The Pedego Comfort Cruiser
is well-named. This electric bike is one of the more comfortable bikes I've ridden and, man, does it cruise.
I've had the chance to test drive the Comfort Cruiser for the past few months and have really put it through the paces here on the hilly streets of Portland, Maine. I made the choice to go car-less back in May and have, for the most part, relied on my feet to get me around since so I've been able to put a lot of hours of testing time down on the road.
The first thing I noticed about the Comfort Cruiser after I unpacked and assembled it (which consisted of screwing on the pedals and straightening and tightening the handlebars) was the size — it's a big bike with classy curved lines that sweep back rakishly. The bike Pedego sent me to test is all black with popping bright lime green rims, rims that have since generate scores of compliments from random strangers on the street. The handlebars are big and sweeping, and it's not hard to feel like Peter Fonda in Easy Rider when the wind gets moving.
The Comfort Cruiser's motor is enclosed in the back wheel hub and is powered by a detachable battery that docks onto the back rack. I appreciate the ease of the detachable battery, at the end of a ride I just carry it inside and plug it in for a recharge. It's an especially good solution for someone who has to keep their bike apart from an available outlet and helps keep the battery warm in the winter.
One downside that I found to the position of the battery was that it makes the bike top heavy. It was never an issue while riding, but I had the bike take a few epic falls when I parked it on an imperfectly even sidewalk. The Comfort Cruiser comes with a nice two prong kickdown motorcycle like kickstand, but even that wasn't able to fight the gravitational pull of the heavy battery when things got less than even.
The motor is engaged with a twist throttle on the right handlebar that's familiar to anyone who's driven a motorcycle or ATV. On a flat road, the bike easily hits 20 mph and pedaling can add another five or ten miles per hour. On any sort of downhill, the bike literally flies. When I'm riding around the streets of Portland on the Comfort Cruiser, more often than not I'm going fast enough to justifiably own the lane, I ride in the middle like a motorcycle. It's a good, safe feeling.
The bike comes with a six-speed transmission that's just enough. I spend most of my time on the lowest gear and only click to the easier ones on the steepest of hills or in the odd instance where I find myself out on the road with a dead battery.
The battery has a real world range of 15-20 miles, depending on a variety of conditions like hills, how much a rider contributes with pedals, headwind, and weather (I've found the range dips when it gets below freezing). The farthest I took it in one shot was 25 miles of mostly flat road riding.
Recharging the battery takes four to six hours of a trickle charge and literally adds just a couple of dimes to your energy bill to fill up.
The Comfort Cruiser could easily replace a lot of people's second cars. Since you don't have to pedal the Cruisier (twisting the throttle alone will move you down the road pretty well), it's a great option for sweaty commuters who lack showering opportunities at work. The Comfort Cruiser isn't cheap at $1,695, but when compared to the costs of owning a car, it's a downright steal. I've probably saved that much already since going carless just from the gas, insurance, tax, and title, to say nothing of the surprise $1,000 car bills that always pop up when you can least afford them. Heck, getting a new set of tires for a car can almost set you back 16 large.
Pedego has been kind enough to let me keep the Comfort Cruiser through the winter so I can see how it does in snowy Maine. I'll be chronicling my adventures in a column here on MNN every Friday, you can check out the first installment here
Motor: Brushless Gearless Hub Motor on rear wheel
Power: 500 Watt
Batteries: Lightweight Lithium in a removable pack
Amps: 10 AMP Hour
Volts: 36 Volts
Brakes: Avid BB-7 Front Disc Brakes and Dia-Compe Rear Hub Brake
Measurements: Wheel to Wheel 35" W- 13" H- 39"
Seat: Padded Adjustable Seat Height 33" to 39"
Don't sue me FTC Disclosure: Pedego sent me a Comfort Cruiser to use and review for free. It'll go back at the end of the review period.