Electric Bike Company’s Model E is an affordable US-built e-bike for nearly everyone

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Categories: Bike

The Model E offers a great balance of quality parts and economical pricing. It’s right there in the name: Model E. The ‘E’ is for Everyone, as Electric Bike Company’s founder and CEO Sean Lupton-Smith explained to me as I tested the bike out on a cool winter morning in Newport Beach, California. That’s where EBC builds its e-bikes, assembling them locally from a combination of US and internationally sourced components.

Not only did I get a chance to tour the company’s factory and watch how e-bikes were being built in front of my eyes, but I got to spend a few days riding around Newport on the Model E, getting a sense of just what makes this e-bike special.

Model E Tech Specs
Motor: 1,000W peak rear geared hub motor
Top speed: 40 km/h (25 mph)
Range: Up to 80 km (50 mi)
Battery: 48V with either 12Ah (576 Wh) or 14Ah (672 Wh) options
Weight: 25 kg (56 lb)
Max load: 158 kg (350 lb)
Brakes: Tektro Dorado hydraulic two-piston disc brakes on 180 mm rotors
Extras: LCD display, LED head and tail lights, thumb throttle, heavy duty kickstand, wide cruiser saddle, option for suspension fork, platform pedals, wide balloon tires (multiple tire choices), custom paint selection, incredible array of accessories

Cruising on a city cruiser
Technically the Model E is a cruiser e-bike, as that’s EBC’s specialty. But it feels a bit more like a city cruiser, as in something I could use both for lazy boardwalk rides and brisker city commutes. Even the inclusion of the battery within the frame instead of a rack battery helps to give it that sleeker, relaxed look.

The bike is powerful when you need it to be, but it doesn’t feel over-powered in an “I’m going to get myself in trouble” kind of way. 1,000 watts of power from that rear hub motor is definitely peppy, but the bike feels plenty controllable.

Part of the comfort comes from the wide handlebars that offer confident steering, and part of it comes from the high-quality hydraulic disk brakes that make stopping quick and easy. Even the platform pedals contribute to that laissez-faire attitude; if it hadn’t been so chilly out on my visit then I might have wanted to pedal it barefoot!

And at 56 lb (25 kg), the bike is even lighter than I expected. It looks massive, but it only feels semi-massive. Any e-bike above 50 lb will definitely feel heavy, but this is practically svelte for a big cruiser e-bike.

Basically, it’s a powerful e-bike but packed into a manageable package. You can get an honest 25 mph (40 km/h) of speed out of it when you need to go fast, or you can have a relaxing, easy-going ride. It’s all up to you and how you want to ride it.

Fitment
I really like the step-through design of the Model E, which adds to the laid-back feel of the bike.

My wife joined me for the testing, and while she spent most of the time on a Model Y, she also got a feel for the Model E when we’d switch off. As a short rider (5’3 or 160 cm), she could easily lower the Model E’s saddle to a point that she felt perfectly comfortable on it. That’s not true of many e-bikes, so I have to give EBC props there. It’s hard for my wife to find a bike that fits her well. But the Model E feels good for tall and short riders alike.

In fact, they say it fits riders from 4’6″ to 6’8″ (137 to 203 cm), which seems to be just about everyone.

The touch points all felt great too. From the wide cruiser saddle to the comfortable leather grips, the bike didn’t feel like what you’d expect the most entry-level model in an e-bike company’s lineup to feel like, that’s for sure. It definitely has a higher-quality feel.

The only comfort thing that struck me as odd was just how cruiser-ish the cruiser bars were. They sweep waaaay back, and I’m definitely a straight bar kind of guy. I got used to it, but having my hands back so far and my wrists angled is not the most comfortable ride for me. But to each his own when it comes to handlebar styles.

Quality
The Model E obviously offers good performance from that big 1,000W motor, and the comfort is there in spades, too. But the real take-home from EBC is the quality.

Electric Bike Company has perhaps the best quality oversight of any US-based electric bicycle company because it actually assembles the e-bikes itself on site. That means it can ensure that every component is perfect before it goes into the e-bike, and no parts have been swapped out along the way for cheaper materials or have been installed incorrectly. You can learn more about the attention to detail enabled by US assembly by checking out my EBC factory tour here.

Even the packaging is top-notch. The bikes get shipped fully-assembled, meaning you just roll the bike out of the box, straighten the handlebars and ride away. Most e-bikes require between 15 minutes to an hour of final assembly by the customers, installing things like pedals, handlebars, fenders, lights, and other components. But EBC uses its own custom packaging to ensure that bikes can be delivered in fully-assembled form and without damage.

That means everything from the dual tail lights to any optional racks or other accessories are already set up and ready to go, right out of the box.

Priced right
The E in Model E may be for Everyone, but it’s also for Economical.

At $1,799, the Model E offers a very fair price for a US-built electric bicycle. Not only are you paying for local assembly and the best quality control that such close oversight can offer, but you’re getting a lot of good parts too.

The powerful motor, full-color screen, hydraulic brakes, and quality hardware like stainless steel fasteners and sealed bearings all add to EBC’s costs, yet the final price is more than reasonable compared to the rest of the market. And when you factor in the company’s five year battery warranty and 10 year frame warranty, that price is even more impressive.

Depending on how sophisticated you want to go with customizations, the price can bump up though. EBC has its own in-house paint facility that allows customers to create truly one-of-a-kind e-bikes with custom paint jobs. Then there’s a huge array of accessories from baskets and racks to cup holders, GPS trackers, and more. Even components like a single-speed or seven-speed drivetrain or an upgraded suspension fork can be customized.

So don’t be surprised if the price floats up several hundred dollars if you get fancy with your customization options. But for the base level model at $1,799, you’re getting a well-made and excellent riding e-bike built by fellow Americans earning a living wage, and all for a fair price.

It still amazes me that you can build such good e-bikes in the US for under two grand, but I’m not about to start complaining!

Whatever formula EBC has landed on, it is definitely working for them.

But enough of me yammering. Let’s hear what you think of the Model E in the comments section below.

And before you leave, check out my video below giving a behind-the-scenes walk-through of EBC’s Newport Beach-based factories to get a better sense of each step in the production process.