You may remember that we tested the Orbea Katu e30 back in 2016. And it did very well: we called it “A Good quality, small format city bike with a good ride and useful luggage options”. That bike was equipped with a Nexus 3-speed hub and a Bosch motor system, and the equivalent bike in this year’s line-up comes in at £1,799. But if you haven’t got that kind of budget Orbea have got you covered too: this is the new Katu e50, which retails for £1,299.
That’s a £500 saving, so what’s been tweaked to make it cheaper? Well, the most obvious difference is the motor system. Instead of a Bosch mid motor you get a front hub motor system developed by fellow Spaniards ebikemotion Technologies, the same people Orbea have teamed up with on the Gain road bike. The motor itself is a Bafang unit, but the control systems are different. The bike uses a down-tube-mounted 417Wh battery.
There’s a bar-mounted control unit which gives you your battery state and your assist level; there are three settings. The bike uses a cadence-sensing bottom bracket to manage the power, and the power curve of the motor depends on what mode you’re in. It’s not quite as clever as a torque-sensing setup, but it isn’t as basic as just stepping down the motor power either. Sort of a halfway house.
The control unit also has Bluetooth connectivity built in, and that means that you’ll be able to sync the bike with your smartphone using Orbea’s dedicated app. That’s still a work in progress, and there are other things in the pipeline too: an inline USB charging port and an optional GPS tracking unit, to name two. The bike doesn’t require the app in order to function though, you can do everything you need to from the control unit. The app will offer ride logging, routing and other functions.
The Katu is designed as a useful city bike with a small footprint, and it uses 20” wheels making it quite a bit shorter than a standard city bike. That’ll make it a bit easier to store if you’re tight on space.
There are a number of luggage options. You can fit a standard rack to the back and use panniers, but ours came with a front basket that’s pretty handy for just throwing stuff in.
The bike has a 7-speed transmission with a Megarange cassette that jumps up to a 34T sprocket to give you a bail-out gear for steeper climbs.
You get disc brakes front and rear for assured stopping. Orbea have specced Shimano’s mechanical Tourney TX brakes, which aren’t as powerful as hydraulic disc brakes but should still offer plenty of power in all conditions.
Lighting is included and powered from the main battery. There’s a Spanninga front light, and the matching rear is integrated into the mudguard.
Finishing kit includes a single kickstand, alloy riser bars, 2.25” Kenda tyres and a good quality Selle Royal saddle.
If you don’t like the fresh green paint scheme we’ve got here then there are seven other colours available too. The most important thing is how it rides, though. We’ll let you know!