- An ultra affordable electric bike sold on Amazon for ~$650, requires 1.5+ hours for assembly along with some basic tools (it comes with a few unique wrenches and instructions to get you going), the kickstand is two-sided and very stable which helps with setup
- Extremely heavy at ~78 lbs... the battery pack alone weighs ~23.5 lbs because it uses absorbed glass mat (AGM) lead acid technology vs. Lithium-ion, it won't get as many charge cycles and is more sensitive to degradation if left uncharged but is only ~$160 to replace
- Lots of useful accessories come standard with the Cargo and Sport models including steel fenders, a plastic chain guide, a steel cargo rack and LED lights, I like that the headlight is wired into the system... the rear requires two AA batteries
- Extremely basic display panel just shows your battery level, full-grip twist throttle works alright but is easier to activate by by mistake, the bike I received had a deep frame scratch, a bent fork, missing hardware (to support the basket) and corroded AA batteries for the light
The Watseka XP comes in two variants that are very similar to each other… the Sport and Cargo. For this review I bought the Cargo Electric Bicycle because it came with a front basket but otherwise seemed to match the Sport exactly while only costing $3 more. Note that you can always buy the basket later for $10 later if you choose to upgrade the Sport… the basket is kind of cool in my opinion and came in andy during this extended review :)
So these are both extremely affordable electric bicycles that are sold predominantly on Amazon along with accessories and replacement parts. Would you believe an additional battery is only $168? Sounds pretty amazing when you consider most ebike batteries range between $600 and $800… but then again, I only spent $599 on the entire bike (note that the price has since jumped up to $649). Watseka is able to offer such low prices for their ebikes because nearly all of the components and materials used are less complex, less durable and more basic in design. This includes the heavier steel frame, steel fenders, steel cargo rack, basuc steel suspension fork and steel crank arms which are prone to rust, the six speed drivetrain with Shimano’s lowest level Tourney derailleur, the basic plastic pedals and stand alone LED lights (that arrived with corroded non-functioning batteries) and most of all the absorbent glass mat (AGM) lead acid battery pack that weighs ~23.5 pounds all on its own! Not only does it weigh more than Lithium-ion, it will offer significantly fewer charge cycles and be more sensitive to temperature and degrading if not kept charged. But hey, at least you get a rack, fenders and lights and have a battery that’s mounted low and center vs. a rear rack! Moving on, the ergonomic grips are hard and somewhat uncomfortable but they get the job done… the kickstand is a bit heavy and funky to use (it’s a double sided design) but at least it holds the bike securely, and that’s important given the massive 78 lb curb weight of the bike.
So is this a terrible electric bike that no one should ever buy? Well, I was bummed that it arrived without working lights, felt frustrated with some missing hardware that was meant to support the basket (but this happens frequently with affordable e-bikes I’ve bought online) and the biggest bummer was probably the bent fork because I wasn’t ever able to align the front brakes properly. There were other issues as well including bent pins and a cracked battery interface controller box. With a couple hours work assembling and reconfiguring the bike it did function! I loaned it to a friend and he was able to ride it successfully around town and he did miss it when we sold it later for $150 (the most we could get from anyone on Craigslist). So if you’re someone who has the extra time and tools, who is willing to screw around with assembly and doesn’t mind some imperfect hardware and if you live on the ground floor then this could be a decent choice. My friend Darlington lives on the second story of an apartment complex and really struggled to get the bike up and down the stairs. He always had to remove the battery pack first to lighten the load, but at least the battery is removable! Just be very careful not to bend the pins when seating it…
Riding the Watseka XP Cargo bike is noisy because the fenders bounce around (and possibly the rack too) but I love that it offers both pedal assist and throttle mode. Most e-bike throttles I use are half-grip twists which feels solid and stable because some of the grip stays put… the Watseka throttle is a full grip twist that is easier to bump if you get off the bike but don’t turn it off. This actually happened to us during the review and felt pretty scary given how heavy the bike is. Even with a modest 250 watt motor, the bike can still take off and tip over onto someone or damage property. Pedal assist has its own challenges including a less-responsive 5 magnet sensor and an “always on” but not adjustable drive setup. The display panel on this bike really just shows your approximate power level and that’s it. No speed, range or assist selections. After all was said and done, I had received the bike and built it up with my friend and then loaned it to him… he chose not to let his girlfriend ride it because he didn’t feel very comfortable or safe on it. To me that’s telling. This is a step-thru frame that’s geared towards petite riders (or those who don’t want to swing their leg up high) but smaller, weaker riders might be the most vulnerable.
There are lots of reasons to avoid this bike despite the enticing price point. I have bought and regretted purchasing ebikes on several occasions. It’s a technology with so much potential but it can leave a bad taste in your mouth if it doesn’t work properly, creates noise or just feels unsafe and at the end of it all, you won’t get as much of your money back if you sell used as if you had a nicer more appealing bike. I have nothing against Watseka and would still recommend this bike for specific riders with the necessary technical skills, strength and storage setup but I’d recommend a pass to most others. Consider the slightly more expensive Vilano Pulse or the Sondors bikes. There are lots of cheaper ebikes out there on Amazon and Ebay but sometimes you get what you pay for and I bought this bike, struggled to assemble it and then sold at a massive loss to help you get a better understanding for what that’s like. I hope it either validates your concerns and helps you go in more prepared or motivates you to save a bit longer for something that’s easier to use and longer lasting.
- I like that the battery pack is removable and the saddle flips up to make this easier because it’s so heavy at 23.5 lbs and taking it off for transport or just safe keeping (away from extreme heat and cold) can help it last longer but be careful with the pins! Make sure they are aligned so they don’t get bent like the bike I received
- This electric bicycle is incredibly affordable! I chose the Cargo edition because it was only $6 more than the Sport-Electric and the basket has been useful for taking the charger along and storing phones, jackets etc.
- Uses extra-thick 12 gauge spokes to help support the weight of the bike, battery and accessories… this may also help it support larger riders and cargo as well but they can still come loose over time, consider going to a shop or using Loctite glue if they come loose frequently
- I really appreciate the sprung saddle… it’s oversized and really takes the bite out of bumpy sidewalks and streets, it pairs with the front suspension fork and swept back bars for a comfortable upright body position, unfortunately the suspension fork did stick a little and wasn’t adjustable at all for riders of different weights
- Even though this ebike doesn’t have a super fancy display with speed, odometer and other readouts I like that it has a six dot battery level indicator! most other cheap displays offer just four so the extra dots make it easier to gauge how full the pack really is, more incriments
- Generally speaking, the bike performed and with six gears on the drivetrain it was usable even without electric assist, this was nice compared to something like the Sondors bikes which are also affordable but only offer one gear
- I love that the bike ships with front and rear LED lights… always double check that the rear light is off since it’s powered independently by AA batteries, the front light is wired in and seemed very bright
- The flip-up saddle made removing the battery fast and convenient, otherwise you’d have to take the seat post out, given that the bike is so heavy being able to remove the battery easily is a great thing
- It’s neat that not only does the bike have LED lights, you can activate the front one using an extra button near the horn… and I love that it has a horn and bell (I prefer the bell) considering the bike is heavy and doesn’t stop immediately
- The larger shifter is going to be easy to use if you’re wearing gloves or have limited dexterity in your fingers, it also keeps the cockpit from getting too crowded, I love that the brake levers both have motor inhibitors (squeeze them when you get on or off the bike to avoid accidentally activating the throttle)
- Incredibly heavy, weighing in at 78 lbs this ebike may be difficult to maneuver and transport, removing the 23.5 lb battery pack helps and I like the oversized kickstand to keep it stable
- The bike I received arrived with lots of damage including a deep paint scratch on the downtube, minor scratches on the top tube, corroded batteries in the rear light, a missing part for the basket mount, a bent fork and dropout plates and a bent chain guard
- Only available in one standard frame size and one color but I do like that the fenders are paint matched, would be nice if there were a bottle cage mounting point on the seat tube as there appears to be room and the seat post is so short it wouldn’t collide
- The control console is incredibly simple, there’s no speed or odometer readouts just a six LED chart with battery charge level estimate, no way to switch assist or throttle on or off or change levels
- The absorbent glass mat (AGM) lead acid battery is extremely heavy, may bend the mounting pins if not seated carefully and probably won’t last through as many charge cycles as a Lithium-ion equivalent… probably 500 to 800 cycles vs. 1,300+
- The brakes aren’t as powerful or reliable as I’d like for such a heavy electric bike, the front brake on our unit wasn’t aligned properly due to the bent fork and the rear band brake just isn’t as fast or easy to use as linear pull or disc brakes, I do like that the levers are super long so you can pull down with four fingers and really leverage them
- The twist throttle takes up the entire right grip and can make braking more difficult as well as maneuvering the bike once you’re off… avoid incidents by turning the bike off before you get off and try to move it
- After three days of riding, the plastic controller box broke open and the plastic slide designed to support the battery had to be removed, the whole battery interface seemed to struggle under the weight of the pack and rattled a lot (even the battery seemed to rattle with the cells inside)
- The price seems to have gone up by ~$50 since I bought my Watseka XP, this makes it feel like even less of a bargain compared to other bikes like the Sondors which have quality Lithium batteries and weigh a lot less
- Only available in one color (gloss black) and one small/medium frame size ~17″ the step-thru design is approachable but isn’t as stiff and sturdy feeling as a traditional diamond “triangle” frame, I felt some frame flex