- A high-speed, feature complete, value priced electric bike that comes in four frame sizes, high-step and mid-step frame style, and three colors
- Relatively comfortable thanks to fatter tires, a suspension fork with compression slider and lockout, Velo ergonomic grips, and a Selle Royal gel saddle
- Full-length plastic fenders with mud flaps and a custom rear rack with pannier hangers, blockers, and bungee loops add utility but also stay fairly quiet
- Heavier than I expected at ~57.4 lbs but the powerful 180 mm hydraulic disc brakes also include motor inhibitors to cut power instantly, multiple battery size options let you go further, custom-tuned geared motor is compact but powerful, smooth, and quiet
Juiced Bikes began as an ebike conversion battery company way back in 2009 but quickly branched into unique long-range cargo bikes and eventually went mainstream with a cruiser, a fat bike and line of active city bikes called CrossCurrent. The CrossCurrent S is their premium model with all the bells and whistles you need to transport cargo, stay dry, and be seen. For this review, I was able to meet with the founder of Juiced, Tora Harris, and pick his brain about the different hardware choices and performance of the product. He explained that the CrossCurrent Air is the most affordable but basic, the standard CrossCurrent is a good value but also brings comfort and improved performance, and they were getting feedback from customers who were trying to add their own lights, fenders, and racks… so they decided to find the best accessories they could, and boost motor power from 500 watts to 650 watts nominal, and call it the S. Perhaps that stands for Speed or Sport, the display system also has an S in it and that’s the highest power mode. What stood out to me about this particular electric bike is that it can be had in four frame sizes, two styles (high-step or an easier to approach mid-step that maybe isn’t quite as stiff and doesn’t have bottle cage bosses), and three colors. I got to test ride and film the Small high-step in brushed Aluminum… but the classic Red and Black are good options too. I love how the fenders, rack, rims, spokes, motor casing, chainring guard, and battery pack are all black and thoughtfully sized and attached. The rear fender, for example, connects with a pair of struts and an anchor beneath the rack. The rack has a flat plate on top so trunk bags won’t sag or slide to one side or another, and it has standard-gauge pannier clip rods, blockers, and bungee loops at the base. There’s a sense that details have been scrutinized with this product, there are hardware parts that I have never seen on other bikes, and they make sense. A good example of this is the combined torque + cadence sensor which provides a smooth, fluid feel vs. an on/off feel. Tora told me that they use a “high resolution” 104 sensor design to measure cadence vs. the 10 or 12 magnet bottom bracket designs I usually see on cheap e-bikes. Juiced put the sensor near the rear wheel and allows you to completely disable torque sensing by using the display panel (enter settings by holding + and – simultaneously) which would allow you to pedal without force to activate the motor… a neat feature for people with sensitive knees. Of course, you can override pedal assist with the trigger throttle at all times and be propelled up to 20 mph. If you pedal, the bike can reach ~28 mph in S mode. For those who do not wish to go so fast, either to conserve power or feel safer, you can set a maximum top speed. In this review, I was able to dig deep into the product because I had the founder of the company, and the designer of the bike (who is a mechanical and aerospace engineer who graduated from Princeton) on hand. In some ways, that’s not fair to other reviews that I do on my own. There are a lot of great products out there and I found many cons or “considerations” with this bike such as no slap guard or chain keeper, a heavier footprint at ~57 lbs for the small, and slightly messier looking externally routed cables. But even that choice, Tora said was made to facilitate easier maintenance. This is an electric bike that you can find at some independent dealers, but Juiced also sells direct. I performed this review at the Electric Bicycle Center in Fullerton during an open house event and the owner, Sam Townsend, has stocked Juiced products for many years and provided his feedback about quality. In 2017, Juiced Bikes did have some issues with their newer CrossCurrent Air and OceanCurrent but the comprehensive one-year warranty and incremental updates to hardware design seem to have resolved that. Tora speaks multiple languages including Mandarin, and spends a lot of time at their factory in China making sure the details are correct. In short, this is one of my top pics for a value priced, do-everything, sort of bike… as long as you don’t mind the physical weight and possibly a time wait too because the product was backordered at the time of this review.
Powering the Cross Current S is a planetary geared hub motor spoked into the rear wheel with thicker 12 gauge spokes. The front wheel uses 13 Gauge spokes, which is still thicker than average, and Tora explained that this was a design choice made to support the higher speed and power of the bikes. The hub motor is apparently custom specced by Juiced and built by 8Fun (the in-house brand from Bafang). It offers 650 watts of nominal power vs. 500 watts on the other CrossCurrent models, and can peak around 960 watts. Visually, it is surprisingly compact and almost hidden behind the 9-speed cassette on the starboard side and 180 mm disc brake rotor on the port side of the bike (right and left sides respectively). You can definitely hear some electronic whirring noises as speed and power are increased. It’s on-par with other geared hub motors I have tested and 8Fun is a brand I know and trust… at least as a mid-level supplier. The benefits of a geared hub are lighter weight, smaller size, and independence from the pedaling systems. You won’t have to worry as much about chain, sprocket, and derailleur wear as shifting gears is independent of the motor. You can even sit back, not pedal, and use the throttle alone to get going or stay moving. Tora explained that in pedal assist mode, you can reach a desired speed and hold the minus key on the control pad to activate cruise control, and the bike will go all on its own. At least until you pull one of the brake levers. Both of them have motor inhibitors which instantly cut power to the drive system. It’s a nice feature to see here considering that a lot of torque or multi-sensing electric bikes are now foregoing this feature. It adds a bit of clutter to the wires at the front of the bike, but I’m glad it’s there. And the brakes are hydraulic, which tend to be easier to actuate and have adjustable levers for smaller or gloved hands. One sensitivity I have about the drive system is that the power cable running to the motor protrudes a bit on the right side near the dropout. This is not at all uncommon, but it could get bent or snagged here vs. being tucked in. I have seen metal derailleur guards used on some electric bikes to shield the derailleur, shifter cable, and motor cables like this, but Juiced does not include that. They do however, offer special tools to help you remove the rear wheel if you need to fix a flat. And this is another area where some improvements could be made. The stock tires seemed average because they do not have reflective sidewall stripes or puncture protection. Juiced does sell upgrades and you can find your own pretty affordably online, I’ve had good experiences with the Schwalbe Marathon Plus, but you’ll still have to install them yourself. At least with the brushed Aluminum paint job, you have a more visible bike even without upgraded tires.
Powering the bike and an ugly but capable 1,000 lumen headlight is one of three battery options! They’re all 48 volts but offer 12.8 amp hours, 17.4 ah or 21.0 ah depending on how much you want to spend. Weight jumps up quite a bit from the stock 7.4 lb pack to something like 11.3 lbs for the larger ones. I like how these packs seat into the downtube, keeping weight low and centered across the frame. And I appreciate the little LED readout for charge level, the sleek handle rod thing on the left side (useful for carrying the battery after it’s off), and I would appreciate the USB charging port on the right side of the pack… if it weren’t disabled. This is one of the finicky sides of the “custom everything” Juiced approach. Tora said he wasn’t happy with the USB ports because he believed that they sometimes allowed the battery to drain slowly when not in use (which can damage the cells) and that some owners of older Juiced products felt that their phones might have been damaged. Whatever the reasons, this port is disabled, which is a bummer considering how much juice is in some of the packs! My other gripe has to do with the charging port location. It’s low and on the left side of the frame which is very close to the left crank arm. This could lead to a snag, tipped bike, and bent charging cord plug. Again, this charging port location, and even the sometimes-difficult rubber cover, is commonly found on electric bikes and in many ways it’s a minor issue. The stock charger puts out a very average 2 Amps which can fill the stock pack in ~6 hours, and the settings menu actually allows you to set a cutoff voltage value for the pack so it won’t undercharge and stress the cells. Apparently the default is 40 volts. This is neat, it’s the kind of thing that also exists with other e-bike systems but that you don’t get access to. Juiced is working with Grin technologies and sells their fancier 8 Amp charger as an upgrade, for those who want extra speed and control when filling the larger batteries.
Operating the CrossCurrent S is intuitive once you find the power button. Juiced Bikes is using an LCD display panel that I have never seen before this review and the on/off rubber button is behind the screen vs. in front where you could see it when looking down. Here, you have a + and – key to raise and lower assist levels from Eco, 1, 2, 3, and S. In any of those levels, and at all times when the bike has been powered on, the throttle is active. And as mentioned before, it gives you full power! So please, be careful not to bump that throttle, pay close attention when you stop the bike to actually turn it off before dismounting or moving it. Keep one hand on the brake to activate that motor inhibitor as another safety precaution. With great power comes great responsibility and I wouldn’t have this throttle design any other way because I love blasting off from stop signs and traffic signals by using the throttle… but I have also had more than one occasion where the bike lurched forward accidentally when I forgot that it was turned on and bumped the throttle. Some other useful tips for this display and control layout are that you can hold the + button to turn on the headlight, hold the – button to activate a slow walk-mode which helps to move a heavily loaded bike, a bike with a flat tire, or just get you up a hill without having to push. If you hold the + and power button, a special “advanced” screen turns on and shows you more technical readouts. I was pretty happy with the default screen which has a 9-bar battery infographic which is much more precise than the usual 4-bar or 5-bar readouts. Assist level, speed, and trip stats are show well but the display is a bit compact and could be difficult for some riders to see. It does not swivel forward and back to reduce glare like many larger center-mounted displays, and it is not removable. This means that it will take more weather wear and scratches at racks over time. But, Juiced has opted for threaded connectors with rubber washers to make screen and brake inhibitor replacement easy… and to keep out water and just hold up better over time.
In conclusion, I love what Juiced has done with this product. I hope it doesn’t have the little issues that some CrossCurrent Air and OceanCurrent models die. It’s great to hear that they updated their packaging to offer more protection, and that you only have to mount the front wheel (which uses quick release) if you order this and receive it direct from the company vs. a shop. For me, it was a delighter to see two bottle cage bosses on the high-step frame, but it sounds like this is not present on the step-thru. I would love to have an integrated rear light (like the headlight which runs off the battery pack) but at least they give you a clip-on saddle mounted light. I mentioned earlier that to me, the headlight is a bit ugly, but it’s also mounted to the suspension post arch, the part of the suspension that goes up and down vs. the head tube or handlebars which are steadied, and this could lead to bouncier lighting and possibly loosening of the light over time. It could be a non-issue, especially on smooth terrain, but it’s something I think about given the speed of the bike and my own tendency to ride across grass and packed dirt trails on occasion. Not only has Juiced Bikes made a lot of great choices on the hardware for this product, they invented new solutions to fit the utility and pricing goals set out. This is still what I would consider to be an affordably priced electric bike at under $2k given all of the accessories. You could certainly buy the CrossCurrent Air and suffer without suspension, but adding your own fenders, rack, lights etc. probably won’t look as good or work as well as this… and not everyone wants to get their hands dirty or spend their free time setting stuff up verses enjoying it. With the addition of a decent seat post suspension like the Suntour NCX, I could see myself enjoying this product and getting to work more quickly and more enjoyably than by car. The long-range batteries make it possible and the reasonable price makes me more willing to deal with scratches and wear than a super-fancy $3k+ electric bike (of which there are many). Big thanks to Tora for partnering with me on this review, meeting me at the special ebike event, and being willing to take some direct questions about quality and design. He’s a smart, honest guy from what I can tell and his company seems to be growing a lot since the early days in 2013 when I first saw his products.
- I feel that this bike offers incredible value, whether you get the stock battery or upgrade, you always have a rack, fenders, lights, and a solid year-long warranty from a company that has been around since 2009
- Juiced Bikes tends to refine their products over time, even throughout the season, and I noticed with the CrossCurrent S that electrical connectors were threaded with rubber seals for better durability and water protection, the seat tube is one inch lower to accommodate seat post suspension units (which add ~3 inches of height”
- So many electric bikes have mid-mounted kickstands that get in the way of the left crank arm (and there is a mounting plate on this bike if you want that, or maybe add a double-leg kickstand like this, aftermarket), but I like how the CrossCurrent S has a more rear mounted stand by default, it is positioned far enough back to stay clear but not so far that it sticks out the back or gets in the way of the disc brake caliper mount, the stand itself is adjustable length and seemed higher quality
- Unique and functional rear rack with pannier rods and blockers, a bungee loop at the base, and a flat plate on top for supporting a trunk bag like this
- I almost couldn’t believe that the high-step Cross Current S has two sets of bottle cage bosses?! More and more ebikes are adding these, but so many bikes only have room for one set and I think they are very useful for putting a mini-pump, folding lock, or easily accessible liquids without having to buy and load up a bag, note that their mid-step frame does not have room for these bosses
- Available in four frame sizes, high-step and accessible mid-step frame styles, as well as three sporty colors! I like the brushed Aluminum silver look but red is fun and the black will mesh with the wires and battery a bit nicer
- The combination of battery size options and high-speed Class 3 ~28 mph pedal assist performace as well as throttle override makes this bike versatile, functional for commuters, and just plain fun… go for a larger pack if you plan on riding fast frequently because air really resistance cuts into range above 20 mph
- You get a 1,000 lumen integrated LED headlight stock! that’s nice for utility and safety, a lot more convenient than an aftermarket light that you have to remember to turn on/off or risk getting stolen because it’s not bolted down
- The 8Fun hub motor used here was custom specced by Juiced Bikes and offers a whopping 650 to 960 watts of power, even though the casing is so small and compact, I was really impressed with how fluid and powerful it felt (though I only weigh ~135 lbs), it did feel like an upgrade over the standard CrossCurrent which uses a 500 watt motor
- The plastic fenders used on this bike are wide, have flexible rubber flaps at the ends, and didn’t rattle as much as I had expected because they have additional struts and attachment points (specifically, on the rear rack for the rear fender)
- I didn’t get to see the rear light, but apparently it comes with and clips into the Selle Royal saddle, this is nice to have but be careful that your long shirt or coat doesn’t drape down over it, or that you forget to turn it off because it’s an independent light vs. the headlight which is wired in, it’s nice that you get two lights here but consider adding a light to the back of your backpack, helmet, or trunk bag like this that clips on
- The bike rode comfortably because of the slightly fatter tires, suspension fork (with compression slider and lockout), ergonomic locking grips from Velo, and the name-brand gel saddle from Selle Royale, consider swapping out the seat post with a 27.2 mm suspension post from Suntour or BodyFloat for added comfort on your back and neck, and maybe a ShockStop stem for your wrists and arms if you ride fast and travel on a lot of bumpy terrain or are just sensitive like me
- In recent years, it seems like more brands are foregoing motor inhibitors on their brake levers… because fancier sensor systems, the Juiced CrossCurrent S does have a torque + cadence sensor and yet they also still include motor inhibitors for an added level of control over the bike, the levers also provide adjustable reach which is nice if you have smaller hands or wear gloves sometimes
- The bike felt really solid, notice the reinforcement eyelets on the rims so they don’t crack, and the slightly thicker 12 and 13 gauge spokes, the larger BMX style alloy platform pedals which feel stiff and won’t let you slip off as easily, I appreciate the black rims, spokes, and motor casing that all match and just look more refined and polished
- The drivetrain is pretty good for a value priced electric bike, nine speeds with a lower-end Shimano Altus derailleur (but not the lowest) and you a stronger chain, trigger shifters with a double-click downshifter, and a sturdy alloy chain guard to protect the massive 52 tooth chainring and keep your pants clear and clean
- I love that Juiced Bikes offers an optional 8 Amp battery charger because the larger packs would otherwise take 7+ hours with the standard 2 Amp charger
- There are nine ticks on the battery infographic which is more than the standard 4 or 5 I usually see, and this provides more insight into how full the battery actually is, the finer increments give you like ~11% jumps vs. 25% or 20%
- If you have to walk the bike (like if you’ve got the rack loaded with groceries, the terrain gets bumpy, or maybe you get a flat tire) the walk mode becomes very useful, this is a ~57 lb e-bike after all! Just hold the minus button on the control pad to activate it
- It’s neat that you can adjust so much in the settings menu of this electric bicycle, just hold the + and – buttons to enter settings and then choose the top speed (you could lower it from 28 to 20 mph for efficiency or safety), power limit, even have the ability de-activate the torque sensor so you only have to turn the cranks and not push in order to activate assist, and you can also set the low voltage cutoff to save the battery from completely discharging (the default is 40 volts according to Tora
- Apparently, the cadence sensor is built into the rear torque plate and has 104 measure points vs. just 12 on most ebikes, the cadence and torque sensors on this bike make it very responsive and fluid feeling
- The shifter cables, electrical wires, and hydraulic brake lines are all tacked onto the bottom of the downtube vs. internally routed, this means the bike isn’t as clean looking and there’s a bit more potential for snags but Tora explained that it makes their products much easier to service
- I have heard from some customers in 2017 that the Juiced CrossCurrent Air and OceanCurrent arrived with some issues… but I asked Tora about this on camera and I though this response was very honest and aware, he said they have improved their packaging and are are working to resolve and eliminate this sort of thing in the future (issues had to do with shifter cables, disc brake mount consistency, and maybe a crank/bottom bracket thing)
- As nice as the light is, the design is a bit less stylish than the rounded Aluminum-cased Supernova and Spanninga lights I have seen, it is also mounted to the suspension post arch which travels up and down… the light is not suspended on the bike and therefore may bounce as you travel over rough terrain
- Apparently the 5 Volt USB A port near the top right side of the battery pack has been disabled, I asked Tora about this and he said there had been concerns about phantom power draw and they wanted to protect the cells… as a consumer, this would have been nice to have if it could be made to work, USB ports are handy for charging phones, lights, and music players while on the go, or used for backup power when parked at home if the lights go out or something
- The tires seemed kind of basic to me… no puncture protective lining or reflective sidewall stripes, consider upgrading to something like the Schwalbe Marathon Plus eventually if you’re into that, changing a flat on an ebike is no fun and only the front wheel offers quick release
- The CrossCurrent S is heavy, at 57.4 lbs for the smaller 16.5″ frame (which I tested and weighed) you can really tell that the larger battery, coil fork, and overbuilt rack add weight… but at least the battery and front wheel are removable
- Minor consideration, there’s inner chain guide plate or chain catcher so it sounds like over time if the derailleur goes out of tune, you could have the chain drop off occasionally, Tora said there wasn’t room for a chain guide because of the shorter “RC” or chainstay lengths which make the bike handle quicker and feel more nimble vs. a long stretched out bike
- Take extra care when charging the battery while it’s mounted to the bike frame because the charging port is located very close to the left crank arm and could be snagged or bent if the pedals got turned, also, the rubber cap that covers the charging port on this type of pack can sometimes be difficult to seat (though it was not for this particular model during my review)
- Minor complaint, there’s no slap guard on the right chainstay! Tora said they might add it in the future when I pointed this out during the video, note that you can use clear masking tape or buy a sticker slap guard inexpensively online like this, if you have the red or black frame, nicks from the chain might appear silver because of the Aluminum underneath as the paint chips over time in this spot
- As with most planetary geared hub motors, there was some electronic whirring noise produced when the motor was really working, I wouldn’t call it especially loud but it does deliver higher speeds and more power than average so the sound can become noticeable (as shown in the video review ride test above)
- Official Site: https://shop.juicedbikes.com/collections/e-bikes/products/crosscurrent-s
- More Pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/lbpSLyAqb8qpPH8u1