eZee Primero – it’s an eZee with a torque sensor
This is eZee’s first bike with a torque sensor and an LCD screen, welcome to the new generation! It’s a departure from previous (and still current) eZee designs in that it does away with the mid-mounted black-tower battery and uses the popular Reention design on the downtube that you see on many bikes including Magnum, Smartmotion Pacer, Juiced, indeed many China-sourced bikes. As a new generation bike it has some hits and some misses.
The combination of torque sensor and the eZee rear hub motor works very well. One of the joys of a hub motor — especially with a good throttle like all the eZees have — is not caring which gear the bike is in, it just lets you pull off from the lights with no fuss and drama. Please NZTA, let us keep throttles… The battery on the downtube works well too, the bike feels better balanced than say the Forza, its stablemate that it shares a motor with. But it still doesn’t seem entirely like a 2017 bike, with dreadful front suspension forks and an atrociously-designed display. The negatives are reasonably easily remedied in my opinion, so eZee please take notes and sort it out. You are very close…
As I said, power is an eZee rear hub motor. This is a proven, reliable and powerful setup. The battery is 17Ah or 600Wh (ie good). Other manufacturers have squeezed in even more to that same mounting system so I’m sure eZee will make other options available. With the torque sensor it works really well with smooth pickup. Lots to like about that. The controller has eight (yes 8) levels of assist, in my view this is completely unnecessary for a torque sensor, 3 levels is enough, any more is just confusing. Amazingly, their cadence sensor bikes only have 5 levels and they actually need more in practice than a torque sensor, go figure!
It climbs like a donkey, grinding up Liverpool St at a reasonable pace, at least as good as some mid-drives. The review example seemed to stop at 32kph which would have affected its Grafton Gully time (it’s not meant to be limited – the Forza goes >35kph).
The remote controller has a dot matrix LCD which is used to terrible effect. The stuff you want to see is tiny (remember who your target market is) and they’ve wasted space on useless animations and power displays. No-one needs to see that stuff, just speed, battery graphic and distance will do thanks! The buttons are tiny and look cheap. Sorry guys, your first LCD remote is a fail. There are plenty of options available that the China-mainland-sourced bikes all have and work just fine. Or you could spec these up with better buttons and redo the display with less cruft and bigger numbers.
Then my next bugbear – the forks. These are truly terrible. There is no damping, just a coil spring that tops out when you’ve bounced out of a rut. My top of the range Rock Shox Paragon air forks only cost me $170 online so as an OEM part they’d be considerably less. I expect better, but suspect they have a pile of these from the Forzas sitting in a warehouse in Shanghai so we’ll keep getting them until stocks run out. Grrr, stop it!
But how is that rear rack, a thing of great functional beauty. There is a mount space for a Yepp child seat and still enough space to comfortably mount panniers. This thing is loooong and wide, major kudos for that. It’s all new, and not pinched off a Forza!
The bike rides with balance and poise. Its relatively long with long rear chain stays add to its stability and comfort. It is shod with Schwalbe Big Ben tyres that feel nice and the Magura brakes (with motor arrestors) are well modulated and powerful. The rest of the parts are vintage eZee, from the chain guard to the mudguards. They work.
Would I buy this bike? Yes, if it had different forks (but only because they offend me). Bonus points for a different display. Compared to the Forza it is a nicer bike with the same motor and range. It feels good to ride and has tons of utility with that massive rack. If I bought this blue colour I’d take the clashing black and green stickers off.
Should their new generation bike have had a mid drive? Honestly, for a commuter or touring bike I don’t think it matters and there are positives in the rear hub design. Stick with a winning formula.
Why buy it? It’s a fast and powerful bike that rides well with a drive system that will most likely be reliable.
Why not? If you want something that can do double duty as an off-roader, look for a mid-drive with better front suspension. If you want to go more than 25 km/h your options will be limited though. At the price make sure you value its extras including frame lock, massive rack, powerful motor etc.
What else should I consider? At this $3999 price point you have a lot of options, for example:
- Smartmotion Pacer at $3599 (522 Wh battery). No suspension, no lock, generic tyres but blingy lights and good looks.
- Merida ebig Tour 300 $3799 (Shimano Steps 25kph 418Wh battery) https://www.evolutioncycles.co.nz/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=65176
- Merida eSpresso Sport $3999 (Bosch Performance Line 25kph, 400Wh battery) https://www.evolutioncycles.co.nz/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=65173
- Onya SH1 $2999 (rear hub, 13Ah battery). https://www.bikesandbarbers.co.nz/product-page/onya-sh1-cross-with-torque-sensing-28
Thanks to Electric Bicycle Hub Auckland for supplying the test ride.