You can’t talk about Juiced Bikes without talking about Tora Harris, it’s founder. He burst onto the North American ebike scene with the ODK-II, one of the best E-cargobikes on the market. After the cargobike, he introduced the Cross-Current…a city hybrid ebike, which works well as a street commuter, or for mild off-roading. Now he is introducing an affordable cruiser model called the Ocean Current, and that is news.
This was the first product of Juiced Bikes that grabbed our attention (Originally named “Juiced Riders”). The ODK-II is a longtail cargobike that has a style that you might easily find in other countries, due to its practicality. The standout feature is the smaller wheels, and it is taking some time for ebike customers in North America to warm up to their benefits. These smaller-diameter wheels not only make the bike lighter and shorter, the sturdy double-wall 20-inch wheels are actually stronger than common 26-inch wheels, and here they use beefy 12-ga spokes (the common bicycle spoke is a thinner 14-ga).
The steep head-tube angle gives it a short turning radius, which is a major benefit when trying to turn around in a tight spot, which is one of the headaches with conventionally-sized longtail cargobikes. However, the steering angle and small-diameter wheel do make the steering “twitchy” above 30-MPH. The electric system will only provide power up to slightly above the US national speed limit of 20-MPH, so high speeds would only be attained on a steep downhill. Fortunately, the ODK-II has a hydraulic brake option, and uses 180mm disks to hold that in check.
Tora specified that it would have a 48V system available, which I feel a wise choice. Many customers who buy a lower-powered system from a different brand often are unhappy with their new ebike, and if given the chance…they would gladly pay a little more for a 48V system (after a test ride…which is what they should have done in the first place!).
The exceptional thing about the ODK-II is that you have the option to upgrade the battery to an extra-range size. Many companies don’t even give customers that option. They often have one battery size, and your choices are to take it or leave it. The stock battery pack on the ODK-II is a respectable 15-Ah, the next size up is an impressive 23-Ah, but…the max battery on the 48V ODK-II is 32-Ah (not a mis-print).
In 2015, Tora began retailing a model he named the Cross Current. This provided him with hands-on experience with this new “downtube battery” interface and a specific geared hubmotor. Both have proven to be reliable. This model has a torque-sensor built into the rear drop-out, so the rider has the option of powered-riding without needing to pay any attention to a hand-throttle. You simply set the assist level, and pedal away.
Juiced will soon be retailing a premium version that is lighter, called the Cross Current “Air”.
Here’s a short video of the new Ocean Current prototype being test-ridden at the 2016 Interbike convention. I’m adding this so you can see the relaxed posture of an average rider on a frame like this.
One of the ways in which Juiced Bikes really made their products stand out from the very beginning is…not only their decision to make their flagship ODK-II cargobike operate on 48V (instead of the less expensive 36V), but also…to provide battery options that have exceptional range.
Doing that was a gamble for a fledgling business, because customers can be notoriously price-sensitive. This leads many new businesses to make their first ebike product under-powered and with short range, simply to keep the base-model purchase price down. When customers are not enthusiastic about a new ebike like that, retailers often think that the public “simply isn’t ready for ebikes yet”. Then, the next business to come along reads that poor evaluation, and decides to spec another weak ebike with short range.
Customers will always apply pressure to lower prices, but…the companies that have done well during this past year have provided quality products with very good performance. Juiced Riders is one of those companies.
As I stated, their lineup has quite a few ebikes that have a 48V system, with no option for a less-expensive 36V battery pack. If you are willing to pay the price to get a Juiced Riders product, Tora wants you to actually be happy with the amount of power and range it has.
The base-model battery pack for the Ocean Current is 48V, and…it is also a slim 7.8-Ah. I understand that some customers will choose the 7.8-Ah pack, but…I highly recommend that you try to fit the $299 upgrade into your budget, and get the larger 10.4-Ah.
It is my understanding that Tora has adopted a specific interface in the downtube of the frames he is designing. This particular interface allows him to gradually add other battery pack sizes that are larger and protrude up into the frame triangle space. He is developing a 17.4-Ah pack, and also an incredible 21.0-Ah pack, which may be available by the end of February 2017.
Here is a short video of Tora visiting his battery pack suppliers.
Here is a pic I made from a screen-capture from one of his youtube videos. The grid is 13 X 6, and we know its a 48V pack, which is 13 cells in series (13S). That means the new larger packs are 6P. If his maximum range pack is 21-Ah, then it must be using 3500-mAh cells. There are two I know of, the Panasonic-Sanyo GA cell, and the MJ1 from LG-Chem.
Juiced Bikes models are not high-powered, so using these cells means he only wants to access their increased range. This means these 10A factory-rated cells will only be working at a fraction of the 6P X 10A = 60A peak capability from this pack, so they will run very cool. This is good, because a cooler battery pack will usually last many more cycles, and more months/years down the road.
The 17.4-Ah version would be using a 2900-mAh rated cell, and the two most likely suspects are the Samsung 29E, or the PF cell from Panasonic. Samsung and LG are both highly respected 18650 cell suppliers, but…If I was a gambling man, I would bet a dollar that Tora is using GA and PF cells, both from Panasonic, so he can get a better bulk purchase contract.
Frame Styles and Colors
Here is a video of Tora checking-in at the factory that manufactures the Juiced Bikes models. Tora speaks fluent Chinese, and has a close relationship with his well-researched partners.
I personally have more than one ebike, and…the one I actually ride the most is a cruiser with a little bit of stretch to it, very similar to the Ocean Current. I added a suspension seat-post and I like the comfortable riding posture. I think Tora will find that the Ocean Current may turn out to be his most popular model in 2017. If I owned a multi-brand electric-bike shop (called an Independent Bike Distributor/IBD), I would stock Ocean Currents, and I would be pushing test rides for everyone who came in the door…
If you want to check out Juiced Bikes website, just click on the link here.
Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, January 2017