- A powerful mid-drive powered city style electric bike with cruiser styling, the stem offers adjustable height and angle for different body positions and Pedego sells three frame sizes
- The smallest frame size offers 26-inch wheels vs. 28" which brings it closer to the ground, step-thru and high-step are available as well as two colors (silver or blue), integrated lights and reflective tires keep you seen
- Puncture resistant tires with Slime-filled inner tubes reduce inconvenient flats, both wheels are attached via quick-release so maintenance is easier, optional 15 amp hour battery upgrade
- Responsive pedal assist and twist-throttle operation put you fully in control, you can turn off the throttle and adjust the top speed, steel fenders and chain cover keep you clean, vast dealer network and excellent 2-year warranty
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The original Pedego City Commuter launched in 2013 and was the second electric bike I ever owned! My first buy was a cheaper online-only product that arrived in a big box, required assembly, and performed quite differently from what I had imagined and hoped… I paid more for my Pedego, but I got the chance to test ride it, was fitted by a shop (who also assembled it perfectly), and felt relieved to have a warranty and source for replacement parts. Pedego’s City Commuter has always offered zippy performance, both pedal assist and throttle operation (with override), utility (fenders, a chain cover, integrated lights, puncture resistant tires, and a sturdy rear rack), and great comfort. Their latest model, the Mid Drive edition, is available in two frame styles (approachable mid-step and stiffer high step), three frame sizes, and brings different wheel sizes depending on which frame size is selected (26″ for the small frame and 28″ for the larger ones). It’s a great product, made more efficient by the new Dapu mid-motor, that has withstood the test of time and really been refined in recent years. I love the stem selection here because it allows for adjustable height and angle. The faux-leather saddle and grips feel soft and comfortable while the seat post suspension and high-volume Schwalbe brand balloon tires minimize the vibration and bumps. All frame sizes and styles come with bottle cage bosses, for bringing fluids, folding locks, mini pumps or other accessories, and the really nailed details like pedal selection and the tiny (but loud) integrated bell on the left brake lever. Some of the older electric bike products could feel surprising or jerky at times because of how the motor was activated. With the Mid Drive City Commuter, that has been addressed through a combined torque and cadence sensor plus motor inhibitor sensors on both brake levers. The BB7 mechanical disc brakes used here are some of the best I’ve seen, offering great power with 180 mm rotors, easy-pull levers, and tool-free adjustable calipers. I love the attention to aesthetic detail with internally routed cables and paint matched rims, fenders, chain cover, spokes, hubs, stems, crank arms etc. etc. it all matches and looks great. The only real trade-offs, that I experienced, have to do with weight distribution, kickstand placement and a bit of frame flex (which is most pronounced on the mid-step versions).
Driving this e-bike is a 500 watt internally geared centerdrive from Dapu. This is the same brand that Pedego uses for their hub motors on other models. It was the first time I had seen their new mid-motor and I came away feeling very impressed and satisfied. I was delighted to see that Pedego had engineered a physical shift detection system to protect the chain, sprockets, and derailleur from the massive 95 Newton meters of peak torque. The system worked flawlessly, even when shifting gears while utilizing the throttle and not pedaling, wow! This motor does weigh a bit more more than Bosch, Yamaha, and Shimano offerings that tend to be priced higher, but none of those offer throttle support. The bike felt smooth and natural when pedaling and stopping, I never felt out of control. There were moments when I used the throttle to power up to speed then transitioned to pedal assist, and other moments where I started with the torque sensing pedal assist and then zipped along faster with throttle override. Basically, the two drive modes overlap and are always available. For those who want to lower the top speed or disable the throttle, that can be done by holding the Set button and entering into the settings menu of the display. Pedego has included an excellent manual, I’ve listed out some of the modes in the specs here, and their dealers should also be able to help you in person. Because this is a mid-drive product, weight is kept low and center, but you are also empowered to shift gears for maximum climbing power or efficiency at speed. The bike has a minimalist 7-speed drivetrain but the derailleur is several steps up from base level, called Shimano Acera. You shouldn’t have issues with dirty pant legs or skirt ends here because the steel chain cover offers lots of coverage, and Pedego has added an alloy chainring guard to minimize chain drops. Shifting gears is accomplished through a large thumb shifter mechanism mounted near the right grip. It’s not as easy to reach or as fast as low-mounted trigger shifters, but it’s a bit more intuitive and stays clear of the twist throttle. Pedego has clearly thought through (and tested through) all of their hardware choices, and one positive aspect of the larger thumb shifters here is that they are easier to use with gloved hands. In short, the 7-speed Shimano drivetrain and Dapu motor combination offer efficiency, reliability, and an impressive amount of power when needed.
Powering this, and many of the other City and Cruiser models from Pedego, is a rack mounted Lithium-ion battery pack that’s available in two sizes. The stock battery offers 48 volts with 10 amp hours, and the upgrade offers 15 amp hours. The difference is 480 watt hours vs. 720 watt hours, which will let you ride further or rely on the throttle more heavily. I was told that most customers do upgrade the battery, and this costs $300 at time of purchase. The battery is one of the most expensive parts of any ebike at this stage in the industry, and Pedego has done a lot to ensure that it lasts for you. First, the pack actually slides into a plastic housing which is permanently mounted in the rack. This housing protects the plastic casing on the battery itself and recesses the electrical connectors way up towards the back. There’s a locking cylinder on the left side of the mount that secures the battery from tampering and theft, and you do not need to leave the keys inserted when riding (as you did with some of the older products). The cells that Pedego is using for many of their latest e-bike are produced by Panasonic, and are regarded as being very high quality and reliable. However, Pedego has also included a physical fuse and on/off toggle switch (protected by a water-resistant housing) near the base of the pack. Paul Oclaire, the lead product designer at Pedego since 2012, told me that they recently introduced a sleep mode into the battery software for further protection. So, depending on how full the battery is and how long it has been since you last took a ride, the pack will avoid completely draining out, which can be hard on the cell chemistry. I think it’s great that you can charge these packs while mounted to the bike or separately, and that the included battery charger is a bit faster than average, offering three amps vs. the standard two. All in all, it’s a great design, but the position of the pack is definitely a compromise. Ideally, you’d want all of the heavy components on the bicycle to be as low and centered as possible. This improves stability and handling. However, this also limits how the frame can be laid out (specifically around step-thrus). So, Pedego went the other direction here and stuck the pack in a sturdy rear rack that can be used for hauling food, books, or other cargo up to ~55 lbs. Since both the battery and hub motor are rear-mounted, the bike is definitely rear heavy, but it still rides pretty well and feels stable because of the wider tires. Do note that the mid-step (what they call step-thru) does suffer from a bit more frame flex and can also experience speed wobble if you ride with no hands, as I demonstrated in the video review during the ride test. This is not the only electric bike that suffers from some of these performance compromises and it should not be an issue if you keep your hands on the bar.
Another upgrade to the latest round of Pedego ebikes, and this specific battery design, is the addition of a Bluetooth chip which connects to a smartphone application. I was not able to see the app during my visit and review ride, but am told it will offer turn-by-turn navigation, social integration (so you can share rides with friends), and help with after-sales diagnostics and service. Pretty sweet! There are a lot of new apps for electric bikes, but I really appreciate the inclusion of a default LCD display panel here as well. Not everyone has a phone or even wants to mess around with additional settings. The default greyscale LCD display offers all of the standard readouts (power output meter, current speed, battery capacity, and assist level) but also gives you some little extras. Tap the power button to turn the bike on (once the battery is also switched on), then press the + or – keys to raise or lower assist (for more or less power and speed). The lowest setting is zero, which provides no assistance or throttle activation and is simply a way to run the lights while pedaling manually, charge off of the USB port, and see your speed and other trip stats. As you press the plus key, you go through levels 1-4 that offer torque sensing assistance, 5 for cadence sensing assistance, and 6 for throttle only operation. The twist throttle offers variable power and speed output, depending on how far you twist. It can override the other five levels of assist, or you can turn it off and even unplug it if you want. This may be a legal requirement in some markets, so it’s nice that Pedego makes it easy with water-tight metal connectors that are color coded. To get into the settings menu and adjust top speed, just hold the Set key for a few seconds. Each menu here has a number, and 6 is where you can choose off to limit the bike to 15 mph. Menu section 7 allows you to de-activate the torque sensor and ride 1-4 in cadence sensing mode only. It’s neat to have options like this because some people may prefer the cadence mode (I do, because my knee is sensitive and I don’t enjoy pushing hard). To activate the integrated lights, and turn on the LCD backlighting, just tap the power again once the display is already on. To activate the USB port underneath the display, just hold + and Set for a few seconds. Paul told me that they disabled the port by default as another measure of protection for the battery pack. In short, I found the display to be easy to read, relatively easy to reach from the left grip, and useful with the USB port. It is not however, removable or easy to swivel (to reduce glare). This means that it could take some weather damage over time (sun fading, water spots), and get scratched by neighboring handlebars and brake levers. My own City Commuter display did fairly well all those years ago, but did get some condensation inside after a bunch of big rain storms in Austin, Texas. It was a completely different design than what we see here, and Pedego has chosen all of their electronic parts to be highly water resistant.
It’s nice to have options! What you get from the new Mid Drive model compared with the traditional hub motors is better weight distribution, increased efficiency, and the ability to climb very steep hills if you shift gears appropriately. Shifting is a lot safer on this ebike than most of the other centerdrives because of that shift detection feature, and it’s hard to put a price on test rides, proper assembly, and in-person education. I always enjoy visiting Pedego shops as I drive around the US and Canada, and have been thoroughly impressed with the global reach the brand has developed. Do note that this model does introduce a couple of trade-offs and considerations such as steel fenders, chain cover, and fork which could rust if scratched. So, it’s nice that they include touch up paint to keep it sealed and looking great. The kickstand is positioned a bit close to the left crank arm, which can introduce pedal lock if it’s not stowed before walking backwards. Otherwise, it’s great that the seat post suspension is adjustable to accommodate the lighter or heavier riders, it’s cool that the rear light now activates whenever the brakes are pulled, and you should have no problem finding bags that fit the bike perfectly from their dealers or official website. Big thanks to Pedego for partnering with me on this post and inviting me out to their headquarters in Fountain Valley, California for some back-to-back ride tests. I welcome your comments and questions below, I’ll do my best to answer, and invite you to connect with other owners and enthusiasts in the Pedego forums.
- Pedego preserves the classic look and feel of traditional bicycles, I love how the paint job extends from the frame to the rims, fenders, and chain cover for the Gloss Anvil Blue colorway (the fenders and chain cover are black on the brushed alloy colorway)
- High-volume Schwalbe Balloon tires deliver comfort and ride stability, the oversized Velo saddle has rubber bumpers to absorb shock and is fixed to a suspension seat post, the adjustable stem and swept back handlebar offers an upright body position and the padded grips feel great
- Safety is addressed well through integrated lights, the rear light activates in bright mode whenever the brakes are pulled, and the tires have reflective stripes to keep you more visible from the side
- All of Pedego’s City Commuter models (hub motor and mid drive) are being offered in a range of frame sizes for improved fit and comfort, the smallest size step-thru frame is fitted with 26-inch wheels vs. 28-inch and this brings the bike closer to the ground for easier approach and stand-over
- Depending on which frame size (and accompanying wheel size) you opt for, the tires will come with Active Line K-Guard or Performance Line RaceGuard puncture protection and the inner tubes are pre-Slimed to help reduce flats! That’s a big deal on electric bikes because they weigh more and can be trickier to service
- Both wheels offer quick release! This isn’t as easy to do when you’ve got a hub motor powered electric bike, it makes transport and maintenance a bit easier, especially fixing a flat tire
- I love that Pedego managed to squeeze in water bottle cage bosses, even on the step-thru models, because they are useful for adding accessories like water bottles, folding locks, mini pumps, and more… especially if you don’t have a rear trunk bag or panniers
- Pedego offers multiple battery capacity options for people who want to ride further or rely on the throttle more constantly, it costs $300 more at time of purchase to go from 10 amp hours to 15 amp hours
- Part of me would love to see hydraulic disc brakes on these ebikes because they tend to require less hand effort to pull, however, the BB7 180 mm mechanical disc brakes that they did opt for are quite good! I love that the levers are rubberized, have an integrated bell on the left lever, have motor inhibitors built in, and feature tool-free pad adjusters so you can dial in reach… mechanical brakes tend to be easier for consumers to adjust themselves vs. relying on a shop to bleed hydraulic
- Pedego has one of the largest electric bike dealer networks of any brand, worldwide! And they offer a comprehensive two-year warranty… this means that you can visit a shop, test ride the different models and find the perfect size, get service and replacement parts easily, and even attend special events… the company has a really fun culture and the shop owners are usually very friendly and down to Earth vs. snobbish or purist
- The frame is purpose built, meaning that it’s reinforced to handle the mechanical stresses of the motor and additional weight of the battery pack, I love how the cables are internally routed to look good and stay out of the way when pedaling
- The rear rack includes a spring latch for smaller goods, bungee loops for slightly larger items, and works perfectly with the official Pedego bags and panniers, the extra-thick tubing provides a lot of strength and protection for the battery box which further protects the actual battery pack inside
- Minor praise here, I like how most of the supporting hardware is black vs. a mix of black and silver… look at the spokes, wheel hubs, stem, handlebar, seat post, crank arms, pedals etc. even the faux-leather saddle and grips are black
- The official weight rating on this product is around 300 lbs but Paul was telling me about owners who weigh 400 to 450 lbs who were cycling to lose weight, and the Pedego product held up well even with the additional weight, in part because of the reinforced frame and thicker spokes
- Mid-motors tend to be very efficient because they can leverage a geared drivetrain, so as you switch gears to climb or reach higher speeds… the motor gets a mechanical advantage, they also keep weight low and center on the frame for better handling and stability
- The Dapu MD500 middrive is very powerful and can operate in both pedal assist and throttle mode, very few mid-motors offer throttle on demand and I love that Pedego has it setup to override assist, so you can use the twist throttle at any time
- The motor controller listens for pedal cadence and torque, it’s a bit more advanced and as a result, it feels more natural and smooth vs. surprising or delayed
- Pedego has installed a physical shift detection system that stops the motor whenever you change gears! This significantly reduces strain and wear on the chain, sprockets, and derailleur
- The welcome kit that comes with this bike is pretty great… a lot nicer looking and more complete than a lot of other ebike products. It comes with touch up paint, a well written manual, and a faster 3 amp charger for quicker battery fills (which is great if you opt for the upgraded battery pack)
- The battery pack is made with high quality Panasonic cells and Pedego has included a physical on/off switch, replaceable fuse, and deep-sleep software to help it last and be safer over time
- I love how the display has a full sized USB port built into the base! You can activate it by holding set and + once the display is turned on and then use it to charge your phone, portable speakers, or extra lights on the go
- Pedego recently updated their connectors to threaded metal with rubber washers and color coding vs. plastic press fit, it’s a nice upgrade that will help with maintenance and make them more durable
- As with many of the Pedego city and cruiser models, the battery pack is positioned up high and towards the back of this electric bicycle which contributes to frame flex and compromises balance and handling a bit
- The steel chain cover, fenders, and fork are sturdy and relatively quiet, I appreciate the flexible rubber end pieces on the fenders in particular, but they can start to rust over time if scratched… so it’s nice that Pedego includes touch up paint
- Minor consideration here, the mid-drive City Commuter models weigh about one pound more than the hub motor versions (62.8 vs. 61.2 lbs for the two smalls)
- I usually prefer trigger shifters because they tend to be easier to reach (positioned below the grip) and require less hand effort than thumb shifters… but they don’t always fit with twist throttles and aren’t as easy to press when wearing gloves, so I see why Pedego chose the Shimano SIS Index shifter here and appreciate that it’s an upgraded version with shiny metallic paint
- The Dapu MD500 is a bit heavier than some competing mid-motors at ~12 lbs vs. 10 lbs or 8 lbs on some others (like Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, or Brose)
- I don’t personally consider this a big con, but the throttle is always active once the battery pack and display have been switched on, it’s nice to have power on demand but you could also bump it accidentally when mounting or dismounting and have the motor kick in… so hold the brakes as a safety precaution, since they both have motor inhibitors. I have seen some twist throttles with on/off toggle buttons on other ebikes that add a layer of protection but also add some cost and complexity… this display does allow you to disable the throttle completely if you want
- The kickstand is sturdy, offers adjustable length, and is positioned well to stabilize the bike… but is also just behind the left crank arm and can cause pedal lock if you back it up, it would be nice if the stand was mounted jusdt a little ways back to avoid this
- During my test rides, there was some speed wobble because of the rear battery weight, step-thru frame (which can suffer from some frame flex), and sweeping fork angle… basically, the front wheel can start to jiggle back and forth when riding no-handed