- An affordable high-speed cruiser electric bike, available in traditional cantilever high-step or relaxed mid-step for easy mounting, choice of five fun colors including traditional black or red
- Excellent frame balance, the downtube battery keeps weight low and center, the compact hub motor blends in and offers immediate throttle on demand power as well as torque sensing assist
- Impressive low price, you can find the OceanCurrent at some dealers to test ride or order online, optional rack and fender set adds utility, solid Wellgo pedals and plastic chain guide
- Decent mechanical disc brakes, externally routed cables don't look as nice but are easier to work with, limited readouts on the LED display panel vs. LCD computer
Juiced Bikes, which used to be called Juiced Riders, is an electric bike company with humble origins and a wicked smart founder. Tora, who helped me with this review, is a former Olympic athlete, multi-language speaking, mechanical engineer, businessman who bounces between Asia and the US to create products like the OceanCurrent we see here. It’s a cruiser style electric bicycle with balanced mid-frame battery, high-speed operation, and pedal assist plus throttle override modes. Many other cruisers in the space have heavy rack-mounted batteries that cause frame flex or feature mid-drive motors that often lack throttle mode. And all of them tend to cost more. Tora describes the Ocean Current cruiser as sporty, which isn’t what you’d expect from a beach cruiser. The large saddle, swept-back bars, and fat tires are all present as expected, but the zippy motor and responsive frame set it apart. It’s a unique take on the category and I thoroughly enjoyed the test ride. One the one hand, it feels like Juiced Bikes tried to do everything with this model… but then again, it doesn’t come standard with fenders or a rear rack (they do offer some basic aftermarket options that are guaranteed to fit for a little extra money). And there are no lights here. What the Ocean Curren lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up for with an extremely low price. And it’s not just an online bike, many shops actually carry this thing! That’s especially useful considering the one-size frame that comes in either cantilever high-step or easier to approach mid-step wave. The bikes are not overly heavy like some other cruisers but the frames are completely rigid, all-Aluminum with a solid fork. At high-speed, they feel steady and solid, in part thanks to the oversized spokes, but they can also pass the bumps of the road through to your body. Consider a seat post suspension to smooth out the ride but note that it will raise the minimum seat height about three inches, which could be too much for petite riders, padded grips might be another comfort option.
Driving the bike is a 500-watt nominal, 720-watt peak, planetary geared hub motor. It’s compact and well supported in the rear wheel with thick 12 gauge spokes. You can really hear it zipping in the video review above as I near the 28 mph top assisted speed in Sport mode… but later on, when riding in the lower three levels of assist, it operates much quieter. Geared hub motors tend to be light and compact, freewheel when coasting and open to throttle operation (as we see here) but aren’t as powerful when starting at low speed. You’ll need to pedal a bit if you weigh more or are starting on an incline. And this is where the advanced torque + cadence sensor comes in. Rather than relying on one type of sensor, Juiced Bikes has combined two to create a fluid feel. It was one of the better pedal assist setups that I have ever seen. Having used TMM4 sensors only, and cadence sensors only… this combination was both quick and less tiring than some competing offerings. And the motor operates completely separate from the drivetrain that you pedal through. That means, there’s less wear happening when you shift gears and the bike can work even if the chain falls off or the pedals get broken somehow. That shouldn’t be an issue however because the chainring has a plastic guide to keep the chain on track and your pants or dress clear and clean. With an eight-speed mid-level Shimano Acera drivetrain, the bike offers a good enough range to climb or accelerate with. Note the larger 48 tooth chainring that slows the cadence, allowing you to pedal comfortably above 20 mph. One vulnerability with the motor is that its power cable protrudes through the right axle. This is also where the shifter cable is passing by. Be careful not to snag or bend those wires, if the bike tips to the right side for example. One mixed thing about the bike is that most of the cables are tacked onto the frame vs. routed through as seen on more expensive bikes. Mechanics appreciate this because it makes service easier (and it can actually make shifting easier if the cables don’t bend as much when going through the frame) but it also doesn’t look as clean and could snag your clothes more readily.
Powering the motor is a 48 volt 8.8 amp hour battery pack. The design is sleek but not as hidden as fully-integrated batteries on the most expensive polished electric bicycles. It brings weight down and forward, balancing out the motor, and allows the top tube on the step-thru model to be lower making it easier to mount. The default battery can be upgraded for even higher capacity if you plan to ride further or use more energy hauling a heavier load. Notice how the black battery casing matches the saddle, bars, grips and fork. I was a little surprised that the forks are all painted black vs. matching the bright fun colors of the frame… but it probably saves money and does blend well enough. Anyway, the battery can be charged on or off the bike and automatically locks when pressed into place. There’s a lever on the left side that pulls out in order to unclip the pack (once the locking core is unlocked) and I found that this lever is useful as a handle to carry it around. Lithium-ion batteries like this tend ot last a long time and offer a good weight to power ratio. The battery is the single most expensive part of the bike so make sure you order the appropriate size the first time. The larger packs don’t add much weight and will tend to last longer as they may not be fully cycled with each ride. Store your battery in a cool, dry location and keep it at ~80% if you plan to not use it for a month or two.
Operating the OceanCurrent is quick and easy. Some of the older ebikes required a two-step on/off process where you’d insert and turn the key or press a power button on the pack before pressing a second button on the display… but that’s not the case here. Once the battery is mounted and charged, just press the power button on the LED control panel. This panel is compact and simple, likely costing less, but mounted close enough to the left grip that it can be reached while riding. It controls the level of pedal assist being put out which influences how fast the bike will go. I tend to enjoy the lower three levels but appreciate that there’s also a Boost button which jumps up to the highest level with just one press. This is useful for passing other riders or ascending inclines. And at any time, you can press the variable-speed trigger throttle for extra power up to 20 mph. It is also very easy to reach and I find the design to be intuitive… but a little dangerous. I don’t mean to freak you out… but once the bike is on, this throttle is active even at standstill. If you bump it while moving the bike or getting on, the motor will kick in and potentially startle you. For this reason, the motor inhibitors brake levers are especially useful and warranted. Any time that either one of the levers is pulled, all of the motor systems will be stopped (or prevented from starting). So the display shows you a rough indication for how full the battery is (five dots) as well as the six levels of assist. There’s no easy way to tell how fast the bike is traveling, how far you’ve gone, what time it is etc. unless you pay a bit more for the optional LCD panel that Juiced Bikes sells. it’s great to have choice, and I suppose they prevent waste for people who don’t want the distraction of an LCD… and the LCD option is not removable so it could attract unwanted attention and get scratched up in some situations. One complaint with either display and control system is that people can tamper with this bike fairly easily. They could turn it on and press the throttle even while the bike is locked to a rack, and this could spin the rear tire or cause other damage. It’s a good reason to consider bringing the 5.5+ lb battery with you when parking.
All things considered, I was very impressed with the OceanCurrent and appreciate how it balances comfort, an upright body position, and low price with a solid, sporty feel. You don’t get a whole range of sizes but the mid-step frame is adjustable enough to comfortably fit a range of riders and the high-step is very solid and stiff compared to other larger cruisers with rear-rack batteries. I love how the drive systems are integrated and more hidden and well protected here. It’s a bike that you might be able to find and test ride through a dealer who could offer proper assembly, fitting and accessorizing… or you could get one online. To me, even though this is a cheaper product, I don’t view Juiced Bikes as a low-end brand. Their team is smart, hard working and connected to the source. They have more visibility into what is actually being produced and delivered than some of the marketing folks at larger companies. It’s not perfect, you do sacrifice some comfort and get raw power and throttle operation that other companies might purposefully avoid, but for those who are seeking something a bit more… this thing really delivers. Big thanks to Tora, Rich and the rest of the team for partnering with me on this post and meeting me in Irvine, California for the test rides. I welcome owners and shops to chime in here on their experiences with assembly and longevity of the product.
- Five color choices and two frame styles, the step-thru “mid step” model felt stiff and sturdy vs. flexy like a lot of other cruisers, I love that the high-step cantilever frame had room for bottle cage bosses on the seat tube
- The downtube mounted battery keeps weight low and improves balance on the OceanCurrent compared to a lot of other cruisers with rear-rack batteries
- The price is excellent and Juiced Bikes are available through some ebike shops so you can actually test ride them before purchase (and know that they have been built properly), this is also a great time to compare other bikes and get feedback on quality from dealers
- I was impressed with the eight-speed Shimano Acera drivetrain, it’s perfect for neighborhood riding up to 20 mph and a step up in quality from many other value ebikes that use Shimano Tourney
- There’s a plastic guide on the chainring that keeps your pants from getting snagged and dirty while also preventing chain drops, this is especially important when riding on bumpy terrain and in throttle mode but a lot of ebikes don’t offer it
- Large, stiff, grippy alloy pedals from Wellgo, these are some of my favorite pedals for low-mid level ebikes and they come standard
- The rear portion of the frame is setup to work with an aftermarket rack but Juiced Bikes offers their own rack and fender accessories that are guaranteed to fit
- Advanced pedal assist sensors measure your pedal torque and speed so the bike responds better than just torque or just cadence, I love that the throttle can be used to override assist at any time (to climb or catch up with a friend perhaps)
- Very few cruiser style e-bikes offer the Class-3 speeds, the Ocean Current can reach ~27 mph in the highest levels of assist or you can limit it down near 20 mph by using the lower levels
- Solid warranty coverage with a long history of building and selling electric bicycles in the USA, you get a year on the electronics, two years on most of the bike parts and lifetime on the frame
- High charge and discharge rate on the battery cells, optional larger battery packs for increased range (which fits on both the high-step and step-thru)
- The battery slides in from the side so it won’t bonk the tubing above and allows the sloped downtube on the mid-step frame to be lower, I like that the locking core on the battery pack is spring loaded so you can click the battery in without the key
- Thicker spokes, front and rear, which helps to support heavier loads and the added forces of a powerful motor and high-speed operation
- Both brake levers have a motor inhibitor cutoff switch, anytime you pull the brakes, even if the throttle or pedal assist is active, the motor will shut down for safety
- The electronic systems are all modular and use water-tight connectors, that means it’s easier to replace the display or throttle if they get damaged but they should hold up well against the elements
- The cockpit is really clean, the grip shifter is intuitive and seamless compared to trigger shifters (though it’s not as fast and requires more effort), there’s room for a cup holder, speaker mount or phone mount up there
- The 2.35″ tires, comfort saddle, and long cruiser bars reduce vibration somewhat but the all-Aluminum frame and fork feel a bit rigid and stiff, consider adding a 27.2 mm seat post suspension but keep in mind it will raise the minimum saddle height
- The display is pretty basic, you get five dots for battery level and a readout for assist level but no speed, odometer or trip stats as you would with an LCD, the good news is that the systems turn on quickly with just one step vs. older systems that required the battery to be turned on separately, Juiced Bikes does offer an aftermarket LCD display for those who really want the extra information
- Mechanical disc brakes get the job done but aren’t as powerful or easy to actuate as hydraulic, the levers aren’t adjustable reach so people have to adapt more… but for this price, they aren’t bad at all
- The black fork, battery pack, chainring, stem, handlebar and seat all match but aren’t as seamless as if the battery were completely in-frame or the fork was color matched
- The kickstand is mounted near the bottom bracket and gets in the way of the left crank arm if you pedal backward (to turn the chain) while it’s deployed, I prefer rear-mounted kicksdtands
- Shifter cables, brake lines and electronic wiring is routed externally which doesn’t look as nice and can snag easier, the motor power cable is vulnerable to bending if the frame tips to the right
- Sometimes the thicker spokes can come loose over time as the bike experiences vibration,
consider working with a shop and using Loctite to keep them trued
- I didn’t see a slap guard on the right chainstay which means you could see chips there over time if you ride on rough terrain, consider using a clear piece of masking tape or buying a neoprene cover like this
- Since the throttle is always active when the bike is on, it’s easy to accidentally bump it and have the bike lurch forward, I’ve had this happen when parking and loading ebikes before so be careful
- The bike is easy to turn on but can be tampered with by third parties, they could press the throttle and spin the rear wheel if you leave the battery mounted while parked at a rack for example
- Despite the presence of a standard sized USB port near the right top corner of the battery pack, I’m told that it is unpowered… If yours works, consider getting a right-angle USB adapter to keep wires out of your way when pedaling