Bunch Bikes The Original Review 2023
Summary Review: Bunch The Original E-Bike
Reviewing the Bunch Bikes The Original (Yes, there’s a “The” in there, as in “The Ohio State University”) was a refreshing, unique experience that gave me a new perspective on the utility, fun, and convenience of cargo style e-bikes. The Original comes with a torque sensor and a 500W geared hub motor that makes for a very smooth cargo-hauling machine that’s also great for carrying kids
Here at Electric Bike Report, we love reviewing unique e-bike designs, especially when we feel like the company could be on to something. In the instance of Bunch, we definitely think they’re on the right track with the concept and engineering on The Original.
With plenty of modular accessories, a powerful motor and plenty of storage room, The Original is ready to suit your lifestyle needs.
- The Original can lug a lot of cargo with ease. Whether you’re making grocery runs or taking your kids to the park, The Original is ready.
- There’s a wide array of accessory offerings from Bunch that allow you to customize The Original to your lifestyle.
- There is a fun factor when riding The Original. We turned a lot of heads when riding it around.
- Bunch has created a well refined suburban cargo e-bike.
- The Original is a great alternative to a car for any commute or errand below 10 miles.
- Bunch’s Original comes with auto-lean technology that keeps the bike balanced even with lots of cargo.
- The cable routing feels like it could be a little more tidy from the cockpit.
- The cushioned seats are great for little riders. We’d hope those came standard with the bike even if it raises the price a bit, but for now you can add them on at checkout.
- Battery: 48V, 13.6Ah Li-ion 653 Wh), Samsung 35E cells
- Display: Large LCD display with adjustment
- Motor: 500W brushless, DAPU geared hub motor, 45Nm of torque
- Headlight: Spanninga Axendo 60
- Taillights: Spanninga Lineo – integrated in battery case
- Peal Assist: Levels 1-5
- Range: 20-35 miles
- Throttle: Wuxing 108XL side-pull thumb throttle
- Battery weight: 8.4 lbs
- Claimed weight: 152 lbs
- Real weight: 152 lbs
- Maximum rider weight: 350 lbs
- Maximum load on rear rack: 55 lbs
- Unfolded Dimensions: 83” x 43” x 24” (Length x Height x Width)
- Cargo box is 36” long
- Brakes: Tektro Auriga with 160mm rotors
- Front: Tektro Auriga E-Twin HD-E525
- Rear: Tektro Auriga E-Tune HD-E530
- 160mm rotors front and rear
- Fenders: Included, black steel front and rear, full coverage
- Frame: Steel, black CNC painted, rust-proof frame
- Gearing: 8-Speed Shimano Acera
- Grips: Comfort foam grips
- Saddle: Selle Royal – Freeway City
- Handlebar: Alloy, height adjustable by 8.5″
- Cargo Box: Marine plywood with 2 locking storage benches
- Pedals: Wellgo K79 with reflectors
- Tires: Schwalbe Big Apple HS 430 with Balloon Bike air suspension.
- Front – 20″ x 2.15″ | Rear – 24″ x 2.00″
Bunch The Original Review: Performance
Acceleration / Speed
The Original moderates its power in a way that makes acceleration safe. I felt this even in the higher pedal assist levels and the throttle which both get you up to speed without jostling around what you’re lugging. This is, by and large, thanks to its torque sensor; which was the absolute right call for this type of bike.
Even with a heavy load it’s pretty surprising how fast The Original can go. In our circuit test — a one-mile loop consisting of 4 turns and a slight hill — it averaged 17.1 mph in its highest assist level, which is on par with some urban commuter e-bikes that we’ve reviewed.
This is surprising considering we intentionally weighed down The Original with 100 lbs sandbags to give it a little more cornering stability (we’ll get into that in the handling section) and better emulate it’s cargo-carrying spirit during the test.
Now, this isn’t anything close to an urban commuter, but it’s interesting to me that it’s similar to some of them in average speed around our 1-mile loop.
The Original is similar to a U-Haul or other moving truck. It has the power and torque to haul heavy loads, but it’s rare you’re going to need to push yourself to the motor’s max speed of 20 miles per hour when riding around.
While fast is normally fun, I don’t recommend traveling at high speeds while on The Original. When riding with kids or cargo I found around 16 mph to be a comfortable speed to handle bumps in the road and keep passengers and cargo cozy in the box. I treated PAS 4/5 as something that’s good to have and not need. I didn’t use PAS 4/5 unless I was hauling a heavy load where they both came in handy.
One final note on the acceleration and speed, and this is something I’ll mention more throughout our Bunch Original review, it took a bit of practice to get comfortable with those speeds given that this is a trike. Handling in general is different and takes a little repetition to get used to. Make sure you’ve had a few miles to practice before attempting higher speeds with kids/pets/cargo up front.
Any bike that can lug 100 lbs with a 230 lb rider for 20.2 miles is impressive in our book and we wanted to do our range test in a real world environment where The Original is hauling cargo; this bike will rarely be ridden completely empty. We added 100 lbs of sandbags to the front of The Original to create more of a real world scenario.
We did not reach Bunch’s 25 mile claimed range, but that wasn’t much of a surprise considering the added weight.
We typically conduct a minimum pedal assist range test too but we didn’t feel it was necessary because of how little assist the first pedal assist gives you, especially with the added weight. We were satisfied enough with our short range test as we had nearly maxed the weight capacity and still got pretty close to the claimed range.
Based on how our results matched the claimed range we are confident that riders who are using minimal assist should get close to the claimed max range of 35 miles.
We like to conduct the circuit test to get a better idea of how e-bikes perform from one assistance level to another. This also gives us a good idea of the increments between these levels. The Original has a comfortable combination of power, stability, and speed. The Original will get up to 20 mph but I felt the most comfortable around 15-17 mph. The circuit test showed us that The Original is as safe as you make it.
Without proper technique and focus, pedal assist level 5 may be faster than some might anticipate. It’s important to be aware of The Original’s power and speed capabilities and to remain within the realm of safety. With that being said, The Original from Bunch gave me enough speed to really see the benefits of the motor and battery for lugging cargo.
One interesting thing about our results is that pedal assist level 1 was actually slower than pedaling the bike turned completely off. Our speed was only separated by 0.4 mph between the results, and it still showed us that pedal assist level 1 isn’t doing a whole lot in terms of speed – I do think it kept my heart rate lower though.
After some discussion we believe this really boils down to the assistance making the rider work less when pedaling, resulting in lower speeds. When turned off our test rider had no choice but to push The Original up to speed to make it up our test hills, but on pedal assist level 1 he was able to pedal a little more leisurely, resulting in a slightly lower speed overall.
As the assistance levels went up so did my liking for The Original. Bunch really nailed the increments between the pedal assist levels, aside from pedaling at 0 assist, the bike turned off our circuit test graph nearly reads out as linear. Properly defined PAS levels offer a more consistent and predictable feeling from the motor, which is definitely important when hauling cargo.
Because of the clear contrast between the pedal assist levels each level has its noticeable benefits. Too often do we see pedal assist settings blur together due to a lack of distinguishment in feeling; in these cases there’s essentially nothing making level 3 different than 4, so why ever use 3?
Thankfully that isn’t the case with The Original. Being a cargo bike I was really happy to see a refined, well-calibrated pedal assist interface included. Being able to utilize, and distinguish every pedal assist level definitely improved Bunch’s Original cargo e-bike.
Handling (cornering, slow speeds, safety on bike, etc.)
The Original handles just fine, but you’ll probably want to practice and get comfortable riding it around before you decide to haul any cargo (or kids). The more we weighed down the bike the more stable it became, which is definitely a positive attribute considering it’s a cargo bike.
Jumping on the Bunch Original isn’t quite as natural as hopping on your typical e-bike. It’s going to take a couple miles to truly understand the handling mechanics, but once you’re used to it. Be mindful of what The Original is, it’s a 150 lb-plus cargo trike so I wouldn’t recommend coming in hot on any corners. In that sense, The Original handling is as safe as you make it. If you ride within the realm of what The Original is intended for (cargo, groceries, carrying kids) then you’ll feel plenty safe, and in control.
The Bunch Original is no standard e-bike, and because of its unique geometry it’s able to fit a large range of rider heights onto the frame. If you’re between 5-foot-2-inches” and 6-foot-5-inches then you should fit The Original comfortably.
The contact points and the bike’s overall comfort was nice enough for me to stay comfortable on rides, even on the range test. I found the grips to be pretty nice too. They were soft, easy to grip, and comfortable to hold onto for a long period of time.
The pedaling position was also a nice touch. The bottom bracket is a little bit farther forward than what I’m used to seeing which ended up allowing me to stay seated even when pedaling up steep hills. Thanks to the bottom bracket position and overall pedaling positioning I really felt like I could get a full leg extension and put a lot of power into the pedals when pushing around a lot of cargo.
After some time on The Original, it’s safe to say that it’s plenty comfortable for any ride or cargo-pickup under 10 miles. Any more than that and you’ll probably start to feel some discomfort. This wasn’t really a worry for me though, as I don’t see The Originals intended use being super long cargo hauls.
Bunch The Original Review: Specs/Features
The 500W geared hub motor is solid.
Thanks to the torque sensor the hub motor really gives back what you put into your pedal stroke, which is perfect for a cargo bike. The torque sensor is designed in a way that makes for a lot smoother engagement and power output relative to how hard you’re pedaling. If I had to guess based on feeling I think The Original has more torque, and more wattage than it actually does.
This proves that numbers aren’t everything, and that there’s lots of variables that make up a high quality motor other than being overpowered. The relationship between the torque sensor, motor, and pedaling position makes for a swell cargo bike experience.
500W is plenty of power for a cargo bike when it’s engineered and executed properly, Bunch’s The Original is proof of that. We did over half of our test riding with 100 pounds in the bikes cargo container and it really didn’t seem to phase The Original much at all.
The Original cargo bike made it 20.2 miles carrying 100 lbs of weight before the battery died, exceeding the minimum claimed range by a fifth of a mile. Considering the added weight I found this result to be pretty impressive; it brought me peace of mind to know The Original has a battery that’s going to last. Some e-bikes are rideable without any assistance, but in the case of The Original you’re only going to want to ride it with assistance due to its hefty 152 lb weight.
It’s safe to assume the bike would have lasted even longer had we not added the 100 lbs of cargo. The more weight the less mileage you’ll receive, with that being said keep in mind The Originals battery range is relative to how much cargo you’re lugging.
It’s also worth noting that we did this test in maximum assist, essentially draining the battery as fast as we could to get a good idea of the batteries minimum range; the fact that it took 20-plus miles goes to show the Bunch’s battery can last a long while, and is ready for the long haul if need be.
The 48V, 13.6Ah battery seems like the right battery for this bike, its high capacity and isn’t going to drastically deplete after one tough hill.
Pedal Assist / Throttle (when applicable)
Our whole team was very fond of the pedal assist and throttle calibration. Each pedal assist level is distinctly different from the others and the increments between assist levels are consistent and appropriate.
Bunch programmed the throttle to be relative to whatever pedal assist level you’re riding in at the time. If you’re riding around in pedal assist level 2, the throttle will assist you at level two speeds.
I loved this feature and would like to see more bikes with it. The bike is that much more predictable when the throttle is programmed to perform relative to the speed setting you’re already in. Those who are intimidated by fast acceleration or unfamiliar with throttles will likely benefit from this.
Bunch embraced the fact that they had a lot of room on the handlebar, and because of that they’ve equipped The Original with a large LCD display. The LCD display is adjustable and has all the data you’ll need when riding around. It includes a speedometer, battery readout, pedal assist level, max speed and average speed readout, and an odometer that can track trip mileage.
The display is easy enough to see that I really didn’t even have to focus on it to read what you need to. With a quick glance at the display I was able to see everything and I wasn’t distracted by searching around a tiny display screen.
The adjustment also came in handy as I was able to angle the display in a way the sun was glaring all over it. As the sun changed location in the sky, so did the angle of my LCD display.
Components and Accessories
As you can imagine high performance brakes are an essential part of a cargo bike, unless you want to ride a giant battering ram, that is. Thankfully Bunch wasn’t out to create a battering ram rather, a smooth riding cargo bike specially designed for suburban areas.
The Original uses two different brake designs, the Tektro hydraulic E-Twin for the two smaller wheels in the front, and the hydraulic E-Tune for the larger rear wheel. The E-Twin brakes are made specifically for electric trikes and it was good to have brakes intended for a 3 wheeler.
The trike specific brakes are terrific. They come with thicker rotors, motor cutoff switches, and centered brake pads that provide more stopping power. The E-Twin brake lever also actuates both rotors with a single pull.
The rear E-tune brake is designed for standard e-bikes and it seemed to do a pretty good job. All 3 wheels come with 160mm rotors and it took us an average of 17 feet and7 inches to come to a complete stop from the max throttle assisted speed of 20 mph.
Considering The Original weighs in at 152 lbs, and was hauling 100 lbs of sandbags that’s a great result.
I would like to see a 180mm rotor for the rear wheel, I think that would pair up nicely with the two 160mm rotors on the front wheels and add some additional stopping power. The current brake and rotor design works just fine. However, for The Original being a cargo bike the more stopping power the better especially when carrying a heavy load.
There are a couple more components to The Original’s frame than your typical e-bike. The main frame is constructed of steel and is painted with a rust-proof internal coating. The cargo basket itself is made out of marine grade plywood, which is warp-proof and waterproof.
I was happy to see that Bunch took the elements of nature into consideration when designing The Original. As I mentioned before, it’s the little details that really add up with this cargo bike. The frame being formed around the 24-inch wheel made for easy viewing of the cargo, and the path in front of it.
There is only one frame size and it fits a range of heights from 5-foot-2-inches all the way up to 6-foot-5-inches. The combination of the adjustability, and the durability of the frame dimensions make for a true cargo bike that’s ready for all-weather riding.
Drivetrain / Shifting
It’s crucial that cargo bikes have the proper gear ratio. If the gearing is too hard to lug your cargo it completely defeats the purpose. If the gearing is too easy, it’s going to be a doozie to get going. Bunch kept this in mind with their Original, and they equipped it with an 8-speed Shimano Acera drivetrain.
The 11-34t cassette paired with a 38t chainring makes for good hill climbing ability and respectable speed on straight-aways. Eight gears is more than enough when paired up with 5 levels of pedal assist, and with 40 possible variations in pedaling experience it’s safe to say there’s a setting for every scenario.
The contact points on The Original were comfortable for about 10 miles. At this point, I began to readjust in the saddle a bit. I didn’t really mind that I was starting to move around as I don’t see The Original being used for that long of a distance.
Where The Original truly shines is on your 1-4 mile commute to the grocery store and around the neighborhood. It’s good to know that this bike can get over 20 miles per charge, but I don’t see it being used for that long of a distance too often.
With the large amount of adjustability and plenty of storage room, The Original does a good job of being useful for a wide array of people. Just keep in mind that it’s not designed for long distance rides.
The Original comes with two different wheel sizes — there’s two 20-inch wheels up front and a singular 24-inch wheel in the rear. Having the 24-inch wheel in the rear helped me roll over bumpier terrain smoother than I would have on a smaller wheel. The two 20-inch front wheels offered snappy handling and a decent turn radius.
The Schwalbe Big Apple tires rolled fast and had good traction on pavement. The semi-slick tread pattern and hard casing make these tires great for any paved surface, however I wouldnt recommended any offroading on these. It was also a good touch to have the front tires be a little bit wider than the rear (2.00” to 2.15”). The slightly wider front tires added a touch more smoothness to the ride. It’s good to see that Bunch notices the little things such as tire width, and I was glad to see slightly wider tires up front on The Original.
Extras / Accessories
The Original proves to be quite versatile thanks to the wide array of extras and accessories that Bunch provides on their website. Between the included and add-on accessories, The Original has just about everything you could ask for.
Some of the extras and accessories include
- A headlight underneath the cargo box
- Two step system steel fenders
- Sun shades
- Foam padded seat pads.
Bunch The Original Review: Summary / Where to Buy
After lots of time riding around Bunch’s Original cargo bike I feel like it checks all the boxes I hoped it would as a cargo bike. If you read this review hoping the original would live up to standards as a cargo bike, I can confirm that it likely will.
The Original is a family grocery getter that can also double as a self powered minivan. It was surprisingly fast, and stable relative to how I was expecting it to feel. When I was riding around I found myself thinking about different things I could do with The Original, and where it would be the most useful.
While it’s bones are a cargo bike, The Original shines as a kid-carrier. It’s got cushioned bench seats and even seatbelts to keep little ones strapped in, so among cargo bikes — this one’s for the families. All these things make for a great alternative to the family vehicle. You’re going to turn heads when riding The Original, I personally had a lot of people tell me how beneficial they could see the bike being in their own lives.
The Original from Bunch is also as safe as you make it, if you are riding responsibly the bike is plenty safe even with children in the cargo area. Bunch provides stabilization technology that helps keeps the bike upright and on 3 wheels and decreases the probability of tipping over.
Parking the bike is going to take a little more space and time than your typical e-bike but it’s a small price to pay for the convenience. On the flip side, its size and shape makes it that much harder to steal; I also don’t see the typical bike thief wanting a bike like the 152 lb Bunch Original.
Bunch offers a 2-year warranty on The Original and it ships fully assembled. Bunch uses a direct-to-consumer model so you can buy The Original from their website. It’s good to see that Bunch offers a warranty to back up their product, to me that shows belief in their bikes. It’s important for direct-to-consumer companies to bring more than just bikes to the table, to maintain customer loyalty and sales companies like Bunch need to show they care. I think they are doing a great job so far and I see them being around for a while.
In all, The Original provided me with a unique experience that gave me a new perspective on cargo bikes and how beneficial they truly are.I was a little unsure of the design at first and wondered if it would be hard to handle or too cumbersome to be practical, but I was pleasantly surprised at how light it felt and useful it proved. I see electric bikes playing a huge role in the future, especially ones like The Original that just about match the utility and convenience of a car around town.
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