The EBCO UCL-60 offers a convincing build with a torque-sensing, mid motor configuration at a price that’s considerably lower than most other options.
Mid motor (or bottom bracket driven) bikes are what you tend to get at the top end of the market, and as you move further down the price points the motor tends to move to either the front or the rear wheel, because it’s cheaper to do it that way.
Mid motors are generally better. The weight is centralised in the frame and it’s low down, so it’s better for handling, and the fact that that cranks are part of the motor unit means it’s easier to use sensors to measure the pedalling effort and add assistance accordingly. Mid motor bikes dominate the market above the £2,000 mark.
There are some torque-sensing mid-motor bikes out there for less than £2,000 (Giant’s excellent Prime E +3 is an example), but if you’re looking for a Bosch- or Shimano- equipped bike then that’s the sort of money you need to pay. EBCO are using a new mid motor from TranzX; called the M25 Central Motor it’s a 36v, 250W unit like its competitors and it uses a torque sensor to add your power, unlike cheaper systems that just check that the pedals are being turned. An LCD display and remote switch give you your data and allow you to change modes easily.
TranzX also have an even cheaper mid motor unit that uses a cadence sensor rather than a torque sensor. That will be available on EBCO bikes later in the year.
You get an alloy frame, a headshock fork in place of a cheaper telescopic unit, a 400Wh battery and a Shimano Nexus 7-speed hub gear. And all of this for £1,599. On paper, it looks like a bit of a bargain. Mudguards and a Spanninga light system are included. As with many of EBCO’s bikes, it’s available in either a step-through or diamond frame configuration.
Dave says: You’re certainly getting a lot for your money here and it’s great that TranzX are able to offer mid-motor power at a lower price than we’ve seen from the other big manufacturers. There are compromises here: the brakes are decent rather than great, and the level of finish isn’t as high as some of the bigger brands. But you’re getting a full system power unit, with a good-sized battery, bolted to a well-made frame and fork. The low step-through makes the bike easy to jump on and off, and there was enough stiffness in the bottom bracket and down tube to cope with everyday riding with no issues. The fork isn’t that effectively damped but the headshock system used here is certainly preferable to a flexy budget telescopic fork, something that’s common on bikes under £2,000.
There’s certainly plenty of power available from the TranzX motor. I didn’t feel it was quite as well balanced as the pricier mid motor units. The ‘three modes plus turbo’ configuration of the assistance left a bit too much of a gap between high and turbo for me and I think four more evenly-spaced modes would be an improvement.
There were also occasions, especially on gradual uphill drags, where you’d find yourself slowing down as the gradient kicked in and the motor wouldn’t fill the gap until you increased the assistance level. Neither of those issues are a deal breaker and both can probably be addressed by tweaking the power algorithms in the software; the hardware itself is certainly up to the job
Overall the bike is easy to ride, with good levels of assistance, and at £1,599 the UCL-60 is the cheapest mid motor bike that we’ve tried yet. You’re getting a lot for your money. We’ll wait and see whether future firmware updates for the M25 motor make a difference to the way the bike applies power.