- A near-silent city electric bike with advanced hub motor drive system, it offers smooth torque sensing pedal assist, variable speed trigger throttle operation, four levels of recoup, and regenerative braking
- Premium Racktime brand alloy fenders and cargo rack add utility for commuting, the rack is positioned far back enough for the saddle to drop all the way down, custom hydroformed alloy frame comes in four sizes and is easy to mount and stand over
- Integrated Supernova lights are positioned well and housed in alloy vs. plastic, the headlight points where you steer and won't bounce around like many fork-mounted headlights on other ebikes, reflective tires increase your visual footprint from the side
- Comfortable Ergon locking grips and gel saddle, lightweight air suspension fork with rebound adjust and compression lockout, narrow-wide chainring with alloy guard reduces drops, fast and compact charger is portable, color LCD is removable
The OHM City is an approachable urban electric bicycle that comes complete with fenders, a rear rack, and integrated lights… in four frame size options. And hey, it also comes with two motor choices?! The default $3k version ships with an efficient 350 watt gearless hub motor that can reach 20mph top speeds with pedal assist or throttle operation. For $1k more, you can get a high-torque 500 watt gearless hub motor that can reach 20mph or 28mph top speeds for Class 3 performance. Both drive systems use an advanced torque sensor that’s built into the hub motor itself, vs. tacked onto the bottom bracket or rear dropout. The bike accelerates smoothly and feels natural to ride. Additionally, both motors offer regenerative braking to reduce wear on brake pads while recuperating a bit of energy on long downhill sections of road. This ebike would make an excellent commuting platform, grocery getter, or neighborhood cruiser. In my opinion, it’s also a wonderful option for shorter/smaller people and petite riders because of the low standover height and lower minimum saddle position (the seat doesn’t collide with the rear rack when it’s lowered all the way down, and the seat tube itself is lower than average). Whether you’re planning to mount a child seat, bring along extra cargo, or you just weigh more and need some power, it’s great to have so many options and such an approachable, sturdy frame here. What really sets it apart for me however, are the upgraded components, reasonable price point, longstanding reputation, and generous warranty. For roughly $3k, you’re getting tubular alloy fenders that won’t rattle, name-brand lights with metal housings vs. plastic, mountain bike grade hydraulic disc brakes with quad piston calipers and tool-free adjustable reach levers, comfortable Ergon locking grips and saddle, double wall rims with reinforcement eyelets for strength, a highly adjustable lightweight air suspension fork with thru-axle wheel mount, magnesium pedals with adjustable pins, and a sealed headset and bottom bracket that won’t rust or creak when they get wet. OHM is based in Vancouver, BC Canada near the ocean. It rains a lot there and a mixture of urban and mountain environments makeup the region. Their bikes are designed with this in mind, and my perception is that they can handle it. There’s so much to say about the design an parts that were chosen here, and perhaps some of these comments are lost on the average reader, but trust me… this ebike is made well. You can see the attention to detail in parts like the narrow-wide chainring that reduces potential for chain drops, the handlebar-mounted headlight (that points where you steer, won’t bounce around, and is positioned below the removable color LCD display panel), the double-tube frame that doesn’t flex as much as competing step-thru designs, the Shimano Deore XT drivetrain with one-way clutch and upgraded shifter mechanism for responsive gear changing, the sturdy alloy bash guard and performance-grade hollow spindle at the bottom bracket, the high-volume puncture resistant tires with reflective sidewall stripes, and the lightweight 3.45 amp charger that is smaller and faster than most. In so many ways, this ebike is overkill for city rides! You’re getting more than you probably need… but that’s because OHM is sharing parts across their entire line, to reduce costs and make servicing easier. If you swapped the smooth urban tires for some knobby trail tires, this ebike would have no problem tackling cross-country mountain bike trails. OHM has been around since 2005, they are a premiere BionX partner, and their products are so good that they can offer a trade-in program and three year warranty. That’s very unique in the electric bike space. However, they are predominantly selling online now vs. in shops. And, as a result, test rides and fitting can be more difficult. You may also have to endure unboxing, a bit of assembly, and repairs and fixes via email and phone support with the help of local bike shops vs. a more knowledgeable brand-specific dealer.
Driving the bike is either a 350 or 500 watt nominally rated, gearless direct-drive hub motor. With peak torque output at 50 Newton meters on the D-Series and peak wattage around 750, it’s one of the strongest legal hub motors to be found in North America. That extra power might be useful for people who encounter steep hills or plan on moving heavier loads… but it does cost $1k more as an upgrade. And it certainly looks unique… the design has grown on me over the past year but it’s definitely large (this motor is not shown in the images above, but you can see it on the high-step OHM Urban here). The large diameter on the D-Series motor provides a mechanical advantage for the magnets and electromagnetic staters inside, which increases torque while simultaneously improving cooling, due to increased air volume. The casing itself is a sort of composite plastic that is lightweight, durable, and unobtrusive in black. It won’t get scratched or nicked up the way that painted alloy casings might, and the spokes connect closer to the center of the wheel vs. the edge of the hub, which improves comfort. However, with such a large diameter, this motor does catch some wind from the side. By comparison, the less expensive 350 watt motor is encased in an alloy hub that actually weighs more despite being physically smaller. It doesn’t offer as much torque, but is still very capable. Both motors are near-silent and both offer regeneration. As mentioned earlier, OHM opted for double wall alloy rims with reinforcement eyelets to add durability on their mountain models, and the same rims have been used here. They painted the spokes black to match the hub motor casings, and they chose a capable drivetrain from Shimano to reduce maintenance intervals, speed up shifting, and improve chain tension. You get a 10-speed 11 to 36 tooth cassette here with Shimano Deore XT derailleur that has a one way clutch to tighten the chain. Just click the little grey lever up to increase spring stiffness for fast riding or bumpy terrain, or click the lever down for easier wheel maintenance and easier gear changing. I found shifting to be fast and quiet, the triggers were easy to reach and activate without taking my hand off of the right grip. During the ride tests, I was pedaling naturally, feeling empowered vs. carried or pushed like some cadence sensing e-bikes, and never surprised or annoyed by delays from torque sensor to motor output. It felt very smooth but definitely more powerful than average. One thing to consider here is that the trigger throttle only becomes active once the bike has reached ~2mph. So, it’s not as helpful when starting after a stop sign or traffic signal. You’ll have to kick off and pedal for a second before the throttle will work. Still, the trigger throttle and control pad buttons are easy to reach and simple to understand. There’s a great balance of freedom and depth of settings against simplicity and intuitive layout. Just like the trigger shifters, the control pad is easy to reach and stays out of the way, making a clean cockpit.
Powering the bike, backlit display, two integrated extra-bright LED lights, and an optional USB power port, is a high capacity Lithium-ion battery pack from BionX. It offers efficient 48 volts and 11.6 amp hours for a total of 556.8 watt hours of capacity. That’s over half a kilowatt hour, definitely above average! I estimate that the battery will provide a range between 25 and 70 miles, but that greatly depends on which motor you opt for and how you ride the bike. High speed operation takes a big toll on efficiency because of air resistance. Throttle mode, while fun, is a battery hog because the both motors offer above-average torque output and acceleration. The trigger throttle is ramped, so you can press gently for less power, but the actual buttono movement is relatively small (to keep it compact in size), so precise throttling takes some practice. Unlike many competing throttles, this one is easy to reach and not fatiguing to press constantly. It is perhaps one of my favorite throttle designs because it’s a trigger vs. twist and that means you can really grip and handle the bike well. In contrast, some twist throttles can compromise hand grip and position. I love that you can use the throttle at full power to override assist! There’s no need for clicking up and down through different menus to get the throttle active, the way some other products require. The throttle is always active as long as the bike is moving ~2mph, as mentioned earlier. Anyway, the battery can be charged on or off the bike frame and uses a quick 3.45 amp charger vs. the standard 2 amp I see elsewhere. You can fill the battery quickly and get back out onto the road for more fun or extended rides… maybe even light touring! The removability of the display, battery, quick release front wheel, and seat post, make the bike easy to transport, protect, and store. I usually bring my display and battery into the office for protection and a top-off before riding home, and I always try to store these battery operated parts away from extreme heat and cold. Note that the battery does not have an obvious handle and would definitely get scratched and possibly damaged if dropped… at 7.4 lbs, it’s not the lightest thing… so be careful when handling it or use a bag to carry it. There’s a really cool touch-sensitive LED readout on the left side of the battery box which communicates charge level, whether the battery is mounted to the bike or not, and it’s quite handy. If you’ve got two of these bikes (or two models with the same battery), they are interchangeable and could be used by a single rider to double range (by placing the additional pack in a backpack).
The display options on this electric bike are many, whether you choose to use the minimalist LED readouts on the control ring, the transflective backlit color LCD display, or your smartphone, you can control four levels of assist and four levels of regeneration. The + and – keys on the control pad are very intuitive. In it’s most basic form, you get to choose how much power the motor delivers or how much drag it introduces through recuperation. I used the highest level of regeneration -4 to help slow my descent for a full half hour when mountain biking on the OHM Mountain, and found that the battery recuperated about 3% capacity during that time (about 2.7 miles worth of energy). In addition to the plus and minus, there are also left and right buttons on the control ring which can be used to navigate the LCD display; to show different views. I preferred the basic view and loved that it showed 10 bars to illustrate how full the battery pack was… This is a big improvement over most displays that just show four or five bars, offering less precision. If you arrow to the right twice, you’ll discover an “advanced” or data view readout listing an even more precise battery percentage readout along with more trip stats and details. It’s so cool to have this as an option available, in part because data view is black and white vs. color, which could be less distracting for some riders during low lighting conditions. Note that you can also enter into a settings menu to adjust units and other aspects of the display by arrowing right to setup and then holding the grey key for a few seconds. This is definitely one of the nicest displays I have used and I love how open and flexible it is… while still being simple. Being able to take it off of the bike and still use the bike (with the control ring) is neat, and potentially very useful if you misplace the display or end up damaging it. You could use the spot where the display is mounted for some other device for longer rides, if you wanted.
The OHM City, with default 350 watt motor, is the most affordable model in the lineup for 2018. I love the color that was chosen for the frame, satin blue, because it’s gender neutral. Branding is minimal, the paint job is classy and understated, and all of the cables are internally routed to reduce clutter. I sometimes hear people complain about the noise that some electric bikes produce when riding, Bosch Performance Line mid-drives and Bafang geared hub motors in particular, but that’s not an issue here at all. I personally like having a throttle at my disposal and love integrated lights because I commute in early morning and late night situations frequently, and want to be seen. There are only a handful of little things that bug me about this model, including the mid-mounted kickstand that gets in the way of the left crank arm, the visual appearance of the larger hub motor (if you opt for the D-Series), the increased hassle of changing a rear flat tire because it uses nuts vs. quick release, the slightly longer boot up time of the display panel, and how the pedals feel because of a thicker spindle design. The 2018 OHM product line offers some of my favorite speed pedelecs on the market right now, and has built my appreciation for the small details that go into frame design and hardware choice. I probably would spend the extra money to upgrade to a suspension seat post (which OHM offers at time of purchase) because I have back and neck sensitivity, and high speed can really bring out the stiffness of a hardtail frame. However, the larger tires, upright stem, additional stem spacers, and ergonomic touch points, make it pretty comfortable as-is. As you park and lock this e-bike, be sure to secure the front wheel, frame, and seat post and saddle rails if you do get the upgrade, because those are expensive premium parts. For reference, I was test riding the extra small frame but recorded measurements for it and the medium size (since that’s what Michael was riding, with the D-Series). The rack uses standard gauge tubing for compatibility with a wide range of accessories, including clip-on bags like the Two Wheel Gear bike bags that Michael demonstrated. I appreciate the little bungee loop at the base of both support arms, for quickly securing smaller items. I welcome your comments below and in the OHM electric bike forums. I like how this bag doubled as a backpack with shoulder straps and had a padded section on the back, so the clips wouldn’t dig into your back. You could easily toss the battery charger into a bag like this and bring it along for a complete fill in just 4.5 hours. The battery and electrical components are rated IP67 against water and dust ingress, and I love how the plug end of the charger uses a magnetic connector that will pop off if tripped over vs. tipping the bike or pulling the battery off of a chair or counter top. The video review above was filmed at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby, BC Canada where the weather was cool and the ground was a bit wet at parts. I never got wet because of how wide the fenders were, and nobody seemed to notice or be bothered by our bikes because they are so quiet. Big thanks to the founder, Michael DeVisser, for partnering with me on this post, meeting with me in Burnaby Canada for a test ride and interview in the video above.
- Wide 60mm tubular alloy fenders keep you dry and clean, they feel solid and don’t rattle as much as plastic or single-layer alloy, the rear rack connects directly to the rear fender for extra support and is positioned far back from the saddle so you can lower it all the way down without interfering with a trunk bag
- Only the highest-end electric bikes seem to offer integrated lights from Supernova, it’s a quality brand that builds with alloy housings and sturdy mounts, I love how the headlight is positioned below the handlebar to make room for the LCD display… it points where you steer and keeps you more visible than a lower fork-arch mounted light
- There are so many ways to control this e-bike including the mini control ring near the right grip, the compact color LCD panel, and the smart phone app, being able to remove the display for parking (to reduce wear and tampering) is fantastic for commuters
- Four sizes mean you can find an appropriate fit, the step-thru frame is easy to mount and comfortable to stand over, the semi-integrated battery makes space for a bottle cage and keeps weight low and center on the frame compared to a rear rack battery
- Considering how sturdy and well accessorized this ebike is, I was impressed with the 55.3 lb weight, it has metal lights and fenders, a high-capacity battery, and a powerful motor but things like magnesium pedals, a minimalist kickstand, hollow spindle bottom bracket, and air fork all make a difference
- OHM has been around since 2005 and offers a unique 3+ year warranty on their products, they use high-end parts and are a premiere BionX partner so their ebikes tend to last… and since they offer several models that all use the same battery design (the Urban, Sport, Mountain, and City), it’s easier to get replacements
- I like how this electric bike looks, the branding is minimalist and the satin sky blue is gender neutral, the oversized head tube offers a signature look that also provides more strength
- Having weighed the bike by lifting it up using the nose of the saddle, I was impressed with how balanced it is, the bike didn’t tip backwards despite using a heavier gearless direct drive hub motor and having a rack
- Comfortable touch points including locking ergonomic grips, adjustable-reach brake levers, a sporty Ergon gel saddle, and wider Schwalbe Big Ben Plus tires
- For me, safety is a big deal, so the light frame color with white accents, reflective tires, and bright integrated lights are a big win
- OHM offers a Kinekt suspension seat post upgrade, folding lock accessories, and does a trade-in program for their older bikes so you could possibly get a discount to upgrade to this new more approachable model
- Riding this bike just feels good, the larger tires offer stability and comfort, the motor is almost completely silent, and there’s a trigger throttle built-in to help you zip up to speed or climb hills without straining your knees
- Even though regenerative braking doesn’t put much power back into the battery, it does reduce wear on brake pads and can be used to simulate climbing with the four regen levels on the BionX system, overall it’s pretty neat to see here and kind of rare in the ebike world at the time of this review
- Most of the other OHM models that are built around this similar frame style have a large D-Series motor that stands out visually and can catch the wind from the side; I appreciate the look of the optional smaller and cheaper 350 watt motor here and feel that it still offers great power and performance, notice how the black hub matches the black spokes, black Alex rims, black seat post, cranks, stem, handlebar, fenders, and fork lowers… to be clear, you can get the OHM City with the D-Series motor as well
- The battery pack clicks in from the left side vs. down from the top which means it won’t bump into a bottle cage or accessory (if you mount one to the seat tube bosses), I like that the battery is rated against dust and water, uses a fast 3.45 amp charger, can be filled on or off the bike, and even has a touch-activated capacity indicator (where the charger plugs in) it lights up green at 70%+, orange between 20% and 70%, and red when below 20%
- After a few minutes of inactivity, the display panel automatically powers off… it has lots of settings where you can change brightness, units, etc. to make it fit your preferences and style
- Large 180mm hydraulic brakes with quad piston calipers provide excellent stopping power, probably more than you need for most city riding… and that means you don’t have to pull as hard or worry about loading the rack with gear or a bicycle child seat, I love that the brake levers offer tool-free adjustable reach for quick tuning if you’ve worn through some of the brake pad or put on some gloves for a cold day
- Shimano Deore XT is a mid to high-level derailleur and ten speeds is enough to let you climb and reach higher speeds comfortably (great for a Class 3 product with ~28 mph top speed if you upgrade to the D-Series motor), I like that it comes with a one way clutch feature to reduce chain bounce (the little grey lever, point it up to tighten the chain)
- The chainring has an alloy guard to keep your pants or skirt clean, it will protect the teeth if you hit a curb and also help to keep the chain from falling off… the chainring itself uses a narrow-wide tooth pattern for extra grab, this is usually something I only see on high-end mountain bikes and it helps eliminate the need for a full guide
- Look at the double-tube design and reinforcement gusset near the base of the seat tube, OHM has overbuilt this thing to be stiff and responsive while many other step-thru ebikes feel flexy
- I like how the motor power cable is really tucked in and protected on the left side of the frame, cheaper hub motors often have a cable that sticks way out on the right side which can get snagged and damaged easier
- I appreciate how the kickstand is adjustable length but it still gets in the way where it’s mounted, just below and behind the left crank arm, if you back the bike up or pedal with the stand deployed, it will collide and cause pedal lock
- OHM has moved away from dealers, they only sell direct now, which means it could be difficult to go for a test ride and see which size fits perfectly – unless you live near their factory store in North Vancouver, BC Canada
- If you opt for the P350 hub motor, it doesn’t offer as much torque as the 500 watt D-Series motor used on other models from OHM (including the OHM Mountain), and it actually weighs more than the D-Series because of the alloy casing vs. composite plastics… I want to clarify again that you can upgrade to the D-Series on the OHM City if you want it
- Minor complaint here, the display panel and battery pack don’t have an integrated Micro-USB port by default, but apparently for $20 OHM can wire one in and stick it to the right side of the frame near the top of the downtube… so that’s kind of neat and definitely uncommon compared to most competing brands
- It would be nice if both brake levers had the regeneration switch vs. just the right one, but I guess that reduces clutter up front, a bit of weight, and expense
- The display panel takes a bit longer to boot up than Bosch and some of the other high-end products, not much longer, but enough to be a little annoying every time you turn the bike on and are eager to go right away! Since the motor uses an advanced torque sensor, I usually wait for the system to fully boot up before pedaling because it could influence the sensitivity “zero point” and require more pedal effort for that ride as a result
- As much as I appreciate the large platform and grippy adjustable pins on the lightweight Magnesium pedals… I felt like the spindle at the center was too high, I could feel it at the ball of my foot vs. a more flat platform which is what I usually feel, they left me mixed vs. fully impressed and I would probably upgrade to the thicker magnesium Wellgo pedals or go with some rubberized plastic platforms that might not scrape your shins as badly if you slip off
- It’s no fun to change inner tubes if you get a flat, so the upgraded Performance Line GreenGuard Plus tires are a welcome hardware choice, I love that the front axle uses quick release to make it easier to service, but have to acknowledge that most hub motor setups can be a pain to work with on the rear wheel because of the additional motor wire and bolts, the BionX motor has a quick disconnect point and mounts fairly easily with the correct 6M hex wrench, but it still takes more time and tools… I do really appreciate the unique rack mount design however (which gives it 20% more lateral stability, according to to the founder and designer, Michael DeVisser)
- Some of the other high-end ebike displays offer a range estimation readout which can help you plan trips; that isn’t available with the BionX setup used here, but at least it does show a high precision 10-bar battery infographic and battery percentage! Their battery packs use a smart controller system that initiates deep-sleep mode when not used for long periods
- Despite offering a solid 10-gear spread with 11-36 tooth cassette, the larger 48 tooth chainring is setup more for speed riding vs. climbing, and as a result, there were more times during the test ride when I was in the absolute lowest gear because of the hilly terrain in Vancouver
- The trigger throttle only becomes active when the bike is moving 2+ mph, so it’s not as handy for those who want help moving from standstill (at stop signs and traffic signals), but the torque sensing pedal assist works pretty well in these cases and is faster than most cadence sensors