- An urban oriented speed pedelec capable of ~28 mph riding and long distance commutes or trekking, no suspension but the tires are larger to improve comfort and you get ergonomic grips
- Integrated LED lights run off the battery pack and are upgraded a bit because the back light activates when you pull the right brake lever, also there are cool LED light strips below the downtube and rear rack arms!
- Fancy color display can be dimmed, switches to a dark background when lights are activated and has a USB port and bike charging port above it for convenience, it's easy to see and use while riding thanks to a button pad on the left bar
- I wish the kickstand was rear mounded vs. center to avoid pedal collision, the grips are a bit wonky, powering the bike on takes two steps, the motor is a bit loud and more speed driven vs. torque so pedaling helps when climbing steep hills
The SmartMotion Pacer delivers a lot of value and performance for a pretty reasonable price and it impressed me with a several creative new features such as LED strips along the downtube and rack supports. These, in addition to more standard integrated LED lights and a rear light that activates when you pull the right brake lever (which has a motor inhibitor built in) improve ride safety but still look cool. And there’s more… instead of a tacked-on monochrome display panel the Pacer has an inset color display that almost looks like a mobile phone. It’s large bright and full of information. I love how easy the settings are to adjust and that you can turn down the brightness if you prefer. They were very insightful with this design because it automatically switches to a black background at night to reduce distraction! Very cool. All of these features come in at under $3k and you get a two year warranty to boot.
So this is a 28 mph capable Class 3 speed pedelec and that means it can get you to work faster but the battery range also takes a hit. This is another area where good decisions were made because you get a 48 volt 14.5 amp hour battery standard (which is way above average) and have an option to upgrade further with a 17.5 amp hour battery! All packs use high quality Panasonic cells and I love that they power the lights mentioned earlier. It all works together nicely much like an automobile or fancier motorcycle… You’re even given the option to tap into the battery with two standard sized USB ports and one is strategically placed above the display on the top tube so your cable won’t get bumped or snagged while pedaling. The other one is on the pack but at least it’s high up and really, I think it would be most useful to charge from when the battery is off the bike like a backup power supply.
Not everything on this electric bike is perfect. For one, it uses standard sized 11 mm axles vs. sturdier thru-axles that could improve performance and durability at high speed. There’s only quick release on the front and not the rear. The kickstand is nice but it’s mounted behind the bottom bracket vs. further back so your pedals can hit it if you back the bike up when it’s deployed. The battery seats well but has a little play and might rattle over time. I feel like the motor is powerful enough to get you to high speeds but it produces more noise than heavier gearless hubs and isn’t the strongest climber if you go for throttle-only. Also, the battery has to be powered on before the display and I don’t love the grips because they have horns on the end which aren’t independently adjustable… it feels like the grip is right or the horns are right but not both at the same time. I’ve listed more detailed thoughts below but all things considered, this is an exciting new electric bike that feels accessible, comes in two sizes and two colors to fit different styles and body types and is being distributed in the US by a company that has been around and has a good reputation (Lectric Cycles which does E-Rad kits and conversions). I could see myself using this bike but might opt for a suspension seat post to improve comfort given the rigid frame and fork or even consider their other model, the Catalyst which is a hardtail trail/mountain design which I’ll review in the future. No lights, rack or fenders there however :) Big thanks to SmartMotion for partnering with me for this review.
- The bike is available in two color schemes (burnt orange or white) and two sizes including 16″ and 18″ for improved fit, that’s pretty good for a more value oriented ebike
- I like that the top tube is angled down to accommodate people with shorter inseams, considering there’s a rack on the back, swinging your leg around can be a little tricky vs. stepping over, the battery comes out sideways vs. straight down and is built into the downtube so that enabled the smaller main triangle on the frame
- It’s nice to have full length fenders and a rack for commuting, especially since there wasn’t room for bottle cage bosses on the seat tube, consider using a trunk bag like this which has a bottle pouch
- I’m always thinking about safety, especially when commuting or trekking long distance and at higher speeds so it’s awesome that this bike has integrated LED Lights and the rear one comes on when you pull the right brake lever so you’re extra safe even during the day if the lights aren’t fully on
- This e-bike has some of the coolest light integration I’ve ever seen on any electric bike with a strip of LED’s running along the bottom of the downtube and along both rear-facing struts of the rack! It all blends in nicely but actually does really make you visible at night
- Considering the relatively large name brand battery and motor on this electric bike, I feel like the price is good and it’s neat that you can upgrade for even more capacity AND you get a Body Float… of course you could always buy one separately or pay a little less for a Thudbuster ST and a 30.4 shim
- I’m mixed on the Wellgo platform pedals they chose, I prefer them over cages because they are longer and grip well (and the toe doesn’t get bent if the bike tips) but prefer the full size editions like this or even the lighter Magnesium models like this
- I like that the bike comes with an adjustable length kickstand and that the front wheel has quick release, it these design features make it easier to park and transport but I do wish the kickstand was mounted at the back of the left chainstay vs. behind the bottom bracket because the pedals can collide with it there
- Complimenting the fenders is a thin paint-matched chainguard and I think this would help to keep pant legs clean and snag-free, it’s a nice little extra that felt solid vs. plastic and probably won’t bend or rattle as easy as some others I’ve seen/tested
- There’s lots of adjustability through the display including backlight brightness and even top speed (with your dealer’s help) so you could make this a 20 mph ebike vs. 28 if you wanted, hold the up and down buttons to enter settings
- I think it’s really neat that they placed a USB port near the display on the top tube in addition to the port on the right side of the battery pack because it’s easy to reach there but you can still charge smaller portable electronics from the battery when it’s not on the bike!
- The display is really large, easy to understand and full of information but I like that you still get a button pad near the left grip, it’s not overly complicated or difficult to use
- When you activate the lights on the bike (by holding the up arrow for a few seconds) the LCD display changes from white to black background which significantly reduces distraction while riding… genius!!
- This is the first electric bike that I’ve ever tested where you can actually choose torque sensing or cadence sensing mode for pedal assist… that’s cool because torque is a bit more responsive and offers varied power vs. the more on/off feeling of cadence, I still like cadence though because you don’t have to work as hard when riding this way and of course I live that you can override any pedal assist mode at any time with the throttle and get full power
- You have to power the bike on with two steps, first press the button on top of the battery (which is kind of tight and difficult to see) then hold the power “M” button on the control pad
- No bottle cage bosses on this bike, doesn’t seem like there’s enough room on the seat tube without impacting the seat post… thankfully the included rack would work well with a trunk bag with a bottle slot
- I like Wellgo platform pedals but the M195 models chosen for this bike aren’t especially wide so people with larger feet might want to swap them for the BMX style ones, you can go ultra light with magnesium for under $50
- The all-Aluminum frame is light and stiff but can be jarring, especially at higher speeds, a suspension fork would be nice but I like that they include a Body Float suspension seat post if you upgrade to the larger battery model
- I love that the bike has a kickstand but wish it was mounted further back so the left crank arm didn’t collide when you walk the bike backwards
- I like ergonomic grips but am not a huge fan of the ones they chose for this bike because the bar ends are integrated, you can’t angle them independently so for me… either the grips feel good or the ends feel good but they are never quite perfect together… at least the grips are locking so they don’t spin
- Considering this bike doesn’t come with a suspension fork and it’s a speed pedelec capable of ~28 mph, I really appreciate the slightly larger 1.95″ diameter tires for improved comfort, compared with the Stromer models which also have rigid forks you don’t get Carbon fiber here (which dampens vibration) just Aluminum alloy
- There’s a little circle port near the base of the battery that can be used to charge but it’s right in the way of the left crank arm which could bend or even break it… thankfully there’s another port up near the display on the top tube which seems more risk free
- I noticed that you have to be in one of the five levels of pedal assist for the throttle to work, there is no throttle-only mode on this electric bike
- The motor is a planetary geared design that produces a whirring noise (especially in high power mode and at higher speeds) vs. a gearless or even some mid-drives, see the video for reference… it kind of sounds like angry bees O_o