The Optibike 850R is the best electric bike I've ever ridden. It is a high test piece of technical wizardry that will make you rethink getting back into your car. In short, it is * pure awesome.
I had the chance to test out the Optibike 850R for a few weeks (check out my un-boxing post) and almost wish I hadn't — at the end of the trial period I was loath to send it back, so powerful had its hold over me become. I have ridden a fair number of electric bikes over the last few years and nothing I have been on comes close to performing as well as the Optibike (though I will always love my Pedego Comfort Cruiser). All this performance comes at a pretty steep price — the Optibike 850R costs $11,995 (their USV model is a comparatively cheap $5,995), but if you have the cash to spare, it is worth it. It is almost worth it even if you don't have the cash if you look at the Optibike 850R as a replacement for your car (though, I have never had a car worth $12K, but then, I'm just a poor blogger).
My daughters helped me out with this one.
The Optibike 850R comes equipped with a powerful 850w continuous brushless DC motor fed by a 22ah lithium ion battery. This bike jumps off the line from a standing stop like a tiger. I beat more than a handful of cars off the line after being stopped at a red light in town.
It has both front and back suspension that can be tightened up for more efficient city riding or loosened to handle the bumps and ruts of the trail. A bright 10w halogen twin headlight powered by the main battery help give the bike its technically sophisticated and otherworldly look while cutting through the darkness of the night. A Rohloff Speedhub 14 speed drivetrain changes gears automatically leaving you free to focus on pedaling.
Well, you don't actually even have to pedal if you don't want to — opening up the throttle all the way will quickly zip you up to 20 mph, adding in some leg power and pedaling will easily put the bike up over 30 mph. I had no problem keeping up with, and even passing in some instances, city traffic here in Portland, Maine.
The Optibike brochure points out that the bike is capped at 20 mph with certain sized sprockets to comply with U.S. laws governing electric bikes. One would think that if you changed the sprocket size (something any bike shop can do) you could greatly boost the top baseline speed of the bike. The thought of an electric bike that could do 45 mph is both terrifying and terrifically exciting. It even makes the high price tag more palatable.
The Optibike 850R ripped up every hill Portland has to offer and made me feel like Lance Armstrong charging up some crazy mountain stage in the Tour de France. I think I would probably pass Lance on the Optibike 850R.
My longest test ride was a little over an hour. I kept it on the fast setting, which eats up more battery than economy mode, but even still I made 27 miles with juice to spare. According to Optibike, running it on economy mode will carry you nearly 60 miles. The battery took around five hours to fully charge, which cost me less than a couple of dimes in electricity.
All the components on the Optibike are top of the line with Avid Elixer R hydraulic brakes, Mavic Hand Built 719 wheels with a Chris King front hub, and a Cane Creek110 headset on an aluminum monocoque frame. It weights 58 pounds fully loaded, most of that weight coming from the battery.
The Optibike 850R is almost too good of a mountain bike. If I spent $12K on a bike, the last place I would take it is out on the trail. I might even think twice about going into the city with it.
This bike represents the absolute top of the electric bike market. It is made for rich people with lots of cash to spare who want the absolute best bike around. If that's what you're looking for, look no further. The rest of us will just have to salivate over photos, start saving for a USV, and hope for more test rides. ;)
The Optibike 850R is so full of awesome it hurts.
* Note to electric bike companies: Don't agree with my assertion that the Optibike 850R is the best bike on the market? Prove me wrong. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a test ride.
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