Updated June 27th, 2023
A lightweight 250 watt commuter bike, with good range, that is easy to store with folding handlebar and pedals
Best Value Commuter Bike – Best eBike Under $2000
Manufacturer and Model: Charge Bikes City Electric Bike
List Price: $1799
Available from: Charge Bikes
- Charge City Electric Bike Review and Test
- Recommendation – Buy or No Buy?
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The Charge City Electric Bike is a lightweight simple e-bike that is easy to store. It has a folding handlebar and pedals so it takes up less space against a wall. It weighs just 45 lbs with battery installed making it easier to carry around. It has a light and nimble ride. The 250 watt motor provides a good amount of assist on flat terrain and can give you some help for hill climbing. The City Electric Bike makes a good commuter bike thanks its included rack, fenders, and lights.
What we liked:
- Doesn’t take up much storage space
- Easier to carry. Under 35 lbs when the battery is removed.
- Includes a rack, fenders, and lights
- Has enough power for flat terrain and can climb small hills
- Has throttle and pedal assist
- Comes in environmentally friendly packaging
What we didn’t like:
- Ride is not that smooth without a front suspension fork and low profile tires
- Not much difference between pedal assist modes 1-3 and 4-5.
- Not the strongest hill climbing commuter bike out there
- Tool required for adjusting seat height and removing front wheel
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- Max Speed – 20 mph
- Range – Up to 50 miles
- Max Rider Weight – 300 lbs
- Bike Weight – 45 lbs
- Motor Power – 250 watt rear hub
- Battery – 36 volt 11.6 ah Samsung Cells
- Speeds – 7 Speed Shimano Altus
- Brakes – Mechanical disc with 160mm rotors
- Wheel Size – 700c (29 inch)
Charge City Electric Bike Review and Test
Commuter e-bikes are comfortable with a more upright riding position than true road bikes. They are more responsive than true cruiser bikes putting them at a happy middle of the road place that is enjoyable to ride long distances and good for a variety of uses.
The City Electric Bike from Charge Bikes sits at the more road performance oriented end of commuter bikes with no front shock and more of a hybrid/mountain bike riding position. Its focus is being a lightweight e-bike while still having enough power and range for riding around town. Its folding handlebar and pedals mean it won’t take up a lot of space in a garage or apartment where square footage is at a premium.
1 – 250 watt rear hub motor
The City Electric Bike is a light weight e-bike with only a 250 watt rear hub motor. The motor has 45 Nm torque which is about half what some of the bigger 750 watt motors can dish out. This doesn’t sound like a huge amount of power. It’s got enough motor for street riding and still provides a decent amount of power on hills.
2 – 36 volt 11.6 ah removable battery
This bike uses a 36 volt 11.6ah battery with Samsung cells. It delivers a surprisingly large amount of range for that battery size. The battery is mounted on top of the frame down tube. It’s not integrated into the frame. This gives the bike a less beefy look than bikes with large integrated batteries.
The battery comes off by lifting it up after unlocking it. You do not need to use the key to put the battery back into the bike.
3 – Folding Handlebar and Pedals
The Charge City Electric Bike is designed to be easy to ride and to store. It has folding pedals and handlebar that make the bike much smaller to store against a wall.
The handlebar stem has a lever you can pull up which lets you rotate the handlebar so it is in line with the wheel and bike frame. It is indexed so you can only lock it in place at 90 degree angles. You don’t have to worry about getting it straight to the wheel every time you unfold it.
You can fold the pedals up. You have to squeeze a handle on the outboard ends of the pedals to get them to fold.
This makes the bike only need a few inches of space away from the wall to store. It’s less than half what a normal bike requires.
4 – Power (6/10)
After reading that the bike only has a 250 watt motor I wasn’t excepting a lot of power out of this bike. It has thinner wheels and tires and is a very efficient overall package. The bike feels like it has a lot more power than it does. It doesn’t take much power to maintain a 15mph cruising speed when you aren’t wasting a lot spinning big heavy knobby tires.
We road the City Electric Bike on a flat smooth bike path to see how fast it would go on flat ground. The max speed we recorded with pedal assist was 19.81mph on GPS. The bike display peaked at 19.2mph.
We tested the top seed using throttle only also. The max speed we recorded was 20.83mph on GPS. The highest speed we saw on the display was 19.9mph.
We took the City Electric Bike out to our standard hill climbing test hill. This is a 0.5 mile hill with an elevation gain of 100 feet. It has 2 sections of 10% grade. We use a 250 lb rider to make sure the bike needs to work. We do the test once with throttle only and once with the maximum pedal assist level. We got the following results.
- Throttle Only – 2 minutes and 56 seconds with an average speed of 10.63 mph
- Pedal Assist – 2 minute and 44 seconds with an average speed of 10.85 mph
The City Electric Bike is the weakest bike we have tried this hill test with to date. I wasn’t sure that it would even make it up the 10% grades without stalling out. It chugged along and kept going and made it up all the 10% grade sections. I was pleasantly surprised that it make it up the entire hill climb. It did slow down quite a bit but never came close to being so slow it wasn’t stable to ride.
This bike doesn’t accelerate super fast on throttle only. It takes its time getting up to speed. It is a more relaxed bike to ride in throttle only mode. It provides enough assistance for decent acceleration under pedal assist. You’ll know when the motor turns on but it is not overwhelming.
5 – Range (8/10)
We took the Charge City Electric bike on a ride to see just how far it would go on a single charge. We did 2 rides. One using pedal assist and one using throttle only. We use a rails to trails path that has a couple long climbs. We ride the bike as close to 15mph as possible. We use a 250 lb rider. This represents real world usage instead of riding the bike on a long flat path with no hills.
We set the bike on pedal assist level 3 for our distance ride. This gives it a decent amount of assist for going up hills. We were able to go 38.34 miles on the City Electric Bike under these conditions. According to the manual, the Charge City Electric Bike has a range of 20-45 miles. Over 38 miles with hills and a heavy rider isn’t bad for only a 418 watt hour battery.
We rode the bike as close to 15mph as possible to see how far it would go. With the City Electric Bike, you have to start by pedalling to use throttle. It won’t go on throttle from a dead stop. The bike does benefit from your help during acceleration because of this. We were able to get the bike to go 24.26 miles with just throttle going 15mph.
We stopped riding when the bike was no longer able to propel itself forward anymore. This happened on a slight uphill with about 11% battery remaining on the display.
The bike can sustain 15mph on flat ground down to about 25% battery capacity. Below that it falls down to about 10mph.
The bikes ability to go up hills degrades below 20% capacity. Below 15% capacity the bike slows down on even a slight incline.
The good news is that with 11% capacity left in the battery the bike can still provide a decent amount of pedal assist. Pedalling the last 2 miles to get home after the bike stopped going up a slight hill wasn’t too bad.
6 – Ride and Handling (8.5/10)
The Charge City Electric Bike is designed to be an easy to ride, lightweight e-bike that is easy to store and transport. It has a slightly upright riding position similar to a hybrid bike. It has 700 x 40c tires which are about middle of the road for road tires. They have a little bit of cush but not much. The bike has no front suspension in keeping with the lightweight and easy to transport theme.
The City Electric Bike is a light weight road bike with thinner high pressure tires. It has a rigid fork instead of a front suspension fork. You will feel every crack in the pavement through the bike while riding it. If you ride it on a sidewalk or boardwalk you will feel every expansion joint and piece of wood in the boardwalk. I would highly recommend a suspension seat post for this bike if you are riding it somewhere with pavement that is less than perfect.
This bike is very quiet when the motor turns on. You can feel a very faint vibration or humm when the motor is running. You can feel it go away when the motor turns off. The motor is very quiet when running and makes almost no noise. It’s easier to feel the motor running than it is to hear it.
The bike feels light and snappy going around corners. It is easy to weave in and out of people and other bikes on congested bike paths. It is fun ride around on curvy paths (if the pavement is smooth). The bike feels stable cornering at higher speeds above 20mph. I never felt any sign of wobble or anything else that made me think I need to slow down while riding it.
7 – Braking (9)
Cable activated disc brakes are used for stopping. This bike is lightweight so cable pull brakes work well enough. It doesn’t have the instant light finger action stopping power of hydraulic brakes. I never felt like the brakes were under powered. For the almost $1800 price, the bike really should have hydraulic brakes.
8 – Controls (8/10)
The City Electric Bike uses a standard Bafang control interface mounted on the handlebars. It uses a small LCD display with 3 buttons for control. There is a thumb throttle on the left handlebar.
The Bafang LCD display is nothing fancy. It gives you speed, battery remaining in percent, and a variety of other things along the bottom. The display is easy to use in sunlight. It’s simple to operate with only 3 buttons.
Menus and settings
The controller has 3 buttons. You can scroll through the different displays by pressing the power/mode button. You can turn on the headlights by holding down the up/lights button. You can turn on walk mode by holding down the down/walk button. You can enter the settings menu by holding down the up and down button. The settings menu lets you reset the trip meter, read error codes, switch from miles to kilometers, and view some other settings.
It’s a fairly simple controller and it works well. No fancy color display. Black and white displays tend to be easier to read in bright daylight so this isn’t really a bad thing.
Pedal Assist and Throttle
The bike can operate in pedal assist or throttle only mode. The bike uses a cadence sensor and has 5 levels of pedal assist. It doesn’t seem to have fixed speeds for pedal assist levels. You can feel the motor providing assistance over 15mph on level 1. The Cadence sensor is one of the better cadence sensors we’ve tried that activates the motor with very little delay. You only need about a 1/4 pedal turn to get it going.
We did a test ghost riding the bike in the lowest gear to see what speed the bike would settle at in each pedal assist level
- Level 1 – 14mph
- Level 2 – 14-15mph
- Level 3 – 15mph
- Level 4 – 18mph
- Level 5 – 18.5mph
I didn’t notice much of any difference in how the bike behaves in PAS level 1-3. The acceleration feels a little bit stronger as you go up in PAS level. levels 4 and 5 felt similar.
It’s easy to ride the City Electric Bike at speeds less than 14mph. The acceleration level is tame enough and slow enough that it’s easy to hold slower speeds by pedalling slow and pausing to let the motor shut down.
Throttle is operated with a thumb lever on the left handlebar. To use the throttle you have to start the bike pedalling. It won’t go from a standstill with throttle only. This is a little irritating. You can’t use throttle to help start the bike when you stop it in a high gear.
7 speed pedal driveline
The bike uses a 7 speed Shimano Altus driveline. It uses a twist shifter on the right handlebar for changing gears. 7 speeds provides a good gear range for speeds up to 20mph. The lowest gear is low enough for the type of hills this bike is intended to ride. I didn’t feel any need for a higher or lower gear while riding the City Electric Bike.
9 – Assembly Ease (9/10)
Assembly Time – 0.5 hours
The only assembly required for this bike was mounting the front wheel. Because of the folding handlebar and pedals, the bike can be shipped almost 100% assembled. The bike comes in a box with easy to use instructions for opening the box. The box packaging can be used for a jig to hold the front wheel while aligning it to the fork. No plastic or foam packaging is used at all which is a nice feature. The packaging and assembly sequence for this bike is really well thought out.
The bike came with a small torque wrench to use for attaching the front axle and for tightening the seat bolt. The tool is a nice feature. I would have preferred quick releases for both of these attachments. Needing a tool to adjust seat height is an unnecessary pain any time you want to make a slight adjustment or let someone else ride the bike. Needing a tool to remove the front wheel is an extra added step if you get a flat.
My rear derailleur needed some adjustment to shift smoothly through all gears. See the below video from Park Tool for some good instructions on setting up and adjusting a rear derailleur.
10 – Accessories
The bike has a front and rear light. They are on all the time when the bike is powered up. The headlight button on the display turns up the brightness and also adjusts the backlighting of the display. The lights are good enough for street riding and will allow cars to see you at night.
Front and rear fenders are included and come mounted on the bike. They are heavy feeling plastic with metal supports. They are low profile and keep with the lean look of the bike.
The bike comes with a rear rack with a 40 lb or 18 kg weight limit. It is painted to match the frame and the angle is adjustable. It looks about the right amount of beefiness to match the rest of the bike and keeps with the light and portable theme.
Tire Pressure Indicators
2 tire pressure indicators are included that you screw onto the Shrader valve stems. They will show a green or red color depending on how much pressure you have in your tires. It lets you know when it’s time to add more air without having to use a tire pressure gauge.
The tire indicator goes from green to red between 30 and 40 psi. It was green at 40psi. It was half green and half red at 35psi and all red at 35psi.
The City Electric comes with a standard battery charger that takes 5-6 hours to charge from completely dead. They did include a nice little case to keep the charger in.
11 – Size and Fit
Our City Electric Bike is a low step frame which has a height range of 5’1″ to 6’0″. I am just under 6′ and find the bike comfortable to ride. I don’t feel the handlebar is too close. My wife is 5’6″ and thinks the bike fits her just about right. The seat tube length is about 17.5 inches which would make it a medium frame.
Recommendation – Buy or No Buy?
If you want an easy to store e-bike that provides enough power and range for street riding and small hills, then the Charge City Electric Bike is a good choice. It is not as comfortable to ride as other commuter bikes or as powerful. It takes up much less space against the wall thanks to its folding handlebar and pedals.
See Best Deals!
Get an extra $800 Off at ChargeBikes.com with Coupon Code GEARCRAVERCITY800
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Co-Founder & Chief Editor
I grew up back east in Pennsylvania and learned to ski on a family trip to Killington, Vermont when I was 6. I immediately fell in love with the mountains and outdoors and have been skiing across the US and Canada ever since. I went to school for Mechanical Engineering, and have a Master’s Degree in Material Science and Reliability.
I am a total gear nerd and love learning how things work and thinking about how they could be improved. Nothing excites me more than trying out new gear. I’d rather spend 3 hours taking my bike apart and learning how to change something than go to a bike shop. These days I reside in Michigan by the Great Lakes and go skiing, biking, and boating as much as possible.