Faced with a hill on a suburban street in Oakland, California, I would normally have to stand on my pedals to make the climb, but riding the GenZe e202, the only muscles I move are in my wrist, as I twist the accelerator situated next to the right-side handgrip. The bike manages 9 mph up the hill, according to the display integrated into the frame.
I try the same hill with no help from the e202's motor, and it's a struggle. On subsequent attacks, I test out combinations of the e-bike's five levels of motor boost and its eight gears.
The e202, and its sibling e201 model, represent a new generation of e-bikes from GenZe, a company owned by Indian automaker Mahindra. GenZe also makes electric scooters.
These GenZe bikes have a thick, rectangular down-tube containing a removable 345 watt-hour lithium-ion battery, and a 350-watt hub motor on the rear wheel. The e201 model has a top-tube, while the e202's frame uses a step-through design. The aluminum frame on the e202 model I rode seemed sturdy enough without the top-tube.
The display integrated into the downtube shows the battery level, speed and the bike's boost mode. GenZe also includes a smartphone holder attached to the handlebars, which can be kept charged from a USB port on the handlebar-mounted control unit. That smartphone holder comes in particularly handy, as GenZe makes an app available for the bike.
The e202 and e201 bikes have a basic city commuter design, with 2x26-inch tires to roll over pockmarked pavement and mounting points for front and rear racks. Although neither bike comes with a suspension, a GenZe spokesman said the company will offer front shocks as an add-on. Disc brakes front and rear are a nice touch.
The aluminum frame helps keep the weight down, but the bikes still weigh about 46 pounds. Picking up the e202, I find that it wouldn't be too hard to carry it short distances, but I wouldn't want to lug it up a flight of stairs.
After a brief introduction to the e202's controls, I'm pedaling easily along a suburban street. Pushing buttons on the e-bike's controller, I take it up from minimal boost, mode 1, to maximum boost, mode 5, and through every stop in between. As I turn the crank, the electric motor makes the pedaling easier, depending on the level of boost I set.
While I find the electric motor lets me completely ignore the click-shifter for the eight-speed rear derailleur, I still shift up or down for the terrain. In fact, I find it a little challenging to figure out when I should be using the gears or the changing the amount of electric boost, but all that seems like something I would figure out over extended riding.
But where every other e-bike I've ridden only used its motor to boost my effort, the e202 includes mode 0, which completely drives the bike under electric power, letting me control its speed with the accelerator ring. It works well, although I feel lazy using it.
In 30 minutes of riding I barely touch the battery capacity. Genze notes that the e202 can go 20 miles in mode 0, under electric power alone. Under boost mode, the company estimates the battery will last for 30 to 50 miles. The battery, which can be removed from the frame, takes 3.5 hours to charge from empty to full.
Given the e202's weight and wide tires, it takes more effort to pedal without electric power than with a typical, pedal-only bicycle.
The built-in LCD is a nice addition to the bike. However, there is no integrated lighting, so you will have to use add-on front and back lights. A GenZe spokesman said the company would offer an integrated lock, with a cable that retracts into the bike.
The app relies on a Bluetooth-connected smartphone, and will be available for Android and iOS. From my brief look at the app, it shows info like miles covered and battery level. You can choose to post your ride distances publicly, possibly competing with other riders. It integrates navigation, too, with a focus on bike-friendly routes.
GenZe puts the base price of the e202 and e201 at $1,899, a moderate price for an e-bike, and a good value considering the range, boost options, integrated display and associated app.