- A powerful, comfortable, upgraded cruiser electric bike with hydraulic disc brakes and lights, the Motiv Werks is built on the proven Motiv Spark frame
- Includes a spring suspension from RockShox with preload adjust and lockout, basic suspension seat post from Promax, oversized Velo saddle, and padded grips
- Smaller 26" wheels bring the bike closer to the ground, thick 12 gauge spokes provide strength for heavier riders, impressive 700+ watt motor can reach speeds of 26 mph with pedal assist and twist throttle
- Only available in one frame size but the quill stem can raise and lower, long cruiser bars provide an upright seating position, the battery is removable but the seat post must be removed first, key must be left in while riding
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.
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There’s an interesting story behind the Motiv Werks electric bike, and I was able to hear part of it while performing this review with the owner of the Electric Bicycle Center in Fullerton, California. Sam Townsend has been selling Motiv since 2012 and knows the founder, Cameron Pemstein, fairly well. Sam told me that Motiv is one of his top selling cruiser electric bike brands because of its value, quality, and power. His shop technicians regularly customize the bikes for customers who want suspension, racks, lights, and other accessories. One of the shop employees, named Kenny, had customized his own Motiv Spark a couple of years back, and that caught the attention of Cameron who decided to launch an official model with “the works” including hydraulic disc brakes, a 100mm suspension fork with lockout, suspension seat post, upgraded tires, and lights. The bike only comes in one frame size and black for now, but it offers a high power motor, high capacity battery, and upgraded Shimano SLX drivetrain with 10 gears. The demo bike that we looked at for this review had been upgrade even further by Sam’s team, and included a Topeak disc brake compatible rear rack and trunk bag with zip out panniers. Hidden inside the bag was an optional Suntour NCX suspension seat post and the stock 2.5 amp charger. The bike is setup to provide comfort with long swept-back handlebars, an oversized Velo saddle, and padded grips. I appreciate how the suspension fork and included Promax suspension seat post offer preload adjustment, for heavier riders, and that the smaller 26″ wheels lower the frame height and improve wheel strength… along with thicker 12 gauge spokes. Sturdy steel fenders will help keep you dry and clean, and they won’t rattle around as much as plastic or aluminum alloy, though they can rust if scratched. The front chainring is a bit larger than average with 52 teeth, and that provides a comfortable pedal cadence at speed, because the Motiv Werks can ride at ~26 mph. Thank goodness for the plastic chain guide, sturdy alloy pedals, and large 180mm hydraulic disc brakes ;)
Driving the bike is a 700 watt nominal 1,000 watt peak, planetary geared hub motor from Dapu. This is a brand I’m very familiar with because Pedego and Easy Motion also use them. However, I’m not used to seeing such a high power rating! Motiv has built a reputation around style, power, and speed. Their bikes are custom designed in Southern California and now being sold in Australia under the name Crooze. You can’t find them everywhere, but the dealers I’ve met with have nothing but good things to say and that is backed up by over five years in business and a comprehensive year long warranty. The motor is surprisingly compact, encased in black to match the spokes and rims. It does produce an electronic whirr under high power, and there was even some buzzing during my test ride, but I’m told that has been corrected on newer models. Planetary geared hub motors freewheel without producing any drag, so you can pedal this bike easily. Shifting through the gears was quick and precise with the trigger mechanism mounted near the right grip. Shimano SLX is a high quality part, nicer than Tourney, Altus, Acera, Alivio, and even Deore… In some ways, it’s overkill for this ebike! The benefits include lighter weight, improved reliability, and multi-shift action. There’s a quick disconnect point in the motor power cable, to make servicing easier, but the cable does protrude from the end of the axle vs. being tucked in closer the the frame. I’ve seen this improved design on other Dapu powered ebikes before, but perhaps it’s more expensive or didn’t work with the Werks frame. There’s no derailleur guard here either, so just be careful not to let the bike tip over onto the right side or get snagged on branches or scraped on walls or it could damage the system. The bike felt stable when parked because of the wider tires and lower center of gravity. There’s an adjustable length kickstand mounted to the left seat stay and chain stay which stays out of the way better than a center stand. It also supports a rear rack and cargo if added. I love that Motive included fender bosses and rear rack bosses but would also love to see bottle cage bosses on the seat tube. Why not? You don’t have to use them… and it seems like the battery could interfere with aftermarket adapters like the SKS Anywhere. I’m friends with Cameron and have asked him about these things before… there’s plenty of room on the downtube, seat tube, and even below the top tube for bosses that could hold a folding lock, mini pump, etc. but he said that he wants to keep the frames looking beautiful.
Powering the bike is a high capacity lithium-ion battery pack that slides down behind the seat tube. It can be charged on or off the frame and I appreciate where the charging port and locking core are positioned, near the top, because they won’t be sheered off or bent if you try to remove the battery with items left in. The downside of this whole setup is that the seat post and saddle must be taken off in order to effectively remove the battery pack. Some competing models use flip-up saddle mounts, but they aren’t as sturdy and stable… and they usually don’t have suspension elements. If you do plan on removing the battery frequently, to store the battery inside or charge at work, I recommend drawing a cross on the seat tube and seat post so you can line them up easily between rides. The battery pack is mostly aluminum alloy but has a plastic cap at the bottom and top, along with a handle. It’s rated at 48 volts and 16 amp hours for a total of 768 watt hours. This is way above average for the current generation of ebikes, and it helps to extend range and make up for the higher top speed and always-active twist throttle. The pack is heavier than average at roughly 10lbs, and this goes back to the alloy casing and higher capacity. The positioning is good, low and center on the frame, and the box just below the mounting point contains a high powered controller. Separating the controller like this helps to lower the temperature under high load and lower the replacement cost of additional batteries, but it doesn’t look as pretty this way. My other complaint about the battery design is that it requires you to leave the key in the locking core, twisted to the on position, in order to activate the display and ride the bike with assist. The inconvenience is that the key can rattle around if it’s connected to a keychain, potentially scratching your paint or snagging your pants or shirt. You might decide to keep an extra key off of your keychain to reduce these annoyances, but then the key can get lost more easily.
Operating the bike is fairly straightforward once the battery is charged, mounted, and switched to on with the key. Turn on the display by pressing the little rubber power button at the center of the control pad for a couple of seconds. It boots up quickly and is easy to interpret, though a bit small. This display is not removable and does not swivel easily. As a result, it could take additional weather wear and scratches at the bike rack. Being positioned way towards the end of the left portion of the cruiser handlebar, the display is fairly close and easy to see, but you do have to glance down and to the side a bit. Once you get the hang of it, the display isn’t necessary to look at because you can feel your way through the different power levels by pressing up and down on the button pad. Regardless of your chosen level of assist, 0-5, the twist throttle is active at full power. This is a more advanced way to set things up, and it could lead to accidental motor activation if you leave the bike powered on when mounting and dismounting. The twist throttle offers smooth variable speed output, and performs like a motorcycle. I really enjoy using it to start from stop signs and traffic signals because it’s instantaneous and doesn’t strain my knees. The 12-magnet sealed cadence sensor is pretty great, but it’s not as smooth and instantaneous as a torque or multi sensor. Regardless of drive mode, both brake levers are setup with motor inhibitors to kill power when pulled. This is a great safety feature, especially for such a fast and powerful ebike. You can activate the display backlight and integrated headlight by holding the center button and up. You can change readouts on the display by pressing the center button once (cycling through average speed, max speed, odometer, and trip distance), you can activate walk mode by holding the down arrow, and you can enter into the settings menu by holding up and down. From here, you can adjust the clock, top speed (yes, you can lower the top speed to 20mph to make it a Class 2 and unplug the throttle entirely to make it a Class 1 ebike), wheel size, levels of assist (3, 5, or 9), and units (miles vs. kilometers). It would be nice if the display also had a USB port for charging phones and powering additional lights. I like that Motiv includes a basic LED rear light with a little solar charger built into the top. It eliminates the hassle and wastefulness of using disposable batteries, but seems a little cheap and gimmicky to me. The light is mounted to the left seat stay, so might not keep you as visible from the left and could be entirely blocked by pannier bags if you add a rack like Sam did.
It’s always exciting to see brands adjust their products based on customer feedback. Motiv is small enough to be nimble and creative but old enough to garner trust and have a reputation for quality. In many ways, I’d consider this an affordable electric bike because of the increased power, battery upgrade, and mid-level accessories. It’s cool that you can buy a bike like this where everything is guaranteed to work well together vs. guessing and trying to modify yourself. The bike did perform well during my review with Sam, and it handled his 200+lb weight very well on the hilly streets of Fullerton, California. Sam’s shop still customizes the Spark for customers by adding racks and bags, they will even upgrade to the RockShox Paragon air fork vs. the spring shock that Motiv stocks with the Werks. I appreciate that the fork has preload and lockout adjust, a quick release axle, and is black to match the frame. Depending on where you live, the puncture resistant tires could be a big win, and I love how they also have reflective sidewalls to keep you safer at night. Technically, this electric bicycle could fall into the Class 4 category of moped because the throttle is active above 20 miles per hour. It’s easy enough to lower the max speed and keep ti Class 2, but some owners have used them as pit bikes on private race tracks and shuttles to get around private estates. The Motiv Werks has wide enough tires to be stable on packed gravel and dirt, but is mostly an on-road electric bike. Big thanks to Kenny, Sam, Cameron, and Motiv for partnering with me on this post. It was great to hear the story of the Werks directly from Sam and then compare his tricked out Spark to the official bike. I welcome your questions and comments below and invite you to share your own upgrade suggestions, feedback, and photos in the Motiv forums.
- Good weight distribution, the battery pack is positioned low and center behind the seat tube vs. up high and rear on a rack… note that this ebike does not come stock with the rear rack (Sam’s shop added that themselves)
- Comfort is a big deal to me, especially on ebikes that tend to travel further and go slightly faster on average, so I really like the suspension fork, suspension seat post, oversized saddle, padded grips, and vibration dampening swept back steel handlebars
- Excellent tire choice, the Schwalbe Balloon Big Apple model is slightly wider than average at 2.125″ which absorbs vibration and adds stability, they have puncture protective lining and reflective sidewalls to keep you visible in the early morning and evening
- Considering that the bike is only available in black right now, it’s great that they include a wired-in headlight and solar powered rear light… they’re not the fanciest accessories I’ve ever seen, but they should help to keep you safer :)
- Hydraulic brakes offer great stopping power, especially with larger 180mm rotors, and don’t require as much hand effort, the brake levers offer adjustable reach for smaller hands and both sides have motor inhibitors so you won’t be fighting the drive system
- Great drivetrain, you get ten sprockets and an upgraded Shimano SLX derailleur that weighs less, tends to be more reliable, and offers multi-shift action for quicker gear changes
- I love that the chainring has a plastic guide to help keep the chain on track, I’ve experienced chain drops on ebikes with zippier motors like this one so it’s nice to proactively avoid that
- Very satisfying hub motor, Dapu tends to make high quality stuff (Pedego and Easy Motion use them) and this one is rated from 700 to 1,000 watts! you can feel the difference and part of that has to do with the 48 volt battery pack
- Great choice of pedals, the Wellgo alloy platforms used here are wide and grippy, I also like the kickstand because it’s positioned towards the rear and won’t block the left crank arm when backing the bike up or performing service
- I like that the fork they chose is a bit of an upgrade, name brand RockShox with adjustable preload (to pre-load the spring if you’re heavier) and even lock out the movement to reduce bobbing and dive when stopping
- The handlebars are very clean and open, I like the flick bell on the right and display console with button pad on the left… there’s plenty of room for mounting a set of speakers or cup holder
- The battery capacity is enormous! with 48 volts and 16 amp hours (total 768 watt hours) it’s more than 50% larger than an average sized battery for this generation of ebikes… this allows for bigger rides, more frequent use of the throttle, and higher top speeds over longer distances
- Apparently Motiv is selling their products in Australia now too, under the name Crooze, it’s neat to see them refining their products and expanding into new markets
- I’m not sure what the maximum weight capacity for this electric bike is but the 26″ wheels tend to be very strong and Motiv chose thicker 12 gauge spokes… so I’m guessing it’s higher than the average 250lb max weight of other products, maybe 300lbs to 350lbs?
- I appreciate that the bike ships with a slightly faster 2.5 amp charger vs. the standard 2 amp, especially because the battery is so much larger than an average ebike, the charger is fairly compact and less than 1.5lbs so it’s easy to bring along in a backpack or trunk bag
- I’ve met the founder of Motiv, Cameron Pemstein, and visited his warehouse… reviewed some of his earliest products in 2013, and appreciate his focus and kind customer service, he offers a one year comprehensive warranty plus lifetime on the frame which is pretty good for a smaller brand
- The frame is custom designed vs. piece meal and has internally routed cables to look nicer and reduce snags when pedaling, it’s basically built around the Motiv Spark which has been around for years and is proven in my opinion
- It’s great that you can manually adjust the top speed, just hold + and – simultaneously to enter the settings menu, this allows for a safer feel and extended range if you’d like
- I appreciate that Motiv is using the latest cadence sensor technology, it’s sealed against water and debris and much smaller than the old ones with the big plastic disc that could get bumped out of place
- It’s only available in one frame size and one color right now (matte black), but the adjustable-height quill stem, swept-back cruiser bars, and sloped top tube make it fairly approachable and comfortable for a range of body types, the black is a good choice because it matches the fork, fenders, saddle, spokes, rims, and blends with the battery pack and motor
- The bike weighs a bit more, as most cruisers do, because of the reinforced frame, suspension fork, longer handlebars, and more powerful motor… I recommend removing the battery pack to make it easier to lift and haul on bike racks (the pack weighs nearly 10lbs all on its own)
- In order to remove the battery pack, you actually have to pull the seat post out because there is no flip-up seat clamp, it can be annoying to do this after each ride if you store the battery inside and I find that lining the seat up perfectly can be tricky, consider making a mark on the seat tube and post in permanent marker for the height and forward alignment
- Cadence sensors respond in an on/off sort of way that isn’t as smooth or responsive as a torque or multi-sensor setup, this one takes a moment to activate if you’re in a higher gear, the twist throttle helps to overcome this delay and offers variable speed output… so it can start smooth, I do appreciate that the Motiv cadence sensor uses 12 magnets vs. just 6 on some others which can be even more delayed
- I feel like they had room on the seat tube to add bottle cage bosses, but you could always add an adapter like this, and it’s nice that the bike does have fender bosses and provisions for adding a disc brake compatible rear rack which might support a trunk bag with a bottle holster in it
- It would be cool if the rear light also ran off of the main battery pack because it just isn’t as large or bright as it could be… although the solar charging thing is kind of neat, you have to activate the rear light manually and the light is only visible on the right side of the frame because it’s mounted to the right seat stay, furthermore, I feel that the headlight could be positioned higher up and not mounted to the portion of the suspension that moves because that bounces the beam around and can make the light loose over time
- As with most hub motor powered electric bikes, the rear wheel does not offer quick release, the power cable protrudes directly out of the right axle and could get bent or snagged, it would be cool if Motiv included a derailleur guard to protect it and the shifter cables etc. back there
- In order to activate the bike, you have to insert the key into the battery pack and then twist it to on… and leave it there while riding, the key or keychain can rattle around and get snagged more easily as a result
- I’m not sure if the bike comes with a slap guard or chain cover, but those would be nice little upgrades… you can always use clear box tape or order a basic slap guard yourself online