- A value-priced hardtail electric mountain bike with basic 100mm SR Suntour spring suspension fork and knobby Vee Rubber tires, no lockout or preload adjust, no puncture protection or tubeless setup
- Available in three frame sizes and two frame styles, I like the mid-step frame because it's easier to mount but still rugged looking and stiff, both frames have rack bosses, fender bosses, and bottle cage bosses
- Unique SR Suntour geared hub motor with torque sensing controller for smoother starts and immediate stops, no need for motor inhibitors here, clean cockpit, simple LCD display with full sized USB charging port
- Very basic 7-speed drivetrain with limited 12-28 tooth cassette, entry-level Shimano Tourney derailleur isn't especially tight and doesn't provide a lot of tension, modest 418 watt hour battery is removable for safe storage
The IZIP E3 TRLZ is brand new for 2019, offering a good range of size, frame style, and color options at a great price. This is what I would consider to be a value ebike with compromises in the drivetrain, suspension, and battery capacity to hit an attractive price. Very few electric bicycles in the $1.6 price range are sold through dealers, come in three sizes, and offer a two-year comprehensive warranty! The TRLZ (which is probably short for trails) is a hardtail light electric mountain bike that’s probably best suited to gravel and packed cross country trails vs. steep climbs and rocky terrain. I say this because the suspension fork feels a little bouncy and doesn’t have compression or rebound adjust. There are two preload clickers which let you “pre-load” the springs inside, to account for more weight. I usually leave these all the way open because I’m relatively lightweight at ~135lbs. The Shimano Tourney derailleur is entry level, meaning it weighs a bit more and isn’t as stiff or reliable as Altus, Acera, Alivio, or Deore… and the chain did bounce around a bit when I took the bike off-road. Thankfully, there’s a clear plastic slap guard and sturdy plastic chainring guide to keep the chain from doing any damage or falling completely off. Seven sprockets allow you to shift and pedal comfortably on flat or moderate terrain, but the sprocket range is very limited at 12 to 28 tooth. There’s no big gear like 32 or 42 tooth to give you that steep climbing power. To me, the knobby tires and suspension fork are more about style and a bit of comfort in urban environments with occasional dirt paths. And frankly, that’s just fine! The bike has rear rack bosses, fender bosses, and bottle cage bosses so you can outfit it for hauling cargo and staying dry. I especially like the mid-step gray frame (which looks almost green or taupe in person). For this review, we tested the medium sized frames and you can see me approaching and mounting the frame in the video review above. I have a 30″ inseam and am 5’9″ tall, for reference.
Driving the bike is a compact geared hub motor from SR Suntour that is “torque activated”. The official website says that it measures pedal torque and cadence at the bottom bracket, and I assume that rear wheel speed is also being measured. This is pretty fancy for an entry price point product, and offers a smooth natural feel. Many competing hub motor systems feel abrupt and cut in and out without that smoothness. Motor output is claimed from 250 to 400 watts with up to 60 newton meters of torque, and it was noticeable and helpful during my test climbs. It doesn’t produce a lot of noise, even in the highest level of assist. Overall, it’s a compact and lightweight piece of hardware that freewheels efficiently and won’t drain the battery super quick, like many of the higher powered hub motors out there. This is a benefit when you consider the lower capacity battery pack. Together, they both keep the price down and reduce weight.
Powering the bike is a 36 volt 11.6 amp hour lithium-ion battery pack from Joycube. At least, that’s what the sticker said. It’s part of the SR Suntour drive system, which is a more widely recognized name. Suntour makes drivetrains, suspension forks, motors, and perhaps the battery is a joint venture? In any case, the capacity is below average for the 2019 season, but should be enough to go at least 25 miles, even in the highest level of assist. This is because the IZIP E3 TRLZ is a Class 1 pedal assist product, that makes you engage and help out. It compliments your pedaling, actually measuring torque output and not just pedal motion. I’d consider it a more active ebike for this reason, one that doesn’t just take you along. I love how the battery pack looks, how it’s positioned low on the frame and actually set into the downtube a bit. This battery has a 5-bar LED charge level indicator built into the top (each bar represents a 20% step) and circular charging port on the right side. You can charge it on or off the bike, and the key is a fairly generic TKM with locking cylinder. I mention this, because some higher-specced IZIP and Raleigh products use ABUS locking cores that can be keyed-alike to some locks. The battery tips out to the side vs. mounting up and down, which allows the top tube to be closer on the mid-step frame. It has stickers that tie it into the paint job of the bike, and it weighs about 5.5lbs, which is fairly light. To really care for this and other lithium-ion packs, I have heard that storing in a cool dry location vs. extreme heat or cold will extend the life, and try to keep it about 50% full when not using for long periods so you won’t stress the cells. Try not to let it run down to zero, because that’s really hard on the cell chemistry.
Activating the bike is straightforward, once the battery has been charged and mounted to the downtube. Make sure the pack is clicked into place, then remove the key, and press the blue power button on the control pad. Red LED lights flicker on showing your current speed, assist level (default is standard), and battery charge level. The interesting thing is, the charge indicator on the battery pack has five bars while the control pad display only has three bars. That’s a lot less precise, and somewhat disappointing… but at least you can always stop and click the battery button if you want more detailed feedback. Most of the higher end ebikes now have 10 bars or a percentage indicator… or even a dynamic range estimator menu. With this value-priced electric bike, there’s more guessing involved when it comes to battery level. If you’re going for a long ride, I’d even consider bringing the 2-amp battery charger along for quick top-offs. The charger is kind of generic in terms of speed and weight, but it seemed durable and portable enough to fit into a backpack or rear rack trunk bag. If you do run out of juice, the 52lb bike with knobby tires could take some effort to pedal home. The motor freewheels efficiently, but the weight is undeniable if you’ve got hills or wind to contend with. Anyway, the display panel shows your speed in MPH and is not switchable to kilometers. There are three assist levels, and I did most of my review filming in the highest to produce as much noise as I could. Ultimately, the motor seemed fairly quiet and the control pad was very intuitive. It seemed durable, was easy to read, and even has this light button which dims the red LEDs a bit. That’s a welcome feature when riding at night because the bright red could be distracting. If you buy one of the other IZIP models with integrated lights, this light button also activates them as it dims the display.
At the end of the day, it’s nice to see electric bikes going mainstream and becoming more affordable. The TRLZ is one of my favorite value priced models for 2019 because it comes 95% assembled if you order online, has those three sizes, and two frame types and colors. I like to cut across dirt trails and go off curbs, so the higher volume tires and suspension are perfect. The multi-sensor pedal assist feels natural and Suntour has earned my trust with past products, so even though it’s a new drive system, I suspect it will hold up well. Being Class 1, this electric bike will be allowed in the most locations, vs. a throttle activated Class 2, and it felt balanced and sturdy enough to actually ride some light cross country sections. As always, I welcome your feedback and questions in the comments below and invite you to connect and share pictures, videos, and make some friends in the IZIP ebike forums here :D
- Great price when you consider that it’s being sold through a network of dealers as well as direct online, comes in three frame sizes, two frame styles (high-step and mid-step), as well as two colors
- Purpose built frame has a little indentation on the downtube that positions the battery lower and looks nice, brake cables, shifter cables, and electrical wires are mostly internally routed to reduce snags
- Both frame styles have bottle cage bosses, fender bosses, and rear rack bosses! You could easily set this up for commuting by purchasing some cheap universal accessories
- Knobby tires and basic suspension fork improve comfort whether you’re riding on worn streets, gravel pathways, or light off-road trails
- Mechanical disc brakes can be easier to service aftermarket compared with hydraulic, which require special tools, the 180mm rotors provide good stopping power, stay cleaner than rim brakes, and the brake cables slid easily during my tests
- Clear plastic sticker slap guard protects the right chain stay from nicks and a fairly t hick plastic chainring guide keeps the chain from falling off
- The battery pack can be charged on or off the frame, reducing weight when transporting the bike and making it easier to top-off at work or home if you can’t park near a charging outlet
- Fancy pedal assist sensors measure rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque… which is kind of rare for less expensive hub motor powered electric bicycles
- The hub motor is fairly quiet, efficient, and lightweight, it’s more of a “power sipper” than an energy hungry “power house” and should extend the range… this is especially true for a Class 1 pedal assist only ebike where you have to pedal to get it moving
- The display offers good feedback about speed and pedal assist level, and it even has a full sized USB port built in for charging a phone or other portable electronic device! That’s pretty rare for affordable ebikes with LED display panels
- I like that the bike comes with a flick bell and a rear-mounted adjustable length kickstand, these add utility, convenience, and safety
- IZIP has a longstanding reputation with good ebike dealer relationships, they have an 800 number for support, and a solid two year comprehensive warranty
- Because the motor freewheels efficiently, this ebike is comfortable to pedal around unpowered, there’s no drag being produced and the weight distribution is fairly good
- I like how the hubs, spokes, rims, and other hardware accessories have been matched in black vs. a blend of silver here and there, the bike looks pretty nice
- Since the motor controller relies on torque activation, it’s less likely to activate unexpectedly and IZIP has chosen to forgo brake lever motor inhibitors (a choice that many fancy multi-sensor ebikes make) and this keeps the electronics simpler and reduces clutter at the cockpit
- The suspension fork is very basic, there’s no lockout adjust, it weighs more than an air fork, and it feels a little bouncy… but it does have preload clickers to “pre load” the spring if you weigh more or are carrying a lot of cargo
- Extremely basic drivetrain, the IZIP E3 TRLZ uses an entry-level Shimano Tourney derailleur that weighs more, isn’t super tight (so the chain can bounce around easily), might not shift as reliably over time (requiring more tuneups), and runs through a limited 12-28 tooth cassette vs. 11-32, 36, or 42 which would be easier to start and climb with
- For a hardtail electric bike with an efficient motor and no accessories, this thing isn’t super lightweight
- The battery is just over 400 watt hours with 36 volt 11.6 amp hour capacity, this is below average but should perform decently given the efficient motor
- Climbing very steep hills will require some speed on approach or some extra leg strength because of the limited gearing, limited motor wattage, and hub motor design vs. a mid-drive… this is more of a city or light cross country setup
- The tires are pretty basic, no puncture protection and they don’t come tubeless ready (which allows for lower pressure riding and lighter weight setup), they’re just basic ones from Vee Rubber brand
- The grips are also pretty basic, they don’t lock on and aren’t ergonomic or branded, this is a minor gripe because I still thin they work great for this application, the pedals are basic plastic and not especially wide or unique but cheap to replace if you so wish… look for Wellgo alloy pedals
- When you power the bike on, it’s best to not be moving or pressing down on the pedals because the motor controller is calibrating, I experienced an error on the LCD which I think resulted from pedaling while powering up so this is a tip to hopefully help you avoid errors ;)