Ecomotion e-City Review
Cons: Less powerful motor, 20 mph top speed
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Ecomotion is a lesser-known brand that produces a modest line of reasonably priced electric bikes in a variety of styles, including the e-City we tested. This bike's retro styling, features, and affordability caught our attention, and we felt compelled to test it against a diverse field of the best e-bikes on the market. While it didn't necessarily stand out from the competition, we feel that it is a quality option that is certainly worthy of consideration.
The e-City has a smooth and comfortable ride quality with a retro-inspired cruiser-like design. While not especially sporty, we found the handling to be predictable and steady with quality components and a load of user-friendly features. We found the geometry to be comfortable with a huge range of seat height and handlebar adjustability and a low step-through frame design.
We found the e-City to perform well at a range of speeds and turn shapes during our handling tests. At both high and low speeds, longer radius turns were calm, smooth, and predictable. At very low speeds, short radius turns did feel a little twitchy and less stable, which we attribute to its tall handlebar and steep head tube angle. This awkwardness was minimal, and really only applied to low speeds and super-tight turns. Otherwise, we felt the bike handled a lot like a standard beach cruiser with the added bonus of a suspension fork to help take the edge off of rough road surfaces. We found the e-City to be reasonably easy to pedal around without power, but at 55.9 lbs, it felt a bit sluggish on anything but flat ground.
Overall, we found the e-City to be a comfortable bike. The step-through frame design is impressively low and makes it very easy to get on and off the bike. The geometry makes for a very upright and casual seated position reminiscent of a beach cruiser. The large seat is thickly padded, and we found it to be comfortable for extended periods while performing our range testing. The seatpost has a large adjustment range, and our lead tester with a 32-inch inseam had no issues adjusting the seat height for proper leg extension. The PROMAX adjustable stem also offers lots of adjustability and can easily be raised or lowered to suit rider preference on the fly.
The Shimano 7-speed drivetrain worked well for us during testing. Slowing and stopping the e-City is tasked to a set of hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm rotors that feel plenty strong for this heavyweight e-bike. The 1.95-inch wide Kenda tires are fast-rolling on pavement with just enough tread to give them a little more grip on inconsistent surface types. This bike also comes with several user-friendly features like fenders front and rear, a sturdy cargo rack, head and taillights, and an electric horn. The headlight is activated by a switch by the left hand and runs off the main battery power, while the taillight runs off regular batteries and must be turned on and off with a button at the back of the bike.
We were pleasantly surprised to find the e-City had one of the best distance ranges in the test despite having an average size 468Wh battery storage capacity. In fact, it performed as well or better than some competitors with significantly larger batteries.
During our range test, we rode the e-City for 27.8 miles, with a total of 1,550 feet of elevation gain/loss. With an average speed of 16.1 mph, it took an hour and 43 minutes to complete the test. This test was performed using the bike's throttle only in full-electric mode, and we feel it represents the low-end of its distance range potential. Assuming you ride on perfectly flat terrain, we think that the e-City could potentially travel a bit further than it did on our gently rolling test course. We are confident that you could extend the range significantly while using the bike's five pedal assist settings and putting in a little effort in the form of human-powered pedaling.
Interestingly, in our range testing, the e-City narrowly outperformed competitors with larger batteries. The smaller 468Wh battery was able to outlast bikes with 672-673Wh storage capacities. We attribute this to the e-City's smaller 350W rear hub motor that likely uses less power than competitors with larger 500W or 750W motors.
The e-City doesn't have the same robust, powerful feel as the competition with larger/stronger motors. Still, considering its 350W motor size, we were relatively impressed with its power delivery using both the pedal assist and throttle. The five pedal assist settings provide a nice range of support for your pedaling efforts. Its acceleration is relatively average, but it has no problem hitting its top throttle and pedal-assisted speed of 20 mph.
Using the throttle, we found the acceleration of the e-City to feel reasonably quick, but not quite as fast as the more powerful competition. The 350W rear hub motor easily gets the bike up to 20mph on flat ground, but it doesn't exactly get the holeshot off the line. Once it reaches the 20 mph mark, the speed sensor cuts off power to the motor, and it doesn't kick back on until you've slowed to about 18 mph under throttle power. During our range test, we found that the e-City held speed reasonably well up our short test hill, where it was able to crest the hill at around 13 mph. That said, it was here that we noticed the limitations of the smaller motor compared to the larger motors we tested.
With five pedal assist settings, the e-City has a huge range of support for your pedaling efforts. Level 1, the lowest setting, feels very light, and the settings provide progressively more support as your shift up through them. Level 5 is quite strong, and getting this bike up to its top pedal-assisted speed of 20 mph is quite easy on flat ground. Unlike some bikes that have advanced torque sensors that deliver power based on the effort you are putting into the pedals, the e-City provides the same amount of power output regardless of how hard you are pedaling. The power comes on the moment the pedals start turning, and it lingers for about a second after you stop. We found the power delivery to feel generally smooth and consistent until you hit the top speed, and the motor cuts off.
The e-City has a quality user interface with an all-in-one control/display unit. The controls are intuitive with good ergonomics, and the digital display is large, easy to read, and shows a wealth of information at a glance. The battery is integrated into the rear cargo rack, and it can easily be removed for charging or security.
The GS1 console is attached to the handlebar by the left grip and is home to the button controls and the LCD display screen. The buttons are located on the left side of the console and are easy to reach with the thumb. The layout of the buttons is intuitive with the mode (power) button in the middle and the + and - buttons above and below it, respectively. The mode button turns the bike's power on and off (the power switch on the battery also needs to be switched to the on position), it is used to switch between data fields on the display once the bike is turned on, and it also gets you into the settings menu to make any changes. The + and - buttons are used to increase or decrease the pedal assistance, and they are also used to change the display settings once you are in the settings menu.
The LCD display screen has good contrast and is easy to read, plus it has a backlight feature that works well in darker light conditions. The screen has five primary data fields that show pertinent ride information. The upper right field displays your current speed and can be switched between mph and km/h, depending on your preference. The lower right side on the screen shows a variety of data, including odometer, trip distance, and elapsed time, and the user can scroll between them by pressing the mode button. The lower left side of the screen shows your pedal assist level represented graphically with 5 bars that turn on/off sequentially as you increase/decrease the level of assistance. The left middle of the screen is the battery indicator, which is in the shape of a battery with 6 bars that represent the remaining battery charge that turn off sequentially as the battery is depleted. The upper left field is a voltage meter that shows how much power you are using at any given time.
The throttle is a thumb paddle located next to the right-hand grip. To activate the throttle, you simply press and hold the paddle. There is a button on the underside of the throttle assembly that allows the user to disable the throttle depending on your preference. Likewise, there are several customizable functions of the bike, including the number of pedal-assist levels (3 or 5), pedal-assist sensitivity, speed limit, throttle speed limit, and more. The battery is stealthily located within the rear cargo rack of the bike, where it is held on a track and can easily be removed for charging. The battery is locked with a key, and it has its own power switch that must be turned on before pressing the power button on the console.
Finishing the assembly of the e-City was relatively standard, and it scored right around average in this metric. Several easy steps were required to complete the task, and it was easily finished using the included tools and printed instructions.
Our test bike arrived in a standard size bike box that was in good condition with no damage from shipping. One of the most challenging steps in the process was removing the heavy bike from the box, and we recommend getting the assistance of another person when removing this or any e-bike from its shipping box. Once out of the box, we removed the protective packing materials and located the tools and printed instructions. The majority of the remaining assembly included basic steps like installing the front wheel, attaching the handlebar and stem, and the seat and seatpost. A few additional steps, like installing the front fender and headlight, add a little time to the initial assembly process. The brakes on our test bike were rubbing right out of the box, and centering them and checking all of the other bolts added a little more time to get the bike into a rideable condition. Thankfully the printed instructions are clear and detailed, and assembling this bike does not require any advanced bike mechanic skills. The entire assembly took 50 minutes.
We feel that the e-City is a solid value. It is among the least expensive models in the test, yet it performed nearly as well as its more expensive competition. It didn't knock our socks off in any particular rating metric, but we found little not to like about this reasonably priced e-bike.
While it never topped the charts in any performance metric, the e-City scored consistently well across the board. We feel its performance was above average, and we were particularly impressed by is distance range given its moderate size battery. This bike is comfortable, fast, and powerful enough for most applications, and it comes decked out with user-friendly features. We feel it is a quality option at a relatively reasonable price.
The e-City is currently offered in two colors, black and white (tested). Ecomotion also makes three other models of affordable electric bikes.
The Roko is a folding, step-through model with 20-inch wheels, a 624Wh battery, a 350W rear hub motor, hydraulic disc brakes, a 7-speed Shimano drivetrain, built-in lights, and a cargo rack.
The Mini Pro (L) is another folding step-through model with 20-inch wheels. It comes with fat tires, a 624Wh battery, a powerful 500W rear hub motor, hydraulic disc brakes, and a 7-speed drivetrain.The Mini Pro is just like the Mini Pro (L) mentioned above, without the step-through frame design.
— Jeremy Benson