- One of the most popular bikes in the Kalkhoff line, it comes in four frame sizes, three frame types (including wave step-thru) and two colors, impressive two-year complete warranty
- Excellent hardware including Shimano hydraulic brakes, and internally geared 8 speed hub (that can be shifted at standstill), a Gates Carbon belt drive and reflective puncture-resistant tires
- Wonderful menu system with adjustable power delivery, responsiveness and readouts, I love the range estimator and precise battery indicator, you get a Micro USB charging port on the display and an optional Bluetooth app for turn-by-turn GPS navigation from your phone
- Not my favorite pedals, the bike weighs quite a bit (due in part to basic suspension fork and larger battery capacity), thicker display isn't removable, costs more
I was told that the Include 8 is one of Kalkhoff’s most popular pedelec models, at least outside of the US. It’s an electric bike that packs in so many features you could literally replace your car for short trips… It’s a complete package, a bike that doesn’t require extra thinking around safety, utility or style because the accessories are already there and they meld seamlessly with the purpose-built frame design. There are three frame types and two colors to choose from so you can personalize a bit. I’m a fan of step-thru frames for mounting convenience but prefer the stiffness of high steps and with the Kalkhoff Include 8 Premium there’s an option that blends the two called Trapez (sort of a mid-step) and it even squeezes in a bottle cage mounting point! Whether you’re tall, short or planning to share the bike it should be comfortable because you can make adjustments to the seat height and handlebar angle. It’s a bike with efficient reflective tires that also has a suspension fork, seat post shock, comfort saddle, ergonomic grips (name brand from Ergon) and a more relaxed swept-back bar. To me, it’s a great compromise of utility and comfort but you do pay more and the bike isn’t light. At nearly 60 lbs, this is not the electric bike you want to lift up stairs or onto bus racks. Yes, the battery is removable (along with the front wheel) but given the long-range battery capacity, perhaps you can skip the bus ride alltogether? In short, this is a winning commuter e-bike and one that comes standard with a two year warranty.
Driving the Include 8 is an efficient but powerful mid-drive motor. It’s compact, well integrated into the frame design and it’s smart too! The motor listens for wheel movement, pedal cadence and pedal torque so it starts and stops quickly as you interact with your legs. You shouldn’t experience any unwanted starts in cases where the bike is stopped but you’re pressing on the pedal for balance. And conversely, you shouldn’t have to push for long when starting off in order for the motor to jump in and help. One thing I really like about the Include 8 Premium is its internally geared eight speed hub that can be shifted at standstill. Say you pedal up a hill but have to stop part way… this 60 lb bike is not going to be as easy to start again right? This is exactly when you’d want to shift down into an easier gear and start from there. In practice, it doesn’t work perfectly (I had to pedal a stroke for the gear change to happen during my ride test) but it’s much easier than with a traditional derailleur, chain and sprockets mashing. The drivetrain is clean and quiet because it uses a belt system instead of a chain. Unfortunately, the Impulse 3.0 motor system is not so quiet. You get a whopping 100 Newton meters of torque but there’s more electronic whirring compared with older 2.0 models. So coming back to how responsive the motor is, you also get shift sensing that relies on physical signals to cut power and reduce strain on the drivetrain. Perhaps the best part of these features is that you are put in control of them. There’s a climb-assist feature that lets the motor push longer, a shift sensing delay and and other power settings to maximize efficiency or torque and it’s all available through the standard display.
The display itself is large, backlit and well laid out. I like that the battery info-graphic shows precise levels vs. five or six big chunks and there’s even a range estimation so you can plan trips according to capacity and assistance dynamically, in real time! Interacting with the menus, switching through ride stats or holding the set button to dig into settings, is very comfortable thanks to a rubberized button ring near the left grip. It’s backlit (but not too bright) and less of a stretch than with a lot of other systems. Once the battery is charged, mounted to the bike and you press the power button on this ring the display comes on and you’re really all set to ride, pressing plus or minus for more or less assist. The trade-offs are in how large the display itself is and the fact that it’s not removable. For how polished the frame, fenders, lights and other accessories are on this electric bike I was put off by the thick plastic display. The wires extruding from the back seem to bend a bit when I forced the display all the way forward (simulating a taller rider or a glare-reduction situation). I love that it angles and really appreciate the Micro USB port on the back but feel that, given how nicely this ebike would work for commuting, a removable version would be ideal.
The battery design and capacity are stand-out features on the Kalkhoff commuter line… not just the Include 8. The pack is so custom, it fits perfectly behind the seat tube and even curves to match the outer profile of the rear wheel, acting like a fender extension. The battery uses long lasting light weight Lithium-ion cells offering 36 volts of power and nearly 17 amp hours of capacity. The charging port is magnetic so your cable wont tip the bike over as easily if it gets tripped over and the chargere itself, while large, is relatively light for easy inclusion on rides. If you added a trunk bag on the rear rack, you’d have plenty of room for the charger even if the saddle was lowered all the way because the rack is positioned further back due to the battery position. This is not just some converted frame, everything is custom and the wires are all internally routed, even for the lights! Both lights run off the battery as well and there’s a setting in the menu that allows for a delay in switching off so you’ll be more visible when parking and locking.
There’s so much to say about this bike and I feel that the video review above does a good job along with all of the pro’s and con’s listed below. As someone with back and neck sensitivity, I love that they included several features emphasizing comfort. As someone who cares about reliability, the puncture resistant tires, sealed mid-drive motor and premium belt system (with a center-tracking system to keep it aligned) are awesome. The suspension fork could be better (it does have lockout but weighs a bit more than a nice air fork) but when you really start to look at the price of $4,400 it makes sense that they had to compromise on some components. Many of the high-end electric mountain bikes I test are in the $5k+ range and they do weigh less but lack all of the utility features found here. I love the reflective tires, bright white frame color option and integrated lights. Depending on your needs for durability and range, I feel confident that this product would be a leader. It comes from a larger company with a longstanding reputation and is sold exclusively through dealers so that’s the final question. Do you live near a dealer where you could take a demo bike out for a ride and then order the perfect size and type for your lifestyle? If so, definitely give it a look and sound off with your experience here.
- The belt drive system is clean, quiet and durable compared to a traditional chain, because this ebike uses an internally geared hub you don’t have a derailleur sticking out which could get bumped at bike racks etc.
- 8 speed Shimano Nexus allows you to shift at stops, this is very convenient if you are climbing and forget to shift down at a light or stop sign
- Sturdy rear rack is positioned well behind the saddle allowing for larger trunk bags (and it works well for short riders who have to lower the seat all the way), I like the pannier clip hole at th ebottom as well
- Quick release front wheel and removable battery pack bring the weight down when transporting this bike… because it’s a bit heavier than most at nearly 60 lbs
- Premium lights keep you seen and illuminate the path, the headlight offers a solid 100 lux and they feature an adjustable parking delay so you’ll be visible for a bit even when the bike is shut down (perhaps when you’re locking the bike near a busy street), I also love that they upgraded the tires to have reflective sidewall stripes
- Available in three frame sizes including an ultra low wave design, this frame type is the most accessible when carrying gear on the rack and for those with limited strength and flexibility
- In addition to multiple frame styles, you also get four sizes and two colors to choose from which could keep the bike unique if you’re buying multiple or a his/her setup
- Full-length plastic fenders and chain cover keep you clean and dry, they stayed relatively quiet during my ride tests and felt sturdy
- The adjustable length kickstand is positioned well towards the back of the bike, it won’t collide with your crank arm but is angled forward to still support the battery weight at the middle of the frame
- Built-on cafe lock might come in handy for quick errands, the battery locks to the frame securely but doesn’t require that the key be left in while riding
- As someone who commutes by bike to work, I appreciate relaxed seating position with included seat post suspension and suspension fork up front, the bars were swept back and the adjustable angle stem let me raise them even more, I also liked the ergonomic locking grips from Ergon
- Internally routed cables (electronic, shifting and brake lines) keep the frame looking clean (especially the white frame) and are less likely to get snagged
- I love the way the motor and battery are built into the frame, they keep weight low and centered but allow for bottle cage bosses which come in very handy
- Excellent two-year warranty, Kalkhoff has a great reputation worldwide and their products are only sold through dealers which usually means better builds and support
- Hydraulic disc brakes are easier to use, requiring less hand strength than mechanical, and have adjustable length levers so people with smaller hands or those wearing gloves can have an easier time
- The Impulse motor system is compact, it offers impressive power and functions with shift sensing in order to reduce chain and sprocket wear (even less of an issue with the belt drive and internally geared hub on the Include 8
- You can actually adjust how sensitive shift sensing is on this bike along with several other drive characteristics like climb assist
- I really love the button pad used to change assist levels on the Impulse ebikes because it is backlit (but not super bright), and mounted close to the left grip for easy access and use while riding and steering
- The battery can be charged on or off the bike and uses the EnergyBus Rosenberger standard (which is magnetic), if you trip over the wire or move the crank arms while plugged in the bike is less likely to tip and the pins probably won’t get bent and broken, this port type can also send data for firmware updates etc. not just for charging
- I love that the display panel has a Micro USB charging port built into the back (so you could keep your phone, music player or other portable electronic device full) but wish the display was thinner and removable, it does allow you to adjust the angle for reduced glare thankfully
- The display readouts are pretty nice and include a more precise battery info-graphic and range estimator, many other electric bike screens just show five dots to indicate charge level
- Rather than requiring users to download a smart app or go to your dealer for help, the Impulse system lets you explore and adjust LOTS of settings directly from the bike and I like that, the menus are pretty well organized and I miss these options when testing other bikes… Kalkhoff does have an optional GPS app you can download and link with Bluetooth to get turn by turn directions using the bike display
- At nearly 60 lbs, this is one of the heavier city style ebikes I’ve tested and reviewed but you do get a more complete package (fenders, rack, lights, lock) and the battery capacity is way above average… there is also a walk mode you can activate by holdig the plus button for a few seconds and this runs the motor at a low speed so you don’t have to push the bike
- You do pay a little more for this bike than seemingly comparable models… but you definitely get a quality product, especially when frame type and sizing are factored in (they add cost to production)
- Some adjustable angle stems can loosen over time, especially if you’re riding on bumpy terrain, keep an eye on this one and consider carring an appropriately sized allen key along just in case
- The tires on this electric bike are not super fat but rather efficient which improves coasting range but makes them less comfortable (due to higher PSI requirements) and more prone to pinch flats, check their pressure often because the added weight of the ebike systems contribute furthr to the possibility of punctured inner tubes… I love that at least the tires have a puncture-protective lining which will fend off some flats
- The display panel is not removable so if you’re using the bike as a commuting platform, it might be exposed to scratching, rain and sun damage over time… I usually park away from the crowded racks and sometimes drape a little cover over displays so they aren’t noticed as much
- I didn’t get to see the stock pedals for this bike but was told they are plastic platform with rubber tread, I usually prefer metal like Magnesium which is light and durable with great traction (considering the higher price that would be a nice thing to get)
- The fork used on the bike is an oil spring shock vs. an air spring which would have been lighter, it offers lockout which is nice but otherwise feels like a more entry-level part (I do like that it’s color matched)
- I’m used to the Impulse motor system operating more quietly, the ride test surprised me becasue it sounded a bit louder this time