It’s An Uphill Battle For Weaker E-Bikes Like This

Six friends have approached me the past few weeks wanting to know what kind of e-bikes to buy for either themselves or their children. We have healthy hills around our area, which leads me to tell them that they probably want a model with at least a 500W motor and some good torque. But several of these friends have never ridden electric bikes before. Therefore, they’re understandably very cautious and want to go slow.

As it happens, I’ve had in my possession a test model of Charge’s new Comfort 2 Step-Thru e-bike with its 250W motor. I’ve let all my friends try it as a starting point. I insist they try to get up the main hill of our neighborhood, before coming back and trying the 500W and 750W e-bikes that I own. That’s because I want their before-and-after impressions. I’m too jaded. Already having bikes that can fly up the hill, I get frustrated with the Comfort 2 creeping at 13 mph – the fastest it can get up the hill.

So I’ve asked my friends to try it. And the results are consistent. They all feel super comfortable at that relatively slow top speed – until they try the other two bikes I have that can both reach 18 or 19 mph on the same stretch. Then they don’t want to go back to the Comfort 2. You can always go slowly with the faster models, but you can’t up the speed with the slower one.

Here’s the deal. There’s a lot to like about the Comfort 2. To start, it offers the single-best assembly experience I’ve encountered. You can scan the QR code on the box for a quick assembly video. Or you can just open the instruction manual. Either way – and by yourself – you should easily have the bike put together and ready to roll in 15 minutes. Even if you’re a virgin at bicycle assembly. The Charge folks have done a masterful job at simplifying things with words, photos, videos and labeled/numbered parts that are collectively pretty foolproof.

The seat on it is super comfortable. There’s an electric horn, as opposed to a manual bell, that sounds like the Roadrunner cartoon meep. It’s a super quiet and comfortable ride. The bike comes with clever tire gauge sensor caps that color-indicate when you need to pump up the tires. There’s a rear rack. The entire bike weighs only 55 pounds – thanks to a lightweight aluminum fork – which is less than many competitor models. It accommodates people between 4’11” and 6’3” tall comfortably, with the adjustable seat. And it has internal cable routing that keeps its wires from getting snagged and wet, when it rains. Plus, you can easily get the bike up to 20 mph on flat or downhill ground. Acceleration is smooth, too. As is the braking. There are seven manual speeds and three pedal assist levels, as well as a thumb throttle for when you don’t want to pedal. And the bike seems like it’s made with decent-quality parts – the motor comes from Bafang.

The manufacturer claims you can get up to 50 miles per charge. I’m still working on the first charge, so I can neither confirm nor deny this. At $1,899, I think it’s rather pricey for what you get. And how slowly you have to negotiate hills. But it’s a nice and comfortable ride, nonetheless.

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