If you're looking for an effective leisure and commuting bike below the £2,000 price point then the Giant Prime E +3 should certainly be on your list. You get a very effective mid-motor and a well-specced bike that's great for day-to-day use or weekend excursions. There's a few minor niggles but nothing that detracts from the good overall experience.
Giant make the Prime E +3 in both diamond and step-through frame configurations, and I had one of the diamond-framed bikes to test. They size up pretty big, with the Large being amply-sized for me (1.89m), so make sure you sling a leg over one to ensure you're getting the best size for you. The position is nice and upright, with a swept handlebar and an adjustable stem. There's a basic suspension seatpost to take the sting out of any road or path bumps at the back; it's not brilliant but it's fairly effective at taming the bigger hits. The Schwalbe Energiser Life tyres do a decent job of adding a bit of cushioning too. The saddle is a sportier shape than some but it's still generously padded, and the handlebar grips are comfy. Overall the position is just about spot-on for leisurely progress.
Yamaha's mid-motor is seen less than Bosch or Panasonic but it's a quality unit
Giant are one of a minority of manufacturers to use Yamaha's SyncDrive middle motor. Certainly you see less of them than the Bosch (and to a lesser extent, Panasonic) bottom bracket motors. Just the motor comes from Yamaha; Giant have developed their own control hardware and software for their bikes, which they call Giant RideControl, and this bike has a simple LED display that shows the battery level, the power mode and whether the integrated lights are on, or off. If you turn the lights on then the display is dimmed, which would be a good idea if you never run the lights during the day. I tend to use them a lot on bigger roads in the daytime, and the dimmed display is difficult to read in daylight. After dark the lights are more to be seen than to see by, although the front is just about powerful enough for unlit roads if you're careful.
The battery is Giant-branded and uses high-quality Samsung cells. The capacity is lower than many systems at 300Wh, but Giant claim the "cutting edge EnergyPak® battery technology, results in a 25% higher energy density, 25% more range than most batteries from competitors of the same size and weight". It's located in the rear rack and Giant use a RackTime standard rack which means that there's plenty of aftermarket accessories available for carrying duties. This bike isn't set up for heavy-duty carrying out of the box as it only has a single kickstand. There's no frame lock on the bike either, which is a useful addition if you're nipping into the shops.
The head unit is basic but functional and battery indicator is accurate
One of the highlights of the Prime E +3 was the manner in which the power was delivered. There are three modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. Eco and Normal are fairly close in terms of assistance, with a bigger jump to Sport which provides plenty of oomph for cresting any hills on route, or getting away from the lights. The power application is never choppy or unpredictable, there's plenty of power and it's evenly delivered. Hills are no problem: I managed most climbing in normal mode with the 9-speed derailleur setup providing plenty of gear range for even steep hills. Derailleur gears aren't always the best solution for town riding because the chain is often uncovered. Giant uses a chaincase that sits on top of the chain and moves with it across the cassette, as opposed to a fixed one. It's only on the top chain run but it's as effective as a half-chaincase would be on a hub-geared bike. There's a bit of chatter and noise from it but nothing too disturbing.
Giant don't publish a range for the Prime E+ but from testing I'd say it's slightly below what you'd get from a similarly-equipped bike with a Bosch motor and their 400Wh powerpack. What that range would be will depend on you, your riding and the topography of your area. I'm fairly heavy (91kg) and I live in hilly Bath, so the day-to-day range of the Giant was around 35km. On flatter, longer rides on lower power settings I could easily have increased that to 50-60km, and if you were light and lived somewhere flat you'd get more again. For day-to-day commuting the range is fine. The basic head unit doesn't give you any range information other than the battery level, but to its credit the level indicator depletes in a pretty linear fashion, unlike some I've used where full to half-empty is a lot more than half-empty to all gone. All the electrics seem to be well-sealed and the cable routing is unobtrosive. I had no issues with water, save for the fact that the mudguards – especially the front – aren't long enough to stop the road spray from getting on your shoes and trousers when it's wet. A spray flap would help, but longer mudguards from stock would be welcome.
The upright position and easy handling make the Giant a fun bike to ride
It's a pleasant bike to ride, too. The upright position makes it easier to take in your surroundings and the bike is capable of handling rougher terrain than you might imagine. I took the Prime E +3 on a 10km off-road jaunt on fire roads and some bumpier tracks, and it performed admirably. The monoshock front fork gives decent damping at the front but the design means it's still nice and stiff and tracks well. The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are powerful and easy to use, and gear shifting from the Shimano Altus/Alivio drivetrain was problem-free. On the road the steering is relaxed and the bike is easy to handle.
Overall the niggles are minor and the Giant Prime E +3 is a very good commuting/leisure e-bike for the money. There's not many bikes with a high-quality middle motor below the £2,000 mark, so that highlights the value you're getting here. It's fun to ride, the range is good and the power unit works really well. Recommended.