By Stan Purdum
- Smooth and quiet mid-drive 250-watt Bosch motor
- Rolls well even without assist turned on
- Two-trigger gear shifter
- Bottle cage bolts interfere with setting seat at lower levels.
How obtained: On loan from IZIP
RBR Advertiser: No
If you were to suddenly find yourself riding an IZIP Vida E3, you might not immediately realize it’s an ebike. It feels like a cruiser bike, with you seated in an upright position, and even with no assist level turned on, it rolls along easily on level ground. With the removable battery tidily positioned in the downtube, you can be excused for not noticing it’s there right away. And when you do start using the assist levels, the transition is so smooth, you might still be in disbelief — until, that is, you notice the display unit reporting your current speed at a higher number than you can normally pedal without help.
All of this makes the Vida (which means “life” in Spanish) a good steed for someone who’s a bit intimidated by the whole idea of ebikes. The Vida is a worthy and capable machine, and it won’t leave you lagging behind other riders, but it goes quietly about its business of moving you down the road without calling attention to its motor and electronics. There are no herky-jerky movements and no unexpected bursts of speed.
The motor is a mid-drive unit, which I prefer over a hub motor. It’s made by German automotive parts manufacturer Bosch, and is their Active Line Plus, which is the second step up in Bosch’s line up of ebike motors. The Active Line Plus is intended for urban riding rather than high performance biking, though it can handle steep inclines when needed.
The Vida E3 is a Class 1 ebike, which means it offers pedal assist up to 20 mph and has no throttle; the rider must pedal to propel the bike. There are four assist levels, dubbed (from least to most) eco, tour, sport and turbo.
Power riders who like to increase their speed by simply pedaling faster, however, may find themselves out pedaling the motor at first, due to the 105-rpm maximum cadence limitation. Thus, if you spin the pedals faster than 105, the motor does not add to your effort. (For comparison, Bosch Performance Line motors don’t cut out until you hit 120 rpms). What this means in actual riding is that you need to make use of the gears. The bike comes with a Shimano HG400, 12-36 Tooth, 9-speed cassette, so if you are pedaling in, for example, tour-level assist, and you suddenly feel like the motor is not assisting you, you could move up to the sport-level assist, but it may be more efficient to shift to a higher gear, which will slow your cadence and re-engage the help of the motor.
Since my own ebike has a performance-level motor and I am used to its support of higher rpms, it took me a couple of minutes to figure this out when test riding the Vida. But once I did, and started employing the gears more, the bike continued to support my efforts quite nicely as my desire for more speed and the steepness of the ground beneath me increased.
Shifting gears is a smooth and easy process on the Vida. The drive train includes a Shimano Alivio SGS 9-speed rear derailleur that is operated by a Tektro Xuriga shifter, with two triggers, an arrangement I especially like. One trigger shifts up and one shifts down — and both are positioned comfortably on the bottom side of the handlebar within easy reach of your right thumb and index finger.
IZIP says the range of the Vida with the Bosch Powertube 400-watt-hour battery is 20-53 miles, depending on the assist level you use.
The control unit — a Bosch Purion Performance Line display — is on the other end of the handlebar within easy reach of your left hand. In addition to changing assist levels, it shows how much battery charge remains and the speed you are traveling. It can also display your trip distance, odometer and remaining range. And it gives you a walk function — an assist when walking the bike. This video below explains the Purion operation quite well (the video mentions a light indicator, but since the Vida does not come with lights, that function isn’t needed for this bike, but it’s there if you add them).
The Bosch motor is well paired with the Vida bike, which continues the simplicity theme. It’s a straightforward lightweight aluminum step-through frame and fork on durable Schwalbe 27.5 x 2.4 puncture-resistant tires mounted on 36-spoke wheels with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. There’s a sturdy adjustable kickstand, but there are no lights, racks or fenders to fool with — though any of these can be added after purchase if you wish. Here’s a build video from a third party that shows what’s involved in assembling the bike.
The only negative I found about the bike was that the two bolts on the seat tube for attaching a water bottle cage prevent the seat post from being lowered sufficiently for shorter riders. The bike comes in small (5’3″ – 5’5″), medium (5’6″ – 5’9″) and large (5’10” – 6’1″) sizes. I am 5’7″ and was testing the medium-size bike, and I found the seat was too high for me when the post was stopped by the upper bolt. I removed that bolt and the seat post easily slid down to where I needed it to be. For even shorter riders, the lower bolt could also be removed.
This makes two problems, however. One is that you need to find a different location for your water bottle, and the other is that with one or both bolts removed, there are then holes in the seat tube where splashed water from the road can get inside the bike frame. If you have to remove the bolts, you should cover the holes in some way. (The problem could also be avoided by substituting a shorter seat post.) I noticed that the Vida in the build video has no holes or bottle cage bolts, so the bike I was testing may be a later edition.
But overall, I like the simplicity and the smooth operation of the Vida E3 from IZIP. The company lists the Vida E3 as a commuter, though I’d prefer to have a rack, fenders and lights to use it primarily in that capacity, but as it is, it will serve well for recreational riding.
The bike can be ordered direct from IZIP and is also available through bike shops.
Stan Purdum has ridden several long-distance bike trips, including an across-America ride recounted in his book Roll Around Heaven All Day, and a trek on U.S. 62, from Niagara Falls, New York, to El Paso, Texas, the subject of his book Playing in Traffic. Stan, a freelance writer and editor, lives in Ohio. See more at www.StanPurdum.com.