Our 2017 Long Beach Cruiser XL 500 electric fat bike is now in stock! We decided to give the ebike to a few people to test out for a few weeks and get their honest opinion on the overall performance, utility, and versatility of this bicycle.
Our volunteer for this review was a 43-year-old male that stands at 6'2" in height and weighs in at around 250lbs. The bicycle was sent down to Atlanta where Brian resides and works as an insurance broker. Brian had the bicycle for a total of 3 weeks, which gave him plenty of time to take the bicycle out on the weekends, and during the evening on weekdays. For the sake of this review, we sent the bicycle unassembled and gave little to no instructions about the electric bike.
Shortly after receiving the bike back at our New York warehouse we conducted an email interview with brian about his Big Cat Electric Bike experience and get his overall thoughts on paper.
Q: Describe the delivery experience and/or the packaging of the bicycle. Was it easy to haul around, or did you experience any difficulties?
A: The ebike was dropped off by FedEx sometime around noon. My wife tried to move the box but did not want to damage anything so she did not attempt to move it very far. Personally, for me, it wasn't much of an issue. It was a bit heavier than I expected but its understandable.
Q: How was the assembly process?
A: The instruction manual was sent to me via email by your service department. I honestly had no clue what I was getting myself into since I didn't receive any sort of information prior to delivery. I thought it would be more challenging but the bicycle comes about 85% assembled so all I really had to do was mount the front tire, handle bar, Basket, and get some air in the tires.
Although I read in the manual that it is highly suggested that the electric bike is assembled by a professional so I called a buddy of mine who is an avid mountain biker to come and take a quick look at it before I take it out for a ride. He adjusted the brakes for me.
Function:Q: Did you find it easy to navigate and operate the Bafang C961 Display/Controller? Did it enhance your ebike riding experience?
A: It was a bit weird at first but the instruction manual cleared that up for me. I was able to set the highest speed and select the highest level of pedal assist which was a great way to get top speed. Its a ton of fun. However, I realized it drains the battery pretty quick if all I'm doing is using the throttle.
The read out is pretty clear and gives a good amount of information, and I love that it has the backlit display so it is easy to see at night. I would say in total it took me about 30min to 1 hour to really get the hang out all the functions and how to browse through them.
Q: How well did the Long Beach Cruiser XL 500 perform? Did you take it out on different terrains or only on the street?
A: The first week I only rode it around my neighborhood, and a little bit in my back yard. I have a small yard but it was only to test out on the grass. It handled pretty well on the grass and I was moving around with little to no effort at all on the grass, and at higher speeds than I normally would on a traditional bike.
On the street it rides really well, I was able to get up to 23Mph with pedaling and engaging the throttle. It feels so much faster haha. It's a big rush. The only thing I wasn't too crazy about were the tires. I would love to ride it on the street with a smoother tread tire but it's understandable that this is an all terrain bike.
It has plenty of torque that got me up some small hills with no effort, on the larger hills I had to pedal but I was able to make it up the hills regardless. On a regular bike, I would have had to gotten off the bike to climb the hill.
During the second week, we took the bike out to some fields that have a lot of hills and dirt trails. It performs really well offroad, and the clay sometimes it slows you down but its still manageable. I would highly recommend getting fenders because we got really dirty.
I was happy with the performance and impressed with it, a suspension upgrade might be the cherry on top, and the fenders too.
Q: Were you able to test out the range on a full battery?
A: Yes! I made sure that I charged the battery and took it out for a ride to see how far I can go before I needed to recharge or swap it out for the extra one I had. I was able to get 13 miles riding on all throttle. On the second battery, i switched down to a lower speed limit, level 2 pedal assist and I shut off power to the throttle. I was able to get roughly 22 miles. This was on the Silver comet trail in Smyrna which runs over 60 miles to Alabama.
We loved the ride so much that the next day my wife tested the bike out on a full charge and she was able to get 26 miles on a single charge, level 2 pedal assist and no throttle, with a bit of hills. She is much smaller than I am with an 110lb weight difference. I assume that was the main reason she got a better range than I did haha.
Q: Did you find any use of the Basket and Pannier rack?
A: The pannier rack no, only because I did not have a pannier bag. But I saw a few bags online that would have made it so much better for me to haul things around. The basket I did use a lot, to haul all sorts of things. The pannier bags are on my list of things to buy in the future when I purchase my own Big Cat Bike.
Versatility:Q: Did you find the Long Beach Cruiser XL 500 to be versatile?
A: well, being that it's an all terrain vehicle it did perform really well in almost any terrain that I tested it on. I really can't complain about the performance of it and where I was able to ride it. I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is that it is not a traditional bike. Although you can still operate it like one, there is more that needs to be considered when you're with the LBC XL 500.
For example, it is larger than a traditional bike, the frame is larger, the wheels are bigger, and it is a bit heavier too. I had a bit of a tough time getting the bike indoors because the handle bars are a bit larger than normal bikes. Transporting the bicycle requires special ebike racks. Because its heavier I did not want to risk carrying it on my regular bike rack and have it fall off driving on 285.
I have a 2015 Honda CRV, with the seats down it has about 70 cubic inches of cargo. I was able to squeeze the bike back there and haul it around that way.
The bike can be ridden like a traditional bike when the battery dies, which is cool because if you don't have a charger with you or you're away from home you can still make it to your destination.