We’ve all seen people who have ridden e-bikes. And if you live in a city with a bikeshare program, you even stand a good chance of taking a spin. Until last week it was my only encounter with e-bikes. I had never been on a serious e-bike before, nor had I really thought about buying one or understanding how much they cost. Think used car money.
I had the chance to spend a morning ticking two new models of e-bikes from Serial 1, a company backed and filled with talent by Harley-Davidson. Now I fully understand why someone would pay more than $ 5,000 for a bike.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends
Tearing up city streets
I started with the cheapest and simplest model: the MOSH / CTY (hereafter known as the Mosh). I immediately noticed it with its sleek design and flat black color. “Mosh” is a perfect name because the bike is muscular and appears ready to tear up terrain. It has no fenders or panels, and even the power regulator is a simple set of LEDs rather than a screen. It’s just about keeping hopping and riding – and having fun doing it.
Speeding through the streets at 32 km / h – without breaking a sweat – is addicting.
And I did. I instantly sped through the streets of the Upper East Side and Central Park, easily swept past other bikes on the bike paths at a top speed of 20 mph. The mosh really encourages you to drive fast and aggressively because it only has one gear. And since this is a pedal-assisted bike, you only get power when you pedal. So when you are over 15 mph you need to pedal really aggressively to keep the engine moving and to keep your speed constant.
You have four performance modes – Eco, Tour, Sport and Boost – that adjust the performance relative to your pedaling. Boost is enough to knock cars off the line in city traffic without even getting up, but the tour is enough to keep up with other motorcycles or tackle hills without much strain. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average mosh driver stuck to “improving” 100% of the time. This power is addicting.
It’s downright fun, and you’ll quickly start enjoying the quirks of the powertrain. But for that reason, the Mosh isn’t so much a commuter bike – it’s more of a $ 3,400 toy for shorter trips and occasional battles with the dirt. It can destroy the city’s terrain, but not for long journeys – though the range easily reaches 75 miles. The other Series 1 that I rode immediately after the mosh is just the opposite, and I loved it even more.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends
A quick way
The RUSH / CTY SPEED (we’ll refer to it as the Rush Speed in the future) is an all-purpose balance bike that is commuter-focused and commuter-focused. It presents itself and drives exactly within these parameters. Narrower tires, full-length fenders, luggage racks, glossy paint, and a handlebar controls with a small screen indicate the purpose of this bike.
But here’s the thing: it has more speed and more capabilities than the mosh. They reach a top speed of 45 km / h – the maximum allowed before this bike turns into a moped as far as government regulations go. There’s a 33% larger 706Wh battery that goes with it. And here’s the tricky thing: There’s a CVT (continuously variable transmission) in the rear hub. I hate CVTs in cars, but the application is Perfect Here.
I’ll spare you the technical details, but basically a CVT is a transmission that doesn’t have individual “gears” but can still change an effective gear ratio with adjustable rollers. The Rush Speed’s CVT offers a 1: 1 to 3: 1 plus ratio and is electronically controlled by an app on your phone. You’re setting the ideal gearbox for the amount of work you want to get done and how fast you want to accelerate. It intelligently adapts to your speed mode and pedaling force to keep you in the right gear ratio at all times.
The effect is wonderful. After a stop, you pedal very lightly and the bike moves smoothly. However, as you get a little faster, the motor assistance is activated and the gearbox changes to apply more of that power to the ground. The result is smooth and seamless acceleration, even up to a whopping 45 km / h. And because the CVT can be at its maximum at a high gear ratio, unlike the Mosh you can actually drive at over 32 km / h without a lot of pedaling. It also increases the effective power you get from each of the mosh’s four modes.
The motor and gear pair perfectly match acceleration and speed.
I drove by midday of car traffic in Manhattan, beating everything in Central Park at several miles an hour. Sitting down with little effort, I drove up the Queensboro Bridge at over 15 miles an hour – and I’m not a small person. When I turned around and started the 59 pound weight (10 pounds heavier than the mosh) in motion, I was walking back 30 mph. Those are crazy numbers for an e-bike, and I can see exactly how someone can cover a good distance on this bike – all without breaking a sweat.
Depending on how much time you spend in “Boost” mode and what your terrain is, the range can vary dramatically, from 25 to 115 miles. Real-world range with some spirited riding will likely be around 70 miles, meaning many people could get through a work week for a fee. The battery can be easily removed for charging if you don’t want to drag the entire bike into an apartment. It increases from 0 to 75% in 3.5 hours and reaches 100% in another three hours.
Attention to detail
Whichever model you choose, you will benefit from the great design of Serial 1. You can immediately see that these motorcycles were developed from the ground up specifically for e-bikes, based on the brilliant attention to detail. Unlike most cheap e-bikes, Serial 1s have a custom battery built into the lowest possible point on the bike, at the bottom of the pedal assembly. This keeps the bikes stable at high speeds and when cornering, which you will immediately notice. It’s also special that the motor is in-line with the pedal assembly and not on the wheel hub, which keeps the weight back in place and drastically reduces the rotating mass of the wheels.
Now I understand why you would spend $ 5,000 on an e-bike.
In addition to a high-quality motor, the motorcycles use a carbon fiber belt drive, which is quieter, cleaner and requires less maintenance. Each piece of cable goes through the frame so that nothing is loose or cluttered. There are elegant LED brake lights on the back of the frame and a powerful LED headlight on the front. (Plus, the Serial 1 badge lights up on the top of the fork.) Absolutely nothing about the bikes calls out “Harley-Davidson,” but you can tell that the folks at Serial 1 share the same mobility legacy and meticulous focus.
According to Serial 1, the vast majority of pre-orders were for the premium Rush Speed model, which makes perfect sense after you’ve driven. The Mosh doesn’t necessarily have that much pull, although it’s cheaper, and the Rush Speed is only $ 500 more than the Base Rush. You want that power and bigger battery. The only reason to get a basic rush is because of the “step-through” model, which is easier to get in and out of.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends
For many people, it’s not feasible to even spend $ 3,400 on an e-bike, let alone $ 5,000. But for anyone looking to have an e-bike as their primary mode of transport in a city, it pays to consider the significant benefits of choosing an e-bike that has been designed from the ground up to provide the best e-bike experience to offer. Once you start comparing and looking at the specs and features, you will find that the Serial 1 is indeed competitive. Sure, it’s the price of a used car, but that doesn’t mean it’s overpriced.