eZee Sprint Alfine T4 – the grown-up Sprint for discerning buyers
When I first reviewed an eZee Sprint in the early days of this site, I likened it to a Hilux Ute. To extend that metaphor, the Hilux just got an automatic gearbox and aircon. It’s still the lovable tough ute, and just as the Top Gear crew tried to destroy a Hilux, my review bike survived a similar attempt at destruction by a Hamilton bogan with hardly a scratch.
So what’s different? Well better brakes for a start. They are really good. Well modulated and powerful, and hydraulic so no adjustments are needed. The chain also requires no maintenance because the rear wheel is fixed and there is a chain tensioner. The chain looks like it will survive a nuclear holocaust. The Alfine rear hub is much nicer than the cheaper Nexus hub, you need to ride them to appreciate the difference. The one thing that defines this model though is the torque sensor. It now pulls off smoothly even in top power setting and allows you to modulate power through your feet. I found that I never really had to adjust the power setting. What’s more is that the display is useful and gives an accurate indication of battery level, so no more red-LED-induced range anxiety. If you buy the T4 and decide you don’t like Torque mode, there is a hidden cadence sensor mode too (it involves a bit of poking around in menus). It would be nice if eZee made it easily switchable like Smartmotion has done.
The same Sprint virtues remain – tough of course, but practical. It has a low step-through frame, a useable throttle and a genuinely one-size-fits-all design. I’m over 6′ and ElectricMeg is a bit more than 5′, we both fit the same bike. The stock battery is 19Ah (684Wh) and you can get up to 34Ah (1224Wh). Take that Bosch and your measly 500Wh! Then you get arguably the most practical stand, quality components, useable lights, puncture-resistant tyres, go-forever wheels, built-in locking and in general, a built and specification that ‘just works’. The forks are still awful (you can thank the front wheel motor for that) but appeared thicker than on the Classic. In my interview with Wai Won Ching he reckoned the battery design will be with them forever, so you’ll always be able to get a new one down the line.
There is a reason why the Sprint is the fleet bike of choice, and equally the choice of many commuters who demand practicality, maintainability and long life over fancy features and aesthetics (let’s be honest: this isn’t the bike people will coo over).
Compared to the ‘classic’ Sprint the T4 is a little slower (perhaps 32km/h) but has more grunt up hills. These are the attributes favoured by typical Sprint buyers. On the Grafton Gully test, it was similar to the Classic (but I had a headwind), and up Liverpool St it was credible, limited mainly by traction – the front wheel was chirruping on the steep bits. When we rode the Hamilton-Ngauruwahia ride, the T4 was consistently faster up hills than the Classic.
At $4250 RRP this is $900 more than the classic. I think the upgrades are worthwhile – it really is easier to ride and feels a whole lot more sophisticated.
Who is this bike for?
- Commuters who demand the most practical conveyance
- Fleet owners who want ease of maintenance and robustness
Who isn’t it for?
- Style junkies
- Rail-trail riders
What else should I consider that is similar?
- Smartmotion’s new mid-City, though they aren’t made as tough
They need a better battery rail system. One with three points of contact instead of two. The battery is massive and constant vibrations over a year or so will warp the rails and cause the bike to turn off and on rapidly.
I think they supply a seatpost clamp thing that holds the battery. Electric Bike Team gave me one after a service, but ignoring it was a mistake ;-;
Luckily I brought a new rail ages ago. Just need the right screwdriver.
To be fair I don’t think this is a common problem. You ride more in a year than most people will in their life!
Got Maurice and the team to install a new terminal base plate, even after installing a new rail I had lying around. The problems still occurred with the new rail. Turns out the battery was moving about causing sparks to pit at the metal terminals. The old rail was just fine.
But then a month later, I noticed some metal shavings around the new base. And what do you know, it’s starting to pit again!
This time Maurice just ended up swapping the base plate for XT60 connectors. Comment on invoice: “modify battery to use an XT60 connector that is manually unplugged when
battery is removed. To remove, unlock battery as normal, slide out about
10cm, unplug by hand, then continue sliding battery out.”
When I asked Maurice if this was common, they said they’ve had maybe 20 cases? Can’t quite remember. I think mine was one of the severe ones out of the 20 or so? Makes sense with your comment though! 🙂