electric bikes and are capable of regeneration. Unfortunately, given the complex double free-wheel setup here, that feature is not accessible. Instead, the motor is able to leverage the rear cassette just as you would as a rider. One side benefit of not using a hub mounted motor is improved ride quality (spokes flex and bend) and easier wheel service or replacement. Having a motor that pulls the same chain system you do means that climbing is more efficient and higher speed can be maintained at a lower RPM depending on which gear you choose. I love that you can pedal backwards at any time on this bike and that you don’t need to be pedaling forward when the motor is running like on some old-school conversions. It’s a clever design that’s amazingly powerful but a bit loud and exposed compared to purpose-built ebikes. The custom mounting bracket that holds the motor is produced through an aerospace engineer that works closely with HPC and I got the impression that they are constantly testing and refining the design to optimize performance.
Powering the motor and optional backlit Cycle Analyst display is a Lithium-ion battery brick with Panasonic cells zipped inside a fabric frame-bag. As with the exposed bracket/motor/chain setup covered above, the battery solution isn’t the most beautiful (or secure/lockable) I’ve seen but it is versatile. You can easily remove the battery for charging or storage off the bike. HPC offers three battery sizes including ~52 volt, ~63 volt and ~78 volt all at 12 amp hours. These guys are passionate about batteries, larger packs like those found on the SuperMundo are custom designed for high power output (using pouches instead of 18650 cells) and this delivers a higher C Rating. This “C Rating” equates to faster withdrawal, higher Amps delivered and more power and speed if you choose to tap into it. Note that depending on the settings you ride with, this bike may have to be registered as a moped or used off-road on private property.
Operating the SuperMundo electric bike is simple but learning your way around all of the systems can be intimidating at first. Once the battery is charged and plugged into the controller, you need to click a toggle switch to on. This switch is mounted on the front of the control box which is located under the frame bag… It’s a little bit hidden and more difficult to activate than a standard button pad near the grips but reduces complexity and likely saves cost. At this point, the bike is ready to go and you simply twist the throttle (or press the optional thumb throttle) to send power to the motor. The complexity of the system becomes apparent when you try to determine the state of charge on the battery because there isn’t a graphic showing bars or “full/empty” readout, just a voltage level. Depending on the battery size you purchase, you’ll need to memorize what voltage to watch out for as being “low”. Thankfully, to avoid damage to the battery from deep discharging, there are presets that shut the bike down before all energy is expended. Other presets within the system include 750 watt output (to comply with US regulation for low speed electric bikes) and 14 Amp output to help limit top speed to ~20 mph. At any time, you can go into the Cycle Analyst menu by holding the left button for a couple of seconds and then clicking the right button to tab through watt limit, amp limit and top speed limit (amongst other adjustments). I did my best to cover all of this in the video, essentially this bike requires extra time and energy to understand and use properly.
In closing, the HPC Super Mundo is the most powerful electric cargo bike I’ve tested to date (even in it’s street legal USA mode). When you tap into the full potential of even the lowest power “2,000 watt 52 volt version” it’s capable of hauling an enormous load and reaching impressive speeds in the 30 mph range (up to 40 mph with upgrades). As a fun test we rode the bike with three riders in tow (total weight over 500 lbs) up a steep, long hill and it performed amazingly well. It’s important to reiterate here that there’s no pedal assist here, the display is a bit complex for newbies, there’s no shift sensing to protect gears and you only get seven speed with a mid-level Shimano Altus cassette. For what it is, this is an impressive machine and the price is justifiable given the quality motor and battery technology. I love that you get a comprehensive one year warranty and that during the second year, HPC will sell you a replacement battery at half price. These guys have been producing quality conversions for many years now and were authentic and responsive during my visit. It’s great to see a unique ride that is so capable and truly delivers car-replacing performance in so many ways.
- Steel frame is sturdy and helps to dampen vibration, swept back “gull wing” bars provide an upright seating position and the rubber ergonomic grips add comfort
- Incredible versatility for hauling, wide range of accessories available through Yuba including running boards, baskets, wheel skirts, towing trays, and rear deck with pad, straps, bars or child seat for a second rider
- Upgraded 203 mm disc brake rotors provide the leverage and power needed when hauling extra large loads (750 pound max weight including riders)
- Excellent weight distribution with battery and motor near-center on the frame and relatively low, most rack and storage mounts are not obstructed
- This is one of the most powerful electric cargo bicycles I’ve ever seen with three options to choose from for motor and battery size
- While the SuperMundo ships with a 750 watt motor setting and 20 mph top speed limit, the system is open and riders may choose up to 3,500 watts and 40 mph depending on which drive package they choose (the default motor offers up to 2,000 watts and 30 mph top speed)
- Nice accessories including oversized aluminum platform pedals, sturdy double-leg kickstand and deflopilator for stable loading
- Battery can be easily removed from the bike for charging or storage, replacements or additions in multiple sizes are sold by Hi-Power Cycles
- 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
- While the battery pack is easily removable, it does not lock to the frame and is not as aesthetically pleasing given the fabric frame-bag storage design
- The main triangle of the frame is taken up by the battery bag and this blocks the water bottle cage mounting point on the downtube
- Added complexity when dealing with the chain or removing the rear wheel for maintenance given the unique mid-frame hub motor, it also runs louder than many other ebikes I’ve tested
- No built in shift sensing technology so you have to be careful about timing if you’re accelerating and decide to change gears
- The on/off toggle button is located on the controller unit under the battery pack and must be switched on before the display can be activated and the bike can be used, less convenient than some bar-mounted button pad designs
- The frame only comes in one standard size though the adjustable seat post and stem can improve fit (stem requires tools to adjust)
- Because this is a professional conversion and not a purpose built electric bike there are more wires running across the frame which diminishes the aesthetic
- Three additional sprockets are located at the bottom bracket for what would be a 21 speed total but they are not usable with the unique mid-motor design
- Mechanical brakes may require more hand and finger strength to use than hydraulic but are simpler to adjust and service
- Official Site: http://www.hi-powercycles.com/2015-hpc-supermundo-cargo-bike/
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/beiADgCDCDJhZJXX7