Urbana Current Ebike

Urbana Bikes plans to start selling the Urbana Current, a pedalec version of their heavy duty utility commuter bicycle.


Urbana Current

The Urbana Current shown here is equipped with the BionX 350 watt hub motor, BionX rack mount battery pack, and BionX EPS handlebar controller. BionX is generally bought as an add-on to convert an existing bike to an ebike, but Urbana has apparently partnered with BionX so you can buy the bike complete.

Past ebikes I’ve tested were designed with Asian and European markets in mind with their relatively low power and speed limits for electric bicycles. That 350W motor has plenty of oomph and quickly propels me and the bike to the California legal 20 MPH. Urbana Current with this large battery pack is the only ebike I’ve tested that gets me the 24 miles from my Menlo Park office to downtown San Jose.

Traveling via Middlefield Road and Central Expressway, I generally average 19 MPH on my road bike; the Current travels this route at a very respectable 17.5 MPH average speed. The top speed is only 20 MPH with the pedalec (vs maybe 35 or more on the road bike), but I accelerate quickly to that 20 MPH without having to exert myself (much) at every stop sign and red light.

BionX + Urbana is fun and fast and very useful, but a couple of drawbacks are worth mentioning: (1) Those huge 2.6″ tires are awesome and I’ve never flatted with them, but they don’t fit in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara bus bike racks. If this bike was mine, I’d replace them with something a little thinner. (2) That big battery pack allows me to get all around Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties, but mounting it on top of Urbana’s “RNR” rack limits that rack’s utility. The RNR is a big part of Urbana’s usefulness and identity, but covering it up with a battery pack almost eliminates a lot of that rack’s function. I hope Urbana figures out a way to improve this aspect of the design.

To give you an idea of this bike’s robustness, the photo above was taken along the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz County. I biked down from Scotts Valley to Santa Cruz via Graham Hill Road, veered onto the San Lorenzo bike path going north for a short distance, and onto River Street. I biked uphill on River Street, biked (illegally) along the Felton/Big Trees Railroad right of way (bounce bounce bounce) to get around road construction, back to Highway 9 to the Rincon Road bike trail in Henry Cowell State Park and to the beach here near the Garden of Eden. Those familiar with the area know this is steep, switchbacked sandy and rocky trails. I biked back up to the highway, down into Santa Cruz, and swung through downtown and the wharf before returning home three hours after my little tour began.

Urbana has the Current at Interbike 2010, and they do have some nice schwag for you as well if you’re at the show. Visit them at booth #1065.

7 Comments

  • September 22, 2010 - 4:25 am | Permalink

    Not sure they should put an electric bike in water :o

  • peteathome
    September 22, 2010 - 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Bionx’s rack-mounted battery version has the battery slide into a slot under the rack’s top deck. That leaves the rack fully functional AND protects the battery in falls. Too bad Urbana didn’t take that approach.

    I’m curious why you average speed is only 17.5 mph with the electric assist but 19 mph with your regular road bike. Even with the assist cutting out at 20 mph I would expect you’d at least go faster on down-hill segments. Is it that the gearing is too low or is the rolling resistance of the huge tires doing this?

    To the other poster – The Bionx motor is pretty waterproof. I’ve had mine for 3 years and ride through all conditions without a problem. Total immersion is probably not a good idea. On any bike as that can wash out your bearing grease. And maybe get into the motor housing. But anything less seems OK.

  • September 22, 2010 - 3:59 pm | Permalink

    @Pete: Yep, I’ve also gone electric through full on rainstorms without a problem. I was planning on fording this river with the bike if the water stayed below the hub, but the river was running deeper than I expected and I decided to turn back — like you write, full submersion is probably a bad idea.

    I’ve seen BionX’s slide-in rack design and I like their solution.

    “Only” 17.5 MPH is pretty stinking good :-) with lights, stop signs and traffic, but like you’ve guessed, the gearing is a little on the low side — I completely spin out pedaling at about 22 MPH. And the route is as flat as a pancake: I start out at five feet above sea level and, 24 miles later, I’m only 50 feet above sea level, so there no hills to coast down.

  • Ken Sanders
    October 15, 2010 - 7:30 pm | Permalink
  • Sanderskd
    October 15, 2010 - 7:37 pm | Permalink
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