Charge City Review
Cons: Not the most powerful, shorter distance range in our testing, no brake motor shutoff
Compare to Similar Products
|Price||$1,799 List||$1,695 List||$1,095 List||$999 List|
$949.00 at Lectric eBikes
$1,299 at Aventon Bikes
|Pros||Very easy assembly, slim profile for storage, smooth rolling, precise handling||Excellent price-to-performance ratio, lots of included features, comfortable-smooth ride, comes in step-thru and step-over frames and 2 sizes, massive distance range||Reasonable price, high price to performance ratio, 28 mph top speed, comfortable ride for a rigid frame, in-frame battery integration||Reasonable price, no assembly required, Class 2 and 3 capable, convenient folding design, wide range of fit, loads of features||Affordable price, in-frame battery integration, responsive handling, comparatively lighter weight, sold in 2 frame styles and 2 drivetrain configurations|
|Cons||Not the most powerful, shorter distance range in our testing, no brake motor shutoff||Heavier weight, more involved assembly||Limited included features, motor is a little noisy, additional steps in assembly process||Small wheels, somewhat twitchy handling, smaller battery||Rigid frame and narrower tires - less forgiving ride, Not the most powerful, smaller battery equates to shorter range|
|Bottom Line||A Class 2 commuter with lighter power output that's unique for its slim, storable profile||This bike checks all of our boxes and handily bested the competition in this test||Affordable and high performing, we think you'd be hard pressed to find a better bike at this price||Not only is this bike affordable, but it's the best folding model we've tested||A sporty Class 2 city-style model with responsive handling, sleek battery integration, and a reasonable price|
|Rating Categories||Charge City||Ride1Up 700-Series||Ride1Up Core-5||Lectric XP Step-Thr...||Aventon Soltera|
|Specs||Charge City||Ride1Up 700-Series||Ride1Up Core-5||Lectric XP Step-Thr...||Aventon Soltera|
|Battery Size (Wh)||418||720||500||460.8||346|
|E-Bike Class||Class 2||Class 3||Class 3||Class 3||Class 2|
|Motor Power (torque)||250W||750W||750W||500W||350W|
|Number of pedal assist settings||5||5||5||5||5|
|Top speed throttle||20 mph||20 mph||20 mph||20 mph||20 mph|
|Top speed pedal-assist||20 mph||28 mph||28 mph||28 mph||20 mph|
|Measured Distance Range||18.3 miles||32.4 miles||23.0 miles||20.7 miles||18.8 miles|
|Weight Limit||300 lbs||275 lbs||275 lbs||330 lbs||300 lbs|
|Measured Weight||48 lbs 8 oz||63 lbs 11 oz||51 lbs 15 oz||61 lbs 10 oz||44 lbs 5 oz|
|Drivetrain||7-speed||Shimano Acera 8-speed||Shimano Altus 7-speed||Shimano Tourney 7-speed||Shimano 7-speed or single speed|
|Brakes||Mechanical Disc||Tektro Hydraulic Disc||Tektro Mechanical Disc||Tektro Mechanical Disc Brakes||Tektro Mechanical Disc|
|Additional features||Fenders, rear rack, space saving handlebar design, folding pedals, front and rear lights, integrated horn||Fenders, rear rack, front and rear lights, ..?||Kickstand, bottle cage mount||Fenders, rear rack, front and rear lights, folding design, front suspension, mounting points for racks, baskets, and a bike lock, IP-65 rated for water resistance||Integrated lights, Aventon app compatibility, ?|
|Warranty||1 year||One Year||One Year||One Year|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Charge Bikes makes a small line of electric bikes, and the City has been getting some glowing reviews. To see what all the hype is about, we bought one to test against the best models on the market. It has some unique aspects of its design that should appeal to city dwellers or those short on storage space, but otherwise, we found it to fall a bit short of the competition in our power and distance range tests. That said, if you don't require the fastest bike or longest range, we feel it is a compelling option for its slim storable profile and comparatively lighter weight.
The City has a ride quality that is what you'd expect by looking at it. It rolls fast and is stable at speed with quick, precise handling. Given that it has a rigid frame it isn't the most forgiving bike, but otherwise, we found it to be quite comfortable. It also comes equipped with user-friendly features to enhance your commutes and ride experience.
The City has a fully rigid frame that gives it a snappy feel with quick, responsive handling. The 700c wheels and skinny tires are fast-rolling and add to the bike's zippy handling feel. The flip side of that coin is that it can definitely feel a little jarring when riding over cracks and rough surfaces, as there's no suspension, and the skinnier tires don't offer much in the way of dampening through air volume. Regardless, we found it to feel nice and stable at higher speeds, and all turn shapes felt great whether you're picking your way through traffic at lower speeds or rounding bends with a head of steam. With a name like "City", it's clear that this bike was made for urban environments and riding on firm surfaces, and we'd definitely recommend sticking to the pavement on this bike.
We tested the standard frame of the City in a size large with a recommended user height range of 5'10" to 6'3". Our six-foot-tall tester found this bike to fit perfectly, with plenty of seatpost to spare to fit a taller rider. It also comes in a small frame size that should fit riders between 5'1" and 5'9", as well as a low step frame that has a lower standover/step-over height and is recommended for riders between 5'1" and 6'0". It also comes in multiple colors. While it is called the City and has a generally city-bike style, the riser handlebar provides a little more relaxed and comfortable seated position. It feels like a happy medium between a more comfort-oriented bike and a more aggressive city bike. We found the seat to be plenty comfortable and the ergonomic rubber grips didn't give us anything to complain about. We were a little disappointed by the lack of a quick-release seatpost clamp, as adjustments to seat height require the use of an allen key when switching between testers, but if you don't share the bike with anyone else it shouldn't be much of a problem.
The components on the City work just fine and didn't cause us any issues. The 7-speed drivetrain provides plenty of range for ripping around the city or tackling some moderately hilly terrain, and the grip shifter is super easy to use. At this price, we'd expect it to come with more powerful hydraulic disc brakes, but we found the mechanical disc brakes to work well enough, plus they are easy to adjust.
It also comes equipped with a rear cargo rack that can support up to 36 lbs, front and rear fenders, integrated front and rear lights, and a horn. Special valve caps also indicate when your tire pressure drops below 50 psi, so you know when you need to add air. A unique aspect of the City's design is its slim, storable profile that is achieved with a swiveling handlebar and foldable pedals. By flipping a quick release on the top of the stem, you can turn the handlebar 90 degrees so that it is parallel with the top tube of the frame. Likewise, the pedal platforms easily fold to reduce the bike's width further. This ensures that it takes up less space in your apartment or storage space, and its 48 lbs 8 oz weight makes it more reasonable to carry up or down stairs than heavier models.
With one of the smallest, 418Wh, batteries in the entire test, we didn't expect the City to be a top performer in our range testing. That expectation was met, and it turned out to have the shortest range of all the models we tested. Still, this bike can undoubtedly take you a pretty good distance, it was just outperformed by the competition.
On our standardized range test course using the throttle only, the 418Wh of battery carried us 18.3 miles with 941 feet of elevation gain/loss. The test took a little over an hour and 12 minutes to complete, giving us an average speed of 15.1 mph. Now, 18 miles without pedaling is no small potatoes, but it's a far cry from the top-rated models in this metric (most of which have much larger batteries). On perfectly flat terrain, we think it's safe to assume you could squeeze out another couple of miles under full electric/throttle power, and clearly one could extend the range significantly with pedal assist and some input from the rider. Charge claims a range of 50 miles for the City, and while we don't doubt that's possible, we think it would involve some serious pedaling effort on the rider's part.
The City is far from the most powerful electric bike we've tested, but with a 250W motor, it's clearly not meant to be either. Most of the other models we tested for this review have larger motors in the 500-750W range, so it was easily bested by them in this metric, earning a score of 6 out of 10. Regardless, the City still manages to hit its Class 2 speeds of 20 mph using the throttle or pedal assist, it just doesn't pack the punch of the more powerful competition.
One of the first things we noticed when testing the City is that the bike doesn't like to start from a complete stop when using the throttle. You need to give it a little forward momentum for the throttle to kick in, a stark contrast from other models that jump to action from a stop when you press or twist the throttle. Once we figured this out, we performed our acceleration test and found that it was able to reach its top throttle speed of 20 mph on flat ground in 16 seconds. This is 5 seconds or so slower than the fastest models we tested, but again, with a less powerful 250W motor, it clearly wasn't intended to be a drag racer anyway. On our local test hill, we found that the City was able to make it up the hill, but it struggled a bit, topping out at around 10 mph. On the hills, this bike works much better when you're pedaling. During our throttle-only range test, however, it managed to maintain an average speed of 15.1 mph, showing that it could maintain decent speed on more gradual hills, and it rolled fast on the descents with its 700c wheels.
The City has 5 levels of pedal assist that provide progressively more support as you shift up through them. Once again, due to the smaller 250W motor, it simply isn't as powerful as competitors with larger motors. It does provide a nice range of support, and it gets up to its top speed of 20 mph, but it does take a little more effort on the part of the rider. This is not the bike for the rider who wants a super powerful bike to get across town as fast as possible. Instead, we feel the City is better suited for the rider who just wants a little electric assistance to make that commute easier than usual.
While functional and easy enough to use, the controls and display on the City are quite basic, earning it a 6 out of 10 in this metric. They work just fine, but the display is pretty small and not that easy to read, and it generally seems a little lackluster compared to other models we tested. That said, the ergonomics of the controls are just fine, and it is an adequate system, even if it's not impressive.
Located next to the left grip is a paddle throttle that is nearly identical to those found on many of the other models we tested. The paddle is quite easy to reach and press with the thumb, although we found the City doesn't like to start from a complete stop using the throttle. Below the throttle paddle is a small button that actuates the integrated horn. Next to the paddle is a combo control/display unit that has three buttons on its left side. The + and - buttons shift up or down through the pedal assist levels while the power/mode button is used to turn the bike on and off and switch between trip miles and total odometer on the screen. The position of these buttons makes them fairly easy to reach with the thumb while riding, no real complaints there. The screen is quite small, we measured it as 1 1/8-inches wide x 5/8-inches tall. It shows your current speed in fairly large numbers, with the battery charge shown as both a graphic and a percentage on the right side of the screen with a tip distance/odometer across the bottom. Below the screen are the numbers 1-5 that show your current pedal assist setting. Again, this system works just fine, it just feels a little budget when compared to most of the other models we tested.
The 418 Wh battery is attached to a cradle on top of the frame's downtube. While this is perfectly fine, it looks a little less elegant and streamlined compared to other models with better battery integration. That said, it is quite easy to remove whether for charging off the bike or security while locked up outside your office. Simply unlock the battery using the keys, and pull up on the upper part of the battery to release it from the cradle. Of course, the battery can also be charged on the bike. Charge also includes a zippered pouch to keep your charger tidy for storage or travel, plus the charger itself has small tabs that you could use to mount it to your wall if you're always charging it in the same spot.
The City was among the easiest models to assemble, earning a 9 out of 10 in this metric. It comes in a slightly larger box due to the fact that it is more pre-assembled than most. Due to the size of the box, it can be a bit unwieldy to move around, although, with an assembled weight of 48 lbs and 8 oz, it isn't quite as heavy as some of the bulkier bikes in our test fleet. Charge has gone out of their way to make the initial setup process as straightforward as possible, with a QR code printed on the side of the box that brings you to an assembly video, as well as user-friendly pull tabs that essentially cut an entire side of the box off to open it.
Once the box is open, you simply slide the bike out from inside, remove the packing materials, and you're mostly done. The first step is to turn the handlebar to its forward position and lock it in place. This is quite easy given the unique quick-release latch system that allows the handlebar to be spun for storage. The pedals are also already attached, you just need to unfold them as well. All that's really left is to attach the front wheel, pump up the tires, make some comfort adjustments, and plug in the battery to top it off. Oh, and you'll also need to install the neat pressure gauge valve covers on the tires that change from green to red if your tire pressure dips below 50 psi. The entire assembly process took a mere 20 minutes or so to complete. It really couldn't have been any easier unless we paid someone to do it for us.
Should I Buy the Charge City?
The City makes the most sense for the rider who doesn't need or want the longest range or most powerful motor but is still looking for a full-size e-bike that is a little lighter and more easily storable than most. This bike's folding pedals and unique swiveling handlebar give it a very slim profile when it's leaned against a wall in your apartment or garage, while its 48 lbs and 8 oz weight make it a bit easier to carry up or down stairs than heavier models. Features like integrated lights, front and rear fenders, and a rear cargo rack add to its convenience. It was easily outperformed in our range and power tests, but we still feel that it could be a great option for city-dwellers, flatter terrain, shorter trips around town, and riders who just want a little extra boost.
What Other E-Bikes Should I Consider?
If you're interested in something a little faster and more powerful, the Ride1Up 700-Series is our top recommendation. Not only does it cost a little less than the City, but it comes with a powerful 750W motor that supports Class 3 speeds up to 28 mph along with a massive 720Wh battery that gives it an outstanding range. It has a very smooth comfortable ride with girthy, high-volume tires and a suspension fork, plus it's loaded with lots of great features but it also weighs 15 lbs more. If a city bike is more your style, then the Class 2 Rad Power RadMission is a great option. It's more of a pure city bike with a simple single-speed drivetrain, flat handlebar, and super responsive handling, but it packs a punch with a more powerful 500W motor and 504Wh battery that gives it a solid distance range. It has limited features, but it also costs several hundred dollars less than the City.
— Jeremy Benson
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