You may remember that we reviewed the Orbea Katu-e 30a back in October last year, and we liked it a lot. "A Good quality, small format city bike with a good ride and useful luggage options" was what we reckoned about that one. With the Bosch Active Line motor it's not the cheapest option out there as a city runaround, though, so we're very interested to see that they've now launched a new hub-powered bike, the Katu e50, that's significantly cheaper; it should retail in the UK for around £1,400.
"Katu is now available in a sleek reliable and efficient Ebikemotion hub-driven model. Of course, in the spirit of Katu, a budget-conscious solution should never skimp on functionality. Katu embraces your connected lifestyle and offers a practical and fun bluetooth interface with your smartphone - Navigation, speed and battery life are available at your fingertips", is what Orbea say about the new bike. So how does it work?
The bike uses a Bluetooth-based system with a smartphone app to talk to the motor control system. That means you can get all sorts of data on your phone, and if you want to you can use your phone as a display.
One of the issues with a system like that is that if you don't want to use your phone as a display, you can't see basic stuff like which mode you're in or how much battery ls left. But the Orbea sidesteps that with a clever remote which sits on the bars and tethers to your phone and the app. It allows you to check the power mode – and change it – as well as giving you a four-bar battery readout. So even with your phone in your pocket the most important information is still to hand. The remote will also give you incoming call notifications and the buttons are customisable so you can set them to do what you need them to.
The Katu e50 uses a bottom bracket torque sensor to sense your power and add assistance from the motor. That's a more advanced solution than just a cadence sensor to check whether the pedals are going round, and in our experience gives a better ride quality and a longer battery life.
The motor has three levels of assistance. The Eco mode gives you a decent boost to get you going before knocking back the power, while the Comfort and Power options use a flatter curve to give you a bigger boost across the speeds. The 417Wh frame-mounted battery should give a range that's more than enough for city riding.
The bike is also designed to be modular, with more options available in the coming months. They will include a colour display, GPS tracking, anti-theft measures and an inline USB charging port.
It certainly looks like a good package at a lower price point than the other bikes in the Katu range, and we'll get one in for review as soon as we can.