- A vintage styled electric bike that's modeled after gas powered VéloSoleX mopeds from the mid 40's, features throttle and pedal assist modes for varied riding
- Comfortable oversized saddle works well with the basic suspension fork and ergonomic grips, adjustable angle stem improves ride position and step-thru frame is easy to mount
- Heavier build (in part due to the iconic bulge at the head tube), somewhat flexy frame due to the step-thru design, rear heavy design but the battery and motor are both above average in power and size
The Solexity 400 electric bike is an entry level model for Solex but delivers a lot of great accessories and sits above average in terms of motor power and battery size compared to what I usually see in this price range. It’s styled to match the iconic VéloSoleX gas powered mopeds that were designed and produced in France just after World War II ~1946 and remained popular through the late 80’s. The original VéloSoleX had a motor mounted in front of the steering tube that ran the front wheel (as shown in this video of a 1965 model). As a nod to these classic designs, the Solexity 400 features a decorative bulge in the head tube which houses a headlight. Style is a big draw with this ebike, it was designed by Italian design firm Pininfarina which also works on Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and other luxury automobiles. The Solexity is available in three beautiful colors (white, black and gray) with accent colors on the grips, saddle and rack decking. The bike felt very comfortable during my ride tests thanks to an oversized saddle with elastomer cushions and a basic suspension fork (which is color matched to the frame). The step-thru frame design is easy to approach, mount and handle when you stop the bike and that’s great because at ~58 lbs this isn’t the lightest electric bike around. Thankfully, the battery (which weighs ~6 lbs) is removable for easier transport and charging. The front wheel is also removable and features a traditional quick release skewer. This isn’t the stiffest bike but it feels solid and is great for neighborhood riding or cruising around town for errands. All in all, I was very impressed with this ebike and happy to find that they didn’t skimp on the drive system or control setup. One complaint I have about the controls is that the display does not have a remote button pad which means you have to reach over to change assist levels (completely taking your hand off the grip which is not convenient while riding and could be unsafe).
Driving the bike is an upgraded 400 watt internally geared hub motor mounted in the rear wheel. Most mid-level ebikes I test offer 350 watt motors so this extra power is nice to see, especially given the slightly heavier frame. The motor stays relatively quiet and out of the way but does not feature a quick release system as is the case with the front wheel. Thankfully, the tires on the Solexity are kevlar lined so punctures should occur less frequently, it’s not much fun to get a flat while out and about on a ~60 lb bicycle… One complaint I have about the motor is that the power cable (running along the right chain stay) protrudes beyond the derailleur. This means that if you accidentally tip the bike to the right, this cable may bend or even brake when it collides with the ground. This issue is common on some older electric bikes including the Easy Motion Neo line and for 2015 that company switched to a left-side power cable which is tucked in much further to reduce exposure. So be careful with that wire! The good news is, the cable does have a quick-disconnect in line to the controller so you can service the rear wheel more easily and even replace the motor/wheel without re-wiring the entire bike.
Powering the bike is an impressive 36 volt 11.6 amp hour Lithium-ion Polymer battery that uses quality Sony cells. Again, this battery is slightly larger than the average bike I see in this class of mid-level cruisers. The pack itself is warrantied for 18 months which is great and you can help to keep it lasting longer by avoiding extreme heat and cold and keeping the battery between 20% and 80% while storing long term. It takes about six hours to charge completely and because it’s removable and the charger is so small and light ~1.5 lbs you can easily take it into the office or your house while parking the bike outside. I really like that the rear rack completely surrounds the battery for protection and that they built a custom flip-up plastic light that closes off the battery bay. The battery has a nice LED power level indicator built right on so you can see how full it is without needing the bike and the keyed lock is good for security. Note that you do have to switch the battery to on to get the bike going and this can add a bit of confusion if it’s mounted and you’re seated, looking at the display panel wondering why nothing is happening.
Operating this bike is fairly easy, once you charge the pack and switch it to “on”. The display panel is front and center with four buttons surrounding. It lets you switch from eco to sport (which is peppier but drains the battery faster) along with six levels of assist. So you’ve basically got 12 different drive settings here 2 modes x 6 assist levels, and that means you can find an assist setting that’s perfect (just do it while parked or ride somewhere with low traffic since your hand has to come off the grip to mess with the display). Other readouts include speed, odometer and battery level… all very standard. The grayscale LCD screen isn’t that impressive but the console itself (being custom) does feel a cut above and I love that they built it to swivel so you can reduce glare or just get the proper angle for your height. Considering that the stem on this ebike is adjustable it’s nice that the display is as well. The handlebars are overbuilt risers with an extra medal bar (which might add weight just like the light bulge) which adds a sense of custom style again. I like the ergonomic grips and appreciate that they are matched so well with the saddle and rack decking. I tried to keep an open mind when approaching this electric bike because I thought most of the upgrades were just in the “looks” and “style” but it really is comfortable, smooth and quiet to ride.
The Solex Solexity 400 won me over with its upgraded drive systems and versatile nine speed cassette. With that many gears and 12 levels of assist, you could definitely enjoy pedaling along and hit the higher range of 40+ miles listed by the company. If you’re not into pedaling it’s great that there is also a throttle available (that overrides assist) but keep in mind the bike must be traveling at over ~2 mph for the throttle to become active. This is a rear heavy city cruiser style electric bike (battery and motor are both in the rear) but it handles well enough and the cantilever tubing on the overbuilt rack helps to reinforce the downtube and reduce frame flex. The one thing I would change or add is a water bottle cage but you could always get a bag or panniers for the rear rack to solve this. It also took me some time to get used to the twist throttle being on the left vs. the right (which is more common in America) but this was not a deal killer. The Solexity is a solid ebike and a delightful nod to the VéloSoleX of yesteryear.
- The padded oversized saddle, basic suspension fork and rubberized ergonomic grips all improve ride comfort on bumpy terrain, the fenders and rear rack didn’t rattle much
- Front and rear LED lights are very nice to have for safety and these ones are custom built to look beautiful and be more durable… one downside however is that they run off of their own little batteries which will need to be replaced separately, would be nice if they ran off the main battery
- Most of the cables and wires on this electric bike are well integrated into the frame tubing so it looks nice and reduces snags
- The step-thru frame design is easy to mount and handle when you stop, the adjustable stem provides more body positions (forward for more aggressive riding or upright for more relaxed easy riding)
- The full length fenders look good and include mud flaps to keep your feet, shins and back (and the battery pack and rack) clean and dry, the chain guard protects your pants or dress
- Shimano Alivio drivetrain with nine speeds is pretty solid for a neighborhood or urban style electric bike like this
- Really nice tires, they are kevlar lined for puncture protection and feature a reflective sidewall stripe for improved safety, the bike also has a nice set of reflectors including two that mount on the sides of the rear rack
- The front display is fairly large and easy to read, it swivels forward and back to help reduce glare on sunny days (and was built with a special custom mounting bracket to do so)
- I love that you can override the six levels of pedal assist with the twist throttle at any time, having the throttle on the left is a bit different than what is normal in the US, might be a European thing?
- Available in three beautiful color schemes (white, black and gray) with matching saddle and grip accents
- Slightly larger 400 watt geared motor offers more power for climbing or reaching top speed quicker and the battery pack is also slightly larger than average with 11.6 amp hours of capacity vs. 10 ah, it also uses high quality Sony cells and comes with an 18 month warranty!
- The rear rack is beautifully designed but also rugged, it completely surrounds the battery with metal tubing or plates for protection, I like that the platform deck on top is colored to match the saddle and grips, it is made of plastic
- The motor power cable extrudes from the right side of the bike (near the derailleur) which is a busy crowded area and it sticks out beyond the derailleur which makes it vulnerable to ground contact if the bike tips, if this cable gets bent too many times or breaks the motor will stop working
- Heavier build at ~58 lbs this electric bike could be difficult to lift up stairs, onto busses or onto some racks, the quick release front wheel and removable ~6 lb battery help
- The twist throttle will not work from rest, you have to get the bike moving at ~2 mph before it will kick in, this may be a safety feature and is common on BionX systems as well
- No extra bosses on the downtube or seat tube for mounting a water bottle cage, you could use a bag like this on the rear rack but the tubing here is non-standard which means that most clip-on panniers won’t work
- The display panel is nicely located for viewing (front and center) but the button pad for changing assist levels is also mounted there (integrated with the display console) so you have to take your left hand off the grip in order to change settings which can be dangerous while riding