Smartmotion xCity – the Landrover of ebikes
The xCity – the “Landrover of ebikes” according to one of the dealers – is the ebike that will boogie its way off the showroom floors this summer. In many respects, it is the ideal ebike, these are xCiting times!
Smartmotion is New Zealand brand that actually designs their bikes here, and the ‘old’ eCity has become one of those bikes that seems to be just everywhere, and is the bike that many associate with ebike. Many importers have tried the crossover genre, especially as New Zealanders love mountain bikes. Go into any bike shop and they dominate, because that is what sells. What is unique about xCity is that it is a step through frame, mid drive, has good wheels, tyres, brakes, lights, racks, mudguards… and it just all works! The frame is stiff enough to give confidence (far less wobbly than some step-throughs), and the beefy 27.5×2.35 Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres give you heaps of grip and comfort.
The Dapu mid-drive is new to Smartmotion (and indeed anywhere). Dapu has been Smartmotion’s motor supplier since forever, and this unit is compact and plenty grunty enough. A prototype was sent the length of New Zealand and stripped down afterwards – good as new. Be sure to check out the amazing video – very jealous it wasn’t ElectricMeg and I doing that!
The generous 15.6Ah (560Wh) battery sits inside the rear rack like most step-throughs. On all manner of rough terrain we didn’t find that this unbalanced the bike (testing was done by ElectricMeg and ElectricBazza on Rotorua trails over a long-weekend). On fast flowing Grade 2 trails (not it’s target environment!) it handled just fine, except when there were rapid up-down motions, in which case slowing down a wee bit fixed it. This was a robust test (the things we do for you!) and in reality the bike handled far better than expected so it is by no means a criticism. The Tektro hydraulic brakes were great on some steepish downhills, and the Shimano Deore 10-speed gears worked well with plenty of spread. There is a sensor that backs the motor off a bit when you shift, so no crunching of gears.
It has similar lighting treatment to the Pacer – good forward lights and cool-looking LED’s running down the rack stays. It also has the useful Smartmotion-unique cadence/torque mode switching, which is a nice feature.
If I had to pick out some weak points, it is that the mudguards were a bit short to fully protect the rider from crud. That however needs to be offset against not snagging up when it gets a bit muddy, and clearly a conscious decision. I also found that on occasion the thumb throttle was easy to knock. I discussed this aspect with Smartmotion, and they did it because of feedback that twist throttles could have bikes accidentally do wheelies in front of their riders (and we have seen that happen with twist throttles bikes, it’s very funny to watch but not ideal). One thing to consider if you are going to do frequent commuting is that the tyres (while great) are not puncture resistant. They are regular good-quality MTB tyres and a great choice as such.
Also newly minted is the midCity – a similar bike with commuting tendencies. The midCity frame is slightly less stiff and has regular mudguards, chainguard and Big Ben tyres. The replacement for the eCity is still a hub drive – available in step-through and diamond configurations.
Overall, this is one of the most fun bikes we have used. It absolutely ‘nails it’ in terms of fun, utility and versatility. Would highly recommend. RRP $3899. Available in two colours: sand (in the video) and green (as below).
Who should buy this bike?
- Anyone wanting a step through frame that is versatile. It’s not only a ladies’ bike!
- Can do rail trails and other Grade 1-2 trails (eg Waikato River Trail). Timber Trail might be a bit of a stretch, but still do-able.
Who shouldn’t buy this bike?
- All you will use it for is commuting. You are better off with smooth puncture-resistant tyres and full mudguards. Get the midCity or eCity.
- You really want an eMTB. Buy one – the Hypersonic being a good choice and a not-wildly-different price point.
What else should you consider?
- This bike is unique, really!