I thought I was going to hate this bike, because the previous Smartmotion step-thru I rode around two years ago was a clunker. I got to ride this bike in earnest doing Mercury’s try an ebike days in Hamilton. Their ones were painted a spiffy yellow and branded. In my opinion, they look better than any of Smartmotion’s stock colours which tend to look a bit low-rent. Reinforcing my bias…
I was pleasantly surprised and grew to love this bike. The eCity is a well put-together bike with sensible componentry and what most people will want and need in an ebike. A 300W geared rear hub does the driving with a 15.6 Ah or 10.4Ah battery providing the juice. It has a nice controller that shows boost level, speed, battery level and distances, turns lights on, and selects through 5 levels of boost. It’s a cadence sensor bike, so the selected level effectively determines maximum speed.
Frame style is an upright stepthrough, making it comfortable for commuting and suitable for all. This frame worked well in the demos for all sizes and ages. The saddle is wide and well padded and had few complaints. Several men hopped on this bike with preconceived views about it being a ‘ladies bike’, but all came back loving it.
Overall the bike is not at all heavy for an ebike, and while I prefer the battery lower down than on the rear rack, it didn’t make the bike feel top-heavy.
Brakes are Tektro mechanical, but with a nice rubberised lever. Feel was better than most mechanical disks. The left lever has a built in bell with good ring tone (not Crazy Frog – that would be bad!). Nice touch.
The drive is well balanced. It’s not the torquiest motor about, but pushes along and up nicely taking me up to 35-36km/h on the flat without fuss or any more than a quiet whirr. On hilly terrain it did well, dropping to around 19 up hills but quickly gaining pace as it flattened out again. There aren’t many ebikes in the NZ market that would be faster on an undulating course.
One feature I came to appreciate is the throttle which will take you to around 20kmh without pedalling. It’s good for those times when you are riding at a low assist level and need a little boost, or if you couldn’t be bothered to shift down when stopping and need help getting started again. Being a rear hub motor, the motor doesn’t care what gear you start off in and will do it regardless.
Brakes and tyres were all good – Alex rims and CST tyres.RRP is $2499 with the smaller battery or $2799 for the bigger-than-usual 15.6Ah (560Wh) option. All you need to go with that is a set of panniers or a trunk bag and you have yourself an ideal runabout or commuter.
The one-and-only showstopper I can think of is that if you ever need to put this on a rack on the back of your car to go somewhere, I think you would find it very hard to do. [Edit: Apparently you can buy a cross-piece that allows you to put this on a prong-style rack]