Most of the ebikes we’ve tested at TNW have futuristic designs, ample smart features, or minimalist aesthetics. But sometimes you just want something a little more classic, and for that, the Electric Bike Company’s Model Y exactly fits the bill.
Made in the USA
Electric Bike Company is a relatively rare breed of an ebike brand in that its bikes are actually designed and built in the USA. Pretty much all of the company’s bikes are some variety of beach cruiser, and though some components are sourced from outside the US, the company builds frames to order in California. This includes optional custom paint jobs and wood trims on various parts of the bike, offering much more customization than any ebike I’ve tested.
That extra attention to detail also allows EBC to be confident enough to offer an exceedingly rare 10-year warranty on both the frame and motor, as well as a 5-year warranty on the battery. Most budget ebikes offer a one-year warranty, and while more expensive bike companies might guarantee the frame for that long, even the more expensive ones tend to top out at two or three years when it comes to crucial components like the motor and battery. The company even says each cell is inspected individually by experts before the battery is assembled, and it says the motors are rated to last 18 years.
I mention all this because the first thing to strike me about the Model Y upon unboxing it was the polish and attention to detail. It looks and feels like a bike that’s built to last. The bike retails for $1,949 in its base configuration (+$200 shipping within the Continental US, although free local pickup is available in Newport Beach, CA), and it feels like you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck.
The bike comes almost fully assembled and very well packed. The paint job is clean and the welds are smooth. There are classy component choices throughout, like full metal fenders (a $79 option) and chainguard, corrosion-resistant stainless steel components, and bright integrated lighting. The vegan leather grips and saddle both look classy and feel great; the ginormous seat is the bike equivalent of a lounge chair. I normally want to change these two details right away after receiving a new bike to test, but not on the Model Y.
Even the basket is nicer than usual, with both rods to latch bungees onto and a mesh lining to prevent objects from falling out. That basket houses the battery, by the way, a really nice touch that helps evenly distribute the bike’s weight with the motor in the rear hub; I wish more companies took this approach.
Some other specs and highlights:
- 504 Wh battery (48V/10.5 Ah), upgradeable to 1008 Wh (+$799)
- A refreshingly fast 3.5A charger (3-4 hours for a full charge from empty)
- Tektro hydraulic disk brakes which automatically cut off motor power
- 500W (1000W max) rear hub motor
- 12 magnet cadence sensor
- Thumb throttle
- 27″ wide cruiser handlebars
- 25 mph max speed (comes configured at 20mph)
- Single speed drive train (+$189)
- Beefy kickstand
- 58lb weight with battery
- Large color LCD display with USB for powering accessories
- Balloon tires available in 26 and 24-inch sizes (24-inch tested)
- Optional suspension fork (+$189)
- Optional GPS tracker (+$499)
- Optional Anti-theft alarm with remote (+$129 upgrade)
- Optional rear rack (+129 or more, depending on the color)
I tested the base specs with only the addition of fenders.
As you can see, the bike offers plenty of customization options, but that’s before we even get to the myriad ways you can customize the paint job. There are dozens of color options for the frame, fork, fenders, chain guard, basket, components, rims, and rack. Each is separately customizable, leading to literally billions of possible color combinations. EBC even allows for some options not on its site if you contact its team separately, including matte finishes and 24″ wheels.
Painting the frame is an extra $300, while other components will run you $79-$209. If you customize every component, the paint job will bring the base spec configuration closer to $3,000.
But don’t get me wrong — I’m glad these options exist. The base model already feels like it’s built beyond the standard of most bikes its price. But if you’re buying an ebike that’s built to last, it’s wonderful to have the option to get it looking how you really want it. It means you can have a bike that’s truly unique to your personal style, and for many people, that’s well worth the price of entry.
There’s pretty much just one thing I don’t like about this bike, and that’s the lack of a torque sensor. These pedal assist sensors detect not only how fast you’re pedaling (like the standard cadence sensor), but how hard you are pedaling, which can help the motor know when to provide more assist from a stop or when you’re struggling up a hill. I understand the omission at the price, as torque sensors are usually expensive components, but given EBC’s penchant for customization, I wish the company at least provided a torque sensor as an optional upgrade. It’s the one thing that mars the bike’s “premium” vibe (and I wouldn’t mind some bottle cage bosses either).
Nonetheless, the Model Y offers a carefully tuned cadence sensor that doesn’t jerk you up to speed, and the throttle helps make up for the lack of a torque sensor. The motor provides smooth assistance and plenty of power on my single-speed unit. Unless you have some really gnarly hills, want to extend the range, or plan to do a lot of assist-free riding, I’d consider the 7-speed upgrade unnecessary.
It is worth noting that the motor does get loud in the higher assist levels though. Other than that, the Model Y makes for an excellent ‘stealth’ ebike as the battery is nearly impossible to see tucked into the basket.
The laid-back geometry and plush seat make for a luxurious riding experience. Despite the beach cruiser pedigree, I found the bike was equally suited for rough Brooklyn roads. The fully upright geometry gives you a clear view of traffic and your environment while making you more visible to motorists, aside from being easy on the back and wrists. Meanwhile, the balloon tires readily absorbed bumps and small potholes despite the small wheels on my test configuration.
The relaxed geometry also means it’s relatively easy to get full leg extension while still being able to put your feet on the ground at a stop, while the step-through frame makes it easy to get on and off the bike — both welcome points for those with mobility issues and overall comfort. I also think most people should be fine without the optional suspension fork or seatpost, considering the plush sprung saddle and balloon tires but it’s nice the options are there for extra comfort.
Range was also solid in my testing; I’m a heavyset rider and was able to pedal nearly 20 miles in pedal assist level 1 with minimal throttle usage with the battery indicator still showing three quarters left. Higher assist levels will obviously drain the battery faster — this bike really zips along in assist level 5 — but I personally prefer to use a lower assist level and supplement it with the throttle when I need the quick speed boost, such as when accelerating from a red light. Your mileage may vary, literally.
Lastly, I wanted to provide some kudos for the LCD display, which is much nicer than what you normally find in this price range. It’s a large, high-resolution color panel that provides plenty of information, including your assist level, speed, battery level, voltage, trip information, and even ambient temperature all in one clear view. The display also allows you to customize a whole bunch of ride parameters, including the max speed and pedal-assist tuning.
An ebike that seems built to last
I’m lucky enough to be able to test many ebikes for work, but when it comes time to recommend an ebike to someone else — especially someone who may not be handy with electronics — I always worry about longevity. Sure, an ebike can be nice to ride for the first month or two, but given limited time to review, I can’t be sure it’ll hold up 1, 5, or 10 years down the road.
Electric Bike Company goes further than almost any, umm, electric bike company I’ve seen towards making you feel like you’re buying an ebike that’ll actually stand the test of time.
The proof of longevity is in the pudding, of course, but even disregarding the company’s durability claims, there’s mercifully little to complain about the EBC Model Y. A stealthy, comfortably design, a ridiculous amount of customization, powerful pedal assist, and one of the best warranties in the industry make for an ebike that is easy to recommend.