2015 Motiv Sherpa Review


Technical Specs & Ratings





Class 2




Mechanical Disc



480 Wh

480 Wh

55 lbs / 24.97 kgs



Promax Cruiser


Suspension Post


Motiv Standard

Wellgo Aluminum Alloy Platform

Mechanical Disc

Tektro Novela Mechanical Disc Brakes with 180 mm Rotors, Tektro Levers with Motor Cutoff and Integrated Bell on Left

Video Reviews

Written Reviews

Motive consistently impresses me with their ability to balance performance and comfort with lower costs while still offering a solid warranty. That’s definitely the case with their new Sherpa – cargo style electric bike. And while it only comes in one size, medium 17″, the frame is approachable with a double tube step-thru configuration and removable front basket (in case you’re not hauling stuff). At the rear of the bike you’ll find a welded-on rack with threaded eyelets meant to support child seats, box racks and other accessories. You get to choose from gloss blue or matte black and I love that they’ve added a seat post shock to smooth out the ride (along with larger knobby tires).

Driving this ebike is a standard 500 watt geared hub motor that’s located in the rear wheel. I love that they’ve matched the motor, spokes and battery pack color (all black) to create a quality finish. This thing is powerful enough to help you move larger loads and overcome hills (especially in pedal assist mode) while still being smaller and lighter than a gearless equivalent. It delivers increased torque but the downside is increased noise and wear since gears are making contact inside. You can hear the whirring noise in the video review as I engage and disengage the motor using the throttle and pedal assist. Overall, the motor blends in nicely with the six speed cassette and falls under the two year warranty, it even has a sensor to shut off if it starts to overheat. While we’re on the topic of gears, the six speed Shimano Tourney TX drivetrain is an entry level part and one of the areas where they cut costs. In short, it gets the job done and six speeds is just enough for climbing and reaching higher speeds. The shifting element is a Shimano SIS index button / lever combination that’s located on the right bar and easier to operate if you’re wearing gloves.

Powering the Motiv Sherpa is a strong 48 volt 10 amp hour battery pack with Lithium-ion cells. That’s above average in terms of size but the estimated range on this bike isn’t that impressive due to the power hungry motor. The battery pack is removable for convenient charging which also comes in handy if you buy a second or third pack for extended range. The best thing about the battery in my opinion is how it’s mounted to the frame. Some other cargo style ebikes like the NYC Cargo from Big Cat opt for rear-mounted batteries but the Sherpa achieves better balance by keeping its pack low and center. This is a big deal considering you might be loading extra weight on the front and rear racks. One area for possible improvement is to add a double legged kickstand instead of the adjustable single-side that comes with the bike. Having two legs would improve balance for loading and unloading the racks.

Operating this ebike is fairly easy but not quite perfect. First, you need to insert the key into the battery pack and twist… then leave it there. I’m not a fan of this setup because it means your keys will be left jingling as you ride. Thankfully, the key hole is mostly out of the way and less prone to being kicked. Next, you use the independent button pad on the left bar to power on the bike and then arrow up or down to choose an assist level. In the video review you’ll see that the demo bike I was riding had a shorter cable here and the button pad didn’t reach but that has been fixed by Motiv for the production bikes. The longer handle bars provide a slower gentler feel that comes in handy for hauling and allows you to sit upright and see over anything that’s loaded in the front rack, perhaps allowing you to spot traffic if you’re using this in a city environment. The display panel itself is large and easy to see, mounted centrally on the handlebars. It shows your speed, distance traveled and remaining battery level along with assist setting. While it’s not removable, this display bracket can be adjusted forward and back to reduce glare if not overtightened. One of the big wins on this electric bike is the inclusion of both pedal assist and throttle mode. If you’re carrying a large load and need to balance, I’ve found that the half-grip twist throttle on the right can come in handy because pedaling can sometimes cause instability.

The Sherpa leverages proven last-generation drive technology that isn’t the quietest, most efficient or most responsive but costs a lot less. It balances comfort and performance elements like padded grips, a suspension seat post and removable battery pack with lower end components like the Shimano Tourney derailleur and mechanical disc brakes vs. hydraulic. I’ve seen Motive electric bikes used in rental fleets successfully because they get the job done, offer multiple drive modes and aren’t as delicate and finicky as some fancier ebikes. It’s hard to argue with a two year electronics warranty (including the battery) plus a lifetime warranty on the frame. If you’re looking for a less refined but very capable cargo style electric bike the Sherpa is a great option that sits squarely above entry level.


  • One of the more affordable cargo style electric bikes around, available in two colors, unique and accessible step-thru frame (for dealing with heavy loads at rest) and comes with a great 2 year warranty (lifetime on frame)
  • Larger knobby tires provide great traction and soften bumps when the bike is loaded, this adds comfort to the padded grips and seat post shock absorber
  • Six speeds is just enough for climbing and reaching higher speeds, the oversized thumb throttle on the right bar is easy to operate if you’re wearing gloves (since this is a cargo bike after all)
  • The front rack is bolted directly to the head tub portion of the frame vs. the fork or handle bars, this improves strength and stability (the rack is also removable for reduced weight and convenience)
  • Offers both pedal assist and throttle mode for improved climbing and distance use or improved stability and reduced effort depending on your needs
  • Great battery design… despite being sort of generic, it’s well protected by the frame and keeps weight low and center on the bike for improved balance, nice that it matches the spokes and motor
  • Battery pack is removable for convenient charging or to swap with additional packs when going long distances
  • Mechanical disc brakes are easier to adjust and service independently vs. hydraulic and the 26″ wheel size uses more standard (and affordable) tubes which sort of aligns with the “value” pricing of this bike
  • Two water bottle cage mounting points on the back side of the front porteur style carry rack, this is a unique offering that I haven’t seen on a lot of ebikes


  • Some of the components are more basic and entry level including the six speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain, single side kickstand and plastic bash guard
  • The tubing on the rear rack is not standard gauge size which means it may not work with stock panniers or bags, the upside is that it’s sturdier and welded directly to the bike frame as well as having threaded eyelets for mounting gear or other racks
  • The display panel is not removable so it could be exposed to the elements more often if you park outside, it does swivel forward and back to reduce glare
  • No quick release systems for the rear wheel, it requires more effort to remove when fixing flats due to the integrated hub motor vs. mid-drive or quick release hubs (front wheel does have quick release)

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