Momentum Electric's VIT-S is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter and you can reserve one for £2,900 (or £2,200 for the slightly lower spec Lite version). At full £4,000 retail price it's an expensive beast but there's no doubt about the capability of the motor or the components used in the build. At Kickstarter prices it's a solid buy, albeit a high-end one, and it's not quite as versatile as it could be.
The bike is built around a nicely-constructed alloy frame and a full carbon fork, and on to that is bolted the main talking point of the bike: the Nidec mid motor.
Given the explosion in sales of e-bikes over the past few years it's not surprising that at Eurobike this year we saw at least a dozen new motor systems knocking about. The Nidec was one of the most interesting, because it comes from the largest Japanese electric motor manufacturer and it's also ready for production. The motor on our test bike wasn't quite a production unit, but it was as good as finished.
Nidec are, to begin with, making a single motor for EU and US applications. So in the EU the motor is limited to 250W nominal power and 25km/h, whereas the US get 350W and 20mph instead. However, the peak power of the motor in both instances is the same, a claimed 700W, giving the Nidec a class-leading 95Nm of torque.
And it's certainly a punchy motor, with a real take-off from standing meaning it's really quick to get up to speed. That'll be a boon in town when you're pulling away from the lights, and the motor also deals impeccably with climbs, handing out masses of assistance in the higher modes. Our motor unit was a little bit rattly, but we were assured that was a pre-production issue that'd be fixed for the motors that ship on the VIT-S. Apart from that, it was pretty quiet, not near-silent like the Brose motor but certainly no louder than a Bosch or Shimano system.
> Eurobike 2016: six new motor systems
In Eco mode Momentum Electric reckon you'll get a maximum 160km out of the 380Wh down-tube-mounted battery pack. In normal use you won't get anywhere near that, of course, but there no reason to suspect the range will be hugely different to most other mid motor bikes. We didn't have the VIT-S for long enough to really be able to say with any certainty. I'd normally expect to get about a week's worth of commuting in various modes out of a 400Wh mid motor bike, so you'll likely have plenty of range for your riding unless you're planning an epic or you live two counties away from work. The bar-mounted remote makes switching between assistance modes easy and the mid-mounted LCD display gives you all the information you need at a glance. It's not Nidec's own display, I've seen it plugged into various systems, but it's very good.
Momentum have specced the VIT-S with a Gates Carbon belt drive and a Nuvinci variable transmission hub. The belt is an excellent run-clean option for an urban bike, and generally doesn't need any maintenance. The hub is also a good choice: it doesn't have set ratios, you just twist the grip controller to make the gear bigger or smaller through a 330% range. The internals of the hub feel a bit draggy when the bike isn't under power but you don't notice that at all when the motor is assisting you. There's no need to back off the power to change the ratio and it's easy to drop the gear down when you're stationary.
The full-spec bike ships with a carbon handlebar that features sculpted sections and inserts to offer a bit of suspension. The design is such that the bar can flex downwards when you hit a bump, but won't flex upwards if you pull on the bars. There's a noticeable amount of flex if you lean your weight on the front of the bike and when you're riding the cockpit does feel comfortable. You don't notice the bars flexing as such, they just take the chatter out of the surface. The lower-spec Lite build has a similar bar, but made from alloy, not carbon. That bike also loses the Miranda carbon cranks in favour of alloy ones. Given that the Lite build is £500 cheaper, I'd definitely be going for that. The carbon cranks I can take or leave: they're pretty but not any more effective than alloy ones, and they'll scuff up more easily. I don't know how effective the alloy bar would be compared to the carbon one but there's enough air in the Schwalbe Evolution tyres to take the worst of the sting out of the lumps and bumps, even with the very stiff fork.
The bike handles very well and it's easy to ride. In terms of position it's fairly aggressive, more sport urban than casual urban, and that's reflected in the build which eschews mudguards and rack in favour of a clean look. I'm fine with that, but there's no reason not to offer mountings for those things in case a user does decide to fit them over winter, or for commuting duties. As it is, you can't fit full 'guards or a proper rack so you'd have to make do with seatpost-mounted options, and the seatpost has an integrated light so it isn't one I'd be too happy hanging a lot of kit from. The bike rolls well on the good quality Schwalbe tyres and the handling is neutral, a bit more sporty than some due to the lower position but still very predictable. Stopping with the Magura RT hydraulic brakes is excellent, powerful and predictable.
Overall my first impressions of the VIT-S are very positive. A lot of talk here will be about the new motor, but an e-bike is more than just a motor and Momentum Electric have put together a high quality package to complement the Nidec unit. There's no getting away from the fact that at £4,000 it will be a premium purchase; I'd certainly baulk at spending £500 on some posh handlebars and a set of cranks that are basically just jewellery, and the £3,500 Lite build would be the one I'd look at. That's still a lot of money but in e-bike terms £2,200 really isn't, and that's what you can get the VIT-S for on Kickstarter if you're quick. There are 20 available at that price.