Electric Bike Review: Optibike 1100R

The Optibike 1100R out on the trail.

Are you looking for a fast, powerful, and custom off road electric bike that is built in the USA?  The Optibike 1100R may be your next e-bike.  Just be prepared to pay the price!

The Optibike 1100R is so fast and powerful that it won the Pikes Peak hill climb race in Colorado in 2011.  Not only did it win, it beat the 2010 time by 40 minutes!

This bike exudes high quality from the custom monocoque aluminum frame to the high end electrical and bike components.  Brands like Fox, Rohloff, Chris King, Avid, Mavic, Schwalbe, etc. are all over this speed machine.

As an electric bike enthusiast I was more than happy to ride and test the Optibike 1100R!

This review will give you the real world information on my ride tests as well as the pros and cons of this high end electric bicycle.

Make sure you checkout this post with the video, pictures and specifications of the Optibike 1100R electric bike.  Here is the video for an overview of the specs:

What you can expect from this fast electric bike!

You can select the Fast or Eco speed setting on the Optibike 1100R display which is mounted on the handlebars.

The Optibike has 2 different performance settings: Fast and Eco.  Fast is pretty darn fast (32 mph+ with no pedaling) and it will really fly up the hills.  Eco makes this bike more like a normal electric bike (22 mph with no pedaling) and it is slower on the hills but it will give you the most range.

Eco mode makes you feel like you are contributing some power to propel the bike around.  Fast mode is so powerful that it was hard to tell whether I was providing much power to help move the bike around!

Caution, this bike has a lot of torque!  If you start out in a low gear (easy climbing gear) and you use a lot of the throttle the bike can wheelie and possibly flip over from too much of a wheelie!  It is recommended that you start in a mid range gears (7 or 8 on the Rohloff hub) to prevent a wheelie.

Since this bike had the 2 performance settings I tested it in both modes on my typical test course to see how the Fast and Eco settings performed.

Here is the range and elevation data for the Fast performance setting:

Optibike 1100R Fast Mode Range and Elevation Info

Here is the range and elevation data for the Eco performance setting:

Optibike 1100R Eco Mode Range and Elevation Info

While testing these bikes I like to put them through the toughest conditions (using a lot of throttle with little pedaling) to see where the e-bike’s bottom line is in regards to range and speed.  The Optibike 1100R is throttle only (with or without pedaling); there is no pedal assist (pedelec) option.

Range:  From the GPS info that I recorded, the bike traveled 22.8 miles and did a total elevation gain/loss of around 2200 ft. in the Fast mode.  In the Eco mode the bike traveled 28.5 miles and did a total elevation gain/loss of around 3300 ft.

Considering that I weight 190 lbs and I pedaled very lightly this is pretty good range for a 48 Volt 18 ah battery pack (875 Watt Hours) under harsh testing conditions.

At the higher speeds, wind resistance will have a big effect on how much energy is used.  This is especially true when riding in the Fast mode.

Please keep in mind that if you pedal more, weight less than me, ride slower and/or you use the bike in terrain that is not as hilly you will get more range.  These results are from tough testing.

Speed:  The Optibike was able to maintain about 32 mph in Fast Mode and 22 mph in Eco mode without pedaling.  This bike climbs very well because of it’s 1100 watt mid drive motor that allows you to shift the gears and make it easier for you and the motor to climb the hills.

The Eco mode does climb considerably slower than the Fast mode and if you want to feel like you are contributing more power (i.e. getting a workout) then Eco is the best mode for that.  Eco mode is also a good for technical trail riding areas because Fast can be too powerful when you want to be moving slower around obstacles.

Weight:  This bike tips the scales at 60 lbs. which is about right for a bike of this caliber.

The weight distribution on this electric bike is excellent because both the motor and the battery are located in the center of the bike and low to the ground.  The low center of gravity is good for the handling; especially for an off road electric bike like this.

Let’s get into the Pros and Cons of this high performance electric bike.

Pros

Very FAST!  Okay all you speed freaks out there, this is the bike for you!  The Optibike in the Fast mode could maintain 32+ mph on the flats and it topped out at about 38 mph on slight downhills with just the motor powering the bike.  The Optibike also flew up hills in the Fast mode.  The Optibike 1100R in Fast mode feels like a lightweight electric motorcycle!

The Optibike 1100R motorized bottom bracket. The battery is housed in the frame near the bottom bracket. This makes for a low central weight distribution which is good for handling.

Mid Mount Motor:  The 1100 watt Motorized Bottom Bracket is nice because it powers through the drivetrain of the bike and can take advantage of using higher or lower gears to optimize it’s power and efficiency without getting “bogged down” on a hill.  With the power and wide range of gear ratios from the Rohloff 14 speed internal gear hub there really are no limits to the hills that this bike can climb.

The mid mount motor is also great for keeping the weight of the motor in the center of the bike for good handling.

Battery & Location:  The large lithium cobalt 48V 18.2 ah battery pack is positioned low and in the center of the bike.  It uses Cool Carbon Technology which positions the individual cells of the pack in a honeycomb matrix to make sure the cells stay cool.  Check out this video from Optibike for more info on that and the additional Touring battery pack option available for the 1100R.

The battery pack is also warrantied for 3 years which is a nice perk.

You Don’t Have to Pedal:  For those days when you truly want the easy ride the Optibike will take care of all the work.  The Optibike 1100R has so much power that you can sit back and enjoy the ride.  Of course a little pedaling never hurt anyone :)

High Quality!  The Optibike 1100R is decked out with some of the highest quality components.

The frame is a monocoque aluminum frame that houses all of the electrical components and it is made in the USA.  It has internal cable routing to keep a clean look.  Plus, Optibike will make the frame to fit your specifications!

The Fox suspension components, RP23 rear shock and Talas 36 front suspension fork, are high quality parts for sure!

The Optibike 1100R uses the high quality Rohloff 14 speed internal geared rear hub.

The Rohloff 14 speed internal gear hub is an engineering marvel in its own right.  Optibike chose this for the drivetrain because it can handle the 1100 watts of power and Rohloff Speed Hubs are known for lasting a very long time.

The Chris King front hub with 20mm thru axle and Chris King headset are also very high end components.

The Avid Code hydraulic disc brakes provided great stopping power and they have a solid quality feel.

The Mavic 719 Disc rims are well known in the mountain bike world as being high quality.

Pedals Well Without Assist:  The Optibike 1100R pedals pretty well without the motor assistance.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a heavy bike and it feels like a heavy bike when you are pedaling it without assist, but considering all of that it is not impossible to pedal without power.

Comfortable Bike:  The full suspension design provides a very comfortable ride both on and off the road.  The Optibike really benefits from the full suspension when traveling in the Fast mode because it helps you keep both wheels on the ground!

The headlights on the Optibike 1100R are integrated into the display of the bike.

Nice Lights:  The 10 watt halogen lights are very bright and they run directly off of the battery pack.  They are integrated into the display/controls of the Optibike 1100R and they look cool!

Custom Fenders:  The custom fenders that match the bike’s color are a nice touch and make the bike look a like a motorcycle!  The moto look of the bike comes from the owner’s (Jim Turner) background in off road motorcycle racing.

Cons

Expensive!  The Optibike 1100R that I tested was $14,384 (USD)!  Yes that is an expensive electric bike.  This is mainly because the bike is custom made in small quantities in the USA and it uses very high quality components. Therefore this is an electric bike for a select few.

With a price tag like that I would be very nervous about the security of the bike.

Too fast? Since this bike is so fast and so powerful it relegates it to off road only or getting it registered as a moped or motorcycle.  In addition it cannot be ridden on normal hiking and mountain bike trails because it is motorized.  You can ride it on motorcycle trails though.

Noisy:  The Optibike is pretty noisy compared to other electric bikes.  You can get an idea of the noise in the features video above.  Maybe this is the price you pay for such a high performance electric bike.

Throttle only on the Optibike 1100R.

No Pedal Assist Feature:  I think it would be nice to have a pedal assist option (pedelec) with multiple levels of assistance in addition to the throttle.  Since this is such a high end electric bike it would be nice to have the option to make the bike more like a speed pedelec.

Tires Are Too Skinny:  The Schwalbe Marathon tires that came on the bike were too skinny for lots of off road riding.  If you ride this bike on smooth dirt roads the skinny tires are fine.

Battery Removal:  Removing the battery is not a quick and easy task which is good for security but it is not so good if you want to store and charge only your battery inside.  Storing the battery in really cold or hot temperatures can damage the battery.  Here is what Optibike recommends:

“Do not store your bike in temperatures below -17C (0F) or above 27C (80F). Prolonged storage outside this temperature range may cause permanent damage to the battery – Keep bike warm and indoors prior to riding for peak performance.
Do NOT charge the battery if it is below 0C (32F) or above 45C (113F). This will cause permanent damage.”

Therefore you will want a store your Optibike in a relatively temperate place like a warm garage.

Throttle was Plastic:  For the price of the Optibike it would be nice to see a metal throttle instead of the plastic throttle.  The Rohloff Speed Hub shifter is metal and a matching metal throttle would be a nice touch.

Conclusion

The Optibike 1100R electric bike.

The Optibike 1100R is definitely a unique electric bike!  It is pushing the limits of the electric bike world and dabbles in the realm of a lightweight electric off road motorcycle.  It is all about high quality and customization to make the bike a perfect fit for you.  I appreciate the finer aspects of the components of the bike and it is great to see that you can buy a bike made in the USA, made for you.

If you want a bike that is very fast, powerful, and exudes high quality I would recommend the Optibike 1100R.  Just be prepared to pay for it!

Please keep in mind that this is a relatively short term test.  This testing can’t really give you the long term review of durability and reliability.  My thoughts on the quality of this bike are from previous experiences with similar bikes.  If you own this bike and have some input on the long term durability, please share your comments with the Electric Bike Report community below.

Where to get the Optibike 1100R electric bike?  Contact Optibike directly to order your custom electric bike.

Do you have any questions about the Optibike 1100R electric bike?  Please leave them in the comment section below.

Thanks!

-Pete

P.S. Don’t forget to join the Electric Bike Report community for updates from the electric bike world, plus ebike riding and maintenance tips!


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8 Comments

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  1. Brian Jackson April 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Wow, awesome performance!

    But how does this thing work on the road without a VIN number? Should this actually be classified as a moped and require a driver’s license? There’s some unresolved gray area here. One of the benefits of riding an e-bike is that you can ride on canal banks, through parks, on sidewalks, and in the bike lane. But if you get cited for using a motor vehicle illegally, what do you tell the judge? “No, Your Honor, really, I had it in eco mode!” Good luck with that.

    Also, for $14k, I expect it to work in Phoenix Arizona, which it won’t. A nice winter day here can violate the battery’s storage upper temperature threshold, 80 degrees F. It’s April, and we’ve already seen several days above 90 deg F. Maybe you can wrap the down tube in ice packs if you want to ride when it’s 110 deg F outside. Even if all you do is store it inside, you’d better leave the AC on all day. So much for conserving energy with your ebike!

    This is a really fast, and impressively built ebike that isn’t practical. Or maybe it’s a really slow motorcycle, which is also impractical.

  2. Charles Duffy April 19, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Brian — the battery doesn’t cut off for actual usage at 80F; that’s just the max it’s supposed to be recharged at. I’m a former Optibike (850) owner in Austin, TX, and summers here are well over that cutoff; I’ve had the bike shut down due to temperature after an exceptional hill climb, but it’s not something that ever happened during normal commuting use… it just meant that charging had to happen inside, after some time to cool off, rather than in the garage.

  3. Al July 24, 2012 at 12:46 am #

    This bike is meant to be pedaled–it is an electric bicycle. This statement is completely misleading and should be changed “The Optibike 1100R is throttle only, no pedal assist” I think they meant something else about the graph. The Optibike has throttle control of the motor that can give as much juice as you want and at the same time you can pedal as hard as you want. I pedal moderately hard all the time that I ride mine.

    This article says “skinny tires” They are actually 2.2 and can of course be changed up for different purposes. The speed (30 mph) means that on the road many fewer cars will pass you as you can keep up with traffic much of the time.

    Some guys put knobbies on and hammer off-road–Fox suspension rocks! It also has Avid hydraulic discs. On the road the bike handles like a Porsche.

    • Pete July 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

      Good point Al. I revised the throttle info.

      • Dan November 7, 2012 at 10:20 am #

        Pete,

        The Optibike is a fantastic commuter bike. I rode the 850Li model for 4 years, doing 22 mile commutes to work and then back. (44mi RT) It rides solid. My range with active pedalling was 35 miles on a 20ahr, 36V battery, with average speeds of 22-25mph.

        In 2012, I upgraded to the 1100R. Very powerful and fast. My averages this summer were 26-30mph for the same commutes.

        Maryland now has a scooter/moped law, which requires a registration and a normal drivers liscence to be on the road. Growing pains for the ebike enthusist can be expected.

        The quality, service, warranty, performance of the bike and company is one of the best and one of the tops in the industry. I have build a DIY, and it does not come close to the performance and safe feel of the Optibike.

      • Dan November 7, 2012 at 10:24 am #

        One other thought about the weight. You mention that 60lbs is heavy? There are many 55-65lb ebikes with hubs that put out 250-350W. The Optibike is 1100 watts continuous. A great power/weigth ratio.

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