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Electric Bike Review: IZIP Express Special Edition
Jun 29, 2012
Police Issue: The IZIP Express from Currie Technologies
The IZIP Express electric bike review: Fast, powerful, big battery, unique motor system and designed for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)! Does that get your attention? 🙂
Yes that is right……the LAPD has approximately 100 IZIP Express electric bikes for it’s officers to protect the public and track down the bad guys.
With the LAPD in mind Currie Technologies designed this bike to stand up to the demands of their officers. This means that the bike has to be fast and be able to handle 8 hours of riding (typical officer work day).
Not only that but it needs to be able to ride down stairs, handle being thrown to the ground during a foot pursuit, ridden rain or shine, and it has to be reliable.
Below is the full review of the IZIP Express with a breakdown of the speed, range, and the pros and cons of this electric bicycle.
First of all, this is a unique electric bike! The ride style is not like other electric bikes. It truly amplifies your riding input.
There is a cadence sensor on the cranks of the IZIP Express to activate the pedal assistance.
The IZIP Express is a pedal assist (pedelec) only electric bike, which means it only provides power based on when you pedal; there is no throttle. The electric motor provides assistance based on the level of assistance you select (eco mode and settings 1 through 5) and what your pedaling cadence is. There is a cadence sensor near the cranks of the bike that quickly adapts to your pedal rotations to determine how much motor assist to provide.
The Gates belt drive from the 750 watt motor to the cog on the rear wheel of the IZIP Express.
Next up is the fact that the IZIP Express blends your riding power with the electric motor via the EVO Drive system. The motor is mounted behind the seat tube of the bike and transmits its power to the left side of the rear hub via a Gates belt drive system. The right side of the bicycle drivetrain is what you will see on a normal bicycle; cranks, chain, derailleurs, cogs, etc.
The magic happens inside the hub of the rear wheel as illustrated in the exploded view below. Basically the hub takes both the rider input (cogs on the right side) and the motor input (cog on the left side) and blends them together to create forward motion.
The EVO Drive on the IZIP Express.
For more detailed info on the inner workings of the EVO Drive hub, please see this article.
Depending on the assist setting that you choose it can make you feel pretty strong or REALLY strong (like a professional cyclist having the ride of your life)! There are 5 normal assist settings (5 being the highest setting) with an eco mode that will provide minimal assistance for long distance riding.
Another big point about the IZIP Express is that it comes equipped with a 36 volt 20 amp hour lithium ion battery that is double the size of a normal e-bike battery. This helps with the higher power of the bike (750 watts) and improves the overall range on this bike.
Here is a recap of this in the video:
Here is the real world information on how this bike performed on my typical riding circuit that includes hills, flats, traffic, wind (when available) etc.
The results below are based on a paved circuit that I use for testing other electric bikes.
Here is the range and elevation info using pedal assist setting #2 (out of 5 with 5 being the highest assist)
IZIP Express Distance Elevation Profile on Pedal Assist Setting #2
Here is the range and elevation info using pedal assist setting #5 (out of 5 with 5 being the highest assist)
IZIP Express Range Elevation Profile on Pedal Assist Setting #5
While testing these bikes I like to put them through the toughest conditions to see where their bottom line is in regards to range and speed.
Range: As you can see from the GPS info that I recorded, the bike traveled between 26 and 28 miles and did a total elevation gain/loss of around 2200 ft. Considering that I weight 190 lbs and I pedaled very lightly this is pretty good range for a 36 Volt 20 ah battery pack (720 Watt Hours) especially when you consider that faster speeds require exponentially more power to maintain due to wind resistance.
Watt hours are the total energy in a battery pack and it is based on the volts x amp hours of a pack. This is a way to compare the size of the “gas tank” of electric bikes.
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: Let’s talk about speed…….yes the Express is quick! Since this bike is a pedal assist only the bike can go up to 28 mph (45 km/h) with an average riders power.
Here is the explanation from Currie Technologies:
(From the US e-bike law) a two-or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.
“So basically if you remove rider input from the equation, the maximum speed of the bike must be less than 20mph (which is demonstrably true of the Express). We say 45 km/h with rider input, but of course there is no real upper limit for speed once a rider becomes involved; a rider of reasonable fitness on flat ground giving a hard effort should be able to reach about 45km/h, a professional cyclist could go considerably faster.”
Weight: This bike tips the scales at 62 lbs.
The weight distribution on this bike is good because the motor, battery, and controller are mounted in the center of the bike, relatively low. This makes for a good handling bike.
Powerful: Yes the IZIP Express has some kick! With 750 watts of power and your pedal input this bike can accelerate quickly off the line and climb hills with ease. If want power then this is your bike. This is the high end of what is legally allowed for power in order to still be considered a bicycle in the United States.
Fast: With the IZIP Express cruising comfortably at 28 mph (with my help of course!) it made running errands around town a breeze; literally! In fact most of the trips I made around town were in some cases quicker on this bike than if I had driven. There are certain bike routes that I ride that made getting around on this bike very efficient by avoiding high traffic areas while riding at a quicker speed than most e-bikes.
Even for longer trips around town, I would not hesitate to use the Express because it will get you there quick and it has the bigger battery to handle longer trips.
The Express is also great for a road ride on your favorite loop around town or in the country. Once you get into a good rhythm this bike really goes!
The 36 volt 20ah lithium ion battery pack and controller removed from the frame of the IZIP Express.
Big battery! The Express has a 36 Volt 20 amp hour lithium ion battery pack in the black case housed in the main triangle of the frame. That is double the size of the battery compared to a fairly typical 36 volt 10 amp hour pack. This is partially to accommodate the big 750 watts of power from the motor but it is also to provide a big range that the LAPD needs for their officers. It is also nice for the average person so that they can worry less about range issues.
Bike riders bike: Since the the IZIP Express is a pedal assist only bike it really lends itself to people who enjoy riding a traditional non electric bike. The way the EVO Drive systems blends the power really amplifies your pedaling power and it makes you feel like Superman! So for people who like to pedal this bike is a good fit, especially for longer rides thanks to the bigger battery.
Quality bike components: The IZIP Express is decked out with a pretty solid group of components that will stand up to some rugged riding. The LAPD needed a bike that would hold up to some abuse and Currie Technologies picked out some great quality parts to outfit the Express.
Another view of the battery/controller box on the IZIP Express. Note the unique split top tube!
The aluminum frame construction seems very solid and the split top tube is very unique.
Rock Shox is a well known brand in mountain bike suspension and the Argyle suspension fork with the thru axle definitely takes the edge off while feeling extremely stable at high speeds.
Avid brakes are also well known in the mountain bike industry and the Elixir hydraulic front disc brake with the Single Digit 7 V-brake on the rear can scrub some speed or bring you to a complete stop pretty quick!
The drivetrain (cranks, chain, cogs, derailleurs, shifters) is a good mixture of Shimano and Sram. They are durable but not the top of the line (good way to keep the overall price of the bike in check).
The IZIP Express comes with Shimano SPD pedals that can also be used with normal shoes.
Since the Express requires the rider to pedal, why not optimize the riders input? Currie Technologies provides the Express with Shimano SPD pedals that can accommodate their SPD shoes and cleats or can be used with regular shoes. If you choose to use the SPD system you will get more efficiency out of your pedaling by being more connected to the pedals via the cleats. If you have not used this system before make sure you practice using this cleat system before you hit the open road; not being able to clip out can hurt and be embarrassing!
User interface: In order to change the assist setting the rider has to adjust the level via up or down buttons on top of the battery. The battery level is also checked by the lights on top of the battery. Both are accessed or visible through the split top tube on bike. If you want to check the battery level on the go you will need to look down which is a little cumbersome and potentially dangerous if you are looking down at the indicator while adjusting the power level.
It would be nice to see a simple user display on the handlebars that gives the battery level and current assist level with the ability to change the assist from a handlebar mounted control.
According to Currie Technologies the handlebar display was presented to the LAPD but they were concerned that it would break off too easily.
The IZIP Express motor is not quiet.
The motor system is loud: The IZIP Express is not the quietest electric bike out there. It has a whining noise that escalates the faster you go due to the belt passing over the drive pulley. Maybe this noise is the price of high performance? It definitely alerts pedestrians and other riders that you are nearby.
Kickstand: The stock kickstand on Express is a little flimsy. With this bike weighing 62 lbs. it would be nice to have a sturdy kickstand to hold up the bike.
Suspension seat post? Because the IZIP Express can go faster than a typical e-bike it would be nice to have a suspension seat post to smooth out some of the cracks and bumps in the road. When you are traveling at faster speeds those bumps have a big impact! The suspension seat post would add cost to the overall bike price but I think it would be worth it.
Is the IZIP Express your next electric bike?
The IZIP Express is an electric bike that offers many unique characteristics compared to other e-bikes. It has high power, speed and offers a big battery. Combine this with a durable component package and you get an electric bike that is a cut above the rest.
At $4,995 it is not inexpensive but the Express offers a lot of performance in an “off the shelf” e-bike.
Considering that this bike was designed for the likes of the LAPD, you can imagine that it is built to last!
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 IZIP Express? Check with the Currie Technologies website for a dealer near you. They are constantly adding new dealers to their network.
Do you have any questions about the IZIP Express? Do you own the Express? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Review Note: Each company pays a fee for a review on Electric Bike Report because of the considerable amount of time that it takes to provide an in-depth review of each eBike. A lot of time is spent on the full range test with distance & elevation profile, the wide variety of detailed pictures, in-depth video, and the write up with the specifications, ride characteristics, pros, cons, and overall thoughts. The reviews on Electric Bike Report are focused on providing you with a detailed “virtual” look at each eBike to help you determine if it is the eBike for you or not.