- A beautiful, classically styled mixte electric bicycle with paint matched rear rack and chain guard, alloy fenders and an integrated rear light
- Comfortable swept back bars with padded faux leather grips and matching saddle, eight speed drivetrain with Shimano Claris road bike drivetrain
- Sturdy mechanical disc brakes with finger adjust, powerful but silent gearless motor offering four levels of assist and regen, regenerative braking and trigger throttle
- Excellent 30 day return policy with two year warranty, premium battery cells and deep-sleep shutoff for protection, rear heavy design, no headlight or slap guard
PUBLIC is a bicycle company that sells beautiful, classically designed bicycles mostly online. I was lucky enough to visit one of their storefronts in Santa Monica California where the M8 Electric was on display and take a test ride. I’m very familiar with the BionX ebike systems used on this bike and came away impressed with the integration, relatively low price point and customer service. Sure, I got good service visiting their showroom but this is a company that offers a 30 day return policy as well as a two year comprehensive warranty! Having visited the BionX headquarters a while back, I have seen what sets their motors, controllers and batteries apart and want to highlight the premium Panasonic cells used in their battery packs. This is an ebike that, despite being rear-heavy and having no suspension components, performs well and ends up being fairly comfortable.
The PUBLIC M8 is an eight speed bicycle taking cues from French styling. The mixte frame is what I would describe as a mid-step, allowing the rider to straddle the top tubing more easily but not compromising so much on stiffness and structural integrity as a full step-thru or “wave” frame. When adding the motor and battery to the rear, you do experience increased frame flex but this preserves the open stand over and adds utility with a rack. You could easily fasten a trunk bag or panniers on the rack and I love the integrated LED light that runs directly off the high capacity battery. No, unfortunately it does not have a headlight but this is an easy accessory to purchase from your local bike shop or online.
BionX motors have remained fairly constant for the past several years with incremental adjustments to reduce weight, improve torque and streamline casign designs. This is their tried and true 350 watt gearless hub motor offering an impressive 40 Newton meters of torque but operating almost completely silently. This motor is super tough (not having internal gearing) and blends in fairly well with the silver spokes and fenders on the M8e. I love that it provides four levels of assist, four levels of regen (so you can actively fight the motor as a sort of exercise or minor charging of the battery) and a throttle mode with variable speed trigger operation. Whenever you’re riding with assist, simply press the trigger throttle near the left grip and give your legs a break… or add power with the throttle to catch up with friends or top a hill.
This electric bike looks very good with matching Navy Blue paint but even the shifter and brake cables are stylized. Red accents on the frame and cables make it pop and only minor distractions arise from the black electronic and motor cabling. I would have liked to see a slap guard but this is an easy after-market addition. Neither wheel nor the seat collar offer quick release (perhaps to deter theft in the city) but the battery and display panel are removable. The bike isn’t especially light weight but the steel frame flexes and dampens vibration wonderfully. The tires are efficient but include reflective sidewalls to further increase visibility and safety. I love the little additions like a chain guide on the chainring to reduce drops when riding on bumpy terrain (especially common when using a throttle on electric bikes) and the name brand Pletscher kickstand with adjustable length. I would have liked this mounted towards the rear but can appreciate that this area is already crowded by the 180 mm disc brakes… and I love that they are Avid BB7’s with finger-adjust calipers.
Overall, it’s a bike I enjoyed riding and felt comfortable on even in traffic. The swept back bars let me keep a head up for traffic and reduced tension on my shoulders and back. Not all electric bikes offer bottle cage bosses or come in multiple sizes but this one does. It’s decidedly feminine in my opinion but PUBLIC also sells a D8 “diamond eight speed” for a more masculine appeal. Having seen the bike online before reviewing, I came away from the test impressed and enjoyed hearing about the “ready to ride” shipping offer that makes it easy to get going if you don’t live near one of their few retail outlets. Big thanks to Public Bikes for partnering with me for this review.
- Beautiful classic mixte style frame… while it’s only available in one color (gloss Navy Blue) the red accents and cream tires really set it off
- This bike ships “ready to ride” with easy setup if you order online (there are however a few Public storefronts like the one in Santa Monica that I visited), you don’t need a bunch of special tools or grease to make it ride right
- Available in two sizes for comfortable fit and easier mounting, the mid-step frame lowers stand over height and I like the swept back bars
- Comfortable matching grips and saddle made with faux leather so no animals were harmed
- Great utility in rain or shine thanks to fenders, a slim chain guard and integrated rear LED light, the rack is also handy for hauling and I love that it matches the frame paint color
- Powerful mechanical disc brakes with large 180 mm rotors and a finger-adjust so you can keep them tight on the fly without the need for tools
- Paint matched wheel rims and custom colored tires add style but they also include a reflective stripe to keep you safe in dark riding conditions, increased visual footprint from the side
- I love that they were able to include a pair of bottle cage bosses on the seat tube
- This e-bike offers pedal assist, four levels of power regen for exercise, regenerative braking and has a throttle mode! The motor is quiet but powerful and the display is removable for safe keeping and reduced tampering
- Two Aluminum plates sandwich the chain on the chainring both protecting it from curbs and other obstacles as well as reducing chain drops
- Impressive 30 day return policy, two year comprehensive warranty and they’re using a trusted drive system from BionX with premium Panasonic cells that shut off with a deep sleep mode if the bike hasn’t been ridden for a while
- This ebike isn’t really trailer compatible, the axle is thicker than normal and triangle adapters won’t fit due to the disc brake caliper mount, you could custom fabricate a hitch plate but it would take extra tinkering
- With both the motor and battery rear-mounted and higher up, this electric bicycle isn’t as well balanced as some others, if you lift the front wheel up by grabbing the handle bars the rear portion has a tendency to want to tip to the side so be careful
- In addition to being rear-heavy, the bike is just heavier in general due to the gearless motor design (though these tend to be very durable and quiet), at ~56 lbs this is heavy for not having any suspension but at least the battery is easily removable
- It’s nice to have a kickstand but I prefer the rear-mounted ones because they don’t interfere with pedal cranks as much, at least this one is adjustable length
- No suspension fork or seat post here, the narrower tires are efficient but also don’t offer as much comfort, thankfully the all-steel frame and fork help to absorb vibration, consider a 27.2 mm suspension post for softer rides but keep in mind it will raise the minimum seat height by at least three inches
- This ebike is more of a conversion so the Public M8 frame was just updated with a BionX drive system… it’s done very well but the extra cable show a bit, not completely internally routed like others I’ve reviewed
- I was surprised that they didn’t add a slap guard to the right chainstay, even a clear piece of packing tape would help reduce chips but they do sell thicker neoprene guards online fairly inexpensively
- I love that there’s a rear light but would like a headlight too… especially if it ran off the main battery pack, consider a USB rechargeable bike light like this
- The rear disc brake mount comes awfully close to the larger hub motor casing and can be difficult to reach with tools, a shop I visited said it can be trickier to work with, neither wheel has quick release so you need tools to fix flats and do maintenance
- Regenerative braking is only activated through the left brake lever, the right lever doesn’t have a signal wire so it just activates your disc brake like normal, would be nice if both were wired in