It’s an uphill battle for weaker e-bikes like this one

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Six friends have approached me in the past few weeks to find out what kind of e-bikes they can buy for themselves or their children. We have healthy hills around our area, which leads me to tell them they probably want a model with at least a 500W motor and good torque. But some of these friends have never ridden an electric bicycle. Therefore, they are understandably very cautious and want to go slow.

Coincidentally I have a test model of Charge’s new Comfort 2 Step-Thru e-bike with its 250W motor. I’ve had all my friends try it as a starting point. I insist they try to get up the main hill in our neighborhood before coming back and trying the 500W and 750W e-bikes I own. That’s because I want their before-and-after impressions. I’m too tired. Since I already have bikes that can fly up the hill, I get frustrated with the Comfort 2 crawling at 13 mph—the fastest it can get up the hill.

So I asked my friends to try it. And the results are consistent. They all feel super comfortable at that relatively low top speed – until they try the other two bikes I have that can both reach 18 or 19 mph on the same stretch. Then they don’t want to go back to the Comfort 2. You can always go slow with the faster models, but you can’t increase the speed with the slower ones.

This is the deal. There’s a lot to like about the Comfort 2. For starters, it offers the very best mounting experience I’ve come across. You can scan the QR code on the box for a quick assembly video. Or you can just open the manual. Either way – and only – you should have the bike easily assembled and ready to roll in 15 minutes. Even if you are a virgin in the bike assembly. The Charge folks have done a masterful job of simplifying things with words, pictures, videos and tagged/numbered parts which together are pretty foolproof.

The seat on it is super comfortable. There is an electric horn, as opposed to a manual bell, which sounds like the Roadrunner cartoon chime. It’s a super quiet and comfortable ride. The bike comes with smart tire pressure sensor caps that indicate in color when to inflate the tires. There is a back rack. The entire bike weighs just 55 pounds — thanks to a lightweight aluminum fork — which is less than many competing models. It comfortably accommodates people between 4’11” and 6’3″ tall, with the adjustable seat. And it has internal cable routing that keeps the wires from snagging and getting wet when it rains. Plus, you can easily get the bike up to 20 mph on flat or downhill ground. Acceleration is also smooth. As well as braking. There are seven manual speeds and three levels of pedal assistance, as well as a thumb throttle for when you don’t want to pedal. And the bike seems to be made with decent quality parts – the motor is from Bafang.

The manufacturer claims you can get up to 50 miles per charge. I’m still working on the first charge, so I can neither confirm nor deny this. At $1,899 I think it’s quite pricey for what you get. And how slowly you have to drive over hills. But still it is a nice and comfortable ride.

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