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Juiced Rider ODK-II E-Cargobike Review

January 17, 2013
6,442 Views

The Juiced Rider ODK-II is a unique electric cargo bike that was introduced to the market this month. An electric cargo bike is a useful replacement for a car (read our article), that can actually save you money (read how). Cargo electric bikes have many benefits, and one main drawback is that they normally take a lot of space. The Juiced ODK  has taken a bite out of this drawback by building their cargo bike on small 20-inch wheels, allowing the ODK to fit in a surprisingly small space.

 

Tora Harris

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Juiced Rider was created by Tora Harris, a Princeton University engineering graduate who is a former world class Olympic high jumper. He is half Taiwanese, and speaks fluent Chinese in several dialects. He spent significant time visiting various factories in China  and building his vision of an  affordable and practical  electric bike. This is a  new company from a person who is very passionate about ebikes. He spent over 3 years going back and forth to China  perfecting this ebike, which he sees as a car replacement. The man behind the company is important in this case because it is a new company and you have to trust that this person is in it for the long run, and is not just out to make a quick buck.  I believe Tora is in this for the right reasons, and believe he is an upstanding man who will stand behind his product.

Ebike Family

ebike factory

 

In the ebike community, Tora is known for creating a fascinating video series called “Ebike Family.” In this video series you can see the tremendous effort that went into the design and sourcing of this bike. If you care considering buying the Juiced ODK-II, or if you’re just into ebikes, this will be an interesting watch. The series is nearly 2 hours long and can be found here.  Read this blog  post for another review on this video series.

This is by far  the best ebike documentary I have ever seen.  It is guerrilla film making at its best and is testament to the creative vision behind Tora Harris.

Pedal Cadence

Its rare that an electric bike has proper pedal cadence,  meaning you can comfortable pedal-assist the bike at top speeds. Most of the electric bikes I have ridden are very hard to pedal-assist because they are geared like a regular bicycle (geared for slower speeds). The Juiced ODK is built from the ground-up to be an electric bike, with properly selected components  so that  you can pedal-assist the bike even when motoring along at top speed. Juiced ODK accomplished this with 20-inch wheels which is especially difficult.  Being able to add pedaling when at the motors top-speed will greatly extend the batteries range, and really increases the quality feel of this bike when you test ride it.

 

20-inch wheels

The Juiced ODK utilizes 20-inch wheels, and a longer wheelbase than standard. This is a nice combination and makes the Juiced an excellent hill climber with a very stable ride when heavily loaded.

Benefits of 20 inch wheels:

  • 20 inch wheels are lighter and therefore quicker to accelerate
  • 20 inch wheels lower the center of gravity of the bike, and lower the cargo carrying rear rack by 6 inches over a 26-inch tire.
  • 20 inch wheels are inherently stronger than larger diameter wheels.
  • 20 inch wheels provide lower gearing for the electric motor allowing it to spin faster. Electric motors love to spin fast.
  • 20 inch wheels give you 6 extra inches of frame wheelbase without lengthening the bike when compared to a 26 inch wheel.
  • 20 inch wheels give the bike a unique and compact look.

Drawbacks of 20 inch wheels:

With today’s modern bicycle transmissions, bikes are able to achieve high enough gearing to pedal assist  even with 20 inch wheels. No one yet has been able to adequately explain to me the benefit of large wheels (think 29er) especially on a commuting road bike.

Extra thick inner tubes

inner tube

 

I like this feature because it shows the owner of this company really understands what makes an electric bike rideable and reliable. Flat tires are more likely on an electric bike than on a regular bike. Why? See our article on flat tires on an electric bike. Also flat tires are harder to repair on an electric bike because of the hub motor. These extra thick inner tubes at a few extra pounds to the bike, but if you use this bike for any type of commuting you will be glad you have them.

Low Step Through Frame

low-step

 

Electric bikes are much heavier than standard bikes. Never do you feel the weight more than when you are leaning the bike over to step onto the bike. The Juiced ODK has such a low step-through that the bike does not to be tilted at all to get onto the bike. Highly convenient, especially when loaded with cargo, when leaning over the bike would dump your cargo.

 

Front wheel hub motor

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The  Juiced ODK-II has a geared 500W Bafang motor up front, that has been overvolted to run as high as 1100 watts peek. The motor seems solid at this wattage, although it is possible that the motor could have problems in the future. Since this is a new product only time will tell. It is generally accepted knowledge that a hub motor can handle at least twice the wattage it has been rated for. Also, the Bafang motor is readily available and is not expensive to replace.

In order to accommodate the 3 speed IGH, it was necessary for the ODK-II to go with a front wheel drive. Powerful front wheel drive hub motors cannot be used safely with aluminum suspension forks. The Juiced has no suspension, but has instead a rigid steel fork with extra thick drop outs, and this is the safest, cheapest,  and most practical solution for a front wheel drive bike. Read our article on pros and cons of front wheel drives.

The biggest draw back to front wheel drive is that the tire can spin out at slow speeds, especially when climbing on an unpaved or slippery uphill. The ODK-II has the throttle tuned so the power does not come on all at once to help with that issue. Once you are used to riding a front wheel drive bike, it shouldn’t be a problem.

The benefits of a front hub motor include better weight distribution, and the capacity to run a slick IGH in the back.

3-speed IGH (internal gear hub)

internal gear hub

 

For an extra $100 ($2,099 msrp) you can get a Shimano Nexus 3-speed internal gear hub. This is $100 well spent because you get a bunch of benefits and you don’t lose much, other than the initial buy-in price. Unlike a derailleur system, the 3 speed nexus offers a  straight chainline. The IGH is maintenance and hassle free. Having 3 speeds is very nice, and is really all the gears you need in a powerful hub motor drive such as this one. The Ebike companies that offer 21-speed derailleur systems are way out of touch on what a nice electric bike should be. The click-shifter on the 3-speed is as easy-to-use as you can imagine, and it’s nice to have the extra gears for going up hills, or in case your battery dies on an extra-long ride.

Since the Juiced ODK-II was designed for the IGH with its front wheel drive, we strongly suggest if you buy this bike, to throw down the extra $100 for the IGH option.

 

48V / 15-Ah battery

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The Juiced ODK-II comes with a 15-Ah Lithium Magnanese (LiMn) battery equipped with prismatic (soft pouch) cells.    According to Juiced Rider, the pack should last 500-700 charges. The battery is 48 volt 15 amp hour, a whopping 720 watt hour (read our description of watt hour) which we would estimate would give you a realistic 35 mile range.  This is a lot of miles on a large pack like this, and if the pack holds up to these claims this bike is a bargain at this price. The battery has only a one year warranty, and it will take years for most riders to put the 1000’s of miles on this pack to see if it is really going to hold up. Replacement cost on this pack is $700 from Juiced Rider.

This Juiced bike comes with a battery pack that is twice as large as most ebike batteries in its class. Of course the larger battery is heavier, bulkier looking, and more expensive. It is a daring design choice to equip the bike with this  large of a battery. According to Tora of  Juiced, he chose a large battery because he was thinking of  what would be the best choice for the long term ownership of the bike. Most bike companies put smaller cheaper batteries on the bike because they want the bikes purchase price to be cheaper and test ride better.

Quoting from the Juiced website: “Battery packs are composed of multiple smaller cells. Larger packs have more cells, so each cell is less stressed for a given power output. This will help to increase the overall lifespan of the battery. Small battery packs get frequently deep-discharged on normal rides, speeding up the degradation of your lithium battery’s capacity and will result in more frequent pack replacements. A larger battery pack relative to the motor size will reduce this capacity downward-spiral, as it is not often fully discharged. “

 

Controls

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The Juiced ODK has a throttle only. No cadence sensors or torque sensors, so no pedal-assist modes. It has a simple dash with battery indicator, a twist throttle, and a twist shifter for the 3-speed. It also has a cruise control button which does work nicely, even at low speed. The ebike  brakes automatically cut off the cruise control. Those looking for simple controls will find no simpler than this. Those looking for pedal-assist mode will be disappointed. For me,  the only time I ever use pedal assist mode is when using it on long rides for cruise control, so throttle with a cruise control works perfect for me.

 

Nifty Commuter Extras

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The Juiced ODK comes with convenient fenders and chain guard. It has a cushy seat and well-suited wide handle bars. The extra thick inner tubes mentioned before might save you some cold and frosty morning from a highly inconvenient flat. In general the Juiced ODK-II is well thought out bike, and all its extras are good quality, and functional. It is not a gimmicky bike filled with cheap thrills that you will never use and will break later.

Here is a list of cheap thrills they could have put on this bike that would have helped sell bikes but make it a lower quality, more expensive package in the end:

  • Cheap front suspension
  • Cheap suspension seat post.
  • Cheap looking dash board with PAS features
  • More pedal gears with cheap components

One thing I  am disappointed that this bike does not have is an integrated lighting system.  Because of their giant battery packs, having lights built into an ebike makes a lot of sense. It is cheap for the manufacturers to do this and adds a lot of usefulness to the bike. When wired to the battery pack, ebike lights are less likely to get stolen (no value once disconnected from battery) are always with you, and never need to be recharged as long as your bike is charged.

Speed and Range

The Juiced ODK accelerates fairly hard and  feels fast…23-MPH without pedaling, and you can add to that depending on how hard you can pedal. It is a VERY effective hill climber and cargo carrier.

The battery on this bike is a huge 720 watt hours, from which you can expect on average a 35 mile range (we calculate 20 watt hours per mile, read our story on why). This ebike has one of the larger batteries and longest ranges of any bike we have reviewed on this site. For those who want even more range, you can easily strap an extra battery to the rear rack and effectively double your range. (price for an extra battery from Juiced is $700.)

Brakes

The Juiced ODK has effective disc brakes up front, and caliper brakes in the back. Although I prefer disc brakes all around, the Juiced ODK seemed to have plenty of stopping power on my test ride. If I had a bike like this I would definitely use its cargo weight carrying capacity (340 pounds) and carry a passenger on the back (among other things). I wonder how the ODK would stop while weighted over its maximum weight, going down a steep San Francisco hill. For this reason I prefer disc brakes front and back.

Riding impressions

I can’t say enough about the nice  pedal cadence of this bike. They got it just right. With the 3-speed Shimano Nexus you will be able to effectively pedal-assist this bike at any speed from 5 to 30-MPH.  This is the only production hub motor bike that I have ridden (other than the $15k Optibike)  where the manufacturer made the effort to get this right. This one example shows how in tune this company is to building a proper Ebike.

The ebike has just enough power to be fun and to go with traffic. It has just the right amount of power to feel fast and safe.

It is a nice feeling to be so close to the ground with a low step through. This is an easy bike to “bail off of” if you have too, which probably will never happen, but it has that low-to-the-ground, easy-bail-off-of-scooter-thing going which is nice on the psychology. Also because the bike is so low to the ground it just feels safer and handles wonderfully. It feels like it would carry lots of weight nicely.

In general, this bike is a joy to ride, and seems like it would be even better to own for all the utility it offers (carrying passengers, carrying groceries, etc).

Design

The Juiced ODK has a unique look and design that people will really like or really hate. It simply does not look like a standard bike. I personally love the uniqueness and the looks of this bike. What do you think? Please post your thoughts in comment section.

Utility Vehicle

With its huge rear rack and 330 pound weight capacity (rider and cargo) the Juiced ODK can be put to many creative uses.

If I had one, for example, I would equip it with some kind of rear seat and foot pegs for carrying an adult passenger on the back.  Because I weigh 200 pounds, I will only be able to carry female passengers under 130 pounds. Perfect!

Be aware that the seat-tube is low enough on this, that the highly regarded Thudbuster suspension seat-post will work on this frame. Taller cargo bikes with a Thudbuster might not allow your feet to be flat on the ground at a stop…bad news with heavy cargo onboard and stopped on a hill.

Here are a few picture examples of the Juiced with the optional center kickstand which is a good idea if you are riding with serious cargo:

 

 

pizza box

Pizza delivery vehicle

 

 

cargo

Baby Wagon

 Pros and Cons

Pros

( I have listed many pros in this article, but here I will highlight the best of  them)

This bike is a bargain at $2,000. This is really a $3,000 bike that is being sold cheap. No other bike at this price range compares.

Large battery pack, the largest we have seen in an ebike that’s under $5,000.

Zippy and fast bike, can go 23-MPH without pedaling.

Designed from the ground up to be an ebike.

20-inch wheels have many advantages and  make a compact bike with great hill climbing attributes

Cons

Because of larger battery pack bike is a bit  heavy (74 pounds)

Brand new company, you are taking a chance with warranty support, parts in the long run etc. That being said, the owner of this company is reputable.

Only a one year warranty, where as many bikes in this price range have a 2 year warranty.

No pedal-assist mode. This bike is throttle only.

Front wheel drive tends to be squirrely when starting up, especially on hills and on gravelly surfaces.

Motor is running over twice of what it is rated for…might lead to problems in future.

Battery consists of prismatic cells, which have not been proven as reliable as the 18650 cylinder cells which is what most bikes in this price point are using.

 

Conclusion

This ebike is probably my favorite electric bike that I have ridden at this price point. It rides awesome. The short wheels, long wheelbase, low step through, powerful 48V front wheel drive hub motor, and huge battery…all add up to make this my favorite production bike of 2012. And as I have said, this ebike is a bargain at this price.  In fact this is one of the first bikes I have reviewed this year that I am considering owning (the Hanebrink is the other). I love that it is a cargo bike, with all the inherent functionality of a cargo bike, that fits in a tight parking spot in my garage.  The only big negative on this bike I see is the question mark on will it hold up? It only has a one year warranty…so after that year, the question will be on the owner.

The bike seems solid to me, and I am familiar with most of its components. The only real question I have is on the battery pack. That being said, I have faith that the owner of Juiced Rider, Tora Harris, has spent enough time in China to source a quality battery pack and has chosen a battery chemistry that will stand the test of time.

The electric bike market needs more innovative and fresh products like this that are designed from the ground up to be electric bikes.

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.

  • ripmobile

    Looks like a fabulous bike. How interesting they went with front-wheel drive, when the new Xtracycle electric cargo bike uses rear-wheel.

    • We switched to a front-wheeled drive option to allow less stress on the rear tire as well as allowing us to use the Shimano Nexus 3 speed internal gear hub. When you have a rear wheeled cargo ebike the motor and your own pedal power are driving that rear wheel. Once you load the bike down with cargo it creates a lot of stress on that rear tire and you will have a lot of blow outs and flats. The bikes also come standard with a tube designed for ebikes which is 4x thicker then a regular bicycle tube.

  • nor

    How easy is it to remove the battery if I want to change it inside the apartment? Also is the bike waterproof so I can ride in the rain?

    • Hey Nor, the battery takes about 10 mins to remove. It is held in place by six 4mm allen screws underneath. I would not suggest removing it every night to charge it inside your apartment since it is a heavy pack weighing in around 15lbs. The bike is 100% weatherproof; all of the electric components are sealed tight.

  • This bike gets the cargo packaging just right, I have ridden it at Interbike last year and the quality and ride are great! Big capability in a tight bombproof package.

  • This bike seems to be a real bargain and is designed very thoughtfully, which is a rarity in the eBike world. I can tell that lots of experience, trial and error, and wisdom went into the design of this bike and wish Juicedriders the best.

  • Kato

    Does anyone know if the bafang motor on the ODK is running at 216 or 332rpm?

    • spinningmagnets

      a 20-inch wheel travelling 23-MPH is spinning 387-RPMs. If you lifted the tire off of the ground to spin it unloaded, the RPMs would be slightly higher. It sounds like the Bafang motor that has been specified by Juiced Riders is a faster winding than the selections that are available to the public. http://www.endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=16114

  • uheredia

    Juiced Chasers test drive on Baja Mexico, check it out!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_AT9itfiDM

  • Me Too

    Re. benefits of larger diameter wheels, they’re simpler to get the right output rpm from the gears, higher stability due to the CG being less above the axles, are slowed down less by bumps, and have a bigger contact patch of rubber on the ground compared to a same width smaller diameter wheel.

  • Me Too

    And re. extra thick tubes.. they have their own problems with the valve stem pulling off of the comparatively stiff tube, esp when run at lower pressure when the tire starts creeping around the rim, pulling on the valve stem. Slime tubes are pretty good these days, and puncture resistant tires, but all the solutions to flats have their own expense/durability problems.

  • Robotech_Master

    I just got an ODK 2. I thought the range was supposed to be 30-40 miles, but I’m only getting about 20 from it. However, that’s going everywhere at top speed. How do you get 30-40 miles of range out of this? Going at half speed rather than full speed?

    • jawramik

      The 30-40 mile range is just an average estimate. There are a lot of variables that affect an ebike’s range: weight (both your weight and the weight of any cargo on the bike), terrain (flat, paved roads will allow you to go much farther than hilly terrain), weather (fighting a strong headwind will drain battery juice faster), pedal input from the rider, etc. Acceleration drains battery far more than top speed. You can help to conserve your battery life by just pedalling more in general, but the best times to give the motor a little help to extend your battery are pedalling (either with or without partially engaging the throttle) when you’re starting from a standstill, and pedalling with the motor while riding up long and/or steep hills.

      I usually get around 35 miles per charge if I’m not transporting much crap, but I live in a pretty flat area and I’m a pretty small person and don’t weigh very much.

  • jawramik

    I bought this bike almost a year ago, and I cannot say enough good things about both the bike itself and the company that makes it. I don’t own a car currently and honestly, after using this bike as a primary means of transportation for a year, I’m not sure that I’ll ever bother owning a car again. It’s that good. It’s fun and easy to ride, it has a great range that gets me anywhere in town I need to go, it hauls me up hills like a champ (even when I’m super lazy and don’t feel like pedalling), and its unique, cargo-friendly design allows me to transport groceries, gear for work, even my cats! I’m a pretty small person (5’3 and 115 pounds with my shoes on), so the fact that this bike is so bulky and heavy concerned me a little, but it’s so well-designed in terms of balance and weight distribution that it doesn’t seem heavy at all (unless you try to lift both wheels off the ground, I guess). Even with 100+ pounds of crap on the rear cargo rack, I feel very stable and secure, even at stop lights, or if I have to walk the bike a little ways to park it or something. I’ve heard that it’s also a very functional design for taller and/or heavier people as well, so the fact that it’s able to accommodate so many different sizes and body types is a feat in itself.

    I’ve also been very impressed with the customer support from Juiced Riders. I was in email contact with Tora Harris for a couple weeks leading up to my purchase, and he provided me with very prompt, informative answers to any questions I had. I recently noticed that my seat post had become damaged and was unable to buy a replacement from my local bike shop due to its unusual size. I emailed Juiced Riders using the contact form on their website and received a response within 30 minutes asking me to confirm my mailing address so they could send me a replacement free of charge (and it arrived less than a week later).

    Anyway, I’ll finally bring this little novella to a close by saying that if you’re in the market for a versatile, practical ebike, the ODK should definitely be on your shortlist. It may not have as many frills and extras as many other ebikes on the market, but its simplicity is part of what makes it so functional (not to mention affordable). Not only is it a great value, but I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find an ebike better-suited to daily use in any price range.

  • macsimillion

    Thanks for the review, it is just what I was looking for to learn about this bike. Very informative in many areas, especially liked learning about the co’s owner & his history.