We've already had a look at Giant's mid motor Prime E +3 city bike. At £1,799 that's a really good bike for the money but if your budget won't stretch that far then Giant have you covered with the Ease-E+. For £1,249 you're getting a step-through frame with a front hub motor, Shimano derailleur gearing and lots of practical extras. The fall of the pound has made this bike £150 more expensive over the 2016 model, for what looks to be the exact same build. So see if you can find last year's one for less.
"The Ease-E+ offers the comfort and style of a traditional bicycle with added power", say Giant if this bike. "Tackle anything as you flatten hills and embrace the future of uncomplicated mobility." Sound good? Well the bike certainly looks good, it's a nicely put together alloy frame with a low step through and a matching rigid alloy fork. The motor is Giant's SyncDrive hub, which has a silent clutch mechanism to allow friction-free rolling when you're not under power.
The Ease-E+ uses a cadence sensor (that checks for the pedals turning) rather than a more expensive torque sensor (that measures how much effort you're putting in) and adds power that you can control from a bar-mounted LED display. The battery is rack-mounted and it's a 300Wh unit like the more expensive Prime E +3.
There are three modes – Eco, Normal and Sport – and the display also lets you turn the lights on and off. There's a throttle too: you can use it in walking mode to help you push the bike along, and when you twist it when you're pedalling it acts as a boost, giving you a bit of extra oomph up the hills or away from a standstill.
You get eight speeds on the Ease-E+ thanks to a Shimano Altus derailleur setup. The bike uses a wide-range 12-32 tooth cassette so there's a good spread of gears, and a half chaincase is fitted to keep your trousers free of grime. Brakes are Tektro V-brakes with Shimano Tourney levers; they're nothing special but should pull you up just fine.
The Ease-E+ is available in three sizes and within each one there's plenty of room for tweaking the position, with a nice long seatpost and an adjustable stem. The swept alloy bars give a nice comfy position. You get good quality bar grips and a Selle Royal saddle that's wide without being massive. Mudguards and a kickstand are part of the package.
Iwein says: The Ease-E+ is Giant’s cheapest electric bike, and for your money you get a decent, comfortable bike to ride to the shops. Budget has been saved by using cheaper brakes and shifting, and by putting the motor in the front hub. On paper, it might not look like the best value-for-money bike we’ve reviewed, but it's well made and a good package.
The front hub motor is Giant’s own Syncdrive and produces 30Nm of torque. For comparison, the next model up in the range, the Prime E+ we reviewed a little while ago, has a mid-mounted motor which produces double that – 60Nm. There are three levels of assistance: eco, normal and sport; there is a noticeable change in help as you go up or down the levels. In sport mode, the motor delivers plenty of oomph to clip along merrily on the flat. Any sort of hill had me shifting down the gears fairly quickly, with the bike needing more and more human power as the hills get steeper. Frankly, if you live in a hilly area, and you’re not a featherweight (I weigh 80kg), you need to be prepared to work at it on this bike.
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The motor uses a silent clutch mechanism, which in theory should mean friction-free rolling when no under power. Friction-free was definitely not what it felt like when the battery died at the bottom of the hill I live on. Luckily the bike has a nice spread of gears thanks to its Shimano derailleur gearing system with an 8 speed 11-32 cassette, so even though there was friction, I did manage to get it up the hill with a bit of elbow grease. Even though the transmission is Shimano’s lower-end stuff – Altus derailleur and Tourney one-piece brake and gear shift lever – shifting worked just fine.
Stopping is taken care of by courtesy of Tektro V-brakes. They are not as powerful as the disc brakes or hydraulic rim brakes you get on more expensive models, but they work just fine, and help keep the cost down.
In terms of accessories, the Giant Ease E+ is well thought out. You get a rack, mudguards, lights that work from the battery (and can be switched on and off from the control unit), and a sturdy kickstand.
> Buyer's Guide: electric city bikes from £1,000 to £2,000
The battery is mounted in the rack, and panniers can easily be mounted to get your shopping home—though the rack can get a bit wobbly with too much extra weight. To charge, the battery is removed from the rack with a key, which is handy if the bike is not stored where you want / can leave it charging. The battery is 300Wh, which is towards the lower end of normal capacity. Nevertheless, I manage to get about 35 miles of riding on fairly hilly terrain. That range can be extended by being lighter than me, not having it in sport constantly and / or living somewhere flatter.
The frame is a true step-through, which makes it really easy to get on and off. The handlebars are comfortable, swept-back affairs with really nice ergonomic grips that give plenty of palm support. The saddle is nice and wide and perfect for nipping to the shops in civvies, though for longer rides I didn’t get on with it that well. I like that it doesn’t have a suspension fork – the tires are plenty wide enough to provide enough cushioning.
Overall, this bike is more suited to flat country cruising than to shaving time off a hilly commute. It’s perfect for nipping to the shops—it has all the accessories you need to get there comfortably sorted. It doesn’t have a built-in lock, but you do get a bungee integrated with the rack to stick your D-lock under. Me, I wouldn’t trust a nurse’s lock on its own anyway.
Dave says: The Giant Ease E+ is a pretty decent city e-bike that's well put together. It feels solidly built, and it rides very well. It's not the best spec you can find for this kind of money but overall it's decent value too, and you get the peace of mind that you're dealing with the world's biggest bike manufacturer should anything go awry.
The motor, at 30Nm, is better suited to less hilly riding. It's noticeably less powerful than the Prime E+ that I've also ridden, even more so until you work out the the throttle gives you a boost in every mode, even Sport. So to get the maximum assistance out of the Ease E+ you need to be in top mode and keeping the throttle pegged. It's a bit more of a faff than it needs to be, and if you need to move your hand off the throttle for any reason on a climb, you instantly lose a bit of power. It'd be better if Sport mode gave you maximum assistance without it. The throttle is handy for giving you a boost away from the lights without faffing to change modes.
I didn't get quite the range that Iwein did, averaging about 25 miles to a charge, but I'm a bit heavier and I live a bit further up the hill. Anyway, that sort of range is fine for the type of riding you'll likely be doing on a bike of this nature: back and forth to work and the shops, with some leisure riding thrown in. The battery indicator is pretty linear, it doesn't give you any surprises like dropping the last two bars in short order which has been an issue with some cheaper bikes I've tried.
The ride position is comfortable and upright, and the controls fall easily to hand. The gearing gives you enough gears to get up pretty much anything and the shifting was crisp and efficient. The rack, chain case, mudguards and integrated lights make it perfect for city life straight out of the box; there's nothing you need to add although a built-in frame lock would have been handy from time to time.
Overall it's an enjoyable bike to ride: better suited to flatter cruising than hillier climes, but ideal for city errands and commutes. The 2017 spec is the same as last year's bike, so if you can find one of them still on sale you might be able to get it for a fair bit less than the new £1,249 asking price.