BIKE TEST: BLIX KOMFORT PRIMA
A modern comfort bike with Swedish heritage
Although Blix Electric Bikes is located in Santa Cruz, California, their heritage is classically Scandinavian. The designs of their bikes hark back to the earlier days of cycling with simple, clean designs in nice colors, but, more important, modernized with motorized assist.
The Komfort Prima has a timeless design that builds on their successful and attractive Komfort Plus bike, but with a definite step up in components and performance. Blix makes the Prima available in either a classic double-diamond frame or with an ultra-low step-through frame with only a downtube.
The mid-drive is great for people who like a true bicycle feel, as the ability to shift gears in the rear feels so much more natural. The Shimano STEPS has proven to offer plenty of power and range.
The other comfort bike in Blix’s line, the Komfort Plus, has a Bafang hub drive and the battery mounted behind the seatpost. The Prima switches it up and uses a powerful Shimano STEPS mid-drive. On the step-through frame the battery is mounted on the front of the seatpost, and on the classic frame the battery is mounted on top of the downtube.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR?
This is a comfort bike in the truest sense of the word. It’s perfect for weekend rides on country roads, jaunts through town or even as a daily commuter. It’s a versatile bike that does well carrying home loads of veggies from the farmers’ market as it is carrying books to class or going out for a leisurely ride.
It’s designed to fit a wide variety of riders—from about 5 feet tall to over 6 feet. One of our would-be test riders was under 5 feet tall, and even with the saddle lowered all the way down, seat height was still too high.
The first thing we noticed when jumping on the bike was how incredibly comfortable the Selle Royal saddle was with its unique elastomer springs to smooth the energy from bumps in the road. We can tell you it works amazingly well.
The faux-leather grips are attractive, ergonomic, perfectly padded and incredibly comfortable. The bike quietly comes to life with a touch of the button on the battery, but for some reason the “on” button on the display doesn’t seem to work to wake up the system. The backlit LED display is well-contrasted and easy to read, and the battery level is shown as a percentage, not just a bar graph.
It was when we first stopped riding the bike that we fell in love with the kickstand. Whereas most are mounted either directly behind the bottom bracket or at the rear axle, the Blix is mounted about 1/3 of the way behind the bottom bracket on the chainstay. It’s a small detail but worth noting. In the past we’ve found that rear axle-mounted kickstands that stick out behind the back wheel and not as stable as a mid-mounted kickstand, especially in a bike like this where most of the weight is centered near the middle of the bike.
Kickstands right by the bottom bracket can cause an issue. If you have to move the bike backwards a few feet, the crankarms will hit the kickstand unless it’s up. It seems like a trivial detail, but it’s this little detail that shows the kind of thought and experience that’s gone into designing this bike and why the experience of riding it is so good.
This isn’t an expensive bike, comparatively, for having a mid-drive and all this style. Places where they shaved a few bucks off are from things like the old-school pinch-bolt stem, which works fine but is certainly one place where they didn’t go modern. The included bell is so tiny that it couldn’t be more useless; it won’t alert anyone to your presence.
Conversely, the bike offers some impressive features at this price point. Not just the great motor, but things like Tektro hydraulic brakes are easy to modulate and provide ample stopping power and speed control. They have power cut-off switches that add to safety and ensure quick stops when needed. The brake levers are comfortably actuated with either one or two fingers.
Putting a foot on a pedal, we take off and are offered a whoosh of power from the STEPS motor. A mid-drive at 500 watts, you can feel just how much assist it can offer. There are three levels of assist: Eco offers enough assist to overcome the extra weight of the motor. Normal is where the real fun starts and was the mode where we mostly stayed in. Every test rider thought this was the best overall setting for the most fun. High is too much power for all but the steepest of hills. With mid-drive motors, you can control the torque via gear changes, so you and the motor get the most efficiency and power from shifting as needed.
There’s little appreciable noise from the Shimano motor. Powerful and quiet, the drivetrain and component giant has created a truly fun and useful motor. With the motor and the battery right in the middle of the bike, and fairly low, it keeps the bike very balanced and the center of gravity low for a very stable ride. The U.S. version cuts off the assist at 20 mph. We had an early test model with a European-spec motor that cuts off at 15.5 mph (25 kph per EU laws), and we never found that to be an issue. The Prima is a comfort bike, so there’s no need to race it anywhere!
The puncture-resistant, 1.75-inch-wide Kenda tires offer a happy medium of rolling resistance and comfortable ride quality. They aren’t full-balloon tires, but they can help absorb up some of the bumps in the road, since the aluminum frame and fork don’t remove any bump or vibration.
Ride quality is not only quiet but smooth and confident. The swept-back handlebars provided a very comfortable position that made us want to keep going. We actually almost forgot about riding the bike and just enjoyed the scenery several times. The bike is very stable; riding one- or no-handed, it rides well.
If you ride at night, front and rear LED lights light the way and don’t drain the battery. The headlight is mounted on the left fork leg, which is an interesting choice, but it’s always pointed the way you’re going. It’s out of the way, and the low angle lets you shine it farther ahead without blinding other riders.
Blix claims a 50-mile range on a full battery. This seems like they’ve done their homework, because it actually holds true in the real world, according to our experience on the bike. The battery is removable but locked on with a key and can be charged on or off the bike. Charging off the bike is a great option if you’d otherwise have to carry the bike upstairs. There’s simply no good place to hold the low step-through version of this bike to carry it upstairs.
If you want longer range, you could easily carry a second battery on the rear rack and swap them along your route. This isn’t designed as a touring bike, but a long trip is certainly feasible with this bike.
This is one of the most comfortable bikes we’ve ridden all year. The ride quality is very high, and there’s ample and quiet power from the Shimano motor. It’s a decent commuter if you’re so inclined to ride it to work, though in cities it is a 20-mph bike, not 28.
If you like quiet rides in the country or casual sightseeing and you’re looking for a classic, inexpensive electric bike that rides like a traditional bike, the Blix Komfort Prima is worth taking a look at. If its looks don’t win you over, the ride just might.
SPECS: 2017 BLIX KOMFORT PRIMA
Motor: Shimano Steps 500W mid-drive
Battery: Shimano, 36V/11.6Ah/418Wh
Charge time: 4.5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph (with assist)
Range: Up to 50 miles
Drivetrain: Shimano Deore XT 9-speed, 13-32T
Brakes: Tektro Hydraulic Disc
Controls: Shimano STEPS
Tires: Kenda anti-puncture, 26×1.75” (700x40c)
Weight: 52 lb.
Colors: Green, cream, blue, black
Sizes: One size
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