Coboc ONE eCycle review
Probably one of the coolest and most fun-to-ride electric bikes out there
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The Coboc ONE eCycle suffered in the hills (where the rider really need to push a bit - particularly in the saddle) and when the battery is low the performance is less good, but overall this is a great bike, super fun to ride, stable in the descents and good looking for an electric bike. One of the best electric bikes out there if you like the fixie style and looks.
Light for an electric bike
Great start system
Uphill the battery suffers and you still need to push a bit to get power
When the battery is low, the power of the motor drops
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When I walked into the Just eBike shop in Notting Hill, the Coboc One eCycle was the first thing I noticed. I was surrounded by commuting bikes with racks on their back and massive batteries mounted on the down tube, while folding electric bikes completed the picture. However, the dark and slim figure of the Coboc, a mix of clean and simple lines, shadowed all the other models displayed. She's a true femme fatale.
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The Coboc One eCycle is the very first electric bike I have ever tried. The first miles on it were absolutely stunning and I fell in love with it immediately. In its simplicity, the Coboc doesn't feature anything on the frame that could suggest it's an electric bike. At first glance, you'd think it's a normal fixie, but get a bit closer and you'll see that it's way more complex than that.
Even the On/Off button is well hidden under the top tube, way in the front of it and placed under four small white LEDs on the frame. When you reach it and switch it on, the four little LEDs turn blue and that means the Coboc ONE eCycle is ready to go.
The blue lights on an all-black machine reminded me of KITT, the intelligent and talking car Michael Knight drove in the 80s TV show Knight Rider. KITT had red lights, though, while Coboc's main colour is blue. Is it the evolution of the species?
The frame of the Coboc ONE eCycle is made of aluminium (handcrafted in Heidelberg, Germany), but it features a carbon fibre fork to improve the comfort and lower the weight. The only colour available is the glass black: either you love it or you look somewhere else. All the electronic and motor components are sealed into the frame, which isn't the case with most other electric bikes.
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The Panasonic Li-on battery (a 36 V with a capacity of 345 Wh) is contained in the down tube, which looks bigger for this reason (although perhaps because it is black, doesn't look too bulky). To replace the battery, which you might after 3-4 years of use, there is a little hatch placed underneath the bottom bracket. This is held on with six screws and isn't the easiest to get it off, but considering the fact that you have to do this so seldom, it is still manageable.
The motor, on the other hand, is built into the rear hub and gives the wonderful pleasure of a big push when you start pedalling for the first time. The whole system, when it is turned on, works with a torque sensor placed in the bottom bracket.
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The overall weight of the Coboc ONE eCycle is 13.5 kg, which will sound heavy to road bikes lovers, but it is not in the context of other electric bikes. VOLT Infinity 1, which we also tested and reviewed, is a commuter electric bike and weighs 19.5 kg. It is a different category of electric bike, but it gives an idea of the relative weight of the Coboc.
The Coboc ONE eCycle is single speed, with a 52t chainring combined with a 17 rear cog. It is a truly fixie bike for hipsters and its best environment is the city. However, as it has been designed in the hilly area of Heidelberg, this bike can perform quite well in the hills as well. The charging time of the battery is just two hours (almost half of the time of other electric bikes on the market), while its claimed range is 80 km. Yet, we found out that when put under stress, such as when climbing, that range could drop quite significantly.
The Coboc ONE eCycle is finished with a pair of CNC milled aluminium pedals (that feature small metal knobs on them for better grip), Maxis Re-Fuse 28mm tyres and normal rim brakes. The 26-spoke wheels are also hand crafted in Germany.
With the handlebars you can either choose for a riser one (which it looks like a normal, flat bar but with a small folding towards the middle), or the bullhorn ones you see here, which I found totally cool and comfortable to ride on. All the cables are also routed inside the frame and the bike is available in three sizes three: small (64 cm, for riders up to 173), medium (58 cm; from 173 to 180 cm) and large (for riders above 180 cm).
The rear hub motor is a 250 Watt brushless motor. A great feature of the Coboc ONE eCycle is that thanks to its torque sensor, each time you replace the rear wheel or re-charge the battery, the system self-calibrate itself, a feature that not all electric bikes have.
A downside of what is generally a great spec is the fact that the Coboc doesn't feature quick release wheels. The company says this is for safety reasons, and certainly a lot of other electric bikes don't feature quick releases either. While riding you can of course bring with you a multitool and try to change it yourself, but if you're not up to this, the best solution would be bring it to a mechanic...
The first few miles on the Coboc ONE eCycle were absolutely revealing. It was my very first time on an electric bike and I didn't really know what to expect. It was a mixture of surprise, excitement and pleasure. From the first pedal stroke, I couldn't believe how powerful this system was: the energy that the battery transmits to the motor compared to the amount of power you put into your pedals is really amazing. The start is very fast and really pushes you forward.
After several rides, I am convinced that this bike performed at its best on a flat road and in a city environment, with the extra power coming in particularly useful when pulling away at traffic lights and junctions. Of course the system doesn't assist you at all times as the UK and EU laws establish, the motor won't assist you if you're riding faster than 25 mph.
Uphill, though, I found that the bike and the battery performed less well. The torque system transmits the power from the battery and this gives power according to your actual power. So if you're climbing and not putting enough effort through the pedals, you'll have less reward from the system. But if you're pushing harder on the pedals, then the real power of the Coboc would be similar to when you're riding on the flat.
However, the battery will suffer and the LEDs indication will go down quickly. Obviously, if you're commuting and riding uphills, you might not be able to maintain a high power for a long time (especially if you're carrying a backpack on your shoulders), but if the hills are not long and strenuous, then you can still make it.
With a price of £2,900, the Coboc ONE eCycle is not cheap and higher compared to the average price for other electric bikes on the market. But when you look at the technology included and the final performances of this bike, I think that the price is high, but still understandable and acceptable. A comparison with other electric bikes could also give a better idea on where the Coboc is placed in the market. According to the German report Greenfinder, in 2014-2015 the average price for an electric bike on the market (all kind of categories) was between €2,649 and 2,786 euros (£2,367 to £2,251 as reviewed).
The Volt Infinity 1 (opens in new tab) we tested recently costs £2,500, while the other models from Coboc are even higher: ONE Soho costs £3,199 (the silver satin version of the ONE eCycle with few different specs) and the ONE Rome £2,999 (this being their latest model, with riser bars).
If only it cost £500 less then the Coboc ONE eCycle would make this bike almost unbeatable among electric bikes.
For more details visit the Coboc website (opens in new tab).
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Nick Busca is a freelance cycling and triathlon journalist. He is also a certified triathlon coach and personal trainer.
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