Published on September 4th, 2019 | by Kyle Field0
The CERO One Brings Japanese Sensibility & Efficiency To The World Of Utility E-bikes
September 4th, 2019 by Kyle Field
The CERO One e-bike is the brainchild of co-founder and CEO of CERO Bikes Kiyoshi Iwai. After yet another day of crawling through Los Angeles traffic, Kiyoshi was at his wits’ end. He envisioned a Los Angeles where people moved around the sunny city on bicycles. Where smog was replaced with fresh air and hours spent in a car were exchanged for more time with family exploring the city.
With that vision in mind, he set out on quest to bring the dream to reality. Originally from Tokyo, Iwai started with the mamachari, or mom bike, that is a popular e-bike style in Japan. These bikes had room for groceries, kids, and gear, serving to stitch the community together, one bike, one family at a time. He got to work assembling a team of bike designers, engineers, and business leaders, and before too long, a company was born.
His desire to reduce emissions in the city made its way directly to the name of the company, CERO, which means zero in Spanish, for zero emissions. The CERO One is the first bike to emerge from the Los Angeles headquarters of CERO, with its prominent 26″ rear wheel and slightly smaller 20″ front wheel. The seemingly odd choice pair the stability that comes from a larger rear wheel with the nimble steering that is afforded by the smaller front tire. Beefy Schwalbe Balloon Big Ben Plus tires offer puncture resistance and a nice bit of cushion between the rider and the road. Kiyoshi brought a CERO One up to us to run through the paces before they pried it out of our hands after a few weeks.
The CERO One was built to be a forever bike. They don’t tell you that, but a quick ride on it and it’s clear that it was built to last. The solid, squat step-through frame is stiff without being bulky and heavy, thanks to its 6061-T6, TIG-welded aluminum frame. It screams out quality from every angle and its hauling capacity of 300 pounds speaks to that quality. Said another way, the CERO One can carry an adult and a child if you fit the bike with a Yepp Maxi Seat. That’s on an e-bike that weighs just 56.3 pounds. Not too shabby.
Getting down to the nuts and bolts, let’s take a look at some of the more relevant specs for the CERO One:
- Price: $2,890 and up
- Weight: 57 lb.
- Tires: Schwalbe Big Ben
- Powertrain: Shimano STEPS system
- Charging time: 2.5 hours 0-80% charge, 5 hours for a 0-100% charge.
- Electric Assist Range: 93 miles with minimal assist, less as assist, weight, terrain difficulty increase.
- Drivetrain: Shimano Deore components
- Gears: 10 speed, 11-42 tooth range on rear cassette
- Wheel Size: 26-inch rear, 20-inch front
- Security: Integrated rear wheel ABUS steel frame lock
Kiyoshi and his team at CERO then proceeded to bolt just about every high quality part that Shimano makes onto the frame, starting with the Shimano STEPS electric bike system. The core of the system is a mid-drive 250 watt motor that provides pedal assistance up to 20 miles per hour, the legal limit for a Class 1 e-bike in the US.
With pedal assist on low, the 504 Wh Shimano battery provides pedal assist support for 93 miles per charge. Cranking the amount of assistance provided by the motor naturally decreases the range per charge, as does loading more people and gear onto the e-bike. CERO also tapped into the main battery to run front and rear lights, which gives riders a nice bit of extra safety right out of the gate without having to worry about an extra set of batteries for the lights.
A quick tap on the Shimano Deore 10-speed shifter results in a lightning fast gear change from the rear Shimano Deore GS derailleur, even when under load. Comfy Ergon grips make long hours on the bike much more friendly to your hands while the Ergon gel seat does its best to balance the lightweight build of the bike with comfort for your rear end. I personally found it to be a bit lacking on the cushion side, but I prefer to ride in comfort as opposed to just having the minimal support from a lightweight seat. Your mileage may vary.
Just this week, the CERO One was awarded a prestigious Eurobike Gold Award at Eurobike 2019 for its clever design and unique functionality. Eurobike said the CERO One is, “A compact e-cargo bike with a good carrying capacity. Clever features include the modular accessories that can be fitted to the front and rear carriers. We considered this a sturdy workhorse for everyday use. Its low centre of gravity provides stability.”
Riding the CERO One, the quality is immediately apparent. The lightweight build of the entire bike combined with the seamless integration of the Shimano STEPS system make the 57-pound bike feel much more like a BMX bike than the heavy duty workhorse that it is. I found myself standing up cranking on the pedals, thrashing the bike side to side like I used to on BMX bikes in days long gone. It is one of the first bikes I was inclined to take out on a ride just for the fun of it and had an absolute blast just ripping along beach promenades, long worn out bike lanes, and even a few jumps off the curb, just for fun.
On the other hand, longer rides on the One had me repeatedly running into the 20 mile per hour legal speed limit for motor-assisted bikes in the United States. As an aside, ebikes across the nation and around the world are butting up against this threshold as the technology vastly exceeds regulators’ ability to control the influx of high power motors and batteries into the country.
Stacking some cargo into the large rack CERO provided to us with the bike revealed its core competency as a utility workhorse, with the ability to carry work gear, groceries, and a child on the back, if that’s your thing. If not, even more cargo can be added via one of CERO’s cargo offerings.
The CERO One was designed to be as flexible as possible, within the confines of its lightweight, compact frame. Sprouting from the front and rear of the One are cargo racks, ready to be fitted with bags, boxes or one of CERO’s 3 standardized bolt-on options. They offer a small basket, large basket, and a platform in the same semi-gloss black paint as some of the frame components to ensure a seamless aesthetic from nose to tail.
These options, along with the fact that the One is compatible with Yepp’s Maxi infant seat without any adapters, make it a great option for families looking to replace some or all of their trips in a car with an ebike.
From the factory, customers can spec out a bike that meets their needs, with the confidence that its sturdy frame can handle whatever life may throw at it, and then some. The smaller front tire on the One offers unparalleled stability for heavier loads in a front-mounted rack while the larger rear tires provides a stable base for the rider.
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