The Electric Bike Company builds its unique variety of electrified California beach cruisers in Newport Beach, California. After visiting its headquarter and assembly shop, the company sent us one of its classic Model C e-bikes for a deeper look.
No Assembly Required
Right off the bat, the Model C stands out from the pack. It showed up on our doorstep fully assembled and ready to ride. Most bikes we review require several hours of assembly to fit the handlebars, front wheel, pedals, and more to the bike before getting out on the road for some riding. The Electric Bike Company skips all that and ships its California-built bikes fully assembled right to your doorstep.
When it showed up, I was able to literally just hop on and go for my first ride on it. It might sound small, but for those less technically inclined, that’s a really nice differentiator that makes buying and getting started on an e-bike that much easier.
One Gear To Rule Them All
The Model C is the Electric Bike Company’s classic electric bike that takes its custom aluminum alloy beach cruiser frame and melds it with a seamlessly integrated electric bike kit. Notably, the bike is a single speed with no gears up front, in the hub, or out back. That makes for a nice clean look, but I have to admit I was skeptical when founder and CEO Sean Lupton-Smith told me about it. Up front, a single 56-tooth cog is wrapped around the cranks while an 18-tooth in the rear is responsible for transferring the power to the rear wheel. An optional 16-tooth rear cog can be substituted out back for those living in really flat areas upon request.
In reality, I found the combination of the single speed refreshing. Instead of having to mentally balance the mechanical gear with the pedal assist power from the motor, I was able to simply focus on pedaling. If it was ever too difficult, I just increased the pedal assist or tapped on the throttle. It’s a bike built for those looking to simply enjoy the ride, without having to worry about it. More serious riders putting in more miles in a day or traversing more dynamic terrain will likely want to kick in the $69 for the optional 7-speed system.
It’s like the ultimate electrified moped. In this case, the tuning of the motor gets put on display with each ride. If the motor kicks in too strong or doesn’t kick in strong enough, pedaling can feel too fast or too difficult, no matter how much its adjusted. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the Electric Bike Company Model C, as riding it was simply a joy no matter where I went or how I rode. Not having to worry about gears also simplifies maintenance on the Model C as there is no derailleur, rear freewheel, or shifters to worry about. Just get on and ride.
A Classic Look With Modern Tech
The Model C takes the ease of use and classic styling of the California beach cruiser and carries it into the 21st century with an injection of nearly invisible electrification. The 500-watt MXUS rear hub motor is a blast to run around with, whether it be through one of the five levels of pedal assist or the power on demand throttle.
From the factory, the Model C comes stock with an 11 Ah battery that the company estimates will support 50 miles | 80 kilometers of electric range. A larger 17 Ah battery is estimated to provide support for up to 100 miles | 160 kilometers of range. As with any source of energy, the actual distance it can support depends on a wide range of factors. The listed ranges are likely possible with the pedal assist in the low setting without using the throttle. As the pedal assist increases, the amount of range drops accordingly. Terrain and cargo weight also impact the range.
My 65-pound 10-year old-son would be able to travel much farther on a full charge on pedal assist level 1 than his 40-year-old journalist father with the pedal assist set to 5 with occasional boosts from the throttle. In my testing of the bike, I’m squeezing out around 20 miles | 32 kilometers per charge of the 17 Ah battery with the pedal assist set to 5 with occasional use of the throttle. I know I could extend that even further with a more casual use of the battery but hey, why not drive it like you stole it, right?
When touring the Model C around town, it was constantly pulling in looks from bystanders trying to figure out what type of beast it was. Most people don’t know what to make of the mass of the battery and integrated charger tucked nicely in under the rear rack and either start looking around for someone to ask about it or just start scratching their heads.
Speaking of that integrated charger, the Model C has a nice feature that I’ve not seen on any other e-bikes. Its charger is literally built in to the battery pack. To charge it, one simply needs to flip open the small weather resistant door to reveal a retractable cord. That pulls out and extends about 40 inches | 101 centimeters to make charging a breeze. It is great to always have the charger on hand, but it does necessitate finding an outlet that’s convenient to use. Alternately, an extension cord can be used in the home, but it’s not ideal. Charging any e-bike requires a bit of creativity, but it sure is nice to always have the charger on board with the Model C.
The Model C can also be purchased with an optional anti-theft system. It’s a bit pricey at $129, but adds some helpful functionality to protect your new purchase. The system is activated from one of the two key fobs that are included if the alarm is purchased. Once armed, the system looks for any motion of the battery pack. A simple jiggle of the battery causes the system to chirp out a brief alert to let the offender know big brother is watching.
A more intense shake or a full movement of the bike causes the alarm to sound. It’s not ear piercing, but it is certainly loud enough to scare away would be thieves. It’s still a great idea to invest in a lock, but the anti-theft system is a nice second layer of protection for such a nice bike.
Up top, a nice color display shows off all the relevant stats for the bike including the speed, state of charge, voltage, odometer, status of the integrated front and rear lights, and trip distance, among other things. Its crisp colors make it easy to see what you’re looking for, no matter how bright the sun tries to get. A USB port tucked in behind the screen lets you charge up your devices from the main bike battery, which is a nice touch.
The Model C also features upgraded brakes. That’s not something many folks care about until they’re actually needed, but the high quality Tektro hydraulic disc brakes result in a much snappier, much faster response time than the mechanically-actuated Tektro disc brakes common in this price range of bikes.
The Electric Bike Company’s Model C is reasonably priced at $1,899 and offers more style for the buck than just about any bike in this price range. Being assembled in California and delivered fully assembled really does result in a better overall e-bike than many direct ship models. Local assembly also has the carry-on benefit of keeping the folks running the company, designing the bikes, and selling them close to not only the concepts, but the bikes themselves as they’re being assembled.
The result is an electric bike design that has been honed to a polish with higher quality parts and a far shorter time from delivery to riding than any other bike on the market. Its styling only serves to set it further apart from the surge of direct ship e-bikes flooding the market.
One last thing: The Model C doesn’t come with a bell. If that’s your speed and you like to let the vehicles, bikes, and people around you know that you’re coming, be sure to pick one up. It’s one of my favorite pieces of safety gear and this bike doesn’t come with one. Think about it as a fun way to set your bike apart from the pack and throw a nice glowing pink bell on yours when it shows up.
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