Currie Izip Ultra Review

October 9, 2012

Of all the Currie Izip bikes I haved tested–the  Metro (read review), the Express (read review), the Zuma, and the Ultra–the Ultra was my favorite.  In this review I will first break down the points I liked, and save what I didn’t like for last.



One thing you get when you buy a Currie product is a brand that is known for reliability. Currie really seems to have it figured out in terms of the battery, motor, and controller combination. The battery pack uses quality Samsung cells and  is warranted for one year. All the other components are warranted for two years.  They seem to have really good quality control all across the board.

Customer Support

The leadership of Currie I have met seem determined to provide good customer support after the sale. This is a rarity in the electric bike business.  Ebike manufacturers come and go, and usually care only about getting those first dollars from you for the initial purchase. Currie has been around for 15 years, and is currently the biggest manufacturer of electric bikes in the USA. They have done something right to earn that spot.

A friend of mine is an electric bike repair technician, and we decided to put Currie to the test. We ordered some parts for a Currie Izip in his rental fleet, to see how they would respond. Currie hit a home run, with an immediate and professional response from their repair department. The company tracks every Currie Izip owner in their database, listed by the bike’s serial number, and had all parts inventoried and in stock.  Stromer and A2B, on the other hand, failed this test miserably, barely responding to our emails requesting parts.

When you buy electric bike, you will inevitably need parts and support.  Currie seems to be one of the better choices if you are looking for longevity and reliable customer support. Before you buy into an electric bike company you should really ask yourself if this company will be around in five years time. Currie seems like a good bet, especially since last year they were bought out by a major Dutch ebike company, Accel Group.  (read story here)

Ride Quality

This bike rides smooth. It has decent power and decent range. Like all Currie products, it will not go faster than 20-MPH when unassisted (as per the law) but it has decent torque and hill climbing ability, which makes it feel pretty zippy.

Balanced weight

The Currie Ultra is built upon what I call a “purpose built” frame (read our story). The battery is built into the down-tube, a feature I really like. The easiest way to build an ebike is to build it with the motor in the rear hub and the battery set into some kind of rear rack. To me this not only looks ugly, it also makes the bike back-heavy.

The Ultra has a very balanced look and feel, because the battery is built into the downtube.  However, one drawback of the Ultra battery is that it is not removable like the Stromer (read review).  The Stromer also has the battery mounted in the same place, but it’s removable.  A removable battery would allow you to double your range by toting a second battery. 360 watt hours (36 volts x 10-Ah) is really not a lot of juice for longer trips. You can realistically only expect a 18 mile range with this pack.


One Color Choice


I loved the color of the bike I tested. But Currie got lucky with me.  Check it out above…it matches me and I blend right in with the bike.  I personally like the color of the Ultra, which is more subdued compared to the outlandish and somewhat bright Zuma and the Metro. However it is unfortunate that if you want an Ultra you’re stuck with just one color. If you don’t like it, you will have to go with another ebike.

The other color choice I saw for the Ultra was last year’s (2011) model, also subdued.  These models are still around so you can still pick one up in this color. This one had a snazzy suspension front fork (a mono-shock just below the head-tube) which I like better styling-wise than the 2012 bike.






Front Suspension and Tires

The Ultra utilizes super thin high pressure tires which normally would equate to a jarring ride. These tires are good for efficiency, but not so good for a comfortable ride. The Ultra balances this by providing front suspension forks to cushion the ride. Because these tires are so thin, this bike would not make any kind of good off-road bike, not even fire trails or single track–which a shame since it does have front suspension forks. However, as a city commuter this is a good package. Usually I prefer no suspension to a cheaper suspension fork, but I gotta say on the test bike I rode, the Ultra suspension felt surprisingly  smooth.



The Currie, like the rest of the Izip line, offers a very basic dashboard display. It features a battery fuel guage, and 5 levels of power assist. You can choose either power-assist mode (throttle) or pedal-assist. The throttle can override the pedal-assist at any time.


Torque Sensor


When you are in pedal-assist mode, an ebike needs to somehow figure out how hard you are pedaling.

The other Currie bikes I tested use a cadence sensor, a simple RPM sensor on the crank that applies power based on how fast you are pedaling. But the Ultra uses a torque sensor, which actually measures the tension you are putting on the chain while you pedal, and power is applied  accordingly. This is a much smoother feeling and makes me feel more “bionic” than the cadence sensors.  When I ride with a torque sensor, and use it to apply power, I end up pedaling much more than I would  if using a pure throttle, thus getting better range and more exercise. The Currie system allows you to override pedal-assist by applying  the throttle anytime; convenient, but also makes it easier to be lazy!


Decent components

The disc brakes, the shifting components, the tires, and the front suspension all seem to work well…but not buttery smooth (like expensive bike tech would be). The Currie Ultra consists of mid-range components. I do like the kickstand, which seems designed well and does its job perfectly.


Adjustable-angle handlebar stem


Those who read my Izip Metro review know that I was not a fan of the Metro handlebars. The Ultra has a leaned-forward handlebar with adjustable stem which I find to be much better than the Metro. I also like the seat better than the extra beefy seat on the Metro.



Competition Comparison

The product that compares best to the Izip Ultra is the new Pedego City Commuter (read our review). For about the same retail price, you get a bike with fenders and chain guard, better dashboard, a swappable and larger 48v / 10-Ah  battery, fenders, better disc brakes, more color choices and a simpler shifting system. What the Ultra offers over the City Commuter is  purpose-built frame with better battery pack integration, better balance. and front suspension.

The Pedego City Commuter seems poised to give Currie a serious run for the same money.  The other bike to consider if you’re considering an Ultra is the Stromer (read review). Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of these bikes, and it comes down to what style and features appeal to you. We hope to do a shoot-out with these three bikes in the near future.



Things  I Don’t Like

Because this is a review, not an advertisement, (we receive no money or incentives from any ebike company to write reviews), I can also say what I don’t like about the Izip Ultra and not risk losing a meal ticket.

At its price point ($2700) I would like a larger battery.  As said before, 360 watt hours is not a lot. Also I wouldn’t mind the power and speed of a 48 volt system.

Also, I don’t see the need to have 27 gears in an electric bike. Currie president Larry Pizzi and I have argued this point several times. To me, 27 speeds with front and rear derailleurs adds unnecessary clutter to the bike, making it more complicated to operate.  In my experience, with over 10,000 miles pedaled on ebikes, eight speeds is plenty. The only time I ever wished I had more gears on an electric bike is while riding in hilly San Francisco with a dead battery.  Also, the front derailleur adds cost to the Ultra.  So it’s part of what you are paying for when you buy this bike, and you have no option to opt out and go with less gears for less money.

The biggest problem I have with the Ultra is its lack of attention to detail when it comes to coloring and other aesthetics.  Although I think it does a little better than the Metro in the seat and handlebar department, it is still missing something.


Key Features:

Retail price: $2700

Weight: 50lbs

watt hours of battery (read explanation): 360

Battery Range: 18 miles (real range estimated)

Battery estimated life cycle: 500 cycles (claimed)

Battery Chemistry: Lithium NCM (Nickel Cobalt Manganese) Samsung 18650 cells

Motor:  Rear geared hub motor 500 watts

Brakes: Disk brakes avid bb5

Tires: Vittoria Randonneur 700 x 35c

Front Suspension: SR Suspension Fork

Warranty: One year on battery, two years on other components, lifetime on frame

Charge time: 4-6 hours


Written by Eric, October 2012



Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.

  • http://www.currietech.com Larry Pizzi

    The IZIP uses a TMM4 torque sensor which really complements the 27 speed drivetrain and the throttle overrides the pedal assist mode (which is the nicest way to ride this bike). If you ride in the middle power level (there are 5 levels of pedal assist) and use the bikes full range of gearing with the rapid fire type shifters like you would on a normal bike, you will get well in excess of the 18 miles Eric states here. I have personally ridden the Ultra over 40 miles on a single charge in this mode.

    • ElectricBIke

      Thanks for the comment Larry. Of course all ebikes have longer range the more the rider inputs. But as an average I like to use 20 watts per mile, and therefore calculate 18 miles on what the average rider will get with a 360 watt hour pack. Some people will get more some people will get less depending on a myriad of factors including rider weight, rider input, terrain, weather, etc.

      • http://www.currietech.com Larry Pizzi

        Eric – Thanks for the follow-up. I think your calculation generally makes sense if the bike is ridden in throttle mode (twist-and-go / power-on-demand) with minimal pedal input and the Ultra certainly can be ridden in this mode. My point was that a pedal assist bike that uses a torque sensor (as opposed to speed sensor for PAS mode), generally gets much better range. All the other factors you mention above impact any modality. This is a very significant feature difference, especially when comparing it to the Pedego City bike. Also its important to mention that the 2013 Ultra uses an LCD display for added functionality. The bike reviewed is a 2012 model with the LED panel.

  • greengearhead

    The black and blue color scheme is similar to the Polaris ebike. Both bikes seem over priced due to the paint job. I imagine the Pedgo will out sell the Currie based on style points. People buy based on looks, perceived value. Take the new bike brand Public, trend setting color scheme on an average commuter bike and it is a great success.

  • Matt

    Listen up e-bike manufactures. I’m not the only talking about how unnecessary 18 & 21 speeds are. At the very least loose the front derailleur & save your customers the extra cost, complexity & maintenance. If you really believe there is enough people that want that many gears then make it an option.

    I have been riding e-bikes for about five years & regular bikes for most of my life. My current ride is an older 18 speed Mongoose with a 36v 500w Go-Hub e-bike kit. It’s been so long since I’ve taken my bike out of high range that I’m sure it’s stuck in high range.

    Thanks for your insightful look at electric bikes & a great web site.

    Matt at EZgo-Now.com

    • ElectricBIke

      Thanks Matt.

      Obviously I agree. 26 speeds on a commuting road bike is excessive….on an electric bike it makes 0 sense to me.

      • http://www.currietech.com Larry Pizzi

        Matt, Eric – If the ebike has only a throttle or cadence sensor, you are right. But with a torque sensor (which IMHO makes for the best of the best function built ebikes) having a wide range of gearing is really beneficial if you have mountain type terrain, like we do in So Cal., and a few other places in the US. With that said, your opinions are always welcome. Especially you two experts.

  • Stephen

    Very Nice… hope this product reach Africa markets

  • B. Sloan

    I have a Pedego city commuter and it doesn’t feel tail heavy at all.
    In fact it feels very balanced. It can be programmed to do 25mph.