Like its predecessor, the Cruiser sports a 500-watt BionX D-Series rear hub, 9-speed SRAM drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes, integrated LEDs, iOs Elby app compatibility, handlebar controls and display, and practical touches like a fenders and a kickstand. It also has the same range and comparable motor power, with an identical speed cutoff of about 20mph when at full power. But in addition to the price reduction, the Cruiser is also a visual departure from the step-through frame model, with a more sporty appearance designed to appeal to a broader range of riders. It will also be available in two sizes with quick releases in the seatpost and wheels, instead of the Elby’s original one-size-fits-all adjustable model.
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A test ride on the new Cruiser showed that the bike has the same stable-at-speed ride feel as previous Elbys, and similarly easy, responsive controls. But just as importantly, the Cruiser also delivers that same pedal-to-the-metal, power-boost acceleration that can make a practical task (like, oh, say, an uphill trip to the grocery store) actually feel like a thrilling adventure. I tore around corners with it, zipped up steep rises, and then turned the e-power off entirely just to noodle around by my own steam. I even learned a new Elby trick—turn the e-assist down a tick from “off,” and your pedaling can actually power the battery if it’s running low. (Admittedly, it’s pretty tough work in this mode.) My battery outlasted 60km on a mixture of the four assisted settings.
An Elby rep at Eurobike said the biggest challenge for the US e-bike market was just getting consumers to try the bikes—unlike here in Germany, where riders of all ages are zipping down every bike lane on them, and the idea of replacing your car with one feels like a safe and practical option. If you’re considering turning more of your drive time into e-assisted pedaling, the Cruiser is definitely one to seek out for a…