Electric pushbike options?
May 24, 2011 8:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering going electric and purchasing this bike. It has pretty much everything that I'd want: pedal assist, throttle and go, extended range, nice suspension, it looks durable and it qualifies as a pushbike in Victoria Australia.

Doing the requisite online searches of reviews and information primarily shows info from a couple of years ago. Nothing too recent nor enthusiastic. I can't find information on the company other than the limited marketing stuff on their website. The bike is carried by a few distributors in Australia, but again the network doesn't seem large nor robust.

Does anyone have direct experience with this bike and/or the company and/or are there comparable alternatives that are available in Australia? The primary use will be city / urban riding outside the normal tram networks as well as some rail / rural exploration. A normal bike is not really an option at this stage due to medical issues but I'm trying to avoid getting a car or scooter.
posted by michswiss to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know anything about that particular model, but I note that they say it has a 500W motor. I believe in Australia the limit is 200W for it to still be considered a bike, so if they are being sold here they are presumably sold with a smaller motor. Just something to consider if you're looking at specifications on that site.
posted by markr at 9:17 PM on May 24, 2011

I used Kevin Rudd's $900 financial crisis averter to buy myself what I thought would be a fun little electric pushbike: one of these. In fact it turned out to be a heavy, fragile, demanding nuisance compared to any conceivable plain pushbike I could have got for the same money.

I bought mine because I was too fat and I thought it would encourage me to get moving again. It did for a while, but I became discouraged by the amount of time it was spending back at the shop getting broken spokes fixed under warranty (the rear wheel is quite close to the seat and only has 28 spokes).

The bike you're looking at weighs 72lb; that's 33kg, which is even more than mine. Compared to the 13kg easily achievable in a well-set-up road pushbike, that's a hell of a lot of extra weight to push around once the battery starts losing enthusiasm. But at least it has gears, which mine doesn't.

I was very, very enthusiastic about my bike before buying it and for the first couple of weeks after, but the gloss went off it quite quickly. I wouldn't dream of paying what they're asking for the A2B.
posted by flabdablet at 10:08 PM on May 24, 2011

markr is correct.

That bike doesn't conform to the Australian 200 watt restriction. Motorized Bike Laws for Australia.

From their site;

How does the A2B Metro handle hills?

The powerful 500-watt motor provides responsive acceleration and tackles hills with minimal pedaling - even the rolling hills of San Francisco where our company is based.

Do I need a license, registration and insurance?

The A2B Metro is regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission as a bicycle, so riders are not required to have a DMV license, registration or insurance.

It seems that you won't actually be legally able to use it, as it won't conform to the Third Edition Australian Design Rules.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:36 PM on May 24, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far. They have a seriously screwed up website, but here's a link to the AU specifications page. Their website bounces around a lot so it isn't straight forward to get to but I've spoken to a local distributor and seen the specs for the hub motor here and it's claimed at the 200W levels needed to meet AU requirements. The funny thing is that none of the other specs change no matter what country you select.

I'm looking for both practical experience with the company and product as well as whether there are viable local alternatives. Even at the ludicrous price, it's still cheaper than owning/operating a car or gas scooter.
posted by michswiss at 10:48 PM on May 24, 2011

It's far more expensive than owning/operating a commuter pushbike, though. What kind of terrain and distance do you intend to cover, and how often?

When I was less fat and more fit, I used to commute every weekday on a pushbike (15km each way, hilly terrain) and by comparison with my memories of that I found the electric bike very slow and clumsy.
posted by flabdablet at 12:15 AM on May 25, 2011

The OP says a normal pedal-powered pushbike isn't an option due to health reasons.
posted by springbound at 12:59 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've ridden one and have a friend who owns one.

It's heavy as hell. It takes a lot of effort for a relatively young and healthy man to manipulate it around to lock it to a pole or lift it over a curb. Find one in a shop somewhere and make sure you can lift it.

It does perform well enough though, living up to the specs for distance and speed. It's very slow getting up to speed on starts unless you give it a pedal assist.
posted by Ookseer at 1:42 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

The funny thing is that none of the other specs change no matter what country you select.

I tried changing between the AU and the UK version on that site, and the specs do change - the power, top speed and weight are all slightly different. Looks to me as if they have one basic model that they customise for each market by swapping a few of the components. The US version is different again. Most likely the AU version has a special low-power motor that is only capable of putting out the 200W they claim on the website, or it has the same motor but it's tuned to a low power.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:10 AM on May 25, 2011

The OP says a normal pedal-powered pushbike isn't an option due to health reasons.

And my point is that I've found that on hilly terrain, riding my electric bike costs me about the same amount of effort as riding a pure pushbike; and even on the flat, it's hard to go faster than the motor wants to push it because the wheels are too small and the gearing's not high enough.

If michswiss has health issues that preclude expending the pedalling effort required for a normal bike, and is expecting this electric machine to do what a motor scooter does but at lower speed and cost, I would expect some pretty severe disappointment after the thrill of spending two and a half grand has worn off.
posted by flabdablet at 5:17 PM on May 25, 2011

Best answer: I notice that MTBR has an electric bike forum which might be worth looking at. Someone reviewed the metro recently. You might try asking your question over there if you don't get the info you need here.
posted by markr at 6:39 PM on May 25, 2011

Best answer: Late to the party, but hopefully OP checks up again. My friend did carry this bike in his shop several years ago, and I got to ride this model w/ the 500w motor quite a bit. I even owned the next model down for a while, until it was stolen.

The Metro with the 500w motor is very, very zippy on flat ground, and fun to ride. There was little noticeable difference in acceleration between my very fat ass riding it and someone more svelte. However maintenance is a bitch on this. The rear wheel is way to close to the seat and it's very difficult to work on. The rims, hubs, and spokes also feel very low quality, and were in constant need of either fixing, or adjusting. The brake calipers really could stand to be replaced too, this thing is heavy and is very difficult to stop on a dime once it gets going.

Echoing others, the range, speed, and battery life all performed as advertised.
posted by nulledge at 8:04 AM on May 26, 2011

I would certainly expect a 500W motor to perform well. The 200W motor that Australian regulations limit us to, not so much.
posted by flabdablet at 4:28 PM on May 26, 2011

« Older Arms/sleeves vs. Legs/???   |   Chorizocracia? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.