Bike Review: Yamaha Civante Road Bike
Yamaha has been making e-bike motors for about 30 years, but it was just four years ago that they jumped into the American e-bike market head first with the introduction of four models—the Urban Rush (drop-bar bike), Cross Connect (touring bike), Cross Core (commuter) and YDX-TORC (hardtail mountain bike). Two years ago they added to the line by introducing the Wabash drop-bar gravel bike.
Last summer saw another roll-out with the introduction of the Civante road bike and the YDX-Moro and YDX-Moro Pro mountain bikes. The Civante is a first for Yamaha in the U.S. in that it’s a Class 3 (28 mph) e-bike. Yamaha didn’t create a new motor for this bike, rather they remapped a PWSeries SE motor to bring it up to 28 mph (from the Class 1 required 20 mph), along with cadence support of up to 110 rpm.
The Civante uses a hydro-formed aluminum frame and fork to help save weight. The frame has bosses for a rack, a bottle cage and even a kickstand near the rear dropout.
“Acceleration is very quick from a full stop, and the bike felt most happy at about 22–23 mph on flat roads.”
The fork is also aluminum with 12mm thru-axles with quick release. The ergonomic drop-bar handlebar allows several riding positions that make it easy to switch from fairly upright to a more aggressive position easily.
Cable routing is mostly internal, even the brake cable through the fork, with a few cables exposed from the handlebars to the frame.
Yamaha is still a big fan of the 2×10 drivetrains and make them the exception in all the bikes we test. Our test bike was spec’d with a Shimano Tiagra component group of choice with matched derailleurs, as well as the 160mm rotors with hydraulic disc brakes. They chose a KMC e10 e-specific chain to handle the extra force from the motor.
Wheels are semi-aerodynamic with e-bike-specific CST 700x35mm tires with flat protection and
A Yamaha PWSeries SE motor provides support at up to 28 mph, though it’s not easy to get up to that speed. It has 70 N/m of torque, so you end up accelerating quickly and needing to shift up the gears pretty quickly when you take off.
The 500-Wh battery is the same externally mounted version that Yamaha has been using for several years now. It works fine, but we’d love to see a more contemporary spec of a internally mounted option or even a semi-internally mounted one, like on the new YDX-Moro. The high-speed charger can charge the battery from 0–80 percent in just one hour, but a full charge will still take nearly four hours if the battery is fully spent.
The LCD is mounted at the front of the stem where it’s very easy to see and get details like speed and mode at a glance, but also offers average speed, maximum speed, odometer, trip meter, battery capacity, battery range, cadence, clock and stopwatch. Wheel speed is measured at the rear brake rotor with an integrated magnet, and the sensor for that is built into the chainstay.
The mode switch is located to the immediate left of the stem. This isn’t the ideal place, because if you spend most of your time with your hands on the brake hoods, you’ll have to look down and reach back for the switch. There are five assist modes, in ascending order of power—Off, +Eco, Eco, Std and High.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
If you ride on the road, whether for commuting or leisure, the Civante is worth a look. With plenty of options for rider position, as well as assist up to 28 mph, this bike is one of the new generations of drop-bar bikes with a Class 3 rating, where we feel they should have been all along.
We’d been itching to get our hands on this bike as soon as we knew it existed. Be sure to take note of the manual, which warns you not to put your feet on the pedals or start moving for two seconds after you turn the system on. This is the short span so that the system is zeroing out the sensors. If you do take off too early, you may experience a loss of power until you stop and power cycle the system.
We didn’t use +Eco mode much, as it is enough to overcome the extra weight of the motor and battery but not much else. The Eco and Std modes were those we spent most of our time in before switching to the full-beans (High) mode on steep hill-climbs. Yamaha has done a great job with both the power of this motor and how incredibly quiet it is. There’s no hiding that it’s an e-bike with the externally mounted battery and very exposed motor, but that’s all right with us.
The geometry on the bike makes for a very stable yet lively feel; it’s easy to put the bike exactly where you want it. Acceleration is very quick from a full stop, and the bike felt most happy at about 22–23 mph on flat roads. The Tiagra disc brakes offer ample stopping power and are easy to modulate from either the hoods or lower on the bars.
The ride on smooth pavement is really good, and shifting is accomplished using Shimano’s dual control levers, with a small lever inside the brake lever on each side to shift up, then actuating the entire lever sideways as it shifts back down. This is easiest when you ride with your hands resting on the brake hoods.
Because of the all-aluminum frame and fork, as well as the tires being rated for 50–75 psi, there’s nothing to take the shock out of the bumps in the road, save for the handlebar tape, so we found ourselves out of the saddle over bad patches of pavement. The tires have very low-rolling resistance and are very quiet, but even with the new-tire sheen worn off, the tires squealed on hard cornering, which was a bit disconcerting, though they never lost contact.
The bike has a really good range, we’d see an easy 40 miles when using Eco and Std modes mostly. The included headlight is great for daylight visibility, but the beam is really narrow, so if you’re going to ride at night, you might want to add on a secondary light with a broader beam.
Although between the 10-speed drivetrain and non-integrated battery, the Civante is not as up to date as other e-road bikes. But, it is also a rare find with a Class 3 motor, which is a big deal because 28-mph capabilities are where all e-road bikes should be. The Civante is in line with most of Yamaha’s bike offerings in a similar $3400 price range.
Motor: Yamaha PWSeries SE, 250W (nominal), 500W (Peak),
Battery: 500 Wh with charge-
life indicator and self-
Charge time: 3–4 hours
Top speed: 28 mph (Class 3)
Range: 40–60 miles (tested)
Drive: Shimano Tiagra GS 10-speed
Brakes: Shimano Tiagra Hydraulic Disc 160mm Centerlock disc
Fork: Alloy, 12mm thru-axle,
Frame: Yamaha hydro-formed and butted aluminum
Rims: 700c alloy aero rim,
Hubs: Front hub 12 x 100 TA, rear hub 12 x 142 Shimano freehub and Yamaha Bicycles
Tires: CST Xpedium Ampero 700 x 35mm
Weight: 43.11 lbs
Color choice: Polar White/
Sizes: 53cm (S), 55cm (M), 58cm (L)
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