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Pedego City Commuter Review

Summary:

Clean design looks like a regular bike, sturdy and quiet with welded rack and powerful geared hub motor
Integrated seat post shock, lights, bell, and computer with great wire management
More aggressive rider positioning than the Pedego Cruiser, higher up, further reach to handlebars
Offers five levels of pedal assist in addition to twist throttle, power on demand
Optional battery upgrades can provide an increase in power or range

Stats:

Price: $2,395 USD MSRP with optional 48v battery upgrade for additional $400
Range: 20 to 30 miles depending on terrain, rider and wind, will go 50% further with 15 amp hour battery upgrade.
Top Speed: 20 miles per hour electronically limited, adjustable to 25
Gearing: 7 speed Shimano Acera rear cassette with twist grip shifter
Weight: 50 pounds plus battery, ~55 pounds total depending on battery, high grade aluminum frame
Battery: 36v 10 amp hour Lithium-ion battery stock with optional 15 amp hour upgrade for increased range at $295 or 48v 10 amp hour Lithium-ion upgrade for increased torque and hill climbing ability at $400. If you weigh over over 180lbs I recommend upgrading to the 48v pack. Batteries and bikes not interchangeable
Charge Time: 36v battery takes ~4 hours for full charge, 15 amp hour version and 48v version take longer
Ride Time: varies by rider 1.5+ hours easy
Charge Cycles: 1,500+
Motor: 400 watt for the 36 volt version or 500 watt for the 48 volt version. Both sealed, brushless and geared rear hub motors
Other: high end Schwalbe 28″ Fat Frank kevlar lined balloon tires pre-slimed to avoid flats, bell built into left brake lever by Tektro, sprung seat for smoother ride, integrated front and rear lights powered by the main battery and managed with the computer or a button on battery pack, twist throttle and pedal assist modes

Video Review:

Written Review:

The Pedego City Commuter picks up where the Pedego Classic and Step-through Cruisers left off but adds pedal assist, built in lights, a high end back-lit computer, dual disc brakes and better battery integration, all for a relatively small increase in price. This bike looks amazing, rides very well and features high end components all around. It changes the feel of the ride from relaxed and upright to a bit more aggressive forward leaning but isn’t nearly as aggressive as a road.

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The City Commuter weighs ~55lbs depending on the battery you choose and is somewhat rear-heavy but rides well and is very maneuverable. The stock battery is a 36 volt 10 amp hour Lithium-ion pack that delivers fast charging and plenty of cycles (over 1,500 before it begins losing range). You also have the option of upgrading to a 15 amp hour battery that will make the ride last 50% longer for only $295 and in my opinion this is very worth it! That said, this bike already gets 15 to 30 miles range for midweight ~160lb riders. If you’re a heavier rider, opt for the 48 volt pack for improved torque and better range. Note that the batteries are not interchangeable and that the 48 volt pack comes paired with a 500 watt motor vs. 400 for the 36 volt model.

In addition to throttle mode, the City Commuter offers five levels of pedal assist which are great to experiment with. On days when I want an extra workout I’ll set it to 1 and pedal along. The lower settings really help when pedaling from a standstill but cut out as you gain speed letting your legs do the work. The pedal assist hardware Pedego chose for this bike is pedelec vs. torque sensing which means you don’t have to push hardly at all for the motor to kick in (which I love) but also means it can cut in or keep going when you don’t want it to, simply because the sensor is “catching up”. Torque sensors are much quicker and smoother but require more force and might defeat the purpose of an electric bike for those with knee injuries.

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Regardless of whether you’re using the throttle or pedal assist, both brake levers have built in cut-off switches to kill the motor at any time. This is a nice option and pretty standard with electric bikes. A small bell has been integrated right into the left brake lever which is very handy (I ring mine all the time) but keeps the handlebars clean and clear. The computer unit is also positioned on the left side of the handlebars but manages to stay out of the way, even considering the brake and bell are right there next to it.

Speaking of computers… I like the unit on this bike a lot. It as four rubberized buttons that are easy to press and the screen is back lit. The back lighting includes three levels of brightness and only comes on when you turn on the lights. If you use the switch on the rear part of the battery pack to turn the lights on instead of on the computer, the screen stays completely dark which is nice if you feel like it’s distracting at night. The screen itself is monochrome and sealed, designed to stand up to direct sunlight, rain and other weather well. It controls five levels of pedal assist or throttle only mode by arrowing from zero to five. It displays your speed, distance, battery level, power input level, time, odometer and light mode which is pretty amazing considering how simple it is to use.

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All in all this is one of the best electric bikes out there with years of experience and insight going in to the design. The founders of Pedego have been selling bikes since 2007 and really refined their offering since the Classic Cruiser which launched in 2009 and is still a best seller. I’ve been riding my City Commuter too and from work every day seven miles round trip and never had an issue. Even so, the company offers great support and works through a network of trained dealers nation wide who will help you out if something breaks.

Pros:

Strong 500 watt geared hub motor with upgraded gear material to last longer (400 watt for the 36 volt version)
Durable built-in computer with back lighting tracks speed, battery level, pedal assist settings, lights and includes an amp meter to tell you how much work it’s doing vs. you
Rear rack is very usable for saddle racks and panniers (I like the Elements from Basil), protects the battery well, battery has a built in power level indicator and light switch
Rear rack is welded right onto the frame making it more rugged and quiet going over bumps, features a spring loaded top mounting arm for grabbing stuff when you don’t have panniers or a saddle bag
Battery locks to bike but key is not required to ride, battery is completely removable for charging inside
Front handle bar quick adjust in the neck is sturdy with integrated cover latch
High quality integrated fenders with mud flaps, chain guard to protect pants
Bell built into the left brake lever, small, loud and out of the way
Oversized front and rear disc brakes for maximum stopping power
Built-in rubber caps protect the rear axle ends from hitting your leg or getting rusted or bent
Built in water bottle mount holes, even on the step-through design (sounds obvious but many ebikes don’t have them)

Cons:

No fork shock but the seat post shock and large tires help smooth out the ride
Tubing on the rear rack is wider and thicker than most panniers are setup for so it’s hard to find a good fit, I recommend the Double Bag styles or a top bag
Chain guard is bent easily if stepped on or installed incorrectly
Large kickstand can bounce over bumps and is also a bit unstable when parked
Battery can be hard to pull out
Shorter bars than the Cruiser means you lean forward and feel bumps a bit more but provides leverage when pedaling
Twist throttle does not override pedal assist, can only be used separately

Rating:

Pedego City Commuter, Rated 5 out of 5
Updated March 5, 2013 by Court Rye

Resources:

Official Site
More Pictures
Electric Bike Review