- A hand built, aggressive city style electric bike with high power MAC motor and custom Lithium Polymer battery
- Efficient narrow tires, rigid steel frame and single speed drivetrain offer simplicity and durability but aren't as comfortable as ebikes with suspension forks and seat posts or those with larger balloon tires
- The battery box is wide and may scrape your leg or snag your pants when stepping down if you're not careful, it looks decent for a custom build but isn't as polished as mass produced electric bikes
- Two frame sizes to choose from, lots of color options, you get a one year stated warranty but the company is very small and not yet proven in my mind, you may have to rely on your own ability to tinker with this thing long term
The Tyro electric bike is a base level offering from Snelheid Cycles, a one-person operation in Chicago Illinois USA. I met the founder, Tony, in 2015 and got to test his first prototype which was faster and more powerful than most of the purpose-built stuff I see at independent electric bike shops. Tony designed the Tyro (which means beginner in latin) to comply with state laws and be more affordable than the Leider model I saw back then. It’s still a custom made ebike, hand built from existing motor and battery technology to be light weight and fast off the line.
So how does the Snelheid Cycles Tyro actually ride? It’s incredibly powerful and practically jumps when you completely open the throttle. On several occasions my adrenaline spiked and I got the feeling that I could easily wheelie the bike or slide out if I wasn’t being careful. I was able to blast automobiles off the line at stop lights and stop signs and felt in control while riding in traffic. Cars would eventually pass me but the immediacy of my acceleration put me out in front where they could see me and that felt good. The power system is throttle only and the bike offers a single speed drivetrain. It’s pure and simple, you only get one display panel which shows voltage but Tony has added a basic aftermarket cycle computer with speed, range, time etc using a magnet sensor on the front wheel. The throttle is variable speed and very precise, I found myself grasping both grips tightly and being very careful about how quickly and how much I twisted.
Driving the Tyro is a 1,000 watt peak MAC motor that’s wound with thinner copper wire more times to produce high torque output. powering the motor is a 37 volt 11.8 amp hour Lithium Polymer battery pack with a higher C-rating meaning it charges and discharges extra fast. This is why it only takes ~3 hours to charge and why it can jump off the line so quickly. The motor and battery packs work together well but the battery casing is a bit of an eyesore. I like the carbon fiber panels (for weight savings and a cool aesthetic) but the edges are square and protrude much more to each side than almost any other mid-mounted battery I’ve seen. This is not a design you’d see from any major brand, it just looks dangerous. Most companies choose to stack electric bike battery cells vertically to give your legs and knees plenty of clearance.
While I didn’t actually hit my legs during pedaling operation, I was wearing shorts and am not entirely convinced that long pant legs would stay completely clear. I don’t want my pants to snag and I didn’t enjoy putting my foot down at a stop and bonking my thigh. It’s a crude solution that’s clearly hand made, probably not UL certified and definitely not pleasing to the eyes when viewed from the top down… but it’s quite a bit better than I could do on my own without adding a bunch of weight or using a frame bag. There was a bit of rattling during my test rides over bumpy gravel but not as bad as I would have thought and not so much on the higher end Leider model so perhaps the box just wasn’t fastened as well on the Tyro. The battery box is screwed to the downtube at three points for extra strength and leaves enough room to mount a bottle cage on the seat tube. Additionally, the wires are partially run through the downtube and then housed in metal channels along the left chain stay. It’s a nice solution for DIY but a far cry from purpose built.
This ebike is a blast to ride but the body position it delivers is aggressive and there is very little in the way of creature comforts. While I was able to keep up pedaling at top speed I found the braking to be less responsive than v-brakes or disc brakes used on most electric bikes. The rear spokes were oversized at 13 Gauge and upgraded to name brand Sapim for increased strength but neither wheel offered quick release for easier transport and maintenance. The tires are upgraded to Schwalbe Energizer Plus but most of the other components are base level and came with the bike before it was converted. I feel like the type of people who might appreciate this electric bike are also the type who would like to customize and build their own creation to save money. Tony is a nice guy and I admire his dedication but this bike falls far short of the products I am now seeing in the mainstream with the one exception that it accelerates more quickly.
- One of the zippiest electric bikes I’ve ever tested, it blasts from zero to ~20 mph in just a few seconds (be careful as an accidental jerk on the twist throttle could become destabilizing, especially when cornering)
- The frame comes in two sizes and a whole range of colors so you end up with something that fits right and is more unique
- Weight is distributed pretty well across the frame thanks to the custom battery box, compared to most other high power ebikes it weighs less because the frame is so minimal
- I like the upgraded e-bike specific tires from Schwalbe which use thicker rubber and “GreenGuard” liner technology to reduce the potential for tube puncture and flats
- The single speed drivetrain is quiet and durable, you’re less likely to drop the chain or need tuneups and the cadence is set higher so you can actually pedal along at top speed pretty comfortably (as shown in the video review)
- Very limited display technology, you get a battery voltage readout which could be interpreted as how full the battery is but it will take some practice to feel it out, the traditional cycle computer helps a bit with speed, odometer, timer etc.
- The battery box is wider than most and the edges and corners are sharp angles which could rub on pants or scrape your shin and thigh when standing over the bike, I bumped my knee into it when I stopped and put a foot down for stability
- The frame, seat and wheelset are all pretty rigid so you definitely feel bumps and this can be uncomfortable over long distances, the aggressive body position got to my arms, back and neck a bit
- In my opinion the price tag on this electric bike is a bit high (though what I was told is above what is listed on their website), you can get higher quality mass-produced electric bikes with more drive modes, purpose built frames and accessories for the same price or less
- No quick release for either wheel or the seat, I like to bottle cage bosses but the rear rack bosses are partially used for the torque arms so you may need longer custom screws to make it all work and the added weight and force of a rack with gear could impact the torque arms
- You cannot easily remove the battery box from the bike frame which makes charging more difficult, you have to bring the bike inside or park near an electrical outlet and that might not work for people who want to commute to work
- I admire the spirit behind this ebike but most of the electronic systems are hand built and they probably aren’t UL certified, insured or produced with a high level of quality control like larger manufacturer, even those companies do recalls and damaged cells have been known to cause fires
- The battery box rattled a bit when riding over bumpy sections on the street, I didn’t notice this as much with the Leider models so perhaps it was just the mounting done on the demo
- Despite there being a stated “one year warranty” on the bike, I have some concerns about the longevity of the company as a whole and feel that this e-bike might be best suited to engineer types who are willing to dive in themselves if need be
- Basic accessories including the generic saddle, plastic pedals and rubberized grips, it’s a single speed and wouldn’t be much fun to pedal (especially up hill) if the battery was drained