• Image Credit: A2B
  • Image Credit: A2B
  • Image Credit: A2B
  • Image Credit: A2B
  • Image Credit: A2B
  • Image Credit: A2B
Electric-assist bicycles continue to enter the marketplace along with electric and extended-range electric vehicles. And while they can bring tears to a cyclist's wallet without any federal or state credits to lighten the financial wallop, riding them can be addictive.

We recently rode the BMW e-bike, and now we've gotten in the saddle of the A2B Alva+, which gives a rider about an hour of electric riding before requiring a re-charge. How fast can it go? We got up to about 30 miles per hour on the straights. That's decent, but at $3,399, you have to ask what the benefit of this bike is. After all, when the battery is depleted, or you put it ion "zero-mode" with no electric assist, all you have is a 66-pound bike.

What's it like to ride? Imagine - if you haven't ridden an e-bike - that you spend enough energy with your legs to go about 13-15mph, but the electric motor, powering the rear wheel, is moving you about 24 mph. Or imagine you are on a straightaway, peddling about 14 mph. You approach a 20-degree grade. I found that I could tackle the hill using the same amount of energy I was dialing into the pedals as I did on the straightaway.

The amount of electric power helping the bike is regulated by a handle-bar mounted controller that allows a rider to select four modes: 0, 1, 2 and 3. Mode 3 gives you the biggest boost. Besides pedal assist, a rider can also twist the handle throttle and go on battery power alone up to about 13 mph in mode 1 (or 17 mph and 20 mph in modes 2 and 3). This, however, is a terrible use of the battery. The speed and battery life, again, depends on rider weight and terrain. At about 280 pounds, I was using up more of the juice than my more wiry colleague, Chris McGraw, who also reviewed the bike for Translogic.

A2B Alva Plus E-Bike

The Alva+ we tested cut a mean figure in black matte paint over an aluminum frame and brown seat. The bike is powered by a 500-watt hub motor and comes with a 36-volt lithium-ion battery and Shimano XT 8G derailleur. Stopping power comes from Tektro Aurigia E-Comp hydraulic disc brakes. Re-charging time is about four hours off household current.

Who is it for? Commuters.

Who is it for? Commuters. E-assist bikes like the ones A2B is making are, it seems to me, best for people who are using their bikes for serious transportation - people for whom a bike is a legitimate alternative to a car. I considered taking it on a 50-60 mile ride, but I wasn't keen on pushing 66 pounds on top of my own weight down the road once the battery was exhausted.

Where the bike excelled was in a series of 18-mile rides around Ann Arbor: home to town, errands, and back to my house. Living within 20-30 miles of one's job would make an e-bike like this a pretty slick choice when the weather and time allows riding, especially in bike-friendly cities like Minneapolis, Portland, Austin or Boston. It's one thing to be a serious biker and want the attendant exercise, calorie burn and quad tightening that comes with relying entirely on one's own muscles and heart to complete a trip. But it is another to get where you are going without necessarily arriving drenched with sweat or late because of an unexpected hill.

If a non-car machine is what you want, bikes like the Alva+ have to compete against, for example, a Vespa S50 4V, which costs $3,299, a little less than the Alva+. So, who opts for an e-assist bike? For one, convicted drunk drivers who get their licenses revoked. But there are also folks who don't want any part of gasoline and will opt for the bike for environmental reasons, as well as to get some exercise. Also, there are no insurance or registration fees required for an e-bike. The bike itself is expensive, yes, but for the right buyer and rider, the Alva+ is a delight to ride and be seen in. When we parked our test bike in downtown Ann Arbor, we certainly got plenty of stop-and-stares.


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  • 22 Comments
      EZEE2
      • 8 Months Ago
      They don't have editors here....
      Ryan
      • 8 Months Ago
      If there were hills where I live, or if I needed to commute 6-20 miles to work, I would be all over getting one of these e-bikes. Even to help reduce knee pain later in the long cycling season, it might not be such a bad deal. I'm not opposed to paying $3,000 for a bike if the cheaper ones are trash, but I would like something a little bit less expensive. Futuristic looks are nice, but I don't want it to be obvious that it is an e-bike either (in case I go through jurisdictions where e-bikes are illegal).
        William Flesher
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        My 64 yo house mate has an older a2b. He has used it as his sole transportation, and has almost 4000 miles on it thus far with zero problems. In his case, it seems to have been sturdy and very reliable. That said, the bike is a PIG. It is astonishingly massive, heavy, and un-bike-like. I consider it more of an electric moped than an electric bicycle. Riding it without the electric motor would be a Sisyphean experience.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 8 Months Ago
          @William Flesher
          You should see what the motor looked like from mine which encountered one steep hill in colorado and went kaputz.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        There are better ones out there which are not trash. I'd recommend looking into ez-motion aka e-motion..
        2 wheeled menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        It's very economical to convert the bike you already love to electric though. Easily under a thousand dollars. My first build with a 250 watt motor and a 20 mile battery cost me about $700. ..be warned though, it can be a slippery slope. I have a 10,000 watt bike now with 3 inch tires.. lol.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'm just curious as to why they decided to hang the battery way out back, when incorporating it inside the frame "V" would be better for handling. Still *way* too expensive, but I'm glad the number of suppliers for E-bikes is growing.
        RC
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        If I'm not mistaking the A2B has an in-frame non-removable battery and the external battery is there to add range.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Worst place to put a battery, ever.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 8 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          When a battery is 10-20lbs and you are going fast speeds, yes. It is quite possibly the worst place to put it. The most weight neutral place is in the center of the frame. It will not negatively affect handling there. It's easy to put the battery in the frame too. On my bikes, i just use a padded bag that fits the center triangle perfectly. As a bonus, if i crash, the battery does not get hit. The pedals/handlebars/rear axle take the blow before the lithium battery is punctured or dinged.
          Ryan
          • 8 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Is it really that bad? I carry heavy stuff on a bike rack very similar to that one all the time. It is easy to put the battery there.
        Ryan
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Yes, it does look like it could have been molded into the seat post area and worked out fine. Although, maybe the size of the battery doesn't show up in the pictures.
      GoodCheer
      • 8 Months Ago
      I was surprised to see this in the windows the the news stand I pass on the way home: http://www.electricbikeaction.com/ I didn't know it was a big enough field / industry to have it's own mag. 2WM: Do you need to earn a little extra writing about electric bikes? I know you have a lot of insight.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        @GoodCheer
        There's another magazine out there called momentum; but it seems to be sort of oriented towards women and is published out of Canada. Yup, ebikes are starting to get more popular here, finally. Yeah, i wouldn't mind making a few bucks. If you want to get in contact with me, email neptronix ( at) gmail ( dott ) com
          GoodCheer
          • 8 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          2WM, sorry I didn't mean to imply that I could offer you money. I thought you might pitch your experience and perspective to the magazine as a contributor.
          EZEE2
          • 8 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Do they have pictures of women in bike pants?
      2 wheeled menace
      • 8 Months Ago
      I have experience with an a2b metro and have owned one. Don't recommend it. Proprietary motor that does not last. If it overheats, the magnet ring epoxy does not hold up. The controllers like to blow, leading to the entire motor needing replacement ( and it is very expensive ) because the motor is integrated into the controller. The a2b metro frame, despite being aluminum, was a bone crushing 17 pounds completely stripped. A lot of this has to do with their design, which forgoes proper weight-saving triangulation in the name of this bizarre look that the frames have. This frame is not going to be an exception. For contrast, my Trek mountain bike frame, which is fairly low end and in an extra large size weighs just 6 pounds. It looks like this bike has the same frame issues and motor as the a2b metro i owned for a short period of time. That being said, i don't recommend it; there are better ebikes out there. Check out the ez-motion / e-motion bikes; they have a great look, non-proprietary motor which is inexpensive to replace or upgrade, and a lower weight. Pedegos are pretty good, but they put the battery weight on the rear rack which is poor placement for a battery ( causes balance issues ); still a better choice than this, and both options cost less..
        2 wheeled menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        And no, this bike does not have a 360 volt battery pack, it's 36 volts. There are also multiple spelling errors in this post... come on, guys...
        EZEE2
        • 8 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Question..... I see all of these stories on ebikes, and the price scares me. Being an engineer, building or designing stuff doesn't scare me. If I were to buy a $500 bike (I bought a Fuji a few years ago for a gf and it is still in great shape) and retrofitted it, how much would that run me? And for apples to apples, with a similar range as this?
      Vince
      • 8 Months Ago
      I am a strong believer that this is the TRUE future of sustainable transport, when you do the numbers, EV are not really going to save the world from this huge mess we are in, Global warming, Peak oil and the great shift in world standards of living. As I write this EVs have not sold a million items, but electric bikes are already exceeding the 30 million per year. In a new world of efficiency, local low energy and small footprints, Riding 30 miles on half a KWh of power is a no brainer. Plus you need only as low as $900 to buy one. thats $25,000 less than Leafs and Volt's. in 2113 it will be bikes, not cars, that rule the world.
        danfred411
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Vince
        Don't be fooled by the size of the issue. Think about how daunting it is to supply the entire world with cars yet it happens with no problem. It just has to be a different type. A bicycle is not the answer. Trust me on that. Wind, rain, snow, hills, distance, cargo and time. It's just not a generally applicable vehicle. It can be used for some things but very far from all.
          Vince
          • 8 Months Ago
          @danfred411
          your point are valid and I do agree, but remember they say "x" amount of barrels go into the production of these cars, so in the future, why it is possible to achieve so much, it will be so damn expensive, nobody will bother. when you look at the hubbert perspective, this world will only support 1-2 billion in a natural state, I look to the past to see the future, and the past is filled with, people on horse back for days, pheasant's on foot, and kings in carriages. oil, aluminium, lithium, coal, LNG, uranium, plutonium will all be at breaking point in 75 years. Question? do you believe the Japanese will be able to import cars to the world in 75 years, Most tankers use tonnes of fuel per trip. boats will have to go back to wind and solar and may take months to transit. Please don't take this as a fight, its just a look at 100 years down the track.
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