OHM is a Premiere BionX partner from Vancouver Canada that has been in the ebike business since 2005, using BionX electric drive systems exclusively during that time. I have reviewed eight of their prior year models here on EBR and always come away feeling impressed. In a world where fancy mid-drive systems are generating attention for mountain biking and turning heads with high-torque power output, the BionX system remains unique because it has a throttle, offers regenerative braking, does not interfere with shifting, and operates almost silently. Yes, it’s less efficient overall and weaker in terms of peak torque output because you cannot leverage a drivetrain… but it’s simpler to use and more enjoyable to ride for many people. The Urban electric bike model from OHM, featured here, was the first bike I had tested that utilizes the new semi-integrated downtube battery and transflective color display from BionX. The motor, battery, and display are excellent on their own but what really set the end product apart for me was how OHM overbuilt the frame, including top-end parts and accessories, but still managed to keep weight down. Despite having an 8.8 lb hub motor spoked into the rear wheel, this bike is well balanced from front to rear. It’s quiet, despite having large alloy fenders and a rear rack, powerful but efficient with smooth torque sensing operation, and thoughtfully laid out with lower top tube and side mounting battery design. And, because it’s available in four frame sizes, the lower top tube and smallest size is more approachable to petite riders and those with shorter inseams or injured hips. It’s also safe, thanks to premium Supernova integrated ebike lights and reflective tires. The two other 2017 OHM e-bike models I saw during this visit emphasize light trail and mountain riding and it seems like OHM just kept things simple by recycling frames, forks, sealed bottom brackets, custom crank arms, and drivetrains etc. vs. speccing them down for the city model. What that means is, the company saves money on volume orders, can have an easier time servicing any of the bikes in the lineup because they have so much in common, and you get a city ebike here that’s much more capable than a lot of competitors. I also noticed that the different sized bikes have different length stems, handlebars, crank arms, and grips! They get longer for the larger models to dial in comfort and control. The product does cost more, but not as much as I expected initially… At $3,599 USD, it’s only $1k more than the BionX D-Series stand-alone kit but looks a whole lot nicer. Cables are internally routed, the right brake lever has an integrated motor inhibitor vs. aftermarket glue-on solution, and you can add a USB charging port to maintain or fill your portable electronics on the go. There’s always a lot to talk about with the high-end electric bikes and I especially enjoy highlighting the comfort aspects such as Ergon grips and gel saddle here, the 100 mm air suspension fork which includes a compression clicker with lockout and rebound adjust, and slightly wider 2″ tires that provide stability and vibration dampening. OHM goes through several production prototypes each year before settling on a final version and it’s clear when you take a ride and actually spend some time up close that this is the real deal. The addition of bottle cage bosses, custom rear rack support bosses, iconic overbuilt head tube, and Magnesium pedals are not common.
Driving the bike is a 500 watt nominally rated, gearless direct-drive hub motor. With peak torque output at 50 Newton meters and peak wattage around 750, it’s one of the strongest legal hub motors to be found. And it certainly looks unique… the design has grown on me over the past year but it’s hard to deny that it does stand out. The large diameter 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 shouldn’t get scratched or nicked up and show damage as much as a painted alloy hub. Yes, it could catch some wind from the side, but that shouldn’t impact steering because it’s the rear wheel and there is still a lot of space between open spokes above and below. The spokes actually connect from rim to hub vs. rim to hub motor… meaning that they are normal full-length sized. This increased spoke length provides some comfort in the form of flex while riding. And while shorter spokes can be stronger, they translate energy into the frame and rims which can cause bending and cracking on rims. That’s not such an issue here but even so, OHM opted for double wall alloy rims with reinforcement eyelets just to be safe… and possibly because this is what their mountain models use. They painted the spokes black to match the hub motor casing, 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 Shadow Plus (a one way clutch to tighten the chain). I found shifting to be easy, fast, and quiet. I was pedaling naturally, feeling empowered vs. carried or pushed like some cadence sensing e-bikes, and never surprised or annoyed by delays from sensor to motor output. It felt very smooth but definitely more powerful than average. Another minor note here is that the trigger shifters for changing gears and arrow buttons for raising and lowering assist were easy to reach and not too crowded near the right grip. I think this has a lot to do with the small form factor of the BionX button pad. It doesn’t take up much space so your brake lever and shifter mounts can all be close together, right where you need them.
Powering the bike, backlit display, two lights, and optional USB power port, is a high capacity Lithium-ion battery. It offers efficient 48 volt energy transfer with 11.6 amp hours for a total of 556.8 watt hours. That’s over half a kilowatt hour, definitely above average, but it spends quickly if you opt for the Class 3 speed pedelec setup or use the throttle constantly. I estimated range between 25 and 70 miles but that greatly depends on how you ride. Higher speed riding takes a big toll on efficiency because of air resistance and throttle mode, while fun, is a battery hog because the D-Series motor accelerates so quickly. The trigger throttle is ramped so you can press gently for less power, but the movement is relatively small (to keep it compact) so precise throttling takes some practice. Unlike many competing throttles, this one is easy to reach and not so fatiguing to use 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. And you can use the throttle at full power to override assist! No need for clicking up and down through different menus to get the throttle going the way you do on some bikes like Easy Motion’s Evo line. The throttle is always active as long as the bike is moving ~1.5 mph. Yes, throttle from standstill would be nice, but this one activates super fast… again, I was bummed out by the 6 mph cutoff on one of Evelo’s 2017 models using the Bafang Max drive. Sometimes ebike manufactures are limited by what their motor supplier offers but kudos to BionX for their good work here. It’s part of why they were invited to be an advertiser here. They offer something unique, put a lot of thought into the design, and support it well. 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 so you can fill the battery quickly and get back out onto the road! 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 battery into the office to fill up during the day before my ride home. Note that the battery does not have an obvious handle and would definitely get scratched and even damaged if dropped… at 7.4 lbs, it’s not the lightest thing… so be careful or use a bag to carry it.
I apologize for not going into the Bluetooth smartphone app, but there was a lot to cover with the included LCD display and control ring. BionX balanced features and choice against usability here and came out with a good result. You can choose from three default layouts but I feel that two might have been enough. The basic and advanced views are mostly the same except for some charts and icons that appear as motor power increases or regenerative braking is activated. Only the right brake lever activates regen, but this reduces clutter and possibly saves money? Anyway, perhaps the flicker and movement of colors on the advanced display could be distracting for some and that’s why a basic readout was also offered? For those who really like to dig into the stats and know exactly what’s happening at all times, there is also a data view. This is almost like an instrument panel in an airplane or something, just a lot of labels and numbers in a grid. It might be optimal for night use because the background is mostly black and there are not colors. You can select from the three menus by clicking left or right and you can arrow up or down through four levels of assist and regen by using the plus and minus keys. There is also a power button and lights button above the plus key. I love how easy the buttons are to reach and that if the display was removed or lost, you can still use the control ring to operate the bike. It has an integrated LED readout for battery level (five bars) and four more bars to let you know what assist level is in use. It’s like night and day to see this control ring and then look at a basic throttle that’s oversized and cheap feeling… this is part of what you’re paying for and it’s easy to appreciate in person.
Not everyone is ready to spend big bucks on a more premium product like OHM offers but those who do will benefit from an excellent warranty and a system that is very refined. I hear people complain about the noise produced by some drive systems, Bosch mid-drives in particular, and have also heard about chain wear and shifting difficulty. I personally like having a throttle at my disposal and love integrated tuff lights because I commute in early morning and late light situations a lot 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, the increased hassle of changing a rear flat tire, the longer boot up time of the display panel, and to a minor extent how the pedals feel because of a thicker spindle with lower outer rim… I felt the spindle under my foot vs. a large flat surface. As OHM transitions toward a direct to consumer model, it is difficult to find their products in ebike stores and actually test ride them but the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable with over a decade of ebike sales and support experience. This is one 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. The sealed cartridge headset and bottom bracket will keep water out and the unique rack support mounts provide strength and allow for a more visually pleasing free stand design. I probably would spend the extra money to upgrade to a BodyFloat suspension post because I have back and neck sensitivity and high speed can really bring out the stiffness of a hardtail frame. 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.
- Premium rack and 60 mm Aluminum alloy fenders offer a ton of utility, the stock photo shows plastic fenders with mud flaps but the production bike is upgraded and the metal fenders are solid and very quiet
- Only the highest-end electric bikes seem to offer integrated lights from Supernova and they tend to last longer because of metal housings and sturdy mounts, I love how the headlight is positioned below the handlebar to make room for the LCD display
- There are so many ways to control this e-bike including the mini control ring near the right grip, the compact color LCD panel, or the smart phone app, being able to remove the display for parking (to reduce wear and tampering) is fantastic
- Four frame sizes mean you can find an appropriate fit and the semi-integrated battery makes space for a bottle cage and lower top tube to make the bike easier to mount
- Considering how sturdy and well accessorized this ebike is, I was impressed with the 55.7 lb weight, it has metal lights, 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 bikes tend to last, since they have three models that all use the same battery design it’s easier to get replacements
- I like how this bike looks, the decals are minimalist and the light grey is gender neutral, the oversized headset is a signature look and also provides more strength
- Upon first seeing the bike, and knowing that the BionX D-Series motor weighs ~8.8 lbs, I was expecting it to be rear-heavy… but I lifted it just in front of the saddle nose and it tipped forward vs. back, I feel that it’s very well balanced and the weight is all kept low for improved handling vs. a rack battery
- Comfortable touch points including locking ergonomic grips, finger-adjustable brake levers, a sporty Ergon gel saddle, and wider Schwalbe tires with a medium-range pressure recommendation
- For me, safety is a big deal, so the lighter frame color, reflective tires, and bright integrated lights are a big win, everything just works and the lights run off of the primary battery
- OHM offers a Body Float suspension seat post upgrade, folding lock accessories, and does a trade-in program on their older bikes so you could possibly get a discount to buy their latest stuff
- Riding this bike just feels good, it’s more polished, quiet and balanced than a lot of others… it’s also one of the few that even offer a throttle mode which is fun to use (at least for me!)
- 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 levels on the BionX system, overall it’s pretty neat
- The unique design of the hub motor casing, being relatively slim but tall, allows for the spokes to connect at the hub vs. the outside of the hub motor and this allows them to flex naturally providing a level of comfort and performance that most other hub motor ebikes lack
- The battery pack clicks in from the left side vs. down from the top which means it won’t bump into the frame as easily and the top tube can be lower, I like that the battery is rated against dust and water, uses a fast 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
- Larger 180 mm hydraulic brakes provide the kind of stopping power that mountain bikers need, so it’s cool to have them on more of an urban bike, specifically because it weighs more and can be switched to 28 mph Class 3 if you want (I think you need OHM to do this and change the Class sticker before it’s shipped to you)
- Shimano Deore XT is a mid to high-level drivetrain and ten speeds is enough to let you climb and reach higher speeds comfortably… though the larger 48 tooth chainring is setup more for speed, there were more times where I was riding in the absolute lowest gear because of the hilly terrain in Vancouver, I like that the derailleur has a one way clutch 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 clear along with a plastic inner guide to reduce drops, basically they combine to create reliability when on bumpy terrain
- I appreciate how the kickstand is adjustable length but it still gets in the way where it’s mounted, just below and behind the crank arms, if you back the bike up or pedal with the stand down it will collide
- OHM has moved away from dealers, they only sell direct now which means it could be difficult to go for a test ride unless you live near their factory store in North Vancouver, BC Canada
- The large black hub motor casing definitely stands out visually, the design provides great torque for acceleration and climbing but may also catch a bit of side wind and attract attention compared to smaller gearless hubs
- 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
- 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 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!
- 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
- It’s no fun to change inner tubes if you get a flat so the upgraded Performance Line GreenGuard Plus tires are a welcome part, 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 or nuts, 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 than a mid-drive
- Some of the other high-end ebike displays offer a range estimation stat 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 are also smart and go into a deep-sleep mode when not used for long periods