- Optibike's top of the line off-road ebike is incredibly powerful, capable of moving larger riders and ascending the steepest hills
- High end long-travel Fox 36 Talas fork, hydraulic Avid Code disc brakes, intense dual-bulb headlight, custom fenders front and rear
- Only offers twist throttle mode, no pedal assist, shorter range than R8 series
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.
The R11 is Optibike’s top of the line “off road” offering. It features knobby Schwalbe Fat Albert tires, long travel Fox 36 Talas and Float suspension, reinforced Swiss F630 rims, and King headset. Those are top of the line components and this bike is designed to last and handle even the toughest terrain. In addition the standard front and rear fenders and two ultra-powerful headlights the R11 has an upgraded mid-drive motor that puts out 1,100 watts of power. When combined with the upgraded 48 volt battery system this bike can take on just about anything carrying just about anyone. It’s an impressive piece of technology that’s hand made in the United States by a company that’s available and responsive in addressing any questions or issues that come up. While the R11 may cost as much as some cars, it’s built just as well and should last many years. You can even get a custom paint job with this bike which means you could make it match your car if if you’d like.
Optibikes are high power, top of the line kit. What makes them so formidable is really the motorized bottom bracket (MBB) middrive system. The R11 features their highest power 1,100 watt geared motor that can be set in two modes with a little switch on the control panel. For eco mode you get 385 watts and for fast mode it bumps all the way up to 1,100 which is ridiculous. This bike isn’t street legal as the motor size surpasses the 750 watt limit in the US to be classified as a bike. That means most of your riding will have to be done off road and even then, you’ll want to handle it with a lot of care and awareness.
The way the motor works is that it turns the bottom bracket where the cranks are connected and spins the front chain ring, just like you do when you pedal. Instead of a rear cassette, the R11 features a Rohloff 14 speed geared hub. This is wonderful because it means you can change gears at rest. It also keeps the gears clean in dusty or muddy off-road settings. By using a geared hub instead of a rear cassette the chain can be shorter and tighter which means it’s less likely to fall off when going over bumps or bounce around and chip the paint on your chain stay. 14 speeds is really quite impressive for a geared hub and in my experience it offered enough range for climbing steep hills and powering down long descents.
The battery fueling that enormous 1,100 watt motor is equally impressive. It offers 48 volts of power and 18 amp hours of capacity. It’s stronger than the R8 models but doesn’t offer quite as much range. Consider that most other ebikes offer ~10 amp hours of capacity… 18 here is still quite a bit. The R11 is the heaviest Optibike made and that’s due in part to the larger motor, custom frame and full suspension setup. If you’re concerned about the 63lb weight consider another ebike like the Haibike Xduro AMP Pro that comes in at 47lbs.
In many ways, the R11 rides more smoothly over bumps because it has a solid mass working with the front and rear shocks. Over long distances this bike feels relatively comfortable and responds a lot like a small motorcycle. The founder of Optibike actually raced in motorcross events and in my opinion has borrowed from the high power heavier feel of that sport. If range is a big concern for you and the 40 miles listed here doesn’t sound like enough, consider the R8 or R8HD which run on 37 volt packs but offer 26 amp hours of capacity and can eve be upgraded with a 37 volt 22 amp hour addon pack that attaches right where the rear fender would normally go.
The R11 offers the most power and speed of any Optibikes in the line. The top speed is dependent on the gear you choose but it can easily hit 30 miles per hour. This is achieved in throttle mode because the R11, and most other Optibikes, do not include a pedal assist setting. You can still pedal along however, and that really helps extend your range in eco mode. The big downside of a throttle-only bike is that you constantly have to twist the throttle for motor support. This is one of the biggest drawbacks for me with the R11. Not only is it tiring to twist a throttle indefinitely, it can actually be dangerous in delicate and precarious off-road riding situations. An accidental twist of the throttle, perhaps going over a bump, can forcefully propel this bike forward and throw you off balance. Also, when I ride off road I tend to use the handlebars for support and balance so having a twist throttle and twist grip shifter there change the way I leverage the handles. Overall, the bike rides and handles a bit more like a motorcross system as a result of the configuration and it’s harder to bunny hop and scoot the tail around as with a lighter weight bike with trigger shifters and pedal assist.
I’ve always been a fan of full suspension bikes and that goes double for off road electric bikes. However, the increased speed of motorized transport combined with rocks, roots and bumps means your back and wrists can get sore. Thankfully, the R11 comes with two Fox shocks that work wonderfully. Overall, I love the frame design these guys have created because it’s stiff, keeps the electronics clean and looks cool… even if it can’t accommodate bottle cages. As with most full suspension ebikes, get a CamelBak ;) One big downside here however, is that transporting the bike to and from trails can be difficult. The custom frame won’t fit on many bike racks and since the battery is completely encolsed, it’s harder to reduce the weight by taking the battery out when lifting the bike. Furthermore, this bike really only comes in one size. All ergonomic adjustments must be made by moving the handlebars or seat. I’d call the frame medium-large and it worked well enough for me at 5’9″ but might be worth test riding first if you can.
It’s hard not to admire the unique design, attention to detail and powerful performance the R11 delivers. This bike has even won the annual Pikes Peak race two years in a row! There are so many little things to discover from the unique chain guard to the tightly integrated fenders and oversized pedals complete with traction enabling set screws. Everything from the electronics to the frame, motor and software are custom made and under Optibike’s close supervision. This bike, and all Optibikes really, have been fine tuned and loved and that’s what makes them some of the most recognizable, talked about and coveted systems around. For some people the price is simply out of the question. The fact that this bike really isn’t street legal and only offers pedal assist limit how it can be enjoyed but to abundance of power, custom design and locally sourced hardware and talent set it apart as something very special.
- Excellent warranty: 1 year bike, 3 year/30,000 mile battery, 7 year frame
- Custom paint jobs available upon request, costs ~$2,000 depending on complexity
- Designed and built in the US with great customer support
- Front and rear fenders keep you dry and clean in the dust and mud
- Powerful 1,100 watt motorized bottom bracket can move the largest riders and scale the steepest hills
- Plentiful 48 volt 18 amp hour battery pack makes this bike great for climbing
- Two ultra bright lights illuminate a wide area for evening or nighttime trail riding
- Control center is easy to use with on/off, lights and eco/fast switches
- Cateye computer provides good stats but runs on a separate battery, would be nicer if integrated with control center
- Quality long-travel front and rear shocks, pedals and grips work very well
- Rohloff geared hub offers 14 speeds and can be changed at stop or during climbing
- Hydraulic disc brakes are perfect for the heavier weight of this bike and off road focus
- Relatively heavy ebike, 63lbs, harder to lift because battery is not easily removed
- Unique frame keeps battery and electronics clean and safe but makes the bike harder to mount on some racks
- This is one of the most expensive electric bikes out there
- The front fender stays out of the way but doesn’t extend quite far enough to keep feet and shins dry
- The twist throttle isn’t smooth enough, it goes from zero to full blast in a short range which feels jerky sometimes
- Only available with 26″ wheel size, no 27.5 or 29 options available
- Twist throttle only, no pedal assist mode for technical trail riding