Bike Test: Pedego City Commuter
Historically speaking, Pedego’s line of popular cruiser and commuter bikes have traditionally relied on a rear-rack-mounted battery placement and Dapu rear-hub-drive systems. Not anymore. Pedego recently shocked the e-bike world when they added a line of new bikes with mid-drives with a variety of motor brands, including a full-suspension, Class 1 e-MTB.
“This bike eats hills for breakfast!”
For their Mid-Drive Edition of the City Commuter, they went with a Dapu mid-drive. Some customers had been asking for mid-drives, and they’d been wanting to try adding them to the line. The reason they were able to stick with Dapu for this was that Dapu made a solution to allow for a throttle, something that many Pedego customers want, regardless of the drive system.
The City Commuter is offered in a few different configurations, not just in color, but with other sizes and options. They make a 26-inch-wheeled step-through version, and both a Classic (diamond) or step-through versions with 28-inch wheels. You can choose two different frame colors—Anvil Blue or Brushed Metal. You can also select the tire color, as well as the capacity of the battery. There is a 10-amp-hour option or a 15-amp-hour option. The latter is a $300 premium, and we recommend it for the best range (possibly up to 50 percent more).
The handlebars have a nice rise and sweep, with a comfortable position for either short or long rides. Hand-stitched, faux-leather-padded grips grace the ends of the handlebars. Everything is ergonomic and where you’d expect it. On a Pedego, that means a twist throttle as well. There’s a simple Shimano Acera rear derailleur with seven gears and internal cable routing most of the way for a very clean look.
The saddle is thickly cushioned and has elastomer springs to make it even cushier. It’s then attached to a suspension seatpost. The seatpost is adjustable enough to make it fit anyone from 5 feet tall to well over 6 feet, so one size fits most everyone. The included front and rear lights are great for night- or daytime riding for visibility. The rear light is built into the battery. Both are LED lights for low battery drain and long life.
The 500-watt brushed mid-drive is potent. Compared to other mid-drives we usually see from Bosch, Brose, Shimano, et al., who offer 250–350-watt mid-drives, this one from Dapu has almost twice the power rating. The great thing about mid-drives is that the rider controls the torque by shifting instead of the constant torque provided by a hub motor. Mid-drives shine in hill-climbing, easily using the gears to ascend with ease, whereas hub motors can overheat on long, steep hills and shut down.
There are five levels of assist, but the display goes to six. Sorry, it can’t be turned up to 11! In level six, it’s throttle only. Of course, the throttle works at any power level and can give you full power in any of them. If you aren’t using the throttle, the bike has a cadence sensor, giving you a set level of power no matter how hard or easy you pedal. In effect, you control the top speed by the power setting this way. Level one keeps it to around 12 mph, level two goes to 14, etc., as level five goes to 20 mph.
The control LCD shows current speed, ride time, odometer, trip distance, pedal-assist level and battery power.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
As the name implies, the City Commuter is aimed at commuters. It’s a comfortable bike for long rides, great for touring, especially with the higher-capacity battery.
The low step-through frame is easy to mount, and not so low that it causes issues on loading it onto a bike rack. Speaking of which, we found it easier to carry or load onto a bike rack with the mid-drive, as the original City Commuter with the rear hub drive had so much of the weight at the back that it was unwieldy to lift or to carry.
Taking off on the bike is exhilarating. It’s not neck-snapping acceleration, but it does have a lot of torque, especially at the higher assist levels and lower gears, thanks to the mid-drive. The throttle is handy any time to help you take off from stops, and since the bike has a cadence sensor and not a torque sensor, you merely have to keep your pedals moving to get up to the top speed of your selected power level.
This bike eats hills for breakfast! There wasn’t a hill near us that this bike couldn’t tackle with ease, even with a full load of cargo. For big descents, there’s no regeneration because the motor isn’t direct drive, so you have to rely on the brakes. Thankfully, the disc brakes are ample to control the bike easily, and the levers have motor cutoff switches, so even lightly applying the brakes cuts the motor power instantly.
The aluminum frame can transfer a lot of energy from bumps in the road directly to the rider. Pedego has good ways around this. The combo of the highly cushioned seat and the suspension seatpost smooths that right out. Uneven roads and bumps were no issue, and long rides weren’t a pain in the backside. We think the saddle is overkill, but some riders are convinced that a massive padded saddle is what they want.
The rear rack, being welded to the frame, was sturdy enough to carry everything we ever wanted to carry, even 50 pounds of camera gear, with confidence that it would stay put. The battery enjoys added protection by being enclosed in that rack.
The Schwalbe Fat Frank tires are a great choice for this bike. They have enough volume to allow for a very smooth ride even when the road beneath you isn’t. They offer great grip and make the bike feel very planted.
In all of our rides, we never had to worry about battery life. The 15-amp-hour battery gave us enough range to go as far as we felt like going. We love the Brushed Metal finish and received a lot of great compliments on the bike as we rode it around.
If you’re looking for a commuter or midrange touring bike, the City Commuter is well worth a look. If you have a lot of hills in the areas you ride, the mid-drive is the better choice. If you’re in an area with flatter terrain, the original version with a rear hub drive may also be worth a test ride. The pricing is the same on both. Definitely opt for the higher-capacity battery—unless you will break the bank with the extra $300—because the extra range is well worth it.
SPECS PEDEGO CITY COMMUTER: MID-DRIVE EDITION
Price: $2995 (10 Ah battery) or $3295 (15 Ah battery, as tested)
Motor: 500W mid-drive motor
Battery: 48V, 10 Ah or 15 Ah
Charge time: 4.5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph
Range: 25–55 miles (tested)
Drive: Shimano Acera 7-speed, 11-42t
Brakes: SRAM Avid BB7 hydraulic disc w/ pad fins, 180mm front and rear
Fork: 6061 aluminum
Frame: 6061 aluminum
Tires: Schwalbe Fat Frank, 28×2.0”
Weight: 64 pounds
Color choices: Mineral Blue, black or red
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