- The smoothest accelerating and lightest weight Optibike available
- Motor, controller and battery pack are all sealed in the bottom bracket creating a very low center of gravity and minimizing wires
- Mounts well on most bike racks, easy to lift and carry though battery is not removable
- Offers only twist throttle mode, no pedal assist or cruise control settings can tire out wrists
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 Optibike SIMBB system is simply amazing. It stands for “super integrated motorized bottom bracket” and that’s because inside its sealed aluminum case is a 600 watt motor, 37 volt battery and control system. That’s everything you need to go upwards of 30 miles distance at nearly 30 miles per hour! The 29C model is kind of a prototype test unit for the SIMBB which will be available on a wider range of frames starting in 2014. The beauty of this system is that it hardly alters the original bicycle setup. Changing tires, servicing gears and transporting the system remain largely unchanged and that makes it more versatile and approachable.
That aluminum block of metal you see right where the cranks and pedals interface with the bike is the SIMBB system. The motor inside is geared and offers 600 watts of power which can be switched between the full output or a 300 watt eco mode to conserve the battery. When activated, it turns the front chain ring just as you would by pedaling. That in turn pulls the rear cassette and powers the bike. It’s a system that leverages the torque of climbing gears and the speed of larger cruising gears. The one downside is that it can create more wear on the teeth of the rear cassette if active when switching gears. As with regular bikes, try to reduce the strain on the chain when switching gears.
The battery pack on this bike is also contained inside the aluminum bottom bracket system. It offers a solid 37 volts of power and 13 volts of capacity. At half a kilowatt hour, this bike is capable of climbing in off road environments and hauling larger riders. The chemistry of the Lithium-ion cells is Cobalt which resists overheating (a great choice because it’s completely sealed up and rests next to the motor). The control unit is also packed into the SIMBB module and I’m told it is designed specifically to maximize power while avoiding overheating. In my somewhat limited time with the system, everything worked very well.
The control panel on this and other Optibikes is very simple with just three switches. It controls the on/off setting, lets you choose from eco or fast mode and activates the headlights. Speaking of lights, this thing has two ultra-bright bulbs that are capable of lighting an entire path or street area. Most bike lights are designed with safety in mind but this system takes it a step further and remind me of a motorcycle or car. While there is an LCD unit that lets you track speed and distance, it runs on separate power and is produced by Cateye. The biggest downside of this bike is that it only offers pedal assist and while this keeps it simple to operate and avoids complicating the control panel, it can get tiring to twist over long distances and can change the way you grip when riding off road. At the very least, a cruise control setting would be nice for longer commutes.
The founder of Optibike was a competitive motocross rider and that influence is evident in all Optibikes. They are powerful, fast and more about driving than pedaling. Of all the Optibikes I’ve tried, this one is my favorite in part because it’s so light weight and the weight is kept as low as possible on the frame. The biggest win however, is that the motor operates smoothly and the twist throttle doesn’t feel so abrupt. This is still an expensive bike, in part because it’s designed and built in Boulder Colorado USA by a small team. If you want one of the highest powered, lightest weight bikes around and appreciate excellent service and quality then this bike could be a great fit.
- Excellent warranty: 1 year bike, 3 year/30,000 mile battery, 7 year frame
- One of the lightest weight off-road capable ebikes with the lowest center of gravity
- Available with a beautiful front and rear rack for hauling stuff
- Designed and built in the US with great customer support
- Powerful 600 watt motorized bottom bracket can move larger riders and scale steep hills, it’s also very smooth
- Larger 37 volt 13 amp hour battery pack makes this bike decent for commuting
- Two ultra bright lights illuminate a wide area and make you more visible to cars
- Control center is easy 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
- High quality front Talas 32 shock by Fox works very well on or off road
- Hydraulic disc brakes work well for off road riding
- Easy to mount on cars, busses and other racks due to standard frame design
- Easy to service as most of the bike is left alone, just the bottom bracket is changed
- Wireless diagnostic system helps to troubleshoot issues with the bike using a smart phone, Android or iOS
- If the motor, battery or controller ever break, the entire kit can be removed and replaced/shipped for repair quickly and easily
- No front or rear fenders to keep you dry and clean, optional rear rack helps
- Battery pack is not removable, has to be charged on the bike
- Standard cassette is easier to damage if changing gears when throttling the bike
- This is one of the more expensive electric bikes out there
- Twist throttle only, no cruise control for longer rides, no pedal assist mode