This is an in-depth review of the Ampere electric bike. This comfortable electric cruiser is the latest offering from Shocke Bikes, a Canadian-based manufacturer of high quality, affordable e-bikes. This bike offers a relaxed, comfortable, upright ride on a powerful e-bike. The Ampere is an ideal urban e-bike for anyone who wants a powerful cruiser bike as a part of their relaxed but healthy life style.
First impressions of the Ampere Electric Bike
My first impression of this Ampere e-bike was that it is very good looking and quite obviously a quality e-bike.
As you can see, the Ampere e-bike has a Dutch-style step-through frame for easy mounting and dismounting. This comfortable and easy to ride e-bike really channels the Dutch approach to cycling, in which riding a bike is just as natural as walking. Interestingly, e-bikes are really catching on in the Netherlands, a country in which cycling is the preferred mode of transportation for 36% of the people. Last year for the first time, e-bikes accounted for more than 50% of bike sales in the Netherlands. In fact, e-bikes made up 57% of bike sales, for a total cost of 514 million euro. I think many people in the Netherlands would love this Ampere e-bike! (Source: Bike Europe)
The Ampere Electric Bike comes fully loaded
The Ampere electric bike arrives fully loaded and ready for you to coast down to the beach or the pub, thanks to being pre-fitted with good lights, a strong rack, and wrap-around fenders.
This e-bike has a very strong stand. I have had electric bikes with weak stands, and that is just plain dangerous. Most of these bikes weigh around 50 pounds, so you want a strong stand to hold it up, and you do NOT want it falling on you! This particular stand is so strong that it actually lifts the rear wheel of this 53-pound bike off the floor. This is very handy if you want to clean the chain and don’t have a bike stand.
I especially like the wrap-around fenders that are pre-fitted on the bike. There is nothing fun about arriving at work with a wet trail of mud all the way down your back. And if you plan to use this bike as your everyday transport – well, I imagine it would be pretty awful to arrive for a date with a trail of wet mud down your back! Not to mention wet pants – just not very attractive …
Motor and battery on the Ampere Electric Bike
The Ampere e-bike cuts no corners on quality. It is powered by a 350 W BAFANG Hub-Drive Brushless Geared motor, which is housed in the rear wheel hub.
The BAFANG motor is powered by a 36 volts 11 amp hours Panasonic lithium ion battery (similar to Tesla). I have used these batteries for a few years now, and they are top-notch. Also, as I mention in my book on How to Buy the Best Electric Bike, it’s best to have an electric bike setup in which the battery capacity in watt hours is equal to or greater than the motor capacity in watts. Watt hours = amp hours x volts. So in this case, you have a bike with a very generous 396 watt hrs in the battery, which should power that 350 watt motor for a very long time!
To power up the battery, you use a key to remove it from the frame of the bike and then charge it with a dedicated charger. As with all electric bikes, a full charge takes several hours.
The battery is concealed in the sloping cross bar. I have always liked batteries in the cross bar, as I think they keep the weight nicely centered and balanced. I am sure that the central placement of the battery contributes to the very well balanced feel of this bike. There is a handle on the battery, which you use when you remove the battery to charge it.
Components of the Ampere Electric Bike
The Ampere e-bike has quality components all around. The components are in fact surprising at this price point (around US $1.55 K).
Components on this e-bike include adjustable SR Suntour shocks in the front, which make the bike more comfortable. It soaks up the bumps of urban roads really well. I find it quite strange that most people think of shocks as only being necessary for mountain bikes. The reality is that a lot of urban roads are rougher than mountain single-tracks, due to potholes.
The Ampere e-bike also features Shimano components, with 7 Shimano Altus gears that you control with your right thumb. It has road-style Kenda 26″ 1.95″ semi-slick tires that are best suited to road surfaces, rather than off-road, as they are designed for efficient travel rather than rough surfaces. If you want to do a lot of off-road riding, you would be better advised to look at the Spark e-bike, which I reviewed here.
This e-bike has Tektro disc brakes. I believe disc brakes are essential on electric bikes, to ensure precision braking despite the greater weight and sometimes much faster speed.
The fact that this bike has standard parts such as Shimano components, SR Suntour shocks and Zoom handlebars and Velo Plush Padded saddle is important. It means that you will be able to have the bike serviced at any regular bike store. Unless of course the problem is with the power system, but in my experience this is rare with a good quality electric bike, like this one. These systems just don’t break down often.
The Comfort and Convenience of the Ampere Electric Bike
Maggie really loves this e-bike. She is a great fan of the Dutch-style step-through frame, and also loves to ride while sitting almost upright. The bike enables a riding position which is almost upright, but not bolt upright at a 90-degree angle. Maggie finds this easier on her back, and likes to be able to look where she is going easily. Most importantly, she likes her bike just to be a relaxed part of her everyday life. She doesn’t want to feel that she has to dress up “like a cyclist” in tights and cleats.
Instead, she wants a bike that she can just impulsively hop onto, no matter what she happens to be wearing, and ride off to do her shopping, or meet friends at a restaurant. At the same time, she wants a bike with a powerful enough motor and enough range that she can rely on it for her work commute, without having to worry at all about whether the battery lasts, or how she will get over the bridge.
This Ampere e-bike checks all of those demands. It’s easy to get onto it, and once you are riding, the word that springs to mind is “relaxing.” It’s a super relaxed ride, and I find that just riding it makes me de-stress. And Maggie loves that she can ride it in a dress or a skort.
How to Use the Ampere Electric Bike
You control this e-bike with a small remote device next to your left thumb, and the system gives you information with a 3.7″ backlit LCD display console. On the console, you get information about what level of power assistance you are in, battery level, time of day, speed, and odometer.
The control panel gives you this information: speed (average, current, maximum), battery gauge, main power, power-assist mode selector, and how far you have cycled. With this bike, you have a top speed of 32 km/hr (20 mph). This is controlled by software, as there is a law that restricts electric bikes to 32 km/hr in North America.
Also on the handlebars is a remote device to wirelessly control the LED rear light and turn signals. Yes, it has remotely controlled turn signals at the back – I love that! You can see the remote device for the lights to the left of the LCD display in the photo below.
The Ampere e-bike offers you these options:
- use no power at all and just pedal;
- use just throttle power; or
- use one of the five levels of Pedelec assistance while pedaling.
For the throttle, you push a small switch next to your left thumb. It’s very handy to pull off on an uphill, as there is a two-second delay before the Pedelec assistance kicks in. This two-second delay is a safety feature to prevent your bike suddenly rearing forward when you are stopped at a light, if you happen to rest your foot on a pedal. I have had that happen on other e-bikes, and it’s not fun at all.
This video shows you how to control the Ampere bike, including how to change the assistance levels, how to control the bike with throttle only, and how to control the rear lights and turn signals with the remote.
What is a Pedelec system?
Pedelec systems give you assistance only when you are pedaling, and the amount of assistance is linked to your pedaling. Pedelec assistance absolutely requires pedaling. The minute you stop pedaling, the motor stops assisting. The notion that an electric bike is a free ride (like a motor cycle or a car) is just not true. Also, when the hills get really steep, you are going to have to help a LOT. On the other hand, you will go up minor hills like they are nothing at all, if you use a high level of assistance.
Pedelec systems figure out whether you are pedaling, and how hard you are pedaling, with a torque sensor or a cadence sensor. A cadence sensor simply reacts to whether or not you are pedaling. With a Pedelec system using a cadence sensor, the level of assistance is controlled by the level of assistance you have chosen on the console, not by how hard you are pedaling. However, a torque sensor also reacts to how hard you pedal, and adjusts accordingly. On both systems, once you start pedaling there is a two second delay, and then the motor starts up.
Torque sensors are more advanced, and some people say they provide a more natural feel while cycling by mimicking your exertion level. However, I can honestly say that the assistance on this Shocke e-bike felt every bit as natural as the assistance on much more expensive bikes that use complex torque sensors for their Pedelec systems.
Alternatively, you can coast along using only the throttle, even on uphills (not very steep uphills).
Test Riding the Ampere electric bike
I test rode this bike on road and paved trails, starting off on the extremely steep hill that I live on. The bike did really well! This Ampere e-bike passed the acid test of getting me up my steep hill without too much discomfort, and without the embarrassment of having to get off and push.
The Ampere electric bike rides like a regular cruiser bike
Apart from having enough power to help me get me up steep hills, the other important factor for me in assessing an e-bike is this: Does it feel like a bike? By this I mean that I don’t want to ride something that feels heavy or unbalanced, as if it was a moped. It must have that light, well-balanced “bike” feeling that all good bikes have. It must feel nimble and light, so that I feel like an athlete (even though I’m really not).
This bike definitely passes that test. I enjoyed its responsiveness and its great cornering. Of course, it has that relaxed feel common to all good cruisers. It felt well balanced, and I was easily able to ride it with no assistance, even on minor up-hills. You always want to have that option, in case your battery runs out. However, this bike has a claimed range of 45 miles (70 km), so you are not likely to ever run out of battery power.
The lights on the Ampere Electric Bike
Where this bike really stands out from the pack is with its lights. First, it has a great, bright front light, which you switch on by holding down the + button on the power level remote controller close to your left thumb.
The rear lights are unique to Shocke. First, they are completely controlled with a wireless remote, as mentioned above. This is a great safety feature. As we all know, once you really get going on a bike and having fun, it can be hard to stop and get off to switch on lights.
Second, you can use the wireless remote to turn on the rear laser option, which is essentially dual red lines that run behind the bike. These warn any one coming up behind you that there is a bike ahead that is taking up a share of road space. You can have these lights steady or flashing. I would recommend using the flashing lights when sharing road space with motor vehicles. When on a separate bike path, you would be better with the steady light, as I know some cyclists would find these flashing lines on the road disturbing or distracting.
Third, the wireless remote also controls left and right turn signal indicators. This is a really great idea. There are so many times when I really need to signal a turn to a vehicle behind me, but I cannot let go of the handlebars if I am going downhill on a bike. These would be great in those situations, and really in most night-time cycling situations where it is safest to be as predictable as possible to other road users. If I had my way, all bikes would have remotely-operated turn signals (there’s a really good reason why these are standard on cars – they are essential safety features).
Bottom line on the Ampere Electric Bike
If you are in the market for an electric cruiser bike, you really should take a look at this bike. It’s an AFFORDABLE, quality electric cruiser bike. It’s comfortable and relaxed, yet powerful. The combination of the step-through style with a powerful motor and a long-range battery is perfect for anyone looking for a cruiser bike that can be part of their relaxed but healthy life style. It’s a bike you can simply step onto any time, and take it pretty much anywhere that is paved. It’s also very good looking, which is always a plus.
Also, I like the fact that there has been careful attention to all details, from the leather stitched hand grips to the comfort saddle to the lights.
Finally, the option of instant throttle power is excellent. Being able to get up to speed quickly is an important safety feature. There are many traffic situations where you need to get out of the way of buses and other large vehicles as quickly as possible, and you can do this much more easily if you are riding an e-bike with a throttle option – especially at intersections, which is where most collisions between vehicles and bikes occur.
I would recommend this Ampere electric bike to anyone wanting a comfortable, high quality electric cruiser bike.
Thinking of buying an Electric Bike? Check out my new 2017 edition of How to Buy the Best Electric Bike! Buy it here.
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