The most important point to make about the Curry Ezip Trailz electric bike is that it costs under $500 delivered. It’s amazing to get a safe electric bike that even rolls at this price, and the Ezip is a descent bike for the mony. The Ezip sells at many mass outlets such as Target, Walmart, Amazon, Pepboys, etc, and is reliable enough not to swamp these retailers with returns like most E-bikes would. The biggest seller of this bike appears to be Amazon and it can sometimes be found as low as $350 (see our story)

Currie has been selling electric bikes in the US for over 15 years, making them the only company I know of to survive a very difficult US market (read our electric bike graveyard story) . To last this long you know Currie must be doing something right.

The Ezip comes packed in a bicycle box with all the tools and directions you need to finish the build. The only equipment that needs to be installed are the handlebars, seat, and front tire before you are ready to ride.  In all, it took about 20 minutes for me to unpack it, assemble it, and inflate the tires.

The EZip weighs 80lbs in the box, 72 lbs once out and set up.

Battery

The battery is the most expensive part of an E-bike to manufacture if using a a lithium technology. The trick to offering a sub-$500 bike is to not use a lithium battery. The Ezip Trailz comes with a 24V / 10-Ah sealed lead acid (SLA) chemistry. This is an ancient and heavy technology. The one small pack weighs in at a hefty 15 pounds. In comparison, my 48V / 10-Ah lithium (LiFePO4) pack, a pack with twice the energy capacity of the EZip’s battery, weighs in at 7 pounds. The battery is part of the reason why this low range bike weighs in at a hefty 70 pounds. Luckily, the battery can be easily removed to reduce the weight of the E-bike when needed.

Currie advertises you can get 10-15 miles out of this pack with mild pedaling. If you run a cheap SLA pack like this below 40% capacity you’re going to drastically reduce the overall life of your battery.  Lead acid batteries do not have a cut-off, so even if you could squeeze 15 miles out of this pack you would be doing damage to your battery pack. If your commute is over 10 miles you should consider buying a 2nd currie lead acid battery pack ($130)…or upgrade to the Currie lithium  battery option, which is much lighter but costs $350.

A tip to buyers of this bike: be sure to read your owner’s manual on how to care for your lead acid battery or it will not last long. For example, charge your bike right after using it and when you store the E-bike make sure you do so with the battery totally charged.

A positive characteristic of the lead-acid chemistry is it will not burst into flames if abused like some lithium chemistries will (LiPo requires the most caution). So you can rest soundly at night knowing that your $500 Currie bike will not burn down your house while you sleep.

Separately, I like the Currie battery mounting system, where they thoughtfully put the battery as low as they could on the rear rack. This is a good cheap solution to keep all that weight down low. A lot of more expensive E-bikes just strap the battery to the top of the rack. The ideal battery mounting system is with the battery built low into the frame, but this is currently only available in e-bikes costing thousands of dollars. Also this mounting rack allows you to easily add a second pack to your Ezip.

The downside to to this battery pack is its pretty ugly. But if you care concerned with how your electric bike looks you should be buying a different bike anyway (and spending a lot more money).

 

Motor

The Currie “Electro-Drive” system has been used on Currie bikes for the last decade and is a reliable and proven system that’s made in India. It is not a hub motor, which is surprising for a bike at this low  price point, but a chain-drive motor which uses a brushless motor that is geared so that it drives the rear wheel on the left hand side, on the opposite side of the pedal gear cluster. I prefer this motor over most cheap hub motors, and it may help you stand out in your e-bike community since 90% of E-bikes these days are hub motor powered. The Electro Drive system is a surprisingly effective solution: it is lightweight, efficient, with decent power, and hot roddable in case you later want to upgrade to be a little faster.

The only negative to the affordable system is that it’s  noisy, but when riding the Ezip Trailz I was suprised at how quiet this motor was in the field.  However as these systems age they become noisier. The bikes I tested were brand new. The Currie drive systems of 5 years ago were a bit noisier, so I think they have made some improvements.

One nice option with this motor is that it is possible to hot rod it to 36V and squeeze a lot more power out of it, yet it will still be reliable if you ride it with some common sense. This motor could put out an extra 10-MPH if over-volted to 36V.  Which means that you can easily upgrade this $500 entry-level bike at a future date should you decide you’d like more power and speed. To do this hot rod conversion you will need to upgrade both the battery and the controller to a 36-volt version. Go to Endless-sphere.com for help on this project if you decide to  do it.

 

The Controller

The controller is the box that feeds the power from the battery to the motor. In this case, the 24-volt controller is located under the rear rack in a waterproof case. The on/off switch is located in the back of the controller.

 

The Controls

The Currie comes with a twist grip throttle with a basic battery meter which tells you “full, half-full, or empty”. The twist throttle is the most comfortable of all the E-bike throttles, and this one works decently. For the gears, the currie has a click shifter on the left throttle which is very nice. It is easy to shift and see which gear you are in by the gear indicator. Amazingly, this $500 bike also includes a pedal-assist (pedelec) option. Push this button on the throttle, and the bike will automatically apply power as you pedal, making you feel bionic. This is a feature usually offered on much higher-end E-bike systems like the Bionx.

 

throttle and battery meter

The Bicycle

There’s no denying, though, that the Ezip to many is visually an ugly E-bike. But for $500, what do you expect? For as long as Currie has been around, they’ve made some dorky looking products. That has seemed to change this year with the addition of the upgraded Izip models, which are actually stylish looking but at a much higher price point ($2500). Currie recently changed hands to a high end European E-bike manufacturer, so expect some big changes. Read the article about the Currie buy-out here: What is significant about this is that it very well may be that Currie eliminates cheap and dorky looking E-bikes like the Ezip from its product line in the near future.

The $500 Ezip is of course based around a very cheap Chinese frame. The frame is made from steel which is actually ideal for an E-bike because of its strength. As a side note, many DIY E-bike enthusiasts look for cheap Chinese frames made of steel to hot rod because they can weld to them, impossible to do with the heat-treated aluminum used on more expensive frames.

The front suspension on the Currie Trailz is so cheap, its like having no front suspension at all. This is cheesy Chinese suspension at its best….but what did you expect on a $500 ebike?

The Currie Ezip comes with cheap handle bars that are adequate but narrow and dorky looking, so you may want to swap them out if you have an old donor bike around.  The Currie’s gear shifters are cheap but seem to work fine. Most electric bike riders find they only use high gear anyway unless the battery dies.

The Ezip uses caliper brakes as would be expected. They do seem to work adequate.

 

 

Ride Report

I was actually surprised at the speed and power this bike had given its price, and the fact that it was only a 24V system. I was able to hit 17-MPH without pedaling; with pedaling I could get it over 20-MPH. Although this doesn’t sound very fast, I could pass most road bikers on this bike while pedaling through Golden Gate Park. To give you a comparison, I recently test rode a $6,000 Picycle, and with factory limits the Picycle could barely get to 18-MPH (with pedaling added, I could break 21-MPH), so only a wee bit faster than the Ezip and $5500 more expensive! I found the Currie Ezip plenty fast, and a decent hill climber to boot.

Here is a video of me climbing a hill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it required me to pedal to get up it, but most E-bikes would have also required that:

 

 

Here is a 120-pound rider attempting the same hill without pedaling….lets see how far she gets:

 

 

She shouldn’t feel ashamed….here is me a 200-pound rider attempting the same hill on a $5000 titanium, 1700-watt Crystalyte-powered sand bike…I didn’t get any further up the hill without pedaling:

 

 

Conclusions:

I was surprised at the decent hill-climbing performance of this E-bike considering its affordable price. I guarantee you will not find a better E-bike in the current market at a cheaper price. The Ezips I rode were brand new, so their batteries were fresh. Lead acid does greatly deteriorate with use, so maybe after a few months these bikes would not have tested so well, but…that’s about the time you’d have saved up a few bucks to upgrade to a Lithium battery. Although heavy, the E-bike handled decently while riding on pavement. This is a practical commuting E-bike which is also a lot of fun to ride for pure pleasure.

Knowing the Currie drive system and the components, I feel this is a reliable and rugged set up. Expect that within a year you will need to replace the cheap SLA batteries, but if you do some research, you will be able to do this cheaply (not through Currie). Also, it is possible to upgrade the batteries to lithium technology, greatly improving the reliability, range, and weight of this ebike.

If you are on a tight budget, I would recommend this E-bike, and also recommend upgrading to a lithium battery in the future after the lead acid battery fails you.

 

Currie Lifepo4 upgrade

 

Currie makes a 24V / 9.6-Ah LiFePO4 battery as an instant upgrade to this bike. This battery will get you a couple of extra miles of range over the stock SLA pack, give you a more consistent power output, last for more charges (800 charges), and at 7 pounds it weighs less than half of the stock SLA battery. This extra performance and convenience comes at a cost of $500. That’s right, the same price as the whole E-bike itself. Welcome to the expensive but wonderful world of lithium batteries.

What happens to many E-biker’s is they start out buying something cheap, get the E-bike grin, and then spend more money than they ever thought imaginable on slick upgrades such as lithium. Any 24V lithium battery should work with this bike, so you can look for cheaper sources on ebay etc. However you should thoroughly read our article (and read everything else you can find) on lithium batteries, and lithium safety, so you understand the fire risks before buying an experimental pack from an unknown seller on ebay.