Batribike’s Gamma is at the top of its range, and has been developed in co-operation with Danish motor manufacturer Promovec. With a fairly powerful mid-motor and a good level of equipment, it’s a decent enough bike. At this price though it’s starting to compete against the big motor manufacturers, and overall it’s not quite doing enough to distinguish itself from the pack. That doesn’t make it a bad choice though, if you want mid-motor power for a reasonable price.
The bike is available in both diamond and low-step frames, both nicely made from aluminium. Ours was finished in a fetching metallic gloss blue; it’s also available in off-white. You get a nine-speed drivetrain with a Shimano Deore derailleur and Shimano Altus shifter, and Shimano also provide the hydraulic disc brakes. The unbranded alloy-rim wheels are shod with good quality Schwalbe Silento city tyres, and you get decent mudguards, a solid rack and integrated lighting: everything you need for all-weather city riding and a bit of load-lugging. The big Selle Royal saddle is a comfortable enough place to perch for rides of the sort of length this bike is designed for – mostly urban trips of half an hour or less – and the ergonomic grips are comfy too. The position is fairly upright, sensible for city riding where you want to be keeping an eye on things all around you. The unremarkable SR Suntour fork at the front is neither a highlight nor a black mark. You can also lock it out if your riding doesn’t require it.
The Promovec motor in this bike has a claimed output of 70Nm. Whenever I get a bike with a motor that’s in that sort of power band I always try and muscle it up one of Bath’s steeper climbs to see what happens. I made it to the top of a 20% climb okay, but not with the sort of composure that I’d expect from a motor with those numbers. It required some reasonable effort on my part, whereas the really powerful mid motors – Bosch CX, STEPS E8000, Brose, Yamaha PW-X, Polini E-P3 – have made mincemeat of it on other test bikes that have been through the office. In terms of the assistance I’d say it was a more similar experience to a Bosch Active Line motor in the 40-50Nm range than anything more powerful. Like the new generation Bosch motors it’s very quiet, almost silent in operation even when it’s trying its hardest. The pickup isn’t quite as instant as some mid motors, with the watts kicking in after a second or so. That’s not really a problem away from the lights most of the time, but at times it made starting on hills harder than it needed to be.
On my benchmark hill (1.5km at 5% average with a 12% steep bit) I found myself in the bottom gear going round the steep corner, but it wasn’t exactly an ordeal. Talking of gears, the bike would benefit from a wider range of them in Bath. The 11-28 cassette will be fine if you’re somewhere a bit flatter but round here the lowest gear felt a bit heavy, and 11-34 cassettes are widely available. It’s an easy swap once you have the bike, but there’s no real reason not to spec the bike with the wider cassette in the first place, and the wider one would work fine in flatter places too.
The bike has a twist grip; it’s not a throttle as it doesn’t apply power when you’re not pedalling, but it does bump up the assistance to maximum when you twist it. It’s useful for getting a bit of extra oomph from a standstill or tackling a steeper bit of a hill without having to faff about with the assistance modes. There are five of those, which are reasonably well-spaced, but it’s at least one more than the bike needs. The twist grip is built into the bike’s handlebar remote, which also has controls for the assistance level and a button for the integrated lights. It’s not the best control I’ve tried but it’s easy enough to use and quite neat.
Batribike offer the Gamma with a standard 375Wh battery, and also with a larger-capacity 460Wh option if you need to go further on a regular basis. And how does the range compare with other similar bikes I’ve tested? Well, here’s the rub. The battery reporting is the worst thing about this bike. The battery level on the display is heavily influenced by the load on the motor, so if you have three bars (out of seven) left and you engage high assistance mode to hoik yourself up a hill the battery gauge will immediately drop to one flashing bar as if it’s about to run out. If you actually want to know what the battery level is you have to either stop, or turn the assistance off. It’s annoying, and bikes a lot cheaper than this manage to have meaningful battery indicators that work all the time.
What it means in practice is that I don’t really know what the range is, because I couldn’t trust the bike to accurately report the battery state and wasn’t prepared to run the battery low and risk being left stuck with no juice at the bottom of a big hill. Not ideal. When you do want to charge the battery you can either do it in situ or remove the battery from the underside of the down tube and lug it inside. The charge port is in a reasonably accessible and well-protected position under the down tube. A full charge takes around four hours.
When presented with a new mid motor bike, the first question that I’d naturally ask is: is it better than a Bosch or Shimano one that you’d get for the same money? That’s the lion’s share of the market, and anything different trying to break in needs to have a point of difference: performance, price and weight are obvious ones. The answer here, in my opinion, is 'no'. Compared to the motors you can get on bikes that are in the same price range, it’s very similar but maybe doesn’t feel quite as polished. At £1,699 Batribike is pitching this bike at the point in the market where you’re starting to see Bosch Active Line-powered mid-motor bikes from the likes of Cube and Carrera, and you can get Shimano STEPS E6000 bikes from makers including Raleigh too. Overall its performance is comparable, but a Bosch Active line system would edge it on the more engaging feel of the power application and the quality of the switchgear. The STEPS E6000 motor, even though it’s old now, and noisy by comparison, is quite a bit more powerful than the Promovec. The new STEPS E5000 motor isn’t really out in the marketplace yet, but given my first ride impressions of it I’d expect it to be similar in terms of power to the Promovec motor and will probably also be coming on bikes in the same price range.
The bike isn’t all about the motor, of course, but the build of the Gamma isn’t unusually good for the money. I’d expect a well-made frame, nine-speed (at least) gears, hydraulic discs and decent finishing kit at this price, and that’s what you’re getting here. Full city finishing kit at £1,699 means it’s a bit better value than some of its rivals, but not all of them. You’re only just into proper mid-motor bike territory here, so there aren’t a huge number of rival machines vying for your spend; but the Batribike feels a little unremarkable overall. Save for the poor battery reporting it’s decent enough, but I think my head would be turned by a bike with a motor from one of the big players if it were my money going across the counter.