Monday, November 16, 2009

Ultra Motor A2B Short Term Review

I've been riding our demo A2B electric bike for the past week for testing purposes and the bike is living up to its reputation as a great commuter tool. I took the bike so far on 4 ten mile trips of varying terrain and it's performed very well.

Handling- thanks to the bike's stout frame, wide tires and burly suspension, the A2B Ultra Motor is very flickable at all speeds. The frame is well balanced and rider position is very comfortable. Not super sporty, but not wholly cruiser-like either. You feel like you are on a heavier bicycle or a very light moped. It feels much more planted than a standard light weight bicycle.

Speed- the speed of this bike is impressive, which isn't to say that I don't yearn for another ten or twenty mph out of it, but it definitely gets up and goes plenty fine for a bike of this weight. In the higher speeds, the bike seems to have two ranges- a cruising speed and a passing speed. As the battery wears down on longer trips, that passing speed seems to go away and the cruising speed drops a little.

Purism - To the purist bicyclist who would complain about the A2B being a cheater-bike. It is and it isn't. Throw an incline at the bike and you'll want to take the strain off the motor, keep up your speed and preserve battery range by pedaling. Pedaling is easy and comfortable. You'll also do the same off the line, when starting from a stop. So, though the bike has a motor, you're doing a good amount of pedaling to keep the bike moving and that's good for your body and the bike. You can get a good work-out with the A2B ultra motor if you want and if you don't, you don't have to. And- when you're not getting a good pedaling work-out- know that you're taking advantage of the bike's small footprint, easy of parking and other advantages that you don't get otherwise.

Hills- I put the bike to some major incline tests to see how it would perform on hills, since hills are one of the main things that customers will want the A2B for. The A2B is fine on medium hills, though your speed will decrease a little and battery life starts to dwindle. On very very steep hills, the A2B's motor will stop working and make you walk. I tested it on a short very steep hill that I can't pedal up on a regular bike and the A2B did not like it. I then tested the A2B on a 2 mile incline that I can climb on a regular bike and the bike did well. It was strained to a degree and speed was reduced, but it pulled like a champ, requiring some good pedaling on my part. When you give this bike some serious hills though, that's when the A2B stops being like a scooter and starts being a heavy bicycle. A definite bonus: just as you crest that grueling hill, unlike a regular bike, squeeze the juice and you can ride out that last few feet of your hill and relax. Another bonus- though the bike is heavy and a little harder to push up hill, you can use the motor also to help lug it up any hill. Just flick the throttle a little and walk next to it at low speed.

Braking - the A2B has some excellent brakes. With the right adjustment this will stop quick at any speed and it will easily do a stoppie if you grab too much front brake.

Comfort- the positioning and geometry of the bike are very comfortable. I kind of wish it had a non-step-through frame so that I could use my knees for steering as well, but the wide seat and wide stance of the bike don't necessitate that either.

My transit times were cut down significantly compared to the same trip done on a standard bicycle. This means you can get to work or home quicker and a little less strained, but you're still putting in effort to keep the bike going.

So far, the A2B Ultra Motor electric bicycle is proving to be a great option for folks looking to get out of their cars more often and get on two wheels. Great for every day commutes under twenty miles. Great for bolting down to the grocery store and nearby cafe. Use it to get to work and you'll avoid the rat-race-pull-your-hair-out mornings that your neighbors have to endure. Use it for mid-day lunch dashes and you'll have enough time to go that favorite place a few miles further than you would normally go, that also may not have any parking, without jumping into your car.

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