BIKE TEST: EMAZING APOLLO

Electric 29er

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Howard Lee is the genius behind the design of the bike. He and his wife Janet formed the company in 2011. Howard is an electrical engineer who is originally from Taiwan. He has engineered massive projects, including a semiconductor foundry, a distillery, a sewage treatment plant and more. His idea behind the Emazing bike was to create a great, affordable form of two-wheeled transportation. Since the couple moved to Sunnyvale, California, they’ve created a bike based around a unique pedal-assist system.

Apollo, named after the Greek god who was son of Zeus, was known for, among other things, bringing the science of medicine to man. It’s a fitting name to go with the amount of science that’s gone into the bike and for the healthy lifestyle bikes encourage. This is Emazing’s flagship bike, the top of their line. It features the best components of the line and is the only one with 29-inch wheels. As the top of the line, it has the highest price tag. That price is still a very reasonable $2400.

 

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PRECISION CONTROL 

The weather-proof, 350-watt, brushless-gear motor is controlled by both cadence and torque sensors. Unlike some cadence-only bikes, the Apollo employs a sophisticated system that considers cadence and torque sensors to apply power. It’s a system that features what they term a DH feed-forward with a Dutch-patented feedback automatic control to deliver power very smoothly whenever any load disturbance is encountered during the riding process. In simple terms, it isn’t jarred by quick braking, bumps or even a short stop in pedaling.

“ He uttered the inevitable, ‘Whoa!’ as he took the first pedal and the power kicked in. ’’

The system is very programmable, if you have the software. Howard has the software on a laptop, so he can take it into the field. He came by the EBA office to drop off the bike and show us the level of information the bike stores and he can work with to program the battery, controller and the whole pedal-assist system.

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1.) Guest test rider Chris Sheffield was impressed by the power and speed of the bike. He’s 5-foot-11, so a 29er looks normal for him. 2.) Shimano Deore 1x9 gearing is plenty. We never ran out of gears on flat ground, powered or not. 3. ) Something you never expect on a bike in this price range is hydraulic brakes. These Tektro Altus brakes are above and beyond but standard equipment on Emazing’s flagship bike. 4.) The Kenda Kozmik Lite II tires aren’t bad on the street and plenty grippy for some fun in the dirt.

1.) Guest test rider Chris Sheffield was impressed by the power and speed of the bike. He’s 5-foot-11, so a 29er looks normal for him. 2.) Shimano Deore 1×9 gearing is plenty. We never ran out of gears on flat ground, powered or not. 3. ) Something you never expect on a bike in this price range is hydraulic brakes. These Tektro Altus brakes are above and beyond but standard equipment on Emazing’s flagship bike. 4.) The Kenda Kozmik Lite II tires aren’t bad on the street and plenty grippy for some fun in the dirt.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Apollo has a mountain bike-like look—straight bars, mountain bike stem, Truvativ cranks, trigger shifter, knobby tires on 29-inch rims, a racing-style saddle, a frame with a high head tube and a fair amount of travel on the Suntour XCR fork, even the hydraulic brakes. The one immediate contradiction is the plastic platform pedals. It is okay for casual off-road riding, but don’t plan on any hard-core riding with it.

Beyond the pedals, there are some truly refined features on the bike. Cabling is routed through the frame for a very clean look. The Matte Black finish not only looks cool, but it helps make the electric bits more stealthy. The battery is mounted on the downtube bottle-cage bosses and is rounded, so it looks like a water bottle. It is removable to swap batteries or for charging, though charging off the bike is a bit of a kludge, requiring a separate (but included) dongle.

The second thing you’ll notice about the bike is its weight. Compared to most electric bikes, the Apollo is on the light side. Trust us, we frequently heft these things up and down stairs. The Coeus is light and very well balanced, with the relatively small battery mounted on the downtube and the 350-watt motor in the rear hub. The battery is a mere 8.7 Wh, but with the small hub motor, a bigger battery might be overkill and would certainly add to the weight.

If you do decide you want a second battery, it’ll set you back $539, which isn’t bad when you compare it to other batteries in the industry that can cost double that price. You actually have two choices—a 6.6 Ah or an 8.7 Ah battery.

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THE RIDE

Turning the system on can be confusing. When pressing the Mode button and holding it, the display flickers to life. There’s no marked power-on button. Once it comes to life, the J-LCD display is alight with information and ready for action.

There are five assist levels, labeled 1 through 5. There’s no level 0; you simply have to turn the system completely off. The geared hub motor is very torquey, even with the big wheels, so you feel a solid and immediate surge of power. The motor is remarkably quiet, even for a 350-watt brushless motor. You hear the tires more than the motor.

 

The 350-watt, brushless, geared motor provided ample torque. The small size hides between the rear cassette and brake rotor and is quiet enough to not be heard. The one silver piece (inside the rear dropout) is part of the torque sensor. The combination of the torque sensor and cadence sensor, with good programming, makes power delivery seamless.
The 350-watt, brushless, geared motor provided ample torque. The small size hides between the rear cassette and brake rotor and is quiet enough to not be heard. The one silver piece (inside the rear dropout) is part of the torque sensor. The combination of the torque sensor and cadence sensor, with good programming, makes power delivery seamless.

 

The bike feels really solid. There’s no telltale flex, squeaking or rattling of any kind. It gets up to speed quickly, and you feel the torque sensor knows how much power you’re putting in and adds accordingly. We wonder why other manufacturers of bikes in this price range don’t do this. It also means that you can reach 20 mph, with assist, at any power level. You don’t need to put it in the top level to get there, which means you don’t get as much personal input or exercise. With the Apollo, you can hit 20 mph in level 1, which means you can get a little help, but it can mostly be your own power.

The bike is very comfortable to ride, and you just feel like you’re going fast, even on the streets. With the big wheels and good gearing, you can keep up with city traffic. The ride is confidence-inspiring.

The Tektro hydraulic brakes have tremendous stopping power but are also very easy to modulate. You can accelerate rapidly and stop just as easily. There are no brake cutoff sensors, so beware of that if you ride with a finger on the brake lever like some of us do. It’s a safety thing for faster reaction times and a bit of a habit, but it sometimes triggers the cut-off switch.

The racing-style saddle is comfortable and has just the right amount of padding.

The racing-style saddle is comfortable and has just the right amount of padding.

The range wasn’t what we were used to with the other Emazing bikes we’ve ridden. On an early test ride, we expected a battery life similar to their other bikes, like the Coeus, which could have gone 30 miles on the battery. We drained the first battery in the midrange of battery power in under 10 miles. We swapped the bike and it did better, but was closer to 20 miles on fairly flat terrain with few hills.

If your commute is a few miles, this isn’t a problem. If your ride to work is 10 miles, this might be close, especially if you do it daily—unless you want to keep the power really low and use more of your own power on the way home. Still, for everyday use, it’s a fantastic bike. Being as light as it is, if you have to carry it up stairs at home or work, it’s easier to do that than nearly any other bike on the market.

THE VERDICT

The Apollo is a solid all-around bike, a capable commuter and even a light mountain/off-road bike with great looks. It accelerates fast and can actually ride along really quickly with the 29-inch wheels. It’s quick, solid and lightweight for an e-bike. If you’re just going to commute with it, you might swap the tires for something more street-friendly, but your choices may be limited because of the large wheel size. If you’re looking for a long-range bike, this isn’t it. But, if your trips are under 15–20 miles round trip, the Apollo is a great value and fun to ride.

At 40 pounds, the Apollo is one of the lightest bikes we’ve ridden, which says a lot since it’s a 29er. It’s well balanced and easy to carry, or lift overhead.

At 40 pounds, the Apollo is one of the lightest bikes we’ve ridden, which says a lot since it’s a 29er. It’s well balanced and easy to carry, or lift overhead.

 

SPECS

MSRP: $2799

Frame: Aluminum

Fork: SR Suntour XCR

Wheels: 29”

Tires: Kenda Kozmic Lite II Pro, 29”

Motor: Aico 36V, 350W geared rear-hub motor

Battery: Panasonic Li-Ion 36V, 8.7 Ah, 313.2 Wh

Controls: 5-level pedal assist

Charge time: 4 hours

Top speed: 20 mph

Range: 20 miles, depending on riding style, load and terrain

Drive: Shimano 9-speed

Brakes: Tektro hydraulic discs

Weight: 41 pounds

Sizes: Small 18.5”, Medium 19.3”,  Large 20.5”

Color choices: Matte black, white

www.emazingbike.com