- A sporty, responsive, urban style electric bike with 29er wheels and higher volume tires that create stability and add comfort, available in three frame sizes and two color options
- All-aluminum frame is purpose built for ebike applications with a suspension-corrected geometry so you can add a 100 mm suspension fork aftermarket, tapered head tube and 15 mm thru axle
- Excellent 11-speed Shimano SLX drivetrain with Shadow Plus clutch, wider 25 mm rims with reinforcement eyelets and thicker 13 gauge spokes in the rear to support the 350 watt geared motor
- Simple display only shows battery level and 1-5 assist, the blue LED's can be annoyingly bright in dark ride conditions, nice locking ergonomic grips, gel saddle, and alloy platform pedals, hydraulic 180 mm disc brakes with motor inhibitors
The Junto Gen 1 is a tough, urban inspired electric bike with some design concepts and component choices I’m most accustomed to seeing on mountain bikes. Take the higher volume 29er tires that normally come with cross country style trail models vs. narrow 700c (roughly 28″) tires that most road and city models use, or the fatter tapered head tube and rigid thru-axle on the front end, the suspension-corrected geometry that makes swapping out the rigid fork for a 100 mm travel suspension fork a very relevant option. This is a completely custom, purpose-built electric bike with a sealed headset and bottom bracket, durable salt-resistant display panel, dynamic torque sensor, and zippy geared hub motor. And even though the company was only selling this one model at the time of my review, it’s being made in three sizes and two color schemes and comes with a comprehensive 2+ year warranty. It’s the kind of product that starts to sink in and demonstrate attention to detail when you look closely and have an expert on hand… I met with a lead product manager named Sam Ebert who works closely with the lead engineer from Junto to get the inside scoop and some technical answers for this review. He has a background in mountain bike racing and blended cycling passion with historical references and technical insights during our conversation, which made it fun. Some of the stand-out features that I noticed during our talk and ride test were the responsive bottom bracket integrated torque sensor, wider rims paired with thicker rear spokes and reinforcement eyelets, and wider 150 mm rear hub spacing to accommodate a full 11-speed drivetrain. This is a more active electric bike that feels like an extension of your legs vs. a scooter that does the work for you. It offers Class 1 pedal assist with a 20 mph top assisted speed making it legal in more places and helping it achieve better range than a lot of comparable products. It’s simple in some ways but also very durable and extensible with fender and rack mounting points. Although, you will need to pay a bit extra for a special seat post collar with eyelets for mounting most aftermarket rear racks.
Driving the bike is a compact 350 watt nominally rated geared hub motor from Bafang. I was told that it peaks around 500 watts and produces up to 60 Newton meters of torque, and that they chose this motor vs. a higher powered option because of how zippy it feels along with the lower weight and “very legal” status. Bafang is one of the biggest electric bike drive system producers in the world and this 350 watt hub motor is one of the most common widely-used parts I have seen and used over the past several years. It’s proven, it’s reliable, and it can still be lots of fun to use compared with 500 or even 750 watt motors because of the way it’s tuned here. Junto went for torque vs. speed and since you have to pedal in order to activate it with the torque sensor, it makes you feel strong and in control when you ride, especially in the higher levels of assist. This motor pairs perfectly with the 11-speed Shimano SLX drivetrain and does not create excessive mashing or drivetrain wear the way that a mid-drive motor might. It’s a completely separate system, but I should call out the upgraded corrosion-resistant chain that Junto is using here. That chain is somewhat protected by an alloy chainring guard and it can be tightened by using the one-way Shadow Plus derailleur clutch. I point to it in the video review above, but this little grey lever can be pushed towards the front of the bike or up, the up position tightens the chain for reduced slap and slipping in bumpy or high-speed riding conditions. The trigger shifters that control the derailleur are also upgraded SLX level which allows for multi-shift when going to lower gears and two-way action when going to higher gears. They are tucked away nicely near the right grip and keep the cockpit clean and high-performing. I love the ergonomic Velo locking grips and Selle Royal Nuvola gel saddle that strike a balance between comfort and efficiency. The grips won’t spin and the saddle won’t chaff but also won’t make your seat bones sore.
Powering this electric bicycle is a downtube-mounted plastic battery box with 48 volt 11.6 amp hour capacity. It’s slightly above average in terms of energy storage as well as throughput. The 48 volt configuration sends electricity more efficiently than 36 volt and is capable of higher Amp delivery which is part of what makes the motor so zippy. I appreciate how and where they mounted the pack, low and center on the bike frame, and that the battery tips out from the side vs. up when being removed because that allows the top tube on the smallest frame size to be much lower, decreasing stand over height. Remember, this thing is running 29-inch wheels which raise the frame up. Junto does not offer a mid-step or step-thru model and I think that speaks to the sporty emphasis of this bike. It’s going to be stiffer, easier to lift, and lighter weight with the high-step triangular frame. And, weighing in at ~49 lbs total, you can quickly remove both the 6 lb battery and ~3 lb front wheel to make lifting and transporting easier. The front wheel uses a quick release Maxle style thru-axle and the battery locks and unlocks with a secure keyed core. For people who cannot bring the bike inside for safe storage, it’s great to be able to take the battery off and fill it inside using the standard 2 Amp charger. I was unable to show that during the review but was told that it weighs about 1.5 lbs and I’m guessing it’s similar in size to many of the other chargers I see on Bafang powered electric bikes, like the Evelo Quest One (click back once on the image viewer to see the charger there).
Operating the Junto Gen 1 is super simple… once the battery is charged and locked onto the frame, just hold the power button on the black control pad located near the left grip. This button pad is very simple, but probably generates less attention and is going to be more durable than the fancy LCD screens on a lot of the more expensive bikes. I guess this ebike isn’t the most affordable at $2,222, but considering the components, it’s not too bad. The display is one area where they went cheap, and you won’t be able to tell how fast or far you’re going or estimate range, set a timer, or see your odometer here… just the most important features remain. You get a simple 5-bar battery readout and a 1-5 level assist chart which can also go to zero if you arrow down. Zero mode isn’t very useful here because there’s no display or lights to run, and there aren’t any USB charging ports or other fancy apps to play with. Simple. Reaching the button pad is easy to do without removing your left hand, so that makes riding feel safe, and Sam told me that this particular display has a high salt spray rating. Considering that Junto is based in Philadelphia, where they frequently salt the roads, this is a great attribute! One gripe I have about both the battery charge level indicator and the display readouts is that they use bright blue LED lights that can be distracting in low-light and nighttime riding conditions. I would probably use some masking tape to dull these lights if I bought this product for myself. And, I would probably get the medium sized frame as a 5’9″ tall person (I got to test all three sizes).
At the end of the day, this is a really fun, durable product. You really don’t need suspension if you adjust the tire pressure for your body weight (I’d put it lower towards the 40 PSI minimum because I weigh 135 lbs). You certainly can add a fancy suspension fork and even a 30.9 mm suspension seat post if you really want to get fancy! It’s one of the only 29er urban electric bikes I have seen and it’s just a blast to ride. The combination of torque sensing assist with a responsive forward-leaning frame, the sturdy wheels and fatter tires, the powerful hydraulic disc brakes with motor inhibitors… it all comes together in what I consider to be one of the coolest city e-bikes around. So many other companies try to keep the price down on this style of bike by going with a single speed and cheaper components but I love the blend at work here. Sam told me that they specifically designed the bike to be balanced and to position riders in the center of the frame to get better traction and aerodynamics. It’s not as active as a true road bike, and the weightier frame gives it a fluid feeling. I love that it comes with a decent kickstand but I do wish they had included a derailleur guard on the right side of the rear wheel to help protect the nicer derailleur and protruding motor power cable there. Be careful with these bits! Apparently Junto Bikes is named after a social club that Benjamin Franklin started in Philadelphia in 1727 to discuss ideas around culture, democracy, and business. What a cool organization and inspiration for this electric bike company! I could see the attention to detail in their products and hear the passion that Sam has for this industry, and it even shows in their logo (a kit with lightening and a key). Big thanks to Sam and Junto Bikes for partnering with me on this post and staying late to film a review at the Philadelphia Ebike Expo! I’m excited to see them working on more models for the future and was thoroughly excited by this unique product, offering something just a bit different from everyone else in the space right now :)
- The Junto Gen 1 is available in three sizes and two colors, it’s the only model that Junto produced at the time of this review (but I hear they are working on other designs!) and I could tell that they really scrutinized the details and are very focused on making a quality product
- The price is pretty good in my opinion, considering the two year comprehensive warranty and purpose-built frame with internally routed cables and sturdy battery mount
- Unique 29″ x 2.3″ tire size is fast, stable, and comfortable due to the increased air volume and lower attack angle, it’s a fun bike to ride in urban environments!
- I love the sturdy wide pedals and chainring guard, these parts make pedaling easier and safer because you won’t slip off or end up with a greasy snagged pant leg, the guard also helps to keep the chain on track but isn’t quite as good as a two-sided guide
- Even though this e-bike doesn’t come with a suspension fork, the head tube is tapered which makes it compatible with more high-end forks if you choose to modify aftermarket and the rigid fork and geometry of the frame are “suspension corrected” so you can fit a 100 mm suspension fork and the geometry of the frame won’t be messed up, I also love the sturdy thru-axle setup with quick release (also more compatible with aftermarket forks), and that they paint-matched the stock fork so it really looks nice
- The battery pack is designed to tip out to the side vs. coming up, and this allows the smaller frame size to have a steeper and lower top tube which makes the bike easier to mount and stand over for people with shorter inseams, that’s a big deal considering that the 29er wheels lift the bike up higher than the more common 26″ and 27.5″ wheels
- The battery is positioned to keep weight low and center which improves handling, it can be charged on or off the bike and the charging port is mostly out of the way of the right crank arm making it less likely to get snagged and bent
- Very nice 11-speed drivetrain, Shimano SLX with a Shadow Plus one-way clutch… this is what I usually see on electric mountain bikes, the clutch can be engaged by turning the grey lever into the up position and that tightens the chain – reducing drops and chain slap
- Great disc brakes, you get hydraulic 180 mm Tektro brakes with motor inhibitors so you can cut power instantly and maintain full control while riding (including track standing at stops), 180 mm is good for aggressive riding and the larger 29″ wheel diameter
- Smooth, dynamic pedal assist that’s built around a 32 sensor strain gauge vs. an on/off cadence sensor that you’d see on cheaper bikes or those that are less performance oriented
- Minor plus here, but it’s nice to see that Junto includes a slap guard to keep the right chain stay looking good, it’s just a clear plastic sticker but it does the job fine
- Nicer sealed bottom bracket and headset, these will resist water and hold up better over time, even if the bike is ridden on bumpy terrain or just harder in general, I asked why they chose a square tapered bottom bracket vs. splined and was told that they wanted to use this specific torque sensor and it only works on square tapered (it just feels like they put a lot of care into choosing parts)
- Nice saddle and grips, the touch points are name brand and upgraded for comfort and durability, note that the ergonomic grips are locking so they provide solid more sporty handling
- Great wheel hardware, the front spokes are standard 14 gauge but the rear spokes are thicker 13 gauge to support the motor forces, and the rims have reinforcement eyelets to be tougher and are wider so the tire can perform better with the higher volume tires (and not fold)
- No rear rack bosses or bottle cage bosses… sort of, Junto actually sells a seat post collar with mounting points and they chose this because the larger 29″ wheels were making it difficult to fit racks on the smaller sized frame, the front fork has some bosses so you might be able to add fenders or a porteur rack there and you could always consider adding a basic beam rack like this or something like the Thule Pack ‘N Pedal along with a saddle-rail mounting bottle cage adapter like this
- I like how compact and simple the display panel is but feel that the blue LED lights can be very bright in low light or dark riding environments, I might use some masking tape to cover and dull the lights, I wish they could be turned down or off
- The display panel is not removable and therefore may take extra damage and scratches at a public bike rack, but at least it’s not super flashy and you won’t misplace it or get dirt and water between the connector points as can happen with removable LCD’s
- The derailleur and motor power cable are points of vulnerability on the right side of the bike, so always lean it towards the left or use the kickstand, I feel that these parts could benefit from a derailleur guard to provide extra protection
- This is a direct-order online type of electric bike product, so you might struggle to find and test ride one before making a purchase decision, but I was told that it ships mostly assembled and I like the website and nice warranty package they offer, selling direct like this helps to keep the price low so it’s a trade-off
- Because the display panel only shows LED points and doesn’t have a numeric LCD readout, you cannot tell how fast you’re going, how far you’ve gone, or interact with other more fancy menus that some other electric bikes now provide