Today we're diving in and taking a look at a newcomer to our shop. The Smartmotion Mid City is the long-awaited update to their ubiquitous E-City series and updates the design with a mid-drive motor. This is our most popular category of bikes, let's see how the new guy fares!
What’s it made for?
The Smartmotion Mid City is the latest iteration in a long line of affordable, successful electric comfort bikes from the New Zealand-based company, with one huge upgrade: a mid-drive motor. The sight of Smartmotion’s E-City range has become ubiquitous on the streets of many New Zealand cities, they’ve long represented a comfortable, entry-level option for many riders. However, the E-City has lagged behind the competition in their reliance on a hub driven motor system. The Mid City looks to remedy the issue by moving the motor forwards, keeping the comfortable trappings, and attempting to keep it within a similar price bracket of their former offerings.
How does it ride?
The Mid City, of all our bikes, steers the most strongly into being a comfort bike first. Competitors like the Jubilee or Lundi entertain more notions of being sporty, despite still being very comfortable bikes to ride. Swing a leg through the frame and you’ll immediately appreciate the seriously upright riding position (even with an adjustable stem in case you want to go even higher), swept back bars, wide seat, and suspension both fork and seat post. It really completes the feeling of riding a flying couch.
Now, the big question surrounding the Mid City is the mid-drive motor. It runs off of the Dapu MD250 motor system, compared to the Bosch or Impulse systems available elsewhere in the category this one is new to our range. On my test ride, it provided plenty of zip when cruising around town and was able to hit 40 km/h with electric assist which makes it faster than most electric comfort bikes on the market. In my standard “climb the steepest hill in Wellington in a seated position” test the Dapu did get me up but flagged a bit behind the performance of some competitors. So it shouldn’t be an issue on your rides provided you don’t have plans to load the bike up with too much cargo. Additionally, the system allows you to toggle between torque and cadence sensing acceleration modes. A feature that still has us scratching our heads. We’ve long maintained that torque sensing is the better option, so we’ll send you out the door on that mode, and recommend not changing it. The Mid City also has a throttle which is unique for (non-converted) mid-drives in our lineup. Using the throttle on torque sensing mode really drove home why you don’t need the two features together. When you’re pushing (even slightly hard) the bike is already giving you all it’s got, hitting the throttle doesn’t give you any extra. But, hey, what’s the harm? If you want a throttle it has one for you.
The biggest question mark about the Dapu motor system lies in its reliability, especially for more wary shoppers. It shouldn’t. We trust the folks at Smartmotion of do their homework when outfitting a bike or else we wouldn’t bring their rides into the shop. Whatsmore, they’ve always been reliable to work with whenever bikes have had issues in the past, and you’ll get their standard 2 year warranty coverage on electric systems.
What makes it special?
As with all bikes from Smartmotion, the Mid City is a bike designed by Kiwis for Kiwis first. So yeah, it’s a comfortable bike to ride complete with all the trappings: a nice big rack, full wrap fenders, and some seriously cool lights lining the rack stays to keep you visible on the road. But the Mid City really stands apart in its unrestricted speed. Our offerings from Moustache and Kalkhoff typically go off the European standard speed limit of 25 km/h, compared to that the 40 that this bike can hit. It positively flies. But in Europe ebikes are more likely to be surrounded by other bikes and pedestrians, here in New Zealand you’re more likely to be surrounded by cars. So while doing a full 40 km/h on a comfort bike is unnecessary, being able to comfortably pace traffic around town in the mid 30s is actually a safer option. Sure, there options to boost speeds on any bike but the Mid City does it out of the box and that’s nice.
How does it stack up?
Moving to a mid-drive has made the Mid City more directly comparable with our most popular bike the Kalkhoff Jubilee in both features and price. It can hold its own, but the Jubilee still really can’t be touched for its center-mounted battery (for great stability) and uber-reliable motor system. Neither is quite as premium as what you’ll get from the Moustache Lundi, but they do hit a different price bracket. All that is to kind of miss the point though. Many of you will most directly be comparing this bike to one we’ve had in our lineup for years, the Smartmotion E-City. At a solid $800 dollars more you now have a price from Smartmotion on the value of a mid-drive system. They both put out the same wattage, carry the same size battery, and come with a nearly identical build kit for city-riding comfort. While the Mid City certainly will get better range, and provide more pep on the steepest hills you’ll need to look at your hopes for the bike to see if these improvements are worth the extra buck. Still, it’s a solid mid-drive comfort bike from a great New Zealand company and we’re excited to have them in stock!