Last week when I was in Portland Oregon, my wife and I stopped by the Kalkhoff USA headquarters. We were able to meet up with Geoff Wagner who is head of Kalkhoff USA and chat about their electric bikes and take a pair of Kalkhoff’s for a spin.
Geoff is very excited about e-bikes and shares a similar passion of mine which is getting more people out of their cars and on to bikes. He has a great store front set up in Portland’s popular
Pearl district where he runs the USA division.
Geoff set my wife and I up on a pair of their Pro Connect model bikes. We got all geared up and headed out into a rainy winter day in Portland!
I like Portland for many reasons, particularly the tough bike commuting culture! There are so many bike riders there that don’t let the rain stop them 🙂
Before I get into our test ride experience I want to give you a run down on what makes Kalkhoff unique.
Kalkhoff Electric Bike Features
First of all these e-bikes use a mid motor drive system that adds electric assist through the drivetrain or gears of the bike. You can see that the motor on the Kalkhoff is near the cranks on the bike. A lot of e-bikes have the motor in either the front or rear hub of the bike. The cool thing about the mid drive motor system is that it allows the motor to operate efficiently by being geared up or down through the gears of the bike. This system is great for the hills because you can use the low gears on the bike to help you and the motor tackle the hills. Some of the hub motors struggle a little on the really steep stuff.
All of the Kalkhoffs use a pedal assist (pedelec) only system which means that the electric assist only kicks in when you are pedaling. There is no throttle to turn, you just pedal and it gives you some help! You can set how much help you want on the display on the handlebars. The system also senses how much work you are doing and adjusts it self accordingly to give you more or less of a boost.
The Kalkhoffs are high end electric bikes. In other words these bikes are not cheap. They have solid frames, quality components, are decked out with all sorts of accessories, and hey; they look cool! If you plan on riding an electric bike a lot or you want a bike that will be less of a maintenance headache compared to a cheaper bike, then you should consider these bikes. All that said, these bike do come with a health price tag.
Test Riding the Kalkhoff Electric Bikes
Pedal assisted ebikes are cool because you set the assistance you want and forget about it. The Kalkhoff’s definitely provide a lot of assistance and they are fun to just get on and ride!
One thing to be aware of is that from a stop these things can get up and go if you have them in a high assist setting. My wife was caught off guard at how quickly they accelerated at first. Once she got used to it she really liked the confidence it gave her when accelerating from a stop through a busy intersection.
We also noticed how durable the Kalkhoff electric bikes felt. That is typical of the aluminum frame and quality components that they are using.
The electrical components seemed to be of good quality but it is hard to tell from just a short test ride what the long term durability would be like. If you have experience with many miles on a Kalkhoff please leave your comments below.
I really like the electric bikes that come equipped with a lot of accessories that make e-biking more fun and convenient. It seems that most of the Kalkhoffs come with lights, fenders, racks, kickstands, etc. And they seems to be of good quality. This is another factor to consider when comparing ebikes and their prices.
The one thing that was not so perfect was shifting the gears on a hill. The bikes we rode came with the Shimano Alfine 8 internally geared hub system that requires that you back off your pedaling pressure to shift to a lower gear. What we noticed was that we would reduce our pedaling pressure but the electric assist system continued to assist for a second or two. This lag caused us to loose some momentum as we shifted to a lower gear. That is not exactly what you want on a hill. One solution would be to find a gear that you think is right for the hill and stick with it because the electric assist really does help! You can always just deal with the lag too. This is not a factor on a traditional derailleur and cog system (offered on some Kalkhoff’s) because that system will shift well under pressure.
What Do I Think of the Kalkhoff E-Bikes?
Overall I give the Kalkhoffs a thumbs up because they are a quality, good looking bike. I like the solid frame combined with a good selection of components and the mid drive motor system. Just remember that quality comes with a price! Also; please keep in mind that this was a short test ride and not an in depth review.
What do you think? If you have long term experience riding a Kalkhoff we (the Electric Bike Report community) would love to hear from you! And if you have any other comments or questions about my experience with the Kalkhoff please leave them below.
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