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.
Patented Cool Carbon Reduces Battery Heat, Closed System with Waterproof Connector, Wireless Diagnostic System Compatible with iOS and Android. NOTE: The Demo Model I Tested Had Different Components Including Fox 32 Talas 140 mm Suspension Fork, Avid Code Hydraulic Disc Brakes, Crank Brothers Iodine 2 Wheelset and WTB Bronson Tires
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
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amidmany9 years ago
Finally an E-Bike I would spend lots of money on if I had it. Everything about it seems just right to me. Beautiful!Reply
Also like the site update a lot! And your videos are top notch too.
9 years ago
Can you put fenders on this bike?Reply
Court Rye9 years ago
Technically I think you could attach fenders but the bike doesn’t seem to have the bosses on the rear seat stays or the front suspension fork to make it easy. You’d probably end up using zip ties and having to customize your fenders a little bit…Reply
Peter Weinberger9 years ago
Court, how is this bike compared to the r8 or 850r for power and pick up? I’m over 200 lbs and wonder whether 600 watts will be enough to climb hills during off roading. Please advise. Thanks.Reply
Court Rye9 years ago
Hi Peter, this is my favorite system from Optibike. It’s powerful, smooth and so quiet compared with the R series bikes. While I only weigh ~135 I think it offers plenty of power for someone 200+ pounds (I’m sure the guys who run Optibike weigh in that range). It’s designed to be a great climber and leverages the rear gears. As long as you don’t mind throttle-only then this is an excellent choice ebike in my opinion.Reply
angel stabolito9 years ago
So much said about throttle assist when it’s totally not needed! Simpler is better. I say everything from experience. The shifter on the left side (unlike Pedego et/all) is huge in traffic. Shifting up and down, braking, and throttle control all with the right hand (as on my 4year old pedego) are far more a pain than not having a throttle assist! These glaring design features are far more important in real life on the street!. Also the power of the opti’s are so much more crucial than the putt around only capable bikes but not enough credit is given. More extensive and comprehensive reports are needed to get a true feel for ebikes. (no offense intended but that’s the truth!) Some are more than willing to pay more because of them being built in America, like me! Hope this helps someone……..Reply
Court Rye9 years ago
Thanks for the feedback Angel! I agree that it wold be good to have more in depth videos and time spent with these bikes. Pete Prebus over at Electric Bike Report has looked at the R11 and has a nice review here with more distance and power specs: http://electricbikereport.com/electric-bike-review-optibike-1100r/Reply
G.R.9 years ago
Court, I’m about twice your age and the only reason I’m going to get an e-bike is because I need a throttle! For me, pedal assist isn’t enough, it hardly works and it’s jerky. PAS is nearly useless. I have tested a number of e-bikes and the only ones that work well are the ones with throttle.Reply
Court Rye9 years ago
Hi G.R. I appreciate your perspective and agree that it’s nice to have a throttle for those times when your legs get tired or you just want to cruise at full speed. Many of the newer, more fancy pedal assist modes are quite satisfying for me and I value the efficiency you get (and exercise) when helping the bike out. My favorite pedal assist can be found on the newer Bosch mid-drive systems that sense your bicycle speed, pedal cadence and torque. They are super responsive and let you hold onto the handle bars firmly when riding off road. My experience has been that trying to throttle while also holding on tight while on rough terrain can lead to hand fatigue and unintended jerkiness if your hand slips.Reply
John9 years ago
Is it easy to peddle while at the same time throttling the battery (i.e. simulating “pedal assist” mode)?Reply
Court Rye9 years ago
Hi John, yeah this works out pretty well and if you enjoy the feeling of throttling vs. automatic assist then it can actually work out better and be more responsive because the SIMBB is so powerful. That said, Optibike is updating the design and future versions will have both pedal assist and throttle mode. Here’s a video of the latest version being setup on a fat style bicycle.Reply