Ecotric Vortex Electric City Bike Review
Cons: Mediocre display and controls, limited rider height range
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ecotric Vortex is billed as an "electric city bike," and this zippy 26-inch wheeled bike impressed our testers in several of our rating metrics. Its got a powerful 350W rear hub motor, a top throttle speed of 20 mph, and a solid distance range. It comes equipped for the city/commuting with smooth-rolling tires and front and rear fenders. We put it up against a diverse selection of affordable electric bikes to see how it compares.
Testers felt the Ecotric had a pretty good ride quality, although there was something about the geometry of the bike that didn't agree with our taller tester. That said, this bike has an almost racy feel, it rolls fast, handles predictably, and is generally pretty comfortable. While it couldn't match our top-rated models, it easily outperformed some of the competition.
The Ecotric rolls on 26-inch wheels with smooth, fast-rolling tires intended for use on pavement. This bike rolls fast and carries speed well, and we found it to be plenty stable at just over 20 mph during our high-speed downhill stability test. That's a good thing considering this bike's 20 mph top throttle speed. We found its handling to feel mostly predictable and steady, and it tracked well through wide bends and corners. We did find that tighter low-speed turns could feel a touch twitchy, which we attribute to its lower front end and somewhat narrow handlebar. It is intended for use on smooth paved roads, yet we found it to have a reasonably damped ride feel over infrequent rough sections or cracks in the road thanks to its somewhat girthy tires.
The Ecotric should fit a reasonably wide range of users with a suggested height range of 5'3" to 6'0" and a 220 lb maximum rider weight. Testers found the geometry of this bike to feel quite a bit racier than the other models we tested, with a lower front end a more aggressive body position. The stem is adjustable, but even with it all the way raised, it still felt a bit too low for our six-foot-tall tester. There is a decent range of adjustment in the seatpost as well, although not nearly enough for that same tester to achieve proper leg extension while pedaling. Taller riders may need to get a longer seatpost for proper fit and comfort on this bike. That said, the ergonomic grips were quite comfortable, as was the saddle during extended periods of test riding.
We found the 7-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain to work well, and it provided an adequate range for all but the steepest of hills we encountered while testing, even when riding without pedal assistance. The mechanical disc brakes work just fine, and we were able to come to a stop from full pedal-assist speed in 22 feet during our braking distance test. The Ecotric also comes with a bell and front and rear fenders to help keep you from getting splashed if you happen to ride through a puddle or during inclement weather conditions.
During our distance range test, we found the Ecotric to be above average. It wasn't the best in this test, but it was the fastest, logging an average speed almost two mph faster than the next closest competitor. Our test was done using the throttle only with it wide open the whole time, and we feel that it is safe to assume it could have traveled further, and possibly rivaled our top performers, had it done so at a comparable average speed.
Our Vortex test bike came with a 360Wh battery. Interestingly, its factory specs call for it to have a slightly smaller 324Wh storage capacity. We can't be sure if the specs are incorrect, or the wrong battery came with our bike, either way, it's a good amount of battery capacity. On our range test course, the Vortex traveled 16.42 miles with 958 vertical feet of elevation gain/loss in 56 minutes and 55 seconds. During the test, it held an average speed of 17.3 mph with a maximum speed of 23.7 mph while cruising downhill. While this range is a few miles short of the best in this metric, its average speed is what really impressed us. This bike was going considerably faster than any of the other bikes we tested, and it covered that range in less time than the competition. Ecotric claims a range of 18-20 miles under perfect conditions, and we feel pretty confident that it could go that far on perfectly flat terrain and likely be doubled by pedaling and using pedal-assist instead of the throttle.
The Vortex comes with a 350W brushless rear hub motor, and it was one of the most powerful models we tested. We performed several power output tests, and it came out on top of all of them. Its acceleration wasn't necessarily any faster, but it had the highest top speed and average speed of all the models we tested.
The Vortex is reasonably quick in its acceleration, not the fastest but not terribly far off. Using the throttle, it's easy to get it up to its top speed of 20 mph on flat terrain. We found that it held that speed well while cruising, and while doing our range testing, it proved to be the strongest while going up and over our short test hill, never dropping below 13 mph. Its average speed of 17.3 mph during our throttle only range test is also a testament to this bike's robust power output.
The Vortex also impressed us with its power output when using pedal assist. It has three support modes, low, mid, and high, which provide 40%, 70%, and 100% support, respectively. It takes about a full rotation of the pedals for the assistance to engage, but once it does, it comes on strong regardless of how quickly you're turning the pedals. The power band extends for about a full second after you stop pedaling, and applying the brakes shuts off all power whether you're using the throttle or pedal assist. On flat ground, we found it to be relatively easy to get the bike up to 20 mph in the high support setting while pushing a big gear, although it was challenging to get the bike going much faster than that.
The Ecotric has a functional and straightforward user interface, although it can't match the top-rated models in this metric. The LED 810 display panel is a handlebar-mounted affair that is home to the bike's three control buttons and LED lights that show the remaining battery charge and pedal-assist setting. While there is nothing special about it, it is uncomplicated and serviceable.
The LED 810 display panel is mounted just next to the left grip on the handlebar. This simple display and control unit combo has three buttons, power, mode, and 6km/h. The power button is used to turn the bike on and off while the mode button shifts sequentially through the bike's three pedal assist modes (low, medium, high). Pressing the 6km/h button engages the motor, which pushes the bike along at a consistent 6 kilometers per hour (3.7 miles per hour), a nice option if walking with the bike or pushing it up a steep hill. The display consists of seven bright red LED lights. Three of the lights show which pedal assist setting you are currently using while the other four show remaining battery life. The twist throttle is integrated into the right-hand grip and is actuated by twisting it back towards you.
The battery is a relatively standard e-bike battery that attaches to the down tube of the frame. The battery can be locked to the bike using the included keys, and it can easily be removed for charging or security. The Ecotric comes with a charging cable, and the battery has a charging socket with a rubber cover on its right side. Ecotric claims a battery charge time range of 5-8 hours and a battery life of 400-600 charge cycles.
The Ecotric scored right along with the rest of the pack for its relatively standard ease of assembly. Like most of the other bikes we tested, it arrived a full-size bike box and was well packaged and protected from shipping damage. After removing the bike from the box and the protective materials from the bike, the remaining assembly took approximately 45 minutes to complete.
Most bikes are shipped from the manufacturer or seller mostly assembled, roughly 80-85%, and the Ecotric was no exception. The remaining assembly steps included attaching the handlebar, seat and seatpost, front-wheel, pedals, and front fender. These steps are all quite easy and don't require any real bike mechanic skills to complete. The Ecotric also comes with all of the necessary tools as well as printed instructions. The instructions were quite general and not specific to the City Bike model we tested, but they were adequate to get it up and rolling.
We feel the Ecotric City Bike is a solid value. Not only is it one of the fastest models we tested with a top speed of 20 mph, but it comes city/commuter ready with fast-rolling tires and fenders ready to tackle the city streets. It may not be our highest-rated model, but it costs significantly less and performs nearly as well.
The Ecotric Vortex is a good, reasonably priced electric city bike that would be great for commuting or running errands around town. It is fast and powerful with a respectable distance range, and it comes clad with fast-rolling tires and fenders. It may not be our top-rated model, but we feel it could be a great affordable option for a lot of riders.
— Jeremy Benson