A mid-tail electric cargo cruiser bike with removable front mounted porteur rack and welded rear cargo rack, emphasis on style and simplicity
Capable 500 watt geared rear hub motor paired with removable mid-mounted 48 volt Lithium-ion battery pack, seat must be removed to take the battery off of the frame
Good upgrades like 8 speed Shimano Acera drivetrain and a sealed 12 magnet cadence sensor, maintains other features like suspension seat post, Tektro disc brakes and balanced battery position
No integrated lights, no slap guard, keys have to stay in the battery to operate and may jingle around when riding, the display is not removable
Warning, in some configurations this electric bike is classified as a moped or motorcycle and may not be ridden on cycling trails or paths. It may require licensing, insurance and lights when used on public roads.
Cargo, Commuting, Urban
Electric Bike Class:
Throttle on Demand (Class 2), Moped or Motorcycle (Class 4)
To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by Motiv. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of Motiv products.
Motiv has updated their Sherpa bike over the years, so it was a great opportunity to check out their 2019 model and catch up with them. A lot of changes have been made since my last review of the 2015 version, so I am excited to dive in. But first, what exactly is the Sherpa? The Sherpa is an interesting mix of 2 bike styles. The founder of Motive himself even described this bike as his favorite because it is a marriage of a cargo bike with a cruiser bike. He mentioned that while he loved the utility of a cargo bike, he felt many were lacking style and felt too utilitarian. So mixing the two produces a good looking bike that has has some comfort, with of course, those cargo benefits. The bike comes in 1 size and frame, this kind of sturdy mid-step frame that minimizes frame flex, and 3 different colors. No suspension fork here (because you don’t want that front load bouncing up and down), but the handlebars and rigid fork are both steel which has some vibration dampening qualities. The tires here are comfortable too thanks to the high volume on this 26” x 2.35” setup. However, there is no puncture protection or reflective sidewalls included which I think is a bit of a missed opourtunity. Comfort continues though with the super wide comfortable Velo saddle with rubber bumpers underneath, stitched padded grips, steel fenders, and the suspension seat post (one of my favorite accessories for a bike and it is included!). The front features this kind of hard-core basket rack that has bungie loops in the front as well as bottle cage bosses in the rear facing the rider. The basket is steady since it points straight as you steer, and the Sherpa even has a sturdy double-legged kickstand for loading. In the rear, you have a rack with a bamboo deck as well and even a lower set of bungie rails…. really a complete setup. You can also adjust the ride for different riders or if you have a load. For example, you have the seat adjustment, but you also have an adjustable quill stem too, and you can even rotate the handlebars further back or forward to fit your needs. Over all, the bike is a bit on the heavy side, coming in at 70.2lbs, but I have to applaud Motiv for keeping the weight center and balanced. The Sherpa comes in just shy of having perfect 50/50 weight distribution, something not a lot of bikes can do and defiantly a bonus for a cargo bike. Other features include oversized aluminum alloy Wellgo pedals, an integrated bell, a rear solar light you can mount where you please, and externally routed cables for easy dealer maintenance.
Driving the bike is a 500 watt planetary guard hub-motor from Bafang. This is one of the most reliable setups out there. The owner of Motiv tells me he has customers with over 5,000 miles on this system, and I believe him. There have been a few other manufactures over the years utilizing a similar setup with this Bafang motor, and it really does keep going and going. This motor is powerful and capable and is complimented with a twist throttle on demand. Upgraded from previous generations is this sealed 12 magnet cadence sensor. This is much more smooth and responsive than older 6 or 8 magnet systems and keeping it sealed means gunk and debris doesn’t jam it up. Mechanically the bike also got an upgrade, the 8 speed Shimano Acera system. It has 13-32 teen in the rear and a 52 tooth chainring up front. Remember that twist throttle I mentioned earlier? Most bikes (including Motiv’s previous Sherpa) have to use an index style thumb shifter if they want a twist throttle on the right. I was really pleased to find that Motiv was able to get rid of the bulky thumb shifter, keep the twist throttle on the right, and add trigger shifters! Trigger shifters are my favorite, they are very responsive and really give you a feel of being connected to the ride. They also added a nice plastic chain guide here, so really a good setup (although there is no slap guard). Anyways, stopping the bike is a set of Tektro Aries 180mm mechanical disc brake rotors in the front and rear.
Powering the bike is a 10lb 48v 16ah lithium ion battery pack with Samsung cells. I would consider this a very high capacity battery with that 16ah rating. The amp hour designation refers to how long the battery can perform at its peak, while the volts act as the peak itself. With a rating such as this, it would be able to go the extra mile and then some. The battery is secured via lock and key, however, you do have to keep that key in at all times to operate the bike, something I find annoying if it bounces around, or you could forget it. To really care for this and other lithium-ion packs, I have heard that storing in a cool dry location vs. extreme heat or cold will extend the life and try to keep it about 50% full when not using for long periods so you won’t stress the cells. Try not to let it run down to zero, because that’s really hard on the cell chemistry.
The LCD display is easy to navigate and features a backlit mode. I also appreciate that the battery display has five bars (the outer perimeter around the battery display counts as one) vs. four bars found on many other displays. It allows you a more accurate reading of battery life, which is really a nice feature for longer commutes. Still, it would be even nicer to have 10 bars or even a battery percentage, but this display balances compactness with ease of use and gets the job done. Besides the five levels of assist, the Sherpa also features a walk mode, which might come in handy if you’re walking your bike up an incline, or if you get a flat tire. You do have to hold your finger on the button for walk assist to operate though, which some people find to be a bit of a hassle. It’s a nice option to have, whether you use it or not. As with many displays, this one is not removable but can swivel a bit to reduce glare.
The update of the Sherpa makes an already amazing bike even better. I am happy for the upgrades, but I do have to call out some tradeoffs real quick. For example, you have to keep the keys in the battery to ride and they could bounce around or even be forgotten about if you take measures to keep them quiet, like removing other keys from the ring. There is no puncture protection or reflective sidewalls on the tires… kind of a missed opportunity. Finally, there are no battery integrated lights on the Sherpa as opposed to Motiv’s other models, but it does come with a rear solar light you can reposition which isn’t bad. When you take into account the competitive $2,495 price (most cargo bikes are much more), the dealer network, and the modular components with other Motiv bikes for easy service, it is easy to see why it is such an attractive offering. I want to thank Motiv for letting me see the new Sherpa, and I love hearing the stories behind the users of this bike.
As always, I welcome questions and feedback in the comment section below. Whether you own a previous version of the bike, have taken a test ride, or are brand new to the space, my goal is to provide an objective and honest resource. You can also join the Motiv ebike forums and share your own photos, videos, and review updates to help others! Have fun out there, and ride safe :)
One of the more affordable cargo style electric bikes around, available in 3 colors, and a unique and accessible mid-thru frame (for dealing with heavy loads at rest)
Larger grippy tires provide great traction and soften bumps when the bike is loaded, this adds comfort to the padded grips and seat post suspension
8 speeds is a great upgrade for climbing and reaching higher speeds, the twist throttle is easy to operate and having it on demand and located at the right keeps it intuitive like a motorcycle throttle
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 all the weight is center, it is almost at a perfect 50/50 balance from front to back
Battery pack is high capacity at the 48v 16ah rating, can really go the distance or carry a heavy load
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
You have to keep the keys in the battery to ride and they could bounce around or even be forgotten about if you take measures to keep them quiet, like removing other keys from the ring
There is no puncture protection or reflective sidewalls on the tires… kind of a missed opportunity
One thing I mentioned in the video is that there is no slap guard for the chain, so you could add box tape or even get an aftermarket one to keep it from knicking the nice paint, I was told this was chosen for aesthetics
There are no battery integrated lights on the Sherpa as opposed to Motiv’s other models, but it does come with a rear solar light you can reposition which isn’t bad
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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