I began researching all the assisted bikes out there including adding a kit to my existing bike but when I added up all the costs and compared components, there’s just no other bike out there that provides the combination of electric assistance in such a polished package, do-it-all, go anywhere capability, and high quality components for the price. Yes, it’s expensive but compared to having a gym membership (which I rarely used anyways,) paying for transit/car use, improving my fitness, and doing my part to reduce my carbon footprint, it seemed like a bargain and still does. It’s my feeling these vehicles are the wave of the future as the world approaches peak oil production.
Back to the bike. I chose an Ohm XS700 which has been perfect for my needs (actually, my bike has all the XS750 components other than the high capacity battery.) Originally I was sceptical of the frame geometry and did not think it would be stiff enough without the traditional top tube but that turned out to be a non-issue. The frame is rock solid. For reference I’m 6’2″ tall and weigh about 215 lbs and carry another 15 lbs or so of clothes and tools with me. The components are top-shelf although I’d prefer a more powerful front brake. I love that it came with most of the necessary items for commuting – great lights with control integrated into the console, a rear rack, and fenders. I did have to replace the front fender with one that provides better coverage as my feet were getting soaked but no longer. I added flashing lights for even better visibility. The suspended seat post, the handlebars, grips, stem, etc. are all excellent. Adjustable and solid.
I thought that I would prefer to ride the bike without assist and only use the thumb throttle when needed such as going up hills. I find in practise the levels and assistance that you can program from the console are excellent and unobtrusive so I usually just set it to level 1 (sometimes 2) for most of my commute and I enjoy the push it gives me on level ground. I usually use level 3 or 4 for hills. When I ride up Burnaby Mountain I keep it on level 4 all the way up. It’s still pretty hard work but the assistance makes the difference between me riding it and putting my bike on the bus. My 12 km trip up the mountain uses about 80% of the battery power. Coming back down I use level 2 regen and gain back one bar typically on the battery indicator. The remaining power is plenty to get me back home. When I ride downtown, one battery charge is good for my whole round-trip of 43 km, mostly flat mix of road and trail (Central Valley Greenway) with the odd hill here and there. My best description of what the assist feels like going up hills is for each extra level of assistance it effectively reduces the slope making it seem like you’re going up a less steep hill than you really are.
Before I bought I contacted Ohm to find out answers to some of my questions that I could not find online. They were excellent in answering all of my queries. Since buying I’ve had a couple of small problems with the bike (broken chain, some broken spokes on the rear wheel) and I’ve gotten equally excellent warranty service from Ohm and my local bike shop. They really want you to enjoy the bike.
I was also concerned about how weather proof the electric assist components were as I’ve been commuting all winter no matter what the weather. I was assured it should work fine and so far, so good. I’ve added studded tires for the recent cold snap we’ve had and I truly feel now the only thing that will stop me from riding all winter is a huge dump of snow.
How would I improve the bike? A front fender with better coverage, buttons on the console that would work better with winter gloves on (I sometimes inadvertently turn the lights and motor off when trying to change the assistance level.) The bike is just so well thought out (love the way the battery integrates into the frame and locks in place) that these are the only minor quibbles I can come up with.
I’m very happy with the bike but even better I love my new level of fitness and weight loss and the freedom this bike has given me from sitting in traffic jams and overstuffed transit.