Normally, I’m not big into street bicycles. The only street-oriented bike I have in the shed is a Dutch-style bike that’s good for both city duty and gravel. Everything else is built for trails, sand, and maybe mud. So, when I first heard from Urtopia that they wanted me to review their Carbon One street bike, I wasn’t super excited. But, my brother’s working on a second degree and needed something to blast around campus. So, we actually had the perfect opportunity to do a really killer long-term review.
In this article, I’m going to cover a bit about the bike itself and how things are going so far.
The Urtopia Carbon One
While the bike immediately stands out with its flashy colors and frame, this isn’t a normal street bike. It’s got a number of features that set it apart.
Perhaps most important, it has a carbon frame. The whole bike weighs in at only 15 kg (about 33 lb), which puts it at a far lighter than most e-bikes. This not only makes the bike easier to move, carry, and store, but it also helps the bike perform better because it’s not pushing a bunch of steel frame around. For someone like my brother, who needs to load and unload the bike several times every week, this alone makes it an ideal fit.
It also has some cleverly hidden smart features. Instead of a big clunky screen hanging off the handlebar, the bike has a computer built into the fork. The screen is sizable, and beautiful, but it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, either. Plus, it has a great app with awesome connected features. Things like voice command, ride tracking, navigation, anti-theft tracking, and music come standard. You can even check on it when it’s out of wifi range, because it has a 4G modem built-in.
The bike itself has some great mechanical features for day-in and day-out reliability with minimal maintenance. The Gates Carbon Belt Drive keeps you from needing to deal with fussy chains, greasing, and calibrating gears. It has an interior torque sensor for smooth pedal assist. It also has the motor and battery cleverly hidden in the frame to avoid accusations of cheating or overzealous anti e-bike enforcement. All of this makes for a smooth package.
The bike has a compact hub motor that doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. It’s not the most powerful I’ve ever tested, but the 250 watts does a lot more than you’d think when it’s pushing such a light bike. Plus, it’s well integrated like the rest of the bike, and doesn’t scream “I’m an e-bike! Come bother me!” to the Karens and mall cops out there.
Arrival & Assembly
Unlike many bikes that arrive with some assembly required, this one was fairly straightforward. The rear wheel was already attached, so it only needed the front wheel put on, the handlebar bolted down, and the pedals put on the crank. It came with all of the tools needed to make it happen. You could probably get away with putting it together without a stand, but a stand makes the job go a lot faster and easier.
The only hiccup we ran into was that the brake lines had some air in them. Sadly, ordering in a bike direct to your home often comes with this kind of trouble, as no manufacturer has total control over shipping and handling. So, it’s hard to ding Urtopia for this, because it happens to incoming bikes all the time. If you’re ordering a bike and are concerned about assembly or tuning, it never hurts to take it to a local bike shop and have them either assemble it or inspect it for you.
But, don’t let this frighten you off. The bike comes with all of the tools you’d need to assemble it yourself, and most of what you’d need for maintenance. It comes in a nice little bag that attaches to the frame, so it’s not hard to always have essential tools with you.
Some Things About Bikes Should Be Boring
One of the most notable things about my brother’s testing and use for getting around one of the biggest campuses in the United States is what he didn’t say. He didn’t call to tell me it was broken. He didn’t tell me that it needed repair after a week. He didn’t have questions about how to use the bike, or anything.
This may be boring to write about, but it’s important that a bike you buy with serious transport in mind is relatively boring and trouble free when it comes to dependability. That’s exactly what he ended up getting: a bike that does the job with no fuss.
Plus, with an e-bike, you can show up to class without being sweaty or out of breath, which is helpful.
But, That Doesn’t Mean Riding Itself Is Boring
While the bike doesn’t make things too interesting as far as keeping it running, it’s still a blast to ride.
There are some wide open spaces in and near campus where my brother had an opportunity to open it up. With a max speed of 20 MPH, it might not sound like a thrill, but apparently it gets up to that speed pretty quickly with its light weight. Plus, you can pedal a bit after the assist cuts out to get some higher top speeds.
All in all, my brother describes the bike as “scary fast,” so it’s got more than enough juice not only for utilitarian transportation use, but also for some fun along the way.
Some Minor Nitpicks
While my brother thoroughly enjoys the bike, he did have a few small things he thinks could use improvement.
The first one was the headlight. It’s a nice light, but for a bike that can go 20 MPH, it’s easy to outrun the lights at night. So, if you want to go fast at night in places without bright street lighting, it’s probably a good idea to invest in some high beams.
Another small thing was that the clamp for the seat post can be a little confusing. He thought he had it tight enough, but it would still slip a little. There wasn’t a torque spec provided, so he had to figure out how tight to go by trial and error until the seat stopped moving. But, that’s what everyone who doesn’t have a torque wrench sitting around has to do.
He also thinks the app, while functional, could use some improvements. But, that’s something Urtopia can do after the sale, so we’ll have to see how that goes.
All images provided by Jennifer Sensiba.