While the 2016 version of the Raleigh Misceo iE appears unchanged at first glance, the frame has actaully been extended and the rear tubing is box vs. rounded for improved torsional rigidity. The drive unit is horizontal instead of being mounted at 45 degrees and you get automatic electronic shifting along with some other improvements. Read the review for the latest Misceo iE here.
The Raleigh Misceo iE is one of the first electric bikes available in the United states to feature a Shimano STePs drive system… STePs stands for “Shimano Total Electric Propulsion System” and includes a battery, motor, LCD display and button pad for rider input. In addition to electric assist, you also get electronic shifting here in the form of Di2 (which stands for “Digital Integrated Intelligence”). Having never tried either system before this demo, I was impressed with how quickly and smoothly they both functioned and that they both ran off of the primary battery pack! Di2 has been around since ~2010 and usually requires a small servo battery which is tucked below the bottle cage mount or hidden in the seat post but that’s not necessary here. Most of the shifting, brake and electric cables are well integrated and tucked into the aluminum frame tubing and in my opinion the Miscoe iE looks very clean. This is your everyday, around the neighborhood or city type of ebike that’s capable of becoming a commuter platform if you add a rack and fenders but stays light weight and simple if not. There are four frame sizes to choose from and I tested the medium 17″ which weigned ~41.7 lbs including the battery and motor.
The motor driving this thing is a compact mid-drive that’s bolted directly to a specially designed plate joining the downtube, seat tube and chain stays. It offers 250 watts of nominal power and peaks around 500 watts which is comparable to the Impulse 2.0 system found on other ebikes from Focus and Kalkhoff. I found that the motor was powerful enough to zip me up to speed (20 mph tops) and climb medium sized hills. The front chainring offers 38 teeth and has a nice plastic chain guide along the outer edge that should keep pant legs grease and snag free. Despite the more traditional size of this sprocket, I found that it did not over-rotate when I ceased pedaling. This is important because there are no motor inhibitors present on the brake levers for this electric bike. It’s a pedal assist only system which does have shift sensing but relies on other sensors to start and stop the motor based on rider input. Just like the Bosch system, the Shimano electric bike motor responds to the rear wheel speed, pedal cadence and pedal torque. It’s satisfying and very efficient given the eight speed internally geared Shimano Alfine rear hub. At just over 7 lbs, the motor is smaller and lighter than most of the others I’ve tried and it blends into the frame very naturally.
Powering the display, electronic shifting and motor on this electric bike is a handsome, removable Lithium-ion battery pack mounted low and center on the downtube. This pack occupies most of the triangle space above the downtube but Raleigh has managed to add bottle cage bosses on the seat tube for the production version (they aren’t present on the demo model I reviewed). I was surprised that the pack has to be completely taken off of the bike in order to be charged. And, I was kind of shocked with how large the charging port interface is? I feel like Shimano should just hop onboard with the small, circular magnetic EnergyBus charging standard and definitely add a port to charge while mounted to help users save time and avoid accidental drops. The pack weighs about 5.8 pounds which is fairly light given the healthy capacity it offers. Once off the bike, it has a little integrated handle which makes transporting it easier and safer, and there’s also an LED charge level indicator on the left side so you can quickly determine whether to plug it in if you haven’t ridden for a while. To help extend the life of this and most other Lithium-ion packs I recommend storing it in a cool, dry location and keeping it between 20% and 80% charged at all times, check to make sure it’s at 50%+ every few months if you aren’t using it. The pack offers 36 volts of power and 11.6 amp hours of capacity for a total of ~416.6 amp hours which is a touch above average.
Activating the Raleigh Misceo and navigating through its three drive modes and eight gears is surprisingly easy. There’s just one power switch and it’s a little round rubber button on the left side of the battery pack, near the LED power readout. Press this for a couple of seconds and the primary display comes on. It’s designed to be backlit all the time and I imagine this only skims a bit of battery while de-cluttering navigation options and buttons. The display is about the size of a book of matches and can swivel front and back to help reduce glare, even with the protective sticker still on the demo model I tried it was easy to read. Located just to the inside of the brake levers on either bar is a rectangular button pad with a black button at the top which navigates through the different menus. There’s a traditional speed, battery level and distance view as well as one that estimates your range in all three levels of assist and two other screens that show your drive mode setting or the pedal gear setting. Given the electronic servo noise of the Di2 system, I didn’t feel like I had to look down often to see which gear I was in… I just rode this thing like a bicycle and the systems responded naturally. If I wanted to go faster, I pressed the up gray button on the left for more drive power. If I wanted to change my pedal cadence for climbing, I pressed the down arrow on the right side to shift to an easier gear. Pretty simple, motor up and down on the left and gears up and down on the right :) I did like that Shimano included a zero level here for riding the bike in normal pedal-only mode. This works surprisingly well given the efficient 700c ~28 inch diameter wheelset, efficient near-slick tires and stiff responsive frame. Unlike some other ebikes with heavy frames and obtrusive batteries, the Misceo felt fun as a bicycle only and could easily pass as a normal bike if you completely removed the battery pack… but then the gears couldn’t be shifted because the Di2 system is electronic.
Raleigh is a bicycle company that has been around for over 100 years, since the late 1800’s, and it’s neat to see them being an early adopter in the electric bike space. This, more than almost any other electric bicycle I’ve seen to date, just feels like the next step in what a bicycle should be. It’s a fairly traditional platform with a dash of new technology refined to stay out of the way and work intuitively. Opting for an internally geared hub instead of sprockets keeps the drivetrain cleaner, can be shifted at standstill and keeps the chain shorter and tighter. Opting for electronic shifting allows for more precise control, requires less effort (if your hands are cold or strained), is not affected by stretched or worn cables and reduces shock on drivetrain components. Opting for electric assist in general helps you ascend hills, avoid sweating, travel further and reduce joint pain. A few of the highlights on the Raleign Miscoe-iE for me were the carbon fiber fork which keeps the bike light and reduces vibration. I also liked the Selle Royale gel saddle and the Shimano M445 hydraulic disc brakes. It’s neat that this ebike automatically switches gears back to level three after five seconds of rest if you’ve been pedaling in a higher gear (this makes it easier to start from standstill at a stop light or stop sign) and that the two electronic control pads are so small, symmetrical and well integrated. You can actually switch the functions on the control pads so that shifting is done through the left pad instead of the right if you so prefer (note: this will require the help of a Di2 certified technician). In my opinion, the Misceo iE is a solid offering that’s lighter, sleeker and more affordable than some of the other fancy mid-drives out there.
- Extremely well balanced and light weight for an electric drive, relatively smooth given the gel Selle Royale saddle and carbon fiber fork
- Available in four frame sizes for improved fit, the seat tube has a quick release for adjusting saddle height and the front wheel has quick release to make the bike easier to load into cars
- Fast and responsive Di2 electronic shifters, there’s even a special setting that drops you back to gear level 3 when you’re stopped for five seconds to make starting easier
- Intelligent pedal assist measures your rear wheel speed, pedal cadence and pedal torque to deliver near-instant power that’s both satisfying or gentle depending on how you’re riding (not overpowering or jerky like some systems)
- LCD panel is backlit, adjustable to reduce glare and removable for storing off the bike (reducing wear and vandalism potential)
- Internally geared eight speed Shimano Alfine hub keeps the gears clean and hidden, less maintenance required and easier on the chain than a cogset
- Hydraulic disc brakes are powerful but easy to activate and very smooth, they look great and also stay cleaner than rim brakes would if you ride in wet or muddy conditions
- The battery is designed to automatically stop powering the motor as capacity is drained to near-empty so you can still use the shifters for a time and hopefully make it home to refill
- Produces more electronic noises for shifting and motor whir than comparable high-end middrive motor systems I’ve tried
- No integrated kickstand on the demo bike but it appears the production version will have it, for a city-style electric bike this surprised me, there are mounting points on the left chain stay for your own aftermarket stand
- The battery must be removed from the frame to charge, this introduces more opportunities for accidental drops and may expose the shell of the pack to more scratches and wear than if it were left on the frame at all times
- The battery charging interface is very large, much larger than Bosch or Kalkhoff, I’m surprised they didn’t just use the EnergyBus platform which is small, round and magnetic
- Only available in high-step frame style and one color for now, thankfully it’s offered in several sizes to fit a wide range of riders
- Since the battery is required to shift gears using the Di2 system, if you wanted to reduce the weight and ride the Misceo iE as a traditional bicycle you wouldn’t be able to shift…