Electric Bike Action Bike Test: Batch E-Commuter
It’s not easy to find a truly good-quality e-bike powered by one of the more proven motors in the business for under $2000, especially one only sold through dealers, not online. So, many retailers are going with an online model to drop prices, but this also affects bike shops, nearly cutting them out of the process. We’ve never thought this is a good thing. If anything goes wrong with an online bike, you have to consider who is going to fix it. Most dealers will only work on brands they carry.
Batch Bikes has put out their first e-bike, the E-Commuter. They’re a brand known for quality bikes at good prices. They’ve produced the first Bosch-powered e-bike for just a bit over $2000. And, they didn’t skimp on the components or the ride quality.
The E-Commuter starts with a basic diamond-shaped frame with a high-step aluminum frame. It has bosses for a water bottle on the seat tube, and a sturdy rear rack with a light bracket, and ample plastic fenders that cover the 1.75-inch Kenda Kwick Seven.5 Sport tires. They’re sturdily attached, so there’s no rattle while riding. The company logo is embossed on the head tube, which is an elegant touch.
Considering what has gone into making this bike as inexpensive as it is, there are some truly nice touches, like the hydraulic Tektro disc brakes with large 180mm rotors. A Shimano Altus drivetrain shifts easily and surely through the 1×8 system.
The handlebars are curiously narrow. We noticed this when we first picked up the bike. We may be biased, though, given the current mountain bike fashion of running up to 800mm-wide bars. The Batch bars are just a bit over 600mm wide. Actually, there are advantages to narrower bars on a commuter, if you’re splitting lanes, and going around cars and trying not to catch their mirrors.
Pedals are plastic platform-style with enough raised teeth to work with almost any kind of shoe, whether sporty or a nice work shoe.
The third-generation Bosch Active Line motor is the simplest and least expensive of the Bosch motors. It eschews the internal reduction gearing and allows for a normal-sized chainring up front; however, this comes at a price in terms of torque. It offers just 40 N/m versus 75 N/m in the upper end of Bosch’s lineup. As with all Bosch e-bike systems, its computer is measuring torque, cadence and wheel speed 1000 times per second, offering instant changes in power delivery that feels very natural yet plenty powerful.
The battery is an external PowerPack 400-Wh battery, which makes it lighter and less expensive as well. This was the standard just two years ago, and though Bosch has gone to 500 Wh for many of their PowerPack batteries and up to 625 Wh on their PowerTube batteries, the 400 Wh is still a great choice and offers
A Bosch Purion display provides the control for the assist mode and provides at-a-glance information on speed, battery power, etc. It isn’t removable like the Intuvia or Kiox displays, so it stays on the bike when you lock it up anywhere. The battery, of course, does as well, unless you use the key to unlock it and take it with you.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
This is a truly well-built machine aimed at urban commuters (it’s right in the name), but is also appropriate for those who want a bike for riding around town, running errands, etc. It doesn’t have enough range via the stock battery to be a touring bike, but buying a spare battery can change that. We’d recommend the 500-Wh PowerPack for this, as they’re both the same size and form factor.
Throwing a leg over the E-Commuter, we fired up the system and took off. Actually, our first ride with this bike was during a ride-along for our LAPD article (page 68). It gave us a chance to ride on some truly bad roads—anything from massively warped asphalt to concrete with gnarly potholes, plus needing to ride up some curbs.
This bike doesn’t have ergonomic grips, only basic round ones with locking rings, but we found this to be better on bumpy roads, as it transferred less bump energy to our hands and wrists. The handlebars themselves have a slight rise and a slight sweep back, but are pretty flat. This allows for an upright but slightly forward
The narrow bars let us split traffic with ease but still offer good control and stability. The motor is powerful, yet predictable in traffic and very controllable. The Tektro brakes provided ample stopping power and good modulation.
“It makes for a very pleasant ride, whether you’re in the city or in nature.”
On all of our rides, the power delivery was very smooth. This is a Class 1 bike, providing power up to 20 mph. We felt it taper off starting at just above 19 mph. Going above this is all your own power with no assistance, but there’s very little drag from the Active Line motor.
Gearing is tuned very well for this bike. There’s a 38t front chainring made specifically to work with the Active Line motor, and an 11-32 rear cassette that we found perfect, even on some fairly steep hills. We were never left wanting for more.
The tires have a fairly wide profile with a good contact patch, which helped the bike feel planted in corners. The tread design is great in dry and good in wet. There’s enough volume to take some of the shock out of bumps in the road, too.
If you ride on terribly maintained roads riddled with potholes, you’ll definitely want to think about your choice of saddle and seatpost. Adding a suspension post, like a BodyFloat, adds expense to the bike, but if you go on longer rides or commutes, it can make a big difference in fatigue levels when you get where you’re going. We found it plenty comfortable on shorter errands, but longer rides were a bit less comfy.
The motor is all but silent. It makes for a very pleasant ride whether you’re in the city or in nature.
If you’re going to ride at night, we highly recommend getting a head and taillight at least. Actually, both of those are a good idea for visibility in daylight. The bike comes with standard reflectors, but the Kenda tires don’t have built-in retro-reflective strips to increase visibility from the side.
We lift a lot of bikes on and off our bike racks and found the Batch really well-balanced with the weight of the motor and battery in the middle. Even at just shy of 47 pounds, it was really easy to maneuver onto bike racks, up and downstairs, etc. Definitely a plus for apartment dwellers. Of course, you can take the battery off, which will save about 5.5 pounds, or you can lock up your bike and just carry the battery in to charge it.
The E-Commuter is an incredible value for the money. With quality components, the fact that it’s only
sold through dealers and will have access to Bosch’s nationwide dealer support, legendary reliability, and
just its overall good looks and performance definitely made this a bike worthy of consideration.
Motor: Bosch Active Line
Battery: Bosch, 400Wh
Charge time: 3.5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph
Range: 30–50 miles
Drive: Shimano Altus 8-speed 11-32 cassette
Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc, 180mm f/r
Fork: 1.5” tapered, 6061 aluminum
Frame: 6061 aluminum
Tires: Kenda Kwick Seven.5 Sport e50 with K-Shield, 27.5×1.75”
Weight: 46.5 lbs (medium)
Color choice: Matte Metallic Charcoal
Sizes: S (15”), M (17.5”), L (20”)