I have a soft spot for Chris at ecyclesnz’s first ebike, the folding F-19. We have one at home as ElectricMeg’s personal conveyance. I often see people commuting on them and they always seem happy. I’ll sometimes ask how they are going and they seem to rave. With SH-1 (yes, named after State Highway 1) Chris has taken a fairly conventional low-step frame design and paired it up with a good selection of off-the-Chinese-shelf parts, each well curated based on experience gained in their Waiheke Island rental business and rapidly growing Bikes & Barbers retail outlets.

[Please excuse the loose headlight in the video]

What is unique is that the bike is available in four variants: 26″ wheels or larger 700c (28/29″) wheels, 36V or 48V. I got to ride three variants, missing the 36V/26″ option. There are even four colour options. Talk about choice!

You may be confused at this point about wheel sizes, and fair enough! 26″ wheels are common on older mountain bikes. 700c aka 28″ (road bike) aka 29″ (MTB) are all the same thing. There is also a 650b aka 27.5″ which is common on some touring bikes and many modern MTBs. Thank goodness not offered on an Onya SH-1…

I first hopped on a forest green 700c 36V and was instantly confused by the front basket that is attached to the frame. It takes a few seconds to get used to this, but it makes for a secure mounting and helps with handling. The front suspension (Suntour) felt plushy, and with the bigger wheels, good Schwalbe Marathon puncture-resistant tyres and a sprung seat post, felt very comfortable. The smaller-wheeled version had Schwalbe Big Ben balloon tyres.

The remote is easy to operate as is the thumb throttle, and there are no less than 9 levels of assist! I am hoping that Chris will do some options tweaks as that it about 4 too many. Pickup of speed was smooth for a cadence sensor bike. Nice manners.

Next I hopped on a 700c 48V and noticed the extra grunt. Theoretically it could be 33% more powerful. In practice on my timed runs, it was a bit faster and had about a 2km/h better top speed. In every other way, it was the same bike. Some of these stats might be a bit skewed as the batteries were not fully charged. These bikes were fresh off the boat and hadn’t yet been tweaked and tuned.

The 26″ is again largely similar, but I definitely noticed the slightly choppier nature of the smaller wheels. I didn’t do a timed run.

I should say that I came away quite impressed. Optioned up at around the $3k mark it is good value. I didn’t do any long rides so I can’t tell you about endurance. Base battery is 13Ah which is typically good for around 35km at moderate speeds/assist levels, 20-25km at full speed.

I can tell you that the brakes are cable actuated and felt good. One of the bikes had a built in bell on the left Tektro lever a la Smartmotion, and all had not-so-nice grips that slipped around. I’d like to say this is an easy fix, but finding short grips to suit a thumb throttle on the left and twist gears on the right isn’t easy. In past with MTB Grip Shift I’ve sourced a grip that had to be cut to size. Gears shifted well. Size and fit can be adjusted not only by the saddle, but also a quick release stem. Towards you and up for the shorter rider, away and down for the taller rider.

The SH-1 bikes are available through Bikes & Barbers. There is also a dedicated Onya brand website.

Base price is $2750 (though B&B site says $2850). Options available are:

  • 700C wheels (vs base model at 26″): plus $100 inc. GST

  • Battery upgrade to 14.5Ah: plus $110 inc. GST

  • Battery upgrade to 17Ah: plus $350 inc. GST

  • 48V – 750 Watt: plus $190 inc. GST

  • TRAY Update: plus $89 inc. GST

So as tested the 48V 700C with tray would be $3129, or $2939 for 36V. I suggest a battery upgrade if you are doing anything more than 10km each way and go for 17Ah if you choose 48V. Remember with batteries you need to configure for the range you want when the battery is a bit down on capacity after many charge-recharge cycles.

The 36V and 48V Grafton Gully rides for your geeking out. Strava had them at 2:27 and 2:18 respectively, both respectable times.