For today's bike review we'll be taking an in-depth look at a long time favorite the Kalkhoff Jubilee. With a great build, comfortable fit, impressive battery range, and great value for money it has been our most popular bike for a while now. But with worthwhile electric comfort bikes coming onto the market faster than ever we took a deep look at how it stacks up!
What’s it made for?
The Kalkhoff Jubilee is the ideal electric commuter bike for those who hold comfort and practicality high on their list of priorities. Like all Kalkhoff bikes, the Jubilee oozes German pragmatism at every corner, starting with their proprietary Impulse motor system. With the upgraded battery size the Jubilee actually offers the longest range of any single-battery bike in our lineup. Pair that with a true step-through frame to make getting on and off a breeze, included rack and fenders, internally geared 7-speed drivetrain, and dynamo driven lights (no riding in the dark even if the battery is dead) and you’ve got yourself one heck of a commuter. But oh, did I mention? It’s also incredibly comfortable.
How does it ride?
The first thing you’ll enjoy when stepping aboard this bike is the very deep step through design. Unlike many models that use a staggered frame to provide better clearance when standing over the bike, this design truly changes the way you interact with the bike, easily slipping a leg through the frame as you set off. Once rolling I was immediately struck by how buttery smooth everything on the bike felt. Naturally, for this style of bike, you’re perched up in a very upright position atop a well padded saddle giving you a wide view of the road and a breezy, relaxed riding position. The Impulse motor puts out 250 watts of power to keep you pepping along, but the torque sensing drive system keeps everything very well buttoned up and silky smooth. That said, even when flogging the bike up some of Wellington’s steepest hills I was consistently impressed with how much power the bike put out in demanding situations. The Impulse motor doesn’t need to be a fancy flagship to just quietly get the job done every day.
Elsewhere around the bike, the comfort-focused features make themselves apparent at every turn. Many riders will love having both a suspension fork and seat post to squash any bumps you may happen across. Personally, I loved having a seat that, while well padded, wasn’t overly wide and bucket-like as many upright bikes are tempted to use. Even the Magura hydraulic rim brakes live the comfort ethos, providing tons of power without the grabby nature of the hydraulic discs you’ll see on many other bikes in the category. On the whole, it rides like much like a German car, with comfort coming from pragmatic decisions and enough sporty power to keep you excited.
What makes it special?
Aside from the extreme range that the Jubilee can offer (over 120 km to a charge for the larger battery pack!) the Impulse motor system delivers the most cleanly designed step-through electric system we’ve seen. Many other electric comfort bikes have no choice but to exile their battery packs out on their rear racks. In the best cases this design is a band-aid, at worst it completely throws the weight balance of the bike off. With a cleverly designed battery pack, Kalkhoff was able to cleanly slip it in just behind the seat tube keeping all electronics cleanly contained right below your center of gravity. All this means that the Jubilee handles more naturally than many of its competitors.
How does it stack up?
There are many reasons why the Jubilee is the most popular electric bike in our shop. But without a doubt, value for money is the foremost. Starting at just a few hundred over our most basic models the Jubilee is the first bike to offer a mid-drive motor and extended range. It makes smart choices at every turn in its build kit looking to strike a vital balance of comfort and durability. Then, as a side benefit to all of that, you wind up getting one of the smoothest riding bikes on the market. Certainly, bikes like the Moustache Lundi offer a little more glam and power, while some of our new offerings from Smartmotion seek to unseat the Jubilee in its price-for-a-mid-drive dominance. But for overall value and comfort, you likely won’t need to look much further than the Jubilee.