Let me explain this review. I've recently purchased a Batribike Granite. I, like lots of people these days, have been looking for a way to save money on fuel. My situation is that my school is 12 miles away, so driving my car there and back 4 plus times a week was looking a little expensive. So my alternatives were; get a motorbike, get a scooter, get a bike, take the bus or walk. I looked into each of these options once by one and they were either just to expensive or not practical.
Eventually, I can't remember how, but I got to looking at power assisted bicycles. My wife and I spent weeks looking over electric bikes, any that we could find, I needed something that could consistently travel 25 miles or more on one charge. Very few bikes could do this. We came across a competition to win a Batribike so we looked them up. Their bikes promised nearly twice the performance that even more expensive bikes did. Was is too good to be true?
The thing that we couldn't find was objective reviews of the bikes, especially Batribike as they seem to be fairly new. Occasionally we came across reviews but they were either poorly spelled 3 sentence summaries or sponsored by the manufacturer. So I wrote this in the interest of helping another person in this situation make up their mind.
The bike arrived needing some assembly, there aren't any instructions so if you're not familiar with bike maintenance I'd suggest that you take it to a shop for assembly. Most bike shops will be happy to help you assemble it for a small fee. Once built my first impression was "Wow, that's a big bike". My wife said the same thing but looking at it stood next to other bikes, it's no bigger. So if size is a problem for you, don't worry, the rugged frame makes it appear bigger than it is.
It's an attractive looking bike, I like the silver finish, I like the thick frame. Even the rack over the back wheel is sturdy and good looking, much better than those wire hanger contraptions you get on lots of bikes. The battery sits under the rack, with a pannier you'd never even notice it. The motor controls are on the left handle and a 7 gear changer is on the right, nothing is cheap looking or poorly placed. All the wires have plenty of slack where needed and are otherwise held neatly to the frame.
The bike comes with front and back LED lights and a bell and a big comfy saddle. The battery is Lithium Polymer that's supposed to have a life of 1000 cycles, it powers a 250W motor. 26" Wheels, and an 18" frame.
I'm not going to lie to you, it's a heavy bike despite the aluminum alloy frame, 24 kilo's (53 lbs) with the battery. My wife's mountain bike comes in at 15 kilos. Most of the additional weight is over the back wheel where both the battery and motor are. The bike isn't heavy enough to be any sort of problem, it's easy enough to life and maneuver, but it did concern me a little when I attached it to the bike rack on the back of my car, the whole thing tilted to one side. With a few adjustments I was able to correct it but I'm doing to have to rethink my bike rack solution should my wife get one of these as well. The center stand is a nice touch but I don't think a standard kickstand would be up to the job.
The first trip that I took was the 12 mile trek to school. This is by no means an easy trek, in fact I couldn't manage it on a normal bicycle, I tried once, after 40 minutes I hadn't even made it half way so I gave up. I admit that I'm not in the best of shape but 24 miles is a long way even on a bike. I wanted to be able to ride to school without having to train for a triathlon first.
On the Batribike I was there and back in 105 minutes.
Throughout the journey I just a mixture of power assistance level, I tried to favor level 1 and 2 but spent a fair amount of time on level 3 and 4 as well as I grew tired. When I got back the power remaining was somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4, which means that I could have made the trip possibly 2 more times. So it seems that the promise of 40 miles minimum pedal assisted might not be to good to be true after all.
The bike rides nicely, it's stable and comfortable. There are shock absorbers on the front fork and seat. I've never been a big fan of suspensions systems on bicycles but it really seemed to help smooth out the ride. The gear Shimano gear system is very responsive and easy to use, teamed up with the power assist it makes for a very consistent ride. The motor hums but isn't very loud, except when coasting down a large hill it sounds like you're dive bombing, don't get me wrong you'd be nuts to think you could fool the guys in the Tour De France but after little while you stop noticing it.
The power assist on this bike has 4 stages, the first to are the ones I tend to use, they just help you to get up to and maintain speed despite any inclines you might come across. I've broken the 4 settings in to 2, on levels 1 and 2 the bike assists you, 3 and 4 you assist the bike. I found level 1 is great for just general riding where level 2 is better for hills. Level 3 is more for maintaining higher speeds, it doesn't seem to work very well in a stop/start scenario. As soon as you put any real pressure on the pedals the motor stops assisting. Think of it like gears on a car, you can stop start in 1st and 2nd but not 3rd. Level 4 is more for the throttle, it will work with the pedaling but it doesn't give you much more than level 3, it is a tad more forgiving though. Level 4 will take you to a higher maintained speed than level 3.
The throttle is awesome, while on a bike ride my wife took great delight in throttling past me at every opportunity. On a flat surface the it will take you up to 15 mph in no time. The throttle works on all power settings, which is really handy when you're crossing dual carriageways or negotiating tight obstacles, but take your time getting used to using it. It takes a second to respond and even on level 1 it means business.
The regenerative braking is a new feature on the 2010 Granite and Diamond models. This is activated by pedaling backward, be prepared when you use it. It's designed to slow you down and that's exactly what it does. No matter how fast you're going it'll take you down to a crawl in roughly 2 seconds. It's a handy feature and no doubt it will become my primary brake.
Through no fault of their own I've had to contact Batribike a few times already. I had special delivery instructions and they were very understanding and accommodating so I can't complain. They returned messages promptly, left messages when they missed me and have got to great lengths to resolve the issues. They even sent out one of their technical guys to my house. They're based 3 hours away! It's prize winning customer service no doubt about it.