- A value priced electric hard-tail commuter bike that is also feature rich and commuter ready, comes in 3 colors, also has free shipping to the US and Canada
- Great 9 speed Shimano Alivio setup as well as hydraulic brakes, trhumb throttle, powerful Bafang mid-drive motor, and a high capacity 48v 17ah battery
- A lot of nice features like the front suspension fork, kickstand mounted away from the pedals, protected display, suspension seat post, fenders, rack, efficient tires, and bottle cage bosses
- Motor can be loud, rack not standard strength or tubing, back light is only 1 LED while front light is fork mounted and can bounce a bit, neoprene slap guard doesn’t quite fit since the speed sensor is in the way
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 products.
Spark Bikes is a bike company that has been around since about 2017, so when we were invited to see their line up, we were excited to review them. Today, we are looking at the RX, a value priced electric hard-tail commuter bike that is also somewhat premium at the same time. Typically, the feature rich bikes are pretty high priced, but the Spark Bikes keeps a tight budget by coming in at just $2,399 US and $2,799 CAD. Not bad considering it has a mid-drive with both torque and cadence measured pedal assist as well as a throttle. More on that later, for now, let’s look at the features of this bike. The bike comes in silver, red, and black and just 1 frame size and 1 frame style that comes in at about 61lbs including the battery. The top tube is nice and sloped so it has nice approachability for a high-step. Adding a controlled feeling are these shorter length handle bars and this low rise stem which give the body geometry a more aggressive feel. It is nice to have a bit of an aggressive feel along with some comfort, so with the RX, you get this great SR SunTour XCM front suspension. This has a comfortable 100mm of travel as well as both lockout and preload adjust, but no rebound adjust. Taking the comfort a step further is this Selle Royal gel saddle and included suspension seat post! I love that they included one and for a bike at this price point is pretty rare. It is an SR SunTour NCX suspension seat post and has a preload adjust at the bottom you can configure with a hex tool. Another area of comfort are the locking ergonomic Velo grips as well as the included plastic fenders. The fenders are great since plastic won’t get rust scratches like steel fenders do, and they even have little mud flaps at the bottom to keep you dry and alleviate toe strikes if you turn too tightly. There is a rear rack here, rated for 15kg (about 33lbs) and has a nice bungie loop, however it is not as strong as the standard 25kg rated racks out there and it has thicker tubing so it won’t fit standard panniers. I love that they included battery integrated lights in the front and rear for safety, but it should be noted that the rear light is somewhat weak at just 1 LED while the front light is mounted on the suspension fork, so you can get some bouncing in visibility if you are on rough terrain. I do love the rugged and capable Kenda 27.5” x 2.1” tires, these are a standard size and have great grip but unfortunately are lacking both reflective sidewalls and puncture protection. Other great features include internally routed cables, a kickstand mounted back to eliminate pedal lock (an annoying occurrence when striking the pedals against the kickstand while reversing the bike), bottle cage bosses, Wellgo aluminum platform pedals, and a flick bell.
Driving the bike is the Bafang M600 mid-drive motor. This version is set at 500 watts for both the US and Canada with a top speed of 20mph. I think this is a great choice for the active and engaging style of riding that Spark Bikes is going for. Bafang has made a name for themselves in the industry with its ubiquitous conversion system; the BBS02, which uses only a cadence sensor to engage pedal assist. Cadence only systems like the BBS02 offer a very “easy-going” sort of ride in which rotating the cranks, at any level of tension, spars the pedal assist. The M600 operates principally using an integrated torque sensor built into the motor housing, and even employ’s Bafang’s own particular set of cranks for precise torque input from the rider. Torque based systems read the amount of torque the rider is putting into the pedals, and delivers pedal assist based on those readings. The riding position of the Spark Bikes RX really makes use of the M600 motor, allowing the torque sensor to really get a lot of positive engagement from the rider. The system kicks in very, very quickly when tension on the pedals is expressed, but it’s not so instant that it feels as though it should be tamed. I felt right at home building speed on this platform. At a higher speed, the system seamlessly fades from relying on the torque sensor, to relying more on the cadence sensor (as the mechanical gearing begins to cap out). This torque based system would definitely be the choice for cycling enthusiasts or super commuters alike, looking to utilize the bicycle for the sake of cycling as well. For riders who wish to sit back and let the motor do the work, there is a really nice throttle here too that will expressly engage the motor without the need for pedaling at all. Since the Spark Bikes RX is using a mid-drive motor, the rider will need to change mechanical gears as the bike gains momentum, in order to maintain a steady build of speed. This is one of the surprising features of the motor; and active shift detection. While I’m not certain the methodology, the M600 cuts power to the motor during shifting which relieves excess tension on the chain and allows the rider to shift gears at full throttle without stressing the drivetrain. Mechanically, the bike is rounded off with a nice 9 speed Shimano Alivio system with trigger shifters. It has an 11-34 tooth cassette and a 38 tooth chain ring up front feeding that narrow wide pattern. Stopping the RX is this great set of 180mm rotor Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. These have 3 finger levers, motor inhibitors, and dual pistons… really great stopping power for reliable commuting.
Powering the bike is a frame integrated lithium ion battery at 48v 17ah. This makes for 816 watt hours which I would consider very high capacity. The battery is easy to get in and out of the housing and is protected by lock and key. I love that it has a USB port so you can power devices off of it or even use it as a portable power bank. It also has an LED light on it that shows respective power levels if you are wondering how much juice is left without needing to turn on the bike. The battery here weighs about 8.8lbs and comes with a 3amp portable charger. 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 bike fairly easy and is done through this protected backlit grayscale display. I say protected because of the placement between the handlebar and the stem, this surrounds it a bit better if the bike takes a spill, a lot more so than if it were mounted out in the open in the middle like other displays. It shows the speed clearly and in the top right it has a battery info graphic as well as battery percentage. I love this since it leaves the guessing work of how much battery you have. For example, some bikes just show 4 ticks on a battery icon, so when you get down to the last tick, you don’t know if you have 25% battery left, or 1%… really quite a difference, so I am glad they included the percentage here. The controls are on the left and are navigated with a +, -, and power button. To turn the power on, simply hold the power button with the battery in place. While + and – will cycle through the 0-5 modes of pedal assist, pressing the power button will change the status on the on screen display. You will start out showing speed in MPH, but pressing that power button each time will take you through trip, odometer, max speed, calorie counter, range estimator, average speed, ride time, and power output. If you press and hold + and – for a couple seconds, you get a deep dive menu. Here you can adjust some finer settings as well as turn off that haptic feedback if you wish as I did. I should also mention that if you hold + you get access to turn on the lights, while holding – in walk mode will walk the bike. Another cool feature here is the USB port on the underside of the display, this allows you to power devices of your choice off the main battery power.
The Spark Bikes RX was a lot of fun to ride since it offers quality and capability while staying lightweight and centered. I think this bike will be great for a lot of people since it is more commuter friendly orientation, as there are some commuters that prefer a mountain bike style type setup like this. However, I should mention some of the tradeoffs here. The motor is powerful, yes, but is is definitely on the louder side for an ebike, likely from that 120nm of torque rating. It has a winding noise to it in the higher levels and that could bug some people. The rear rack is not using standard sizing, so fitting some panniers may be tricky… The rear light is kind of weak while the front can bounce being mounted on the fork. And finally, I should mention that it does come with a neoprene slap guard, but you likely won’t be able to fit it snug along the frame since the speed sensor is in the way as it is mounted on the right rather than the standard left. None of these are deal breakers and can come across as nit picking… The bike is a really great, especially considering the $2,399 price point, tons of included features, and 1 year comprehensive warranty. As a direct to consumer online brand, Spark Bikes also offers free shipping to both the US and Canada, not bad at all! I had a lot of fun taking this bike around and I want to thank Spark Bikes for the opportunity to do so.
As always, I welcome questions and feedback in the comment section below. Whether you own a previous version of 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 electric hard-tail commuter bike that is also somewhat premium at the same time
- Uses the Bafang M600 mid-drive with 500 watts, 120nm of torque, torque and candace based pedal assist, and a trigger throttle
- Commuter ready with rear rack, plastic fenders, lights, suspension fork, suspension seat post, adjustable kickstand, and gel saddle
- The electrical system is quite refined and streamlined, so much so that you can even shift gears without pedaling in the middle of full throttle
- Features an SR SunTour XCM front suspension, this has an extremely comfortable 100mm of travel as well as both lockout and preload adjust
- Assisting in a controlled feeling are these shorter length handle bars and this low rise stem which give the body geometry a more aggressive feel
- A big win here is the SR SunTour NCX suspension seat post with a preload adjust at the bottom that you can configure with a hex tool
- I love that they included battery integrated lights in the front and rear for safety, this is something we are starting to see more often on bikes and I am glad it is here
- A nice 9 speed Shimano Alivio system with trigger shifters, 11-34 tooth cassette, and a 38 tooth chain ring up front
- A commuter like this should be easy to stop for both safety and performance, luckily, they added a great set of 180mm rotor Tektro hydraulic disc brakes with motor inhibitors to handle the job
- The kickstand is mounted away from the crank arm, this is great since it reduces pedal lock, an occurrence where the pedals strike the kickstand when reversing
- The 48v 17ah battery is very high capacity and even has a USB port on it if you want to use it to power devices or as a portable power bank
- I love that the display is mounted in a more protected area in case you drop the bike, it also has a battery percentage instead of a limited graphic bar, and is backlit
- Comes with a 1 year warranty and Spark Bikes offer free shipping to both the US and Canada
- The rear rack doesn’t use standard tubing, so fitting some panniers may be tricky, also there is no mount for the rear fender, so I did notice it was jarred a little bit and had to get it into place a little better
- This bike checks a lot of the right boxes, but there are some cost saving measures here and there, for example, the basic pedals and basic lighting setup
- The motor can get loud in the higher levels of assist, this may not be a big deal to some, but I wouldn’t say this is a quiet bike
- There is a neoprene slap guard included with the bike, but it will not fit completely on the frame point, since the speed sensor is mounted on the right, in the way of where you would place it
- The rear light is just 1 LED, so it is somewhat on the weaker side and the front light can bounce a bit since it is mounted on the frame fork
- No quick release in either the front or rear wheel, somewhat rare on a mid-drive, but probably was chose to keep costs down
- Official Site: https://sparkbikes.ca/