Reid Urban+: A great bike nobbled by its speed limit

The Reid Urban+ is a nicely put together ‘street’ bike featuring the Shimano STEPS drive system. It’s a quality-built bike with smooth welds on the main parts of the frame, a svelte grey colour scheme with subtle highlights and a nice parts selection. The geometry is ‘racy street’ bike (think NY City messenger) with rigid forks and fairly narrow handlebars – good if you want to avoid car mirrors.

But the headline-grabber is that it is only $2899 from Evolution Cycles [Update: you can get an extra 10% off making it $2609!]- correct me if I am wrong but I believe this is the cheapest name-brand mid-drive bike available in NZ. So what? you may say… well, mid-drive is a lot more versatile than rear- or front-drive, allowing a greater range of speeds because the motor uses your gears too, and importantly the bike feels just like the regular bike you love but hate riding up hills. Shimano is the largest manufacturer of bicycle drivetrain components and generally do what they do well. So this is no cheap generic drive system.

When I picked the bike up from Evo in Pukekohe (an impressive store btw) I noticed how light the bike felt loading it onto the rack. Only 18.3kg in size L, that’s lighter than Electricmeg’s tiny folding Onya! This translated into how it rides too, it feels sporty with good acceleration and the ride position is aggressive. It rides on fast rolling slightly nobbly 700x42c p[uncture resistant cross tyres (Speedrite by Continental – again, no cheap rubbish here). Brakes are Shimano hydraulic and work well with great feel and adequate power (160mm rotors are relatively small for an ebike). Rear shifting is through a Shimano Altus 9 speed that changes gear with a satisfying thunk.

The motor is rated 250W and the battery is 11.6Ah/418Wh at 36V. This isn’t a long distance tourer or speed commuter, so battery capacity is adequate. Importantly the battery is rated for over 1000 charge cycles, so should last for several years under typical usage. It also has a 4A charger – twice as fast as what most Chinese bikes come with. All up, an impressive collection of specs.

One thing I really like about the mid-drive system used here is that the wheels are regular hoops with quick releases, so fixing a puncture is no harder than any bike. If you dinged a wheel you could replace it off-the-shelf from any bike store.

To turn on the STEPS system (it is an acronym of Shimano Total Electric Power System) , you hold the button on the battery. The remote on the bar then lets you toggle through 3 power modes. The display shows speed, battery level and range estimates, and the usual trip/odo modes. It is removable. Yes, people do nick computers even if they are useless to them.

All STEPS bikes are torque sensors bikes without a throttle.

So off we go for a ride. Wow, this feels great… wait, has something happened to the motor… oh no, I just hit 25kph and lost my benefits! Get to uphill, slow down, motor kicks back in again. Phew. What this does give the opportunity to test is how it rides without its motor. Just like an ordinary bike, and you’ll be doing that a bit given how it chops off at a low 25kph. Damn, that really is just too slow. I average 27-28 on my unassisted road bike and I am no hero in lycra.

For the record, this 25-27kmh imposition is the same for all Euro spec bikes, that is any bikes with Bosch, Yamaha, STEPS, Impulse drives.

For “research purposes” I looked at ways that this could be defeated. I succeeded briefly, and for a few glorious minutes I had the best bike you could hope for at the price. It was sophisticated, progressive, powerful, fast enough (speedo said I was going 11kph though)… until the motor cut out with an E014 error. Oops… Good news is that it gets better again once you put the speed sensor back to its proper place and ride around a bit. The manual says to go back to the bike store, presumably so you can get a telling off about how speed kills, warranties, laws blah blah. So that doesn’t work, and I honestly can’t tell you what does work and if it would lead to trouble. But it was enough to tell me that this could be a great bike, and is a great bike if you can live with sub-25 speeds.

So why would you buy this bike? Well maybe you live in urban Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch Port Hills or Dunedin and want an ebike that can hack the hills. You want something sporty but not shouty because you really like bikes, and your ebike needs to ride like your favourite ‘acoustic’ bike. If that sounds like you then this really could be your next bike.

Why wouldn’t you buy this bike? You can’t live with low speeds. Or maybe, you want something more relaxed and cruisy.

OK, so you like the idea of this bike, what now? Well, you might want some mud guards for the wet weather, and some racks and panniers to carry you gear. No trouble, there are mounts for these. The guy at Evo said allow $300-400 all up for that. There are even mounts for a waterbottle (specially for Court at electricbikereview.com). You’ll need some lights too, but they’ll need to be rechargeable like a regular bike. Sizing seemed ‘true’ – the size L actually felt right whereas some other bikes seemed a bit small than expected.

What else could you consider that is similar?

  • Smartmotion Pacer or Catalyst – $3599 – faster (>38kph), rear hub motor – Pacer has mudguards, racks, lights
  • BH Evo Jet 700C – $2699 – very similar, slightly faster (32kph), rear hub
  • Juiced Crosscurrent – $2499 with 375Wh – faster (45kph), rear hub, cheaper frame build quality
  • Corratec EPower – $3499 – Bosch powered, Nexus hub gears, same speed limit, has mudguards, racks, lights, more relaxed geometry
  • Trek Conduit – $3799 – same STEPS drive, good brand, has mudguards, racks, lights
  • Avanti Montari – $3299 – same STEPS, MTB-style
Advertisements

12 comments

  • I have a Gazelle Orange C8 MHI ( Impulse Motor ) – Can I make it go faster than 25kph? Live in Palmerston North.

  • Hi there, I have been riding my 30 speed BH 29er for 6 years now up Dunedin hills and can say a few things about e bikes. If you have real hills in mind, gears matter on E bikes! I tested lots of 10 speed E bikes. Most of them required way too much effort on the hills which means sweating and showering when you arrive. A triple front ring e bike really does mean no sweat riding on hills. Compare a multi front ring E bike vs a single front ring on a hill before you buy and you will see the difference.

    The second thing I would say to e bike newcomers is ask about your bikes replacement battery for 5 years down the track. After 6 years, my battery is still “not bad” but my shop says they don’t think they can get supply a replacement battery as the frame shape has changed.

    • I think your correct in saying that a person buying an eBike should test several types before purchasing. But the trend now days is moving away from multi chain rings to electric motors in the cranks. Which to me is a positive. I have the Reid Urban+, now with 1750Km in 2 months and I must say the power is addictive. Lots of hills where I live in Adelaide and I was avoiding them due to my age but now with the eBike I can fly up the hills with the performance of an elite athlete on steroids. My eBike has taught me to spin those cranks for best performance, has helped me to lose weight and improve my overall fitness. Hills with and 18% incline are no match for the Reid Urban+ when set to high.

  • It looks like a good option for commuting at least.

    Can the speed limitation on the Steps motor be ‘adjusted’ permanently to allow it to operate at its potential, rather than being restricted as it is now ?

    I’m looking to replace my current e-bike with a mid-drive option, but it’s very important to me to be able to have a motor that has enough climbing power and speed, or allows me to tweak it so that it can do what I want it to. I am aware that we have legal constraints regarding motor output in N.Z. This bike seems to be restricted to below the output currently allowed though.

    Hill climbing ability is the most important to me rather than outright speed, but being restricted to 25Kmh is far to limiting in my mind.

    • Evo Cycles were very cross with me for suggesting that the bike could be made to go faster and have blacklisted me from any further tests. Anyway… the only way is to get an appropriate dongle for a Steps motor. It halves the speed detected by the bike so max is limited to 50. There may be some that are a bit more clever but will involve some rewiring.
      Be aware that all this could void your warranty, so I always suggest buying a bike that does what you want it to do out of the box. The eZee bikes (despite hub motor) are good at climbing and will go 35+, the Specialized Vados go 40+ and climb really well, Scott have a nice Speed model too that I am testing this weekend.

      • Well . . . silly old Evo Cycles. In that case I will probably leave them out of any bike hunt.
        I’m very interested in either a Barfang kit, or as you say, buy a bike that will already do what I want it to do. The Specialized Vado sounds interesting. I will check it out.
        Thanks for the great reviews Bazza. Much appreciated.
        Cheers,
        Grant.

  • 18.3kg is super light for an e-bike, is that including the battery? Looks and sounds like great value!

  • I have had the Reid Urban+ for 4 weeks now and have clocked up over 800km. Usually ride around 40 km a day. I would recommend this bike for its quality components and its reliability. I only use the electric assist on the 3km hill climb out of my suburb in the morning and usually all the way home in the afternoon as I usually have a head breeze and a 6km uphill climb. I can get 2.5 days use before having to recharge the battery. This bike really make riding in the a very pleasurable experience and always use the eco setting. I only use the ‘normal’ or ‘high’ settings on very steep hills over 10% gradient. Would highly recommend this bike.

  • Shame about the speed restriction. I went thru all the research and decided to convert my bike to a mid drive myself to avoid the restriction. Love it.

  • Did you find the frame rigid enough? Looks lightweight, but does it compromise on flex-resistance?

    • Jonno, it looks really nicely built, not flexy. The steps system is lighter than most motor and battery combos. It’s certainly stiffer feeling than a step through.

Leave a Reply