- One of the most capable step-thru cruisers around, excellent range, stiff frame, good weight distribution and safety features
- Aluminum alloy fenders and rear carry rack are painted to match the frame (and they don't rattle while riding), dynamo powered LED lights function without battery power, integrated mini-pump and cafe lock are delightful extras
- Internally geared hub stays clean and keeps the chain tight, adjustable kickstand is solid, battery pack is removable for reduced weight during transport or convenient charging off the bike, hydraulic rim brakes work very well
The Kalkhoff Tasman Classic Impulse 8 has a very long name and equally lengthly list of features. This bike is awesome… and pretty. It comes in three frame sizes so you can truly dial in fit and with a range of 60 to 100+ miles (they estimate 130) it’s incredibly capable. From the integrated carry rack (that’s welded to the frame and paint matched) to the premium leather Brooks saddle and grips there’s a sense of balance between function and form here. Compared with the Electra Townie Go! or Pedego cruisers in the US it’s more expensive and lacks throttle on demand but in my view, this is much more capable as a commuter and nearly capable as a touring bike. The battery and motor are perfectly balanced, the integrated lights are dynamo powered for uninterrupted use, you get a mini pump built right into the rack and an internally geared eight speed hub that stays cleaner and won’t drop the chain as easily. The only downside I noticed was a stiffer ride (no suspension fork) but you could always soften that up with a seat post suspension and the sprung saddle isn’t bad. Kalkhoff is a German company that has become very popular in Europe where bicycles are truly used as car replacements. It’s interesting to see a bike like the Tasman Classic here that appears fun and comfortable with its swept back bars, two fun colors (pink and lime green) and flowing frame. It’s like a dressed down version of the Aggattu Impulse 8 (which does have a suspension fork and also costs less). If you want a tough, reliable and capable ebike that also looks fun and you’re willing to spend some additional money, the Tasman Classic Impulse 8 is an ebike that almost stands alone in a sea of lower quality, less well balanced competitors. I mean, it has hydraulic rim brakes and physical shift sensing technology… it’s in a class of its own in the US right now.
The motor driving the Tasman Classic Impulse 8 is a 250 watt mid-drive Impulse 2.0 offering 70 Newton meters of torque (which is quite a bit!) While there’s no true throttle mode (just a slow walk mode) the bike is fun and responsive in one of three pedal assist settings. I didn’t struggle at all to climb with this bike even in higher gears and I’d estimate that it performs well even when loaded with cargo if you use the higher assist settings. The motor control system measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence and pedal torque to activate and power the bike which makes it very smooth and responsive. In my opinion it’s a little less satisfying than the Bosch system with an emphasis on efficiency vs. performance (also Bosch offers 350 watts of power in the US vs. 250 here). It is perhaps quieter than Bosch however and the shift sensing technology felt a bit smoother because it’s using physical readouts along the shifter cable in the downtube (I’m told). I especially like the chain guard surrounding the front sprocket and the smaller profile of the Impulse 8 motor which nearly disappears at the bottom bracket. Both rider and motor benefit from he Shimano Nexus eight speed internally geared hub at the rear. It’s clean and elegant, though perhaps heavier than a traditional cassette (this ebike weighs about 56 pounds total depending on the frame size). Because it doesn’t require a traditional derailleur the chain is kept short, tight and secure. The one complaint I do have about this drive system is that neither wheel on this bike offers quick release… likely due to the dynamo hub in the front and geared pedaling hub in the rear. Use that rack to bring along some tools but rest easy that the quality tires should resist punctures. The miniature pump could help to extend your range slightly if you got a slow leak but you’d need actual tools to swap tubes.
The battery powering the Tasman Classic is made with high quality Lithium-ion cells and benefits from a two year warranty (also covering the rest of the bike). The pack offers 37 volts of power and a whopping 17 amp hours of capacity! The overall watt hour size isn’t higher than some of the new 48 volt systems seen on cruisers in the US but given the efficient and lower powered mid-drive motor you end up with amazing range. The pack itself seats just behind the seat tube and is actually shaped to follow the curve of the rear wheel and fender, the fender actually protects the pack from water and mud which is great. At just 6.5 pounds it’s not super heavy and the integrated plastic handle is very useful when taking the pack off for charging or bike transport. Built right into the side of the pack is an LED power indicator and this is useful for determining whether the pack is full or not if you end up storing it inside (which I recommend, especially during hot and cold seasons). The pack locks to the frame (as mentioned earlier) and uses the same key as the cafe lock which is very handy and it’s one of those inward cut “routed” keys that should be more tamper proof.
Operating this electric bike is quite easy and doesn’t tend to take your focus off of riding. Once the battery is charged and mounted you can press the rubberized power button on the control pad near the left grip. This pad is easy to reach so your grip isn’t compromised for steering and it’s backlit with a nice blue LED system that’s easy to see at dusk or dawn. The real focus is on adjusting up or down between assist levels (for more or less power) but you also get readouts for speed, distance and time when navigating through the display using the set button. The primary readouts are battery level and speed which are large and easy to read even though the Tasman Classic Impulse 8 uses the smaller of two Impulse LCD displays I’ve seen. It’s designed to be minimal and simple. There’s no need for climb assist or other detailed menus that some of the mountain and high speed bikes are offering now (see the Thron Impulse Speed for the more advanced screen I’m talking about). All in all, it’s a great system and my only thought is that it would be nice to remove the display easily for moments when the bike is parked outside. This would reduce sun and weather wear while deterring vandalism. Still, I love how solid this display feels (it seems to be made of metal and plastic) and considering that it’s mounted directly to a custom stem the weight is kept down and the cockpit is incredibly clean… which makes room for the enormous bell. I like the bell but it’s one of the most unique things I’ve seen out there, large and in charge ;)
There’s so much to say about this bike, it’s packed with features. I love that they reinforced the bike with two downtubes and two cross members because it stiffens the ride. The mid-drive and mid-battery position improve balance and free up the rear rack for lots of cargo (that can also be hung low). The front braze ons (along the fork) enable you to seriously outfit this bike for tours and long distance riding but it almost feels like a joke given the bright fun colors and cruiser look. Again, this thing is super functional, it’s like a professional tennis player who gets dressed up nice for a formal dance but you can still see the huge muscles and intense glare from the court. If you do plan on going the distance, it’s great to have a choice of frame sizes and the sprung saddle definitely softens the rough terrain. It would be nice if there was a bottle cage mounting point on the downtube or lower portion of the seat tube but that might have compromised frame stiffness. This would be an excellent bike for someone who commutes further but wants to look cute while doing it or maybe a weekend warrior touring type who cruises around town for fun during the week. The only trade off here is cost and that lack of throttle, the Tasman requires more active pedaling and will give you a workout depending on the mode you choose but it could save your knees, reduce your sweat and get you further, especially if you bring along the light weight charger for a quick top off.
- Excellent weight distribution! The mid-drive motor and seat-tube battery pack keep the bike balanced and improve handling compared with rear racks and hub motors
- Reinforced “double-downtube” keeps the frame stiff, you don’t get the flexy feeling that some other step-thru models have
- Fun colors, pink and lime green help you stand out in traffic and add a level of personalization (unless you’re color blind)
- Fancy upgraded saddle and grip touch points from Brooks (both are made from matching leather)
- Great carry rack… it’s welded directly to the frame which reduces rattling and the potential to get loose over time and it’s painted to match the frame!
- The rear rack has an integrated mini air pump for use on the go if you start losing presure, works great if the tires are Slimed (goop that plugs leaks)
- Beautiful full length matching fenders feel solid, don’t rattle and include mud flaps for maximum protection while riding in wet or dirty conditions
- The headlight and tail light are both powered by a dynamo hub in the front wheel! This means you’ll have light for safety no matter what, most cables are integrated through the frame so everything looks beautiful
- Awesome hydraulic rim brakes, excellent stopping power that’s very easy to actuate (compared with mechanical cables that take more effort and can corrode over time)
- Neat cafe “frame lock” that can be used for quick stops to immobilize your bike, perfect for dashing into the “cafe” it uses the same key as the battery pack which is convenient
- Comfortable and durable tires with kevlar lining to reduce the propensity for getting flats, great reflective sidewall stripes for safety
- Internally geared hub stays clean and doesn’t require the same sort of tune ups that cassettes and derailleurs need, fewer chain drops due to single front and rear sprockets
- Available in three frame sizes for improved fit! This is wonderful for riders who plan to travel long distances with the 100+ mile range
- Battery features a sturdy handle for easier carrying, the pack has a built in LED power level indicator so you know if it needs topping off even when it’s not on the bike
- Extremely responsive drive system measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence and pedal torque for quick motor activation and cutoff
- Proprietary shift detection system works with cassettes or geared hubs (like the one used on this bike). It functioned very well during my ride test, no mashing or banging
- Light weight charger only weighs 1.5 lbs and runs cool and quiet, will easily fit into a bag for extending trips – charging at the office etc.
- LCD display panel is backlit and swivels to reduce glare, it feels solid and is small enough to stay out of the way but the readouts are clear and well executed, rubberized button pad is also backlit and easy to reach without taking left hand off the grip
- LED lights stay on temporarily when parking for added safety by running off of a capacitor, this is referred to as a “parking” or “standby” system
- The cafe “frame lock” is neat but because the key stays locked into it until you use it… if you don’t activate it a stranger could lock your bike for you and steal the battery using the same key
- For those individuals who do not want to interact with leather products this bike might feel uncomfortable given the saddle and grips are made from animals (though it is a kind of recycling and the animal was likely used for food and other products as well)
- Excellent features all around but this is a more expensive electric bike, for someone interested in short trips and basic cruiser functionality it might be overkill
- The smaller 250 watt motor is capable and efficient but requires more rider input than some other electric bikes with larger motors, I noticed that I got a better workout with this bike
- Magura HS11 Brake levers do not offer motor cutoff, I’ve noticed that while stopped it is possible to accidentally activate the motor by pushing the pedals for stability
- Neither the front or rear wheel offer quick release, the mini-pump could allow you to deal with slow-leaks but you’ll need tools to do real service while out and about