Just in: Koga E-Nova RT

Top end Dutch e-bike with the latest generation of Bosch bottom bracket motor

by Dave Atkinson   February 3, 2014  

Something a bit different then. Koga’s E-Nova RT sits near the top of the Dutch brand’s extensive electrically-assisted range and features the latest generation of Bosch bottom bracket motors coupled with an 8-speed Nexus hub gear, bolted to a 6061 Aluminium frame and decked uout in full city kit.

Pedelec bikes like the E-Nova are big news on the continent. In the Netherlands e-bike sales make up between 15% and 20% of all bikes sold, with the average spend per bike somewhere around £1,500. It’s a fairly mature market now, and what started out as a tool for the less physically capable (over 55s were the early adopters) has spread; with the Netherlands’ commitment to build a network of direct, high-speed commuting routes for bikes into key cities an electric bike makes more and more sense even for longer commutes.

Back here of course, it’s a bit of a different story (ain’t it ever the case, comparing the UK with the Netherlands…). The average spend per bike is a lot lower, and you don’t get far into a conversation about electric bikes before the notion of cheating rears its head. Ask pretty much anyone from the continent whether they think it’s cheating and you’ll inevitably get a similar reply: cheating at what? Cheating at going to work? Cheating at going to the shops?

It’s our national obsession with all forms of cycling as sport at the root of this. We don’t have the same culture of bikes simply as transport; ask Copenhageners why they cycle and the first thing they’ll point to is that it’s faster (55%) and more convenient (33%). They like the fact that it’s healthy too (32%) but it’s not a fitness thing. Ask them specifically what they like about cycling and getting fit doesn’t feature in the top five: It makes me feel good; It de-stresses me; I discover the city; There’s lots of cycle tracks; I experience the seasons.

All of which is basically to say: if you think it’s cheating, you’re missing the point. Adjust your filter. More bikes is better. Don’t assume everyone has the same priorities for their cycling as you.

Back to this specific bike then. Bosch’s current generation of bottom bracket motors are generally regarded as among the best out there; it’s one that I’ve tried, briefly, at Eurobike but wanted to give a proper test. The Active Cruise motor will assist you up to 25km/h and delivers 48Nm of torque. Because it’s bottom bracket mounted it’s not capable of regenerative braking like a hub motor is, which allows you to recharge the battery a bit, and extend the range. but sensing pedal torque and applying power is all done in the same place, so it’s a lot neater. The Bosch system checks the pedal input 1,000 times a second, apparently. Which should be plenty.

It’s controlled by the bar-mounted Intuvia system, which gives you a wealth of information on a centrally mounted console. You get all the normal bike computer functions (speed, trip distance, time, clock) plus a range estimate based on the charge in the battery and the ride history. When we first turned it on it gleefully suggested it’d be good for 120km in Eco mode. Now we’ve shown it Bath’s topography it’s a bit more circumspect. A lot more circumspect, actually.

As well as the console there’s a remote switch which you can use to change the assist level (Off > Eco > Tour > Sport > Turbo) and also toggle between the different data screens. it falls easily to hand and is second nature to use. Boot it up to turbo for a kick off from the lights (or the steep bits), slap it in Tour for general rolling around. Simple.

The battery’s in the rear rack. You can charge it in situ, or remove it to bring it inside to juice up if you leave the bike in a shed or garage. It uses the same key as the nurse’s lock which you can secure the bike with if you’re popping into the shops. At 25kg, you’d need to be pretty determined to make off with it if it wouldn’t roll. The battery is rated at 400Wh and is good for, well, let’s see. More where it’s flatter.

The bike itself is a fairly standard aluminium diamond frame, saved for the curved plate at the bottom bracket where the motor bolts on. The position is fairly upright and that’s exacerbated by the swept bars, which reduce the reach, and the adjustable stem which looks designed to be set quite high. You could slam it, kind of, if you wanted. I suppose.

It’s built for comfort rather than speed, so you get a Koga Feathershock suspension fork (think Cannondale Headshok on a smaller scale), wide saddle, suspension seatpost, luxurious leather grips and hardy Schwalbe Energizer 37mm tyres. All that, with the high position, should make for lordly progress.

The chain and the Nexus hub gear are completely enclosed on the drive side by a full chainguard, so there’s no danger of getting oil on your keks. The Nexus isn’t Shimano’s top-end hub gear but it’s decent enough; if you really want to push the boat out then the E-Nova also comes built with NuVinci’s Harmony system, which offers continuously variable transmission and automatic gear selection.

Brakes are Magura’s excellent HS-11 hydraulic rim brakes which have more or less died out over this side of the Channel but are still well used for city and touring bikes on the continent. They’re powerful, and the linear action of the pads makes for even wear too. If that’s not enough to stop you then the Nexus hub also features a coaster brake as an extra braking option, great for scrubbing off speed on descents.

As a city bike the E-Nova comes with mudguards, a dynamo light set (The Bosch system can run the lights from the main battery but that’s not the case here), a kickstand, a pump, a sprung rack and decent quality flat pedals. Like, you know, a Dutch bike.

All that will set you back £2,529. A fair whack for a bike, but if you’re buying it so you don’t have to run a second car then that’s only about 18 months’ worth of fuel, insurance, road tax (JOKE) and depreciation. I’m going to use it as my day to day bike on my work commute, which is mostly down a very big hill (3km at 5%) in the morning and back up it come the end of the day. Plus trips around town, and to the swimming pool at the University, and so on and so forth. Basically, I’ll just be replacing my normal everyday riding with trips under power. I’ll let you know how I get on.

www.koga.com

18 user comments

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Great writeup Dave, several LOL moments in there.

Looks like a ton of fun, but that price - wow. For about the same money you can get a full-on e-cargo family bike: http://www.urbanarrow.com/en/family

Very surprised to see rim brakes - especially on a heavier bike that needs more stopping, maybe hence the Maguras. That's a maintenance and eventual rim-replacement faff/cost that a proper 'Dutch' bike just should not have. For that price I'm less than impressed. Workcycles manage to spec a 130kg stopping maintenance-free rear drum brake on the 8-speed Nexus FR8 - a bike of similar unladen weight and waaaaay higher load capacity (250kg).

I've ridden an Urban Arrow in Amsterdam, an experience not unlike pedaling a turbocharged aircraft carrier, but one that stops on a dime and feels as nimble as a normal bike. And scooter riders get out of *your* way Wink

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [366 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 11:49

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Agree, agree, agree with paragraph 4.

All homes should have an e-bike.

posted by 6654henry [55 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 11:53

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KiwiMike wrote:
Very surprised to see rim brakes - especially on a heavier bike that needs more stopping, maybe hence the Maguras.

maguras *and* a coaster brake. stopping not really a problem, except for the remembering the brakes are the wrong way round bit Wink

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7039 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 11:54

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Dave Atkinson wrote:
KiwiMike wrote:
Very surprised to see rim brakes - especially on a heavier bike that needs more stopping, maybe hence the Maguras.

maguras *and* a coaster brake. stopping not really a problem, except for the remembering the brakes are the wrong way round bit Wink

I did see that - which begs the question...why complicate it? Is the coaster brake not up to stopping the bike? I still don't get it...the Nexus IM81 should be able to haul it to a stop no problem, and won't eat your rims, wear out, need new pads etc. And even if there was a valid reason for using a rim on the rear, the front is totally able to be hub-braked.

Weird. Can you ask Koga why they did that?

...and talking e-bikes, where's the Road.cc review of http://road.cc/content/news/90042-vivax-veloce-e-bike-gets-lighter?

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [366 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 12:02

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KiwiMike wrote:
Can you ask Koga why they did that?

indeed i can.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7039 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 12:11

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"Basically, I’ll just be replacing my normal everyday riding with trips under power"

Yeah but thats cheating...

Just kidding Big Grin

posted by paulrbarnard [75 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 12:22

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KiwiMike wrote:
Great writeup Dave, several LOL moments in there.

Looks like a ton of fun, but that price - wow. For about the same money you can get a full-on e-cargo family bike: http://www.urbanarrow.com/en/family

If you can get one of them up the hill to the University in Bath on a regular basis, chapeau!

KoTM for you next year I would think...

posted by lerrup [14 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 13:21

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lerrup wrote:
KiwiMike wrote:
Great writeup Dave, several LOL moments in there.

Looks like a ton of fun, but that price - wow. For about the same money you can get a full-on e-cargo family bike: http://www.urbanarrow.com/en/family

If you can get one of them up the hill to the University in Bath on a regular basis, chapeau!

KoTM for you next year I would think...

The Urban Arrow has a 250W assist - that's a *shedload* - even for a large bike.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [366 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 14:01

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That's what you get when you don't actually follow the link...

I just saw the words "cargo bike" and saw in my mind an image of the large barges that are all over Cambridge during the school run.

Has anyone tried an urbanarrow?

posted by lerrup [14 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 14:09

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lerrup wrote:

Has anyone tried an urbanarrow?

"I've ridden an Urban Arrow in Amsterdam, an experience not unlike pedaling a turbocharged aircraft carrier, but one that stops on a dime and feels as nimble as a normal bike. And scooter riders get out of *your* way Wink"

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [366 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 14:56

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Very interesting review.

I wonder how much the regenerative braking really adds to a charge. Obviously it depends on the trip profile, but if the extra faff of another complicated system could potentially extend the charge by even 20% it might be worth it.

Agree with other comments on the strangeness of not using a drum or hub brake in place of the rim brakes.

posted by Ush [360 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 15:44

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Off-topic of this review, but on-topic for electric-assist bicycles: whatever happened to OnyaCycles? They had a neat design for a pivoting front steering coupling for a tadpole tricycle. Just seemed to disappear about 2 years ago
http://www.treehugger.com/cars/onya-cycles-electric-trike-zooms-at-20mph...

posted by Ush [360 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 15:53

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"Now we’ve shown it Bath’s topography it’s a bit more circumspect. A lot more circumspect, actually."

I was hoping you would tell us what it says now rather than just hint that it is a lot less than 120km...

I'm shortly moving house and my 3.5 miles each way flat and off road commute is going to turn into 10 miles each way on lanes with two humungous hills between home and the office. Now it's not a big problem even though I'm an old git, but everyday, rain or shine, will probably tempt me into the landrover far more often than it should. A bit of a push up the hills could be a good thing.

You also don't mention the level of assist that the motor gives. The bike looks like a bit of a lump weight wise and it would be a shame if it didn't produce enough assistance to offset it's weight on the climbs. That would simply defeat the purpose. The ideal situation would be that the assist can make it pedal like a lightweight carbon bike on the hills, I'm sure it can manage it on the flat but there isn't much of that in this area.

More data points required!

posted by paulrbarnard [75 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 16:42

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paulrbarnard wrote:
"Now we’ve shown it Bath’s topography it’s a bit more circumspect. A lot more circumspect, actually."

i will. but it's a bit early to say a) whether it's settled on a range; and b) whether that range reflects the *actual* range

this isn't a review. there will be a review. this isn't one.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7039 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 16:43

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For the record, it's currently suggesting I might like to cycle about 45km on 'tour' setting (the one I use most of the time) when I think it was 100km when I unwrapped it.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7039 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 16:44

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paulrbarnard wrote:
it would be a shame if it didn't produce enough assistance to offset it's weight on the climbs.

i can wholeheartedly guarantee that isn't the case, i can easily beat my non-powered time on the climb home (3km, 5%) without even getting out of breath Wink

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7039 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 16:46

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Dave Atkinson wrote:
paulrbarnard wrote:
it would be a shame if it didn't produce enough assistance to offset it's weight on the climbs.

i can wholeheartedly guarantee that isn't the case, i can easily beat my non-powered time on the climb home (3km, 5%) without even getting out of breath Wink

That sounds like a winner! I look forward to your longer term assessment, if it manages to keep to 40km thats probably all most people would need anyway.

I could be adding something like this to my collection... I mean my absolutely essential bikes.

posted by paulrbarnard [75 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 17:00

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Great write-up, particularly the stuff about it not being cheating.

I tried a few ebikes. The upright position is really enjoyable in traffic. They fairly clump over the bumps but they're brilliant!

posted by vbvb [166 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 17:34

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