Review: Ezee Torq (Autumn 2010)
We review the Ezee Torq from Onbike, with optional dual battery rack. Does it justify its weight with prodigious performance? Read the review in full...
Posted by Peter Eland on Thursday 19 May 2011
This review appeared in Electric Bike magazine Issue 1. Click the viewer below to read the review with the original print layout - or scroll down for the full text and images online!
Ezee TorqWe review the Ezee Torq from Onbike, with optional dual battery rack. Does it justify its weight with prodigious performance?
» BACKGROUNDThe makers of our test bike, Ezee Kinetics Technology of Shanghai, are a well established electric bike manufacturer, and they’ve been supplying markets around the world for the best part of a decade. Their UK distributor is Onbike, an electric bike specialist dealer with branches in Kidderminster and Presteigne (mid Wales). Onbike have been running for around two years now, are founder BEBA members and they also stock many other brands.
The Torq is the flagship Ezee model, capable they say of both commuting and longer touring rides. Base price is £1450. Our test bike was fitted with the optional ‘extra battery’ rear rack (£440) which should effectively double the bike’s range. Both are connected at the same time, rather than one after another. This should offer an easier life for the batteries, as for a given journey each will be discharged less deeply. Providing high currents for the motor (up steep hills, for example) can reduce battery life, and this configuration should also help here by letting both packs contribute half of the peak power.
The bike comes with a two year guarantee on the bike parts (apart from ‘wear and tear’ items) and a one year battery guarantee (that the batteries will retain 70% of their original capacity after that time). Extra batteries to the same spec as the originals cost £500, and an extra charger is £100.
A single frame size (49cm or 19") is available for this model, in ‘gents’ style only. Maximum rider weight is quoted at 120 kg, and the rear rack can carry 25 kg.
» THE BIKEThe Ezee Torq is a substantial bike in every sense. With the battery tucked in ahead of the rear wheel, it’s a touch longer than most unassisted machines, and with two batteries in place, it’s also quite a heavy beast – we weighed it at 30.85 kg.
As a fairly large and strong rider I had no problems with this, but lighter or frailer people might find the weight an issue, especially when manhandling or parking the bike. Lifting it, even over a single step, can be a strain, although the back of the saddle does make a comfortable handle. The side stand is a welcome addition, making it easy to keep the bike parked upright in everyday use.
The aluminium frame is welded to a good standard, and I was generally impressed with the cycle components. The transmission uses good quality Shimano gears, with protector rings helping to keep your trousers clean. Wheels are well built with strong rims and very puncture-resistant Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres. The suspension forks are a mid-range model, with adjustable preload (to cater for different rider weights).
Protector rings help keep your trousers clean
The only slightly disappointing component was the suspension seatpost, which incorporates a catch to allow the saddle to swing forwards for battery removal. It’s rather roughly made out of steel rather than aluminium alloy. I’ve seen the same model on other good quality bikes, too, and the explanation seems to be that there is only one, rather basic, manufacturer offering the ‘swinging saddle’ function. No doubt that will change in time.
The Ezee electric system consists of a front wheel motor, control electronics in the frame-mounted battery housing, and extra wiring for handlebar controls, second battery and lighting. There’s a lot to build in, but it was all kept tidy with spiral cable wrap, heat-shrink tubing and cable-ties. A tidy installation should be a robust one, and this looks good.
The wiring for lights and motor is all tidily secured, boding well for reliability
The batteries are switched on or removed using the keys provided (different keys are needed for each of the two packs). I did find it slightly irritating that the keys are kept captive in place when you switch the batteries on: this means you can’t keep them on your normal key-ring, and need to carry two loose keys around if you leave the bike unattended.
You can swing the saddle forwards, letting you remove the front battery without losing your seat height setting
Handlebar controls consist of a twist-grip type throttle for the left hand, which also incorporates an on-off rocker switch for the power assist system. The left-hand brake (only) is also wired up to cut the power if you pull the brake lever. Finally, a small battery level display box just to the right of the stem has the switch to control the lighting system.
A cycle computer is a welcome addition to the handlebar controls
The handlebar display has three LEDs to indicate battery level; green, yellow, red. Visible though the ‘window’ for the LEDs is also the printed circuit board on which they’re mounted – not a very ‘polished’ design detail. Also, they can be hard to see in sunlight: perhaps translucent panels over them would be an improvement.
So to the charger, which is a relatively small and compact unit which plugs into the batteries via a three-pin audio-style connector. The batteries can either be on the bike or removed for charging. In use there is some noise from the charger’s built-in fan, but you’ll only notice it in a very quiet office. Charging takes up to six hours per battery if charging from flat, and of course there are two batteries. A second charger might be an idea if you’re in a hurry, or if you’d rather not come back after several hours to switch it over to the other pack.
There’s a compact charger for the two battery packs. Each is secured to the frame on the bike, and they can only be removed, or switched on, using the keys provided
» ON THE ROADWith saddle height set, both batteries switched on and the stand kicked up, you’re ready to go. The riding position is moderately leaned-forward on this bike, rather like a conventional touring bike. It’s more aerodynamic than a completely upright posture, but still fairly comfortable without too much weight on the wrists. I wasn’t taken by the thin, round grips on the handlebar (one of which you twist for the throttle). But the wide riser bars do give plenty of leverage and control, and the whole bike feels rigid and stable.
Set off, and you’d be wise to start in a fairly low gear – on flat ground third (of the eight) is about right. You need to make about half a pedal stroke unassisted before the motor kicks in, and if you’ve left yourself in too high a gear it can feel slow, and a strain, to get going.
Once the motor starts, though, it’s powerful and smooth as it pulls you up towards the legal cut-off speed of 15.5 mph, at which point the assistance has tapered off to zero. As set up in EU-compliance mode, you’ll need to keep moving your legs, even if you’re not putting any effort into pedalling, or the motor cuts out. Unless you put in considerable work yourself, your speed will drop if you go uphill or into a headwind – how much depends on your weight and the gradient of course, but I rarely had it go at less than 10 mph up a hill. Kudos to Onbike for including the cycle computer as standard, by the way – it’s interesting to see how fast you’re going and, by extension, whether the motor is helping.
On quiet roads or cycle tracks you can hear this for yourself: the motor is definitely audible to you and passers-by as you ride. But it’s not a particularly irritating noise, no worse than an old-style bottle dynamo, and without too much high-frequency whine. You can’t usually hear it at all over traffic noise.
In practice, even for mostly flat York, it was very tempting to apply the motor most of the time. Without the power the bike is reasonable to ride, but the weight does mean it feels a bit lumbering, like a tourer with full panniers.
The power seemed to be either full on or off, despite the tapering graphic on the throttle. Onbike tell me that control should in fact be much more progressive, not on/off, and that it’s likely the test bike had a faulty throttle control (which they would of course fix for a customer).
Ride comfort was generally good, with the front suspension visibly moving to soak up some of the bigger bumps. And the bike felt stable and assured, even with extra weight in panniers on the back rack. There’s a wide comfy saddle (sporty cyclists may choose something slimmer) but sadly the suspension seatpost didn’t do much to add to comfort levels. Its movement was so ‘sticky’ that it would stay extended until a big hit, then drop disconcertingly. It would then only pop up again if you took your weight off by standing slightly on the pedals. Some suspension seatposts are very good: this is not one of them.
The brakes on the other hand were excellent once worn in. Both the disk brake at the front and the roller brake at the back are unaffected by rain, so stop well in all weathers.
So finally to the key feature for this bike, the range. As we’ve explained elsewhere this issue, it’s hard to be definitive about numbers, but over 1000 Watt-hours of capacity suggests that the claimed 40-80 miles is in the right ball-park. It took about four of my 10-mile daily commutes to even get from green to yellow on the display (mainly flat, 95 kg rider, using throttle moderately). As the batteries got low I thought the assist became a touch weaker, but that was after over a week of commuting without a recharge!
The optional rear battery rack adds reassuring reserves of power for longer trips
It is rather comforting to know that you have oodles of capacity in hand, especially for longer or hillier rides. Of course, for most electric bikes you could just buy a spare battery and carry it with you, but that doesn’t give you the benefit of load-sharing between the two battery packs.
» SUMMARYWhile we did come up with some minor niggles about some of the design details, overall the Ezee Torq came across as an impressive machine. The cycle components are generally of high quality, and the electric systems seem very solidly constructed.
The double battery option on our bike is well worth considering for heavy users: it does make for a heavy machine, but you gain extended range and, I’d expect, extended battery life. Just buy a second charger, too, if you can.
Overall the Ezee Torq has much to offer the demanding user who wants a dependable and powerful throttle-controlled electric bike.
» SPECIFICATIONWeight overall (inc batteries): 30.85 kg
Battery weight: 3.82 kg (frame) + 3.35 kg (rack)
Bike only weight: 23.68 kg
Charger weight: 0.9 kg (+ 220g for mains cable)
Battery type: Li-ion
Battery capacity: 1008 Watt hours (twin 14Ah 36V packs)
Gearing: 8-speed derailleur (Shimano Nexave). 52T ring, 11-32 sprockets. Ratios 44-121".
Brakes: Shimano disk brake (front) and roller brake (rear).
Lighting: Front and rear LEDs, both powered from main battery (even after it cuts out for motor power)
Other accessories fitted: Mudguards, carrier rack, stand, cycle computer, bell.
Price as tested: £1890 inc dual battery rack. UK delivery £25.
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