Ancheer 27.5-inch Blue Spark Electric Bike Review
Cons: Seatpost too short for taller riders, no instructions for the display
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Blue Spark is one of many affordable electric bike models made by Ancheer. This model has a mountain bike style and rolls on 27.5-inch wheels. It has a 350W brushless rear hub motor and a 374Wh battery that combined to give it the longest distance range and make it one of the most powerful models we tested. Add to that a great user interface and good all-around handling, and it was easy to give this bike a Top Pick Award.
In our testing, we found the Blue Spark to have comfortable and predictable handling in virtually all situations. Whether cornering at high or low speeds or cruising downhill at top speed, it felt calm and composed and responded well to rider input. This bike's larger wheels, tires, and suspension fork also help to dampen the ride and take the edge off impacts.
When we performed our handling tests, we were pleasantly surprised by the Blue Spark. In our cornering tests, we found that it made nice rounded turns with a smooth and predictable feel. Short turns, long turns, it handles both with the same consistency and control. It responded well to steering input at both high and low speeds and never felt unsteady the way bikes with smaller wheels can. At 20 mph, while bombing down our test hill, it felt stable and unflappable thanks to its 27.5-inch wheels and longer wheelbase.
We found the components attached to the Blue Spark to work relatively well throughout testing. Neither the drivetrain nor the brakes required any adjustment out of the box, and once this bike was put together, it was ready to roll with no additional tinkering. The 24-speed Shimano drivetrain provides a huge gear range and ensures that pedaling this bike will be plenty easy even if you run out of battery on a ride. We found the mechanical disc brakes to perform well, although they felt a little inconsistent, with a stopping distance of 22 feet in our full-speed stopping test. This bike does come with a suspension fork, which gets about 2 inches of sticky and inconsistent travel. While it helps with some more significant impacts, this fork is more for show than its suspension performance. It also comes with 1.95-inch wide tires that have a little bit of knobby tread on them. These higher volume tires help to smooth over the rough stuff and provide a little traction should you choose to do some light duty dirt road or trail riding. That said, we wouldn't recommend doing any hardcore mountain biking on this bike despite its mountain bike looks.
The overall comfort of the Blue Spark was relatively average. The seat was agreeable for long periods of riding while testing, and our testers enjoyed the slightly wider handlebar. This bike does not have an adjustable stem, although it does have a decent range of seat height adjustment. Ancheer claims a rider height range of 5'1" to 6'4", but we respectfully disagree with that. Our six-foot-tall tester with a 32-inch inseam was nowhere close to getting proper leg extension while pedaling with the seat height maxed out. Sure, taller riders can use this bike, but you'll certainly want to get a longer seatpost if you intend to do any pedaling.
We were impressed by the Blue Spark in our distance range testing, and it took top honors and bested the competition. This wasn't too surprising given its larger battery storage capacity, and it really went the distance on our test course. If an electric bike's range tops your list of performance attributes, this bike should be on your radar.
The Blue Spark comes with a 374Wh battery (36V 10.4Ah), as opposed to the smaller 288Wh batteries found on several of the other bikes we tested. The more battery power you have, the longer your bike can theoretically travel, and this bike proved that in our testing. Using the throttle only, we went 20.25 miles with 1,171 feet of elevation gain/loss in 1 hour and 24 minutes. Our average speed was 14.5 mph with a top speed of 21.9 mph while cruising one of the downhill sections. While it may not have held the fastest average speed during this test, it did travel the farthest, outdoing the other models in the test with similar battery capacity. Only one model came close to matching this distance, although it fell short by over half a mile.
The Blue Spark proved to be one of the most powerful models we tested with great acceleration and a high top speed. It can be used in full-electric/throttle mode, or in its five pedal assist modes in conjunction with pedaling with a robust 350W brushless rear hub motor. It easily outperformed most of the competition with its impressive power output.
On flat ground, the Blue Spark's 350W rear hub motor easily propelled us up to a top speed of just under 20 mph while using the throttle only. Its acceleration felt the fastest and most powerful of all the bikes we tested by a slim margin. Once up to speed, it was able to easily hold it there as long as the terrain remained flat. We also found that it held its speed going up moderately pitched hills during our range testing. It crested our short test hill at 13 mph, where some of the competition struggled to stay above 10 mph. Unlike some of the other bikes we tested, the throttle only works when the pedal assist is turned on.
We were also quite impressed with this bike's powerful pedal assist output. It has five output settings that provide a good range of support from around 30% up to 100%. The assistance comes on suddenly after about a quarter pedal stroke, and it hangs on for about a second once the pedals stop turning. The bike provides the same amount of output regardless of how hard you are pedaling, and it can occasionally feel a bit jumpy if you're in an easy gear and high output setting. We found out top pedal-assisted speed to be right around 20.5 mph, and it was easier to get to and hold that speed than on most of the other bikes we tested.
The Blue Spark has an excellent user interface that consists of ergonomically friendly handlebar-mounted controls and a digital display that is centered over the stem. This user interface was one of the best we tested, although it lost a little ground to our top-rated model due to the fact that it didn't come with any instructions.
The controls consist of a small handlebar-mounted unit that is attached next to the left grip. There are five buttons, power, backlight, info, and + and -. The power button is used, not surprisingly, to turn the bike's power on and off. The backlight button can be used to turn the display screen's backlight on or off, and the info button is used to scroll through different data fields at the bottom of the display. The + and - buttons are located on the left side of the unit closest to the grip and are very easy to reach with the thumb to shift up or down through the five pedal assist modes. The right-hand grip is home to a standard twist throttle used to engage the throttle when using full-electric mode.
The Blue Spark has an excellent digital display mounted in the center of the handlebar above the stem. This location makes it especially easy to see while riding, and it displays a wealth of information at a glance. It shows current speed, remaining battery life, pedal-assist setting, and you can choose what the bottom field shows (average speed, max speed, trip distance, odometer, or elapsed time) by pressing the info button on the controls. The screen also has a backlight that can be used at night or in challenging lighting conditions. While we loved the display on this bike, we were quite dismayed by the fact that it didn't come with any instructions. We are sure that you can change the settings, but for the life of us, we couldn't figure out how, and we were stuck viewing our speed and distance in kilometers instead of miles. Trial and error and internet searches left us scratching our heads.
The battery easily slides into position on the down tube of the frame and can be locked in place using the included keys. The battery can be charged on or off the bike using the included charging cord, which plugs into a standard charging port. Ancheer claims a battery charging time of six hours.
The Blue Spark was in good company in our ease of assembly testing, and it scored right alongside the majority of the bikes we tested. It arrived about 80% assembled, with only the usual simple steps required to finish putting it together. It took approximately 45 minutes to get it from the box to be ready to ride.
Like most of the bikes we tested, the Blue Spark arrived in a standard size bike box and was generously protected from shipping damage with a variety of packing materials. After unboxing and removing the protective materials from the bike, it became evident that the majority of the assembly was already completed, and that the remaining steps included attaching the front wheel, handlebar, and seatpost. There were also the additional easy steps of attaching the digital display, reflectors, bell, and headlight (which didn't come with batteries), all of which were quite simple and only added a couple of minutes to the process. This bike also came with a small tool kit, as well as very detailed instructions for every step in the remaining assembly process. Not only were the assembly instructions detailed, but the user manual also includes step by step instructions for tuning both the front and rear derailleurs. This could come in handy if you ever try to do your own maintenance or repairs. The final step was sliding the battery in place on the downtube of the bike and plugging it in to charge.
Considering its good ride quality, strong power output, and impressive distance range, it would be hard not to call the Blue Spark a good value. It costs less than our Editor's Choice Award winner, and it was easily our second highest-rated model. If you're looking for an affordable electric bike with a mountain bike style, we feel this is the best you'll find in this price range.
The Blue Spark is a reasonably priced mountain bike style e-bike that impressed us with its power output and distance range. This bike went farther than the competition in our distance range testing with comfortable and predictable handling and a great user interface. If top speed and distance range are important in your buying decision, we feel this is a great option to consider.
— Jeremy Benson