To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by Spark Bikes. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of Spark Bikes.
Spark Bikes is a new company to me, but they have been out for a while now, so I was excited to check out their bikes and see what there are all about. Today we are looking at the Spark Bikes Spark Blade, a hub-drive fat-tire mini vintage racer bike made to be an all terrain fun machine. I think the Blade is one of my favorite mini style retro bikes so far, so let’s look at what makes it special. The Blade is an affordably priced ebike at $1,699 ($1,999 in Canada) and comes in 3 colors (black, silver, or red) and 1 frame size. Despite the 1 frame size, you still get to configure some good riding geometry with this adjustable handlebar, long banana seat that allows you to sit back or forward, and these smaller 20” wheels give it a good stand over height. The Blade can handle quite a bit, and that is thanks to the Kenda Krusade fat tires with both puncture protection and reflective sidewalls! As mentioned before, the tires are 20” x 4” and rated for a 5psi-30psi… the lower levels, such as 5psi, really work well on various terrain such as sand or snow, I highly recommend dropping that tire pressure if you want to take it out on adventures because it makes a world of difference. But these tires here keep everything comfortable since each of those little knobs somewhat act as Blade absorbers for the bumps on the road. Assisting the tires with comfort is the front fat-tire specific suspension fork. It looks like it has about 60mm of travel with some fairly large stanchions. There is some nice adjustability here like the hydraulic lock out and preload adjust as well. Just a lot of comfort all around here, as I mentioned before, you could slide back on the long padded seat to find the right comfort level, and the padding itself is very cozy. The bike is rated for about 300lbs, so you may be able to fit a passenger on that long seat too. Another great detail here are the battery integrated lights. I love that more and more bikes are becoming standard with these and it really is a nice feature to have it run off the high capacity battery power. The Spark Blade has both an integrated headlight and an integrated rear light as well… the rear light is 2 LED that is kind of protected since it is tucked under the frame, while the front is kind of a custom headlight that is very bright. Other features include an adjustable kickstand mounted in the rear to eliminate pedal lock, ergonomic grips, bell, chain guide, neoprene slap guard, and these included 110mm wide plastic fenders to keep you dry. Quite a lot of included features, so it is gonna bring the weight to about 65.9lbs.
Diving the Spark Blade is either a 500-700 watt planetary geared Bafang geared hub-drive motor with 80nm of torque, 5 modes of pedal assist, and a thumb throttle. It has a 12 magnet high resolution cadence sensor, which used to be kind of a premium setup, but nowadays it is considered somewhat standard technology. Compared to todays top of the line systems, it tends to feel sluggish because it has this very pronounced on or off feeling, so I recommend using the throttle to ramp up your speed if you want that smoother feel. It kicks up to 20mph with no problem and stopping is nice since they also equipped it with motor inhibitors. On the mechanical side, they have a 7 speed Shimano Acera derailleur which is a step up from the typical entry level derailleurs I usually see on value priced ebikes. I love that it has a derailleur guard too, that really helps protect these systems in the shipping process of if the bike gets knocked over. It has a 11-32 tooth on the cassette… so a little bit better than the standard 14-28 tooth you sometimes see on value priced bikes. In the front you have a 52 tooth chain ring and it is all brought together nicely with trigger shifters. Stopping the Blade are these 180mm rotor hydraulic disc brakes with motor inhibitors. 180mm is a massive setup for a bike like this and really a big win, it works so well given the smaller 20” diameter wheel size along with the powerful motor to give you a real mechanical advantage.
Powering the bike is a 48v 17ah lithium ion battery pack. I would consider this a high capacity battery with that 17ah rating. The amp hour designation refers to how long the battery can perform at its peak, while the volts act as the peak itself. With a rating such as this, it would be able to go the extra mile and then some. The battery has an LED charging indicator, weighs 9.1lbs, and mounts behind the seat post. The bike is setup very well, but most of my gripes have to do specifically with this battery. My only real gripe here has to do with the charging connection. The connection itself is fine, but when charging on the bike, it must be plugged in near the crank arm. This means that while charging, if the bike gets moved or bumped, the pedal arms could rotate on that wire and potentially damage it if struck hard or often enough. Charging is done with this 1.6lb 3amp charger, a little bit quicker than the standard 2amp you sometimes see on value priced bikes. To really care for this and other lithium-ion packs, I have heard that storing in a cool dry location vs. extreme heat or cold will extend the life and try to keep it about 50% full when not using for long periods so you won’t stress the cells. Try not to let it run down to zero, because that’s really hard on the cell chemistry.
Operating the Spark Blade is straightforward, in fact, it’s using a nice industry standard display that you sometimes see on other bikes. The LCD is large, backlit (if you hold the up arrow), and adjustable angle to reduce glare. It is not removable, but there does appear to be a disconnect spot for easy replacement if you experience damage at some point down the line. All of the standard readouts about current speed, battery capacity (I love that this version has a battery percentage readout!), and assist level are shown, and if you tap the power button (the little rubber button on the remote pad) it will cycle through advanced readouts like average speed and max speed. Holding down on the button pad activates walk mode, and double tapping the power button opens a deep dive settings menu where you can adjust things like electrical power or number of pedal assist levels (3,5, or 9). This cold be handy for people who want to ride slower for safety reasons… but you can always just arrow down on assist for less power. The real consideration is how fast the throttle will get you going, because it’s always offering up full power when pushed all the way down. I was able to reach just over 20 miles per hour in the highest assist level during my tests. I was happy with the 5 level assist vs. the optional 9 because I don’t love clicking through so many levels when trying to focus on riding. The display is within reach and easy to learn (there are only three buttons). After a bit of practice, it’s easy to click up or down without even looking at the display for feedback. The one thing I have noticed about this particular button pad is that if you snag the buttons with fabric or somehow bump them when parking, the plastic cover can get bent up and become vulnerable to breaking off. I have only seen this once, but I have never seen the rubberized buttons get broken, so I consider it a point of consideration and extra care.
All in all, the Blade is a great bike if it falls under your consideration, but there are some tradeoffs I should mention. For example, when charging on the bike, it must be plugged in near the crank arm, so if the bike gets moved or bumped, the pedal arms could rotate on that wire and potentially damage it if struck hard or often enough. If you are looking for an active bike, this may not fit the bill since you will likely be using the throttle most of the time due to the wider seating position. And finally, the bike can seem heavy, perhaps punched out rims on the fat-tires would have helped to cut some weight… but I suppose there is not a lot you can do about the weight since you have a suspension fork, high capacity battery, and powerful hub-drive motor. All this may seem like nitpicking, and for a bike priced at $1,699, it is hard to fault. Spark Bikes has really impressed me for the price point, and on top of that, they also offer free shipping for both the US and Canada! Truly a capable bike that is well supported and has a lot of attention to detail. I would like to thank Spark Bikes for inviting me out to check out their lineup.
As always, I welcome questions and feedback in the comment section below. Whether you own the bike, have taken a test ride, or are brand new to the space, my goal is to provide an objective and honest resource. You can also join the Spark Bikes ebike forums and share your own photos, videos, and review updates to help others! Have fun out there, and ride safe :)
- A value priced mini vintage racer fat-tire electric bike at $1,699 ($1,999 in Canada) and comes in 3 colors (black, silver, or red) and features a comfortable front suspension fork
- Kenda Krusade 20” x 4” fat tires, rated for a 5psi-30psi, and has some bump absorption with its knobby tread
- A front suspension fork with 60mm of travel and some fairly large stanchions, preload adjust, hydraulic lockout, and is fat-tire specific
- Comes standard with battery integrated headlight and rear light, something that more bikes are doing these days and I love since it adds visibility and safety
- The adjustable kickstand included is mounted away from the pedals in the rear, so that eliminates pedal lock, an annoying occurrence when reversing a bike with the kickstand down that this bike doesn’t have to worry about
- A lot of comfort here like the front suspension fork, fat-tires, ergonomic grips, and a relaxed long padded banana seat
- Rated for 300lbs, so if weight permits, you could add a passenger and really use that extra long banana padded seat to fit a friend or some gear, maybe you could tie stuff down with bungie cords
- A big win here are the 180mm rotor hydraulic disc brakes with motor inhibitors, 180mm is a massive setup for a bike like this given the mechanical advantage of the smaller wheel size
- The 500-700 watt rear hub motor is powerful, everything feels very zippy from the smaller wheel mechanical advantage, overall a really capable electric setup
- The 48v 17ah battery is a high capacity for this setup, it really can go the extra mile since it doesn’t have to work as hard with these smaller diameter wheels with a mechanical advantage
- A lot of cool little touches like a neoprene slap guard, derailleur guard, adjustable handlebar, included wide fenders
- The price is very competitive and also includes free shipping for both the US and Canada
- If you are looking for an active bike, this may not fit the bill since you will likely be using the throttle most of the time due to the wider seating position
- When charging on the bike, it must be plugged in near the crank arm, so if the bike gets moved or bumped, the pedal arms could rotate on that wire and potentially damage it if struck hard or often enough, something to keep in mind
- The headlight is fork mounted, so you could get some bouncing in visibility if you were riding on rough terrain
- The bike is a little heavy, perhaps punched out rims on the fat-tires would have helped to cut some weight… but I suppose there is not a lot you can do about the weight since you have a suspension fork, high capacity battery, and powerful hub-drive motor
- Not sure why it has a couple of plastic plates to cover parts of the frame, other than for style, I feel like they could have used some of the space for bottle cage bosses or something, although I do think it protects the controller a little
- The controls for the display have a groove in them that can catch cloth and other material, so if you are wearing gloves for example, be aware of that
Kenneth Maruska4 years ago
Good review of a “Retro Racer” but I still question that riding geometry if you want effective pedaling. There are some cargo model step thru ebikes coming out with 20″ x 4″ street tires that are going to have equivalent performance with much better pedaling geometry. I believe these will be a better lifestyle fit for more people because being able to input the human power more efficiently is important. No one is really ever going to continuous pedal a retro racers which I believe is part of the ebike experience. A cargo ebike that handles and performs like a emoped just seems like a compelling product to me.Reply
Kenneth Maruska4 years ago
These are popular ?ebikes? so I will not distract from the success they have found….
I understand that these retro racers / Scramblers are “lifestyle” products more than they are effective ebikes. The fact that they don’t have good geometry for pedaling is not really a negative for those that buy them – the pedals are probably only there to comply with regulations to be classified as an ebike. Given that there is no real legal standard for what a “functional pedal” is, I still wonder if just foot pegs could pass for pedals.
Keep in mind there is an ?ebike? being sold worldwide and in the US called the Footloose that has ?functional? pedals that only turn a generator to recharge the battery and they do not mechanically propel to bike. Seems to me the legal standing for what is considered a “functional pedal” has been established to not have to propel the bike. Then also consider the millions of balance bikes / Scooties being sold without pedals so that children can learn to balance on a bike – I believe the CPSC considere these federally compliant “bikes” but they do not have pedals….or foot pegs.
Anyway, it just seems to me that retro racers could be sold and ridden without pedals as class 2 ebikes so long as they don’t assist past 20mph. Does anyone have a different view on this?Reply
Christian Beaupre4 years ago
Hey guys, Court. I was wondering if it would be possible to swap the thumb throttle for a half twist throttle? I suppose I mean is it fairly simple and cost effective? Secondly, assuming I use the password to bypass the speed restrictions, how does this motor compare to the Yukon 750’s motor? Is it the same model?Reply
Court4 years ago
Hi Christian! I don’t have great answers for either of those questions, unfortunately. My guess is that you could find a different throttle design that would interface with the same plug used here. Perhaps someone in the forums could help you… or even Spark Bikes themselves. If you knew for sure that it was a Bafang throttle or API throttle (since the bike uses both of those companies for the motor and display, respectively) then you’d be able to start searching the web for a compatible alternative… maybe Spark Bikes even has a tip on where to find them. That’s my advice, same for the speed settings. I’m not sure how fast the bike can go or how to really adjust that setting here. I try to review stock retail and then leave it up to individuals to modify ;)Reply
Christian Beaupre4 years ago
Thanks man, and fair enough. Although I would like to be clear that I would only set the motor past 500w for offroading.
Mathieu Potvin4 years ago
Hello Court! Quick question, I was wondering how tall you were cause I’m 6’2″ and I’m thinking it might be to small of a bike for me? Thank in advanceReply
Court4 years ago
Hi Mathieu! I’m 5’9″ and have pretty long legs (30″ inseam). I weigh about 135lbs. I feel like the Blade would work for you if you slid back or just didn’t expect a lot of pedaling. Check out the RadRunner, which has an adjustable height seat, and is similar to this one. The reach is still pretty short on that bike but for both you can slide back on the long saddle for long legs as well.Reply
Duong4 years ago
Where did you get those specs? Because on the Spark website, they don’t show all the details. Anyway, FIY, the stem has a 25.4mm clamp, not 31.8mm as you wrote. I know because I ordered a Funn Strippa Stem and now I have to look for handlebar shims to make it fit…Reply
Court4 years ago
Oh, snap! That’s a bummer, sorry Duong. I measure each bike that I review here by hand, but sometimes there are mistakes. I met with the founder and we went over the details together, so I wonder if they changed one of the parts from when I reviewed it to when you got it. I sincerely apologize for the mixup and hope that your shims work well or that you could find a different bar to work :/Reply
Duong4 years ago
It’s okay COURT, no harsh feelings :) Instead, I should thank you for all the outstanding work you put for those specs! It was so useful! Also, a handlebar shim is only 20$… however, you should change the info so this ordeal won’t happen again! Keep the good work going!
STEVE4 years ago
FYI the Blade does not have pre load on front suspension. Only an adjustable lockout.Reply
Court4 years ago
Hmm, I was looking pretty close during the review, if you see the third picture here (scrolling to the right) it shows the left portion of the crown of the suspension shock and I do see a little lever that appears you could twist for preload. Does yours not have that or is it a non-functional thing? Thanks for the heads up!Reply
Markus3 years ago
Is it possible to have the throttle moved to the right side instead? I’d probably buy this bike but I’m afraid it’s going to feel unnatural that the throttle is positioned on the left side.Reply
Court3 years ago
Hi Markus, yeah! I think you could reposition the throttle on this electric bike. That’s actually the case for most of the products I see and review, but you’ll end up crowding the shifter and bell. You’ll also probably have to flip the trigger throttle in order to get it close to the grip, because the wire is limited in length. This means that you’ll push forward on the trigger vs. down… and that could feel a little counter intuitive, much like having it on the left side of the bar :/Reply
chris3 years ago
Hi, what’s the story with this company? Looks like a great bike compared to what I’ve seen, but when you go to the website listed here (sparkbikes.ca) all that is available is a warranty claim form. Thank you for the great review.Reply
Court3 years ago
Hmm, I hadn’t noticed that before Chris. Thanks for pointing it out! As a smaller company, perhaps there was some change? I haven’t heard from them, hope they’re alright :/Reply
Lara2 years ago
Hi there – Good review. Would you elaborate on this Con below? What do you mean by “active bike” and why would that be affected by the wider seat position?
“If you are looking for an active bike, this may not fit the bill since you will likely be using the throttle most of the time due to the wider seating position”Reply
Court2 years ago
Hi Laura, the long wide seat in the low position made pedaling a bit uncomfortable to me because I wasn’t getting full leg extension and my legs were kind of bowed out to the sides vs. straight down. If you look at other more traditional bicycles, the saddle has a skinny “nose” and the seat hight adjusts so you aren’t in a squat position (which can feel uncomfortable to the knees). Combine the low seating and wide saddle with a heavier ebike that needs more leg strength to move, and I find the throttle to be very useful and prominent. For reference, I’m 5’9″ tall with a 31″ inseam and weigh 135lbs :)Reply