A New E-Bike That’s Well Worth Considering

Over the past seven years, I’ve developed a mental checklist of what I look for in an e-bike – a result of personally testing roughly five dozen different models. I’ve also formulated a list of warning signs to avoid. But that's another story.

So now whenever I’m invited to try out a new electric bike for this column, I always look up the specs first. I was recently asked if I wanted to try a Vanpowers UrbanGlide Pro, so I immediately checked out the bike online. First thing I saw was a 500W motor. That's the minimum I'll even look at for our hilly neighborhood. Anything less seems to falter in our area of Southern California. Next thing I noticed is that the UrbanGlide Pro has a thumb throttle. The more I ride e-bikes, the more I enjoy having a throttle as a resource. It comes especially handy when pulling away from a red light after I was completely stopped. In fact, I think it's essential for safety purposes. The other thing I look at is battery range. I know that most bike manufacturers promise roughly twice the real life total you're going to get. So I factor that into my equation. Then I look at other things such as the quality of parts, how quiet the bike is supposed to ride, and how comfortable it is. Of course, good looks help too.

But at least on paper, the UrbanGlide Pro seemed to check all of the important boxes. So I accepted the invitation. It arrived the other day, and I was pleasantly surprised that when I opened the box it was probably the best packed bicycle I've seen to date. I stopped counting zip ties at about 15, let alone all of the packing material. They really did a fantastic job with it. But as a result, the bike took about 15 minutes longer than usual to unpack and prepare for assembly. Not a big deal though – and it was well worth the extra time.

Speaking of, assembly was very straightforward and easy. Took about an hour to do it myself. Had I actually followed instructions a little better, it probably would have taken half that time. But once it was assembled, I powered on the bike and zoomed away.

The UrbanGlide Pro has plenty of power, even on our hills and into the wind. Acceleration is smooth, it may be the quietest e-bike I have ever ridden so far, and the brakes were powerful, smooth and quiet. Believe me, it takes a lot for me to not complain about anything on a new e-bike. I have zero complaints about this model.

I do have two suggestions, however. The first is that while the seat is probably more cushioned than most I try, I would love to see one that’s a little bit more comfortable. Again, this is not a huge deal because I can put a padded seat cover over this or just get a new seat altogether.

The other suggestion is that the battery power button – at least from what I can see – doesn’t light up. So several times I’ve tried powering up the bike from the handlebar, only to realize I first need to hit the power button on the battery. I’m sure there’s some logic to that, but I’ll have to read up on it.

The manufacturer states that I should be getting 65 or 70 miles per charge. The way I ride an e-bike, usually in the fifth pedal assist mode for maximum power, eats away at that range. Therefore, I'm on pace with the first full battery charge to get closer to 35 or 40 miles. But if I were to lower the pedal assist and ride on more flat surfaces, I could easily see getting 60 to 65 miles per charge on this. And I was able to juice up the battery from 15 percent to 100 in about 4.5 hours – which is relatively impressive compared to other bikes on the market. The battery, by the way, is sleekly connected to the frame – and with matching color to the frame. Love it!

I downloaded the bike’s optional companion phone app after riding the bike for 10 miles, but I don’t really see its point — other than a GPS directional screen for rides. It also gives explanations of any error codes the bike may display, but hopefully that won’t ever be a factor. Perhaps I may discover issues or other cool features after riding the bike even more. But for my initial five rides so far, this model is a sheer winner. Its introductory $1,649 price seems to be competitive for what you get. But its performance makes it a true value.