A very powerful electric bike with a very sensitive system
When I rode the Juicy Roller electric bike for the first time, I couldn’t believe how powerful it was. At traffic lights, but generally each time you give the first pedal stroke to start, this bicycle just flies.
Moreover, all the times I had my feet on the pedals ready to start, I was also forced to hold both brakes with my hands tightly, otherwise the bike would have just moved forward. The system is really so sensitive and powerful, that even the lightest touch on the pedal gives you a high amount of energy to propel the bicycle forward.
We have tested other electric bikes in the last few months, but if we limit the consideration to their propelling power, Juicy Roller really beats them all. However, to truly understand this electric bike there are many other components and features to look at.
The frame of the Juicy Roller is made of aluminium (6061-T6 Aluminium), it is available in size 18” and it fits leg measurements from 26.5″ (67 cm) to 36″ (91.5 cm). The 18″ size is definitely a better choice, as the 19.5″ I tried was a little bit too high for my taste and comfort (I’m 5 ft 10), as to get in the saddle I had to mount it as it was a women’s bike (thankfully the top tube is not straight and it is shaped for this).
The Juicy Roller is a commuting and city electric bike, and in its design it is similar to another electric bike we tested, the VOLT Infinity 1. Testing them in a close period of time was very interesting and gave a good comparison idea on what to ask and expect from both of them. The Roller’s maximum rider weight indicated by Juicy is 100 kg (with 25 kg extra for the luggage).
The Samsung Li-ion battery of the Roller comes in two different options, either a 10.4AH (with a claimed range of 33 miles) or the extended 13AH (with 50 miles range). The extended battery will increase the price of the final set up of the bike, adding an extra £150 to the overall price (£1,605 instead of £1,455). The batteries are claimed to last for around 800 charges and replacements cost from £345 to £495. The final weight of the Roller is a claimed 19.5 kg, which is not light to carry home if you don’t want to leave it outside (or you live on the third floor), but it is in line with many other electric bikes on the market. Few others, and mostly from other categories, are actually less heavy than this one.
Finally, the motor (a high torque Aikema producing over 40Nm and that weighs 2.1 kg) is placed in the rear hub, while the frame is finished with a suspension seat post and fork, a torque sensor in the pedals that make the system super sensitive, a very comfortable handlebar that reminded me a bit of a Harley Davidson for its upright position (a feature Juicy retained from Police bicycles) and an LCD display integrated into it. The stem of the roller also features a handle that allows you to adjust it up and down and make it more comfortable to ride.
As already mentioned, the power of the rear hub motor of the Juicy Roller is incredible. The system developed by the UK brand (based in the Peak District) features five different levels of assistance, and according to the EU and UK law it can assist the rider up to a maximum speed of 25 mph. However, all the levels of assistance (and particularly the highest one) are giving all the speed you need to ride safely on a street.
I mostly rode the Roller on power five, both because I wanted to give it a hard test and because when I tried it I felt in love and couldn’t give it up. In fact, it is not only very nice to ride this bike in terms of electric help, but it is also great fun.
The power the Roller requires to move forward is determined by the motor and the battery according to the intensity with which the rider is pedaling and pushing on the drivetrain: this is called a torque sensor system and its sensors are placed in the bottom bracket area of the bike, close to the pedals and the centre of the bike.
Even uphill, the performance of the Roller was stunning as it always gave enough power to tackle even the nastiest climbs. And when the gradients got a bit too steep, the gear ratios this bike offers (and that you can control from your handlebars) is more than enough to spin up it easily and move on to the next challenge. I also noticed that uphill, with a harder gear, the torque sensor fatigued more and generally gave less power to the system, while taking some gear off in the back made the pedaling smoother and finally more efficient also in terms of assistance. This is because with a higher and lighter cadence the system works better and releases more energy (a feature that electric bikes without gears cannot offer).
But all great things also have their down sides. While the power released by the system is really impressive, the battery didn’t perform as well as other bikes’ (Juicy revealed just after the test that the battery we used was already 18 months old). And at maximum power of assistance, the battery lasted a maximum 2 to 3 hours (around 30-40 miles), but the most annoying feature – that some other bikes also have – was that the battery-charge indicator fluctuated quite a lot from level two to five according on how hard I pedaled. It is true, this happened also with the other electric bikes I tried, but much less that with the Roller, and while riding on it, it was never clear what the battery level really was. After our test, Juicy confirmed that the problem we experienced was due to a wrong set of the voltage indicators and they claimed it is now solved for future customers.
It also happened more than once that the system suddenly shut off at traffic lights and didn’t assist me at the first pedal strokes (and having left the hard gear on it, it was not that funny to start all over again). Juicy said that this happens because if you put weight on the pedals and keep the brakes on, in order to avoid a overheating, the system simply shuts off. The solution, they said, is to hold the brakes without keeping the foot on the pedal. Yet, even though this solution actually worked, as the bike frame was a bit high, I couldn’t keep my balance safely. Plus, I am used to keeping a foot on the pedal and I still believe it is safer in case you need to move quickly from where you are.
The completion of a great bike spec is definitely given by the front and rear hydraulic disc brakes from Tektro, which give the bicycle a higher sense of security, particularly when you’re riding downhills and in the rain. They might not be at the level of Shimano’s, but for what we could see they performed very well.
Juicy completes its newest product with aluminium reinforced wheels (13 spokes), Kenda Puncture resistant tyres, an RST mono shock aluminium fork, and a Shimano 8 Speed Acera rear derailleur with paddle shifter on the handlebar. Even though the 250W High TQ rear-hub motor is really powerful, it is also very silent and you won’t hear much noise when you ride the Roller.
Being used to road bikes, I am always a bit disappointed when I don’t see quick release wheels on a bike, but it is also true that for safety reasons, the heavier weight and the higher puncture-resistant tyres, it is less likely you would need to change your own tyre alone on the road in case of a flat.
With a price tag of £1,455 (£1,605 with the extended battery), the Juicy Roller is definitely one of the best value for money in its category. It is £1,000 cheaper than the VOLT Infinity 1, but to be honest the technology of the latter (mostly given by advanced Shimano components) is still some way in front of the Roller.
At the same time – as was the case for the VOLT – buying a smaller brand product (with high quality though), means that you could meet the producer personally, and always get assistance from professional and passionate people who care a lot about their products.
For more information, see the Juicy website.
The Juicy Roller is a really powerful and very sensitive electric bike. The rear hub motor is one of the most powerful I have tried and the system very precise. However, the battery indication on the bar screen is not really precise and tends to change significantly when you ride with a high level of assistance or up hill. This can happen to any e-bike, but it happened way too much on the Juicy compared to other similar models.