Pedego has made a name for itself by offering California cruiser style electric bikes that are “fun” and reliable. The key to the Pedego Interceptor is that it was a pretty fast electric bike for its time. In fact, it was named the “Interceptor” because it was supposedly designed for Police use, and originally only offered in black and white colors.
I have yet to hear about any cops riding around on Pedego bikes, but I have seen many Pedego Interceptors with Hawaiian-shirted riders speeding down the streets and bike trails of LA. Lets take a closer look into the Interceptor and see why it is one of the best selling bikes in the USA market.
The Interceptor is built around the same 6061 aluminum frame as the Comfort Cruiser (the Pedego base model). The only difference other than color choices between the $2,000 Cruiser and the $2,500 Interceptor, is that the interceptor is a 48-volt system, where as the Cruiser is 36-volts. $500 seems like a lot of money to spend for just a little more power.
The Comfort Cruiser would have 360-WH’s of battery compared to the Interceptor’s 480 watt hours. If a little extra speed is not important to you, then you should save your money and go with the Comfort Cruiser, and save that $500 for nifty adds ons (how about an extra battery for longer trips).
On both the Cruiser and the Interceptor, you can easily add an extra battery (which you can bungee-cord to the top of the battery rack). The stock battery packs are easily swappable.
The Interceptor and Comfort Cruiser are also offered in Step Through models:
Is it fast?
The Pedego Interceptor has the reputation of being one of the faster store-bought electric bikes available, and that has been its main selling point. I tested the Interceptor up to over 20 -MPH top-speed on level ground without pedaling. See our Pedego Interceptor Owners report for more real-world speed and range data. The Pedego by today’s standards is fairly fast, although there are production bikes at lower price points that are actually faster, such as the $2000 Juiced Rider ODK-II.
There is nothing technologically advanced about the Pedego Interceptor. Nothing to make me say “WOW!” It is all about using tried-and-true Chinese components, assembled, boxed and sent in a cargo container, and sold at a relatively expensive price ($2,500). This is not an elegant purpose-built frame (read our definition) such as the Easy Motion, also the Stromer, or even the Currie Izip.
Instead, the Interceptor has the battery in a rack which is welded to the back of the bike . For an electric bike guru like me, this is the least impressive way to mount a battery pack, and is only one-step above a home-built bike with a Topeak rack in terms of aesthetics. Also having the battery pack in the rear, and the heavy direct drive hub motor also in the rear wheel, makes this bike noticeably back heavy. You will really notice this extra high-mounted weight when leaning the bike over to step onto it. Therefore, if you are a shorter rider, I really recommend the step-through frame.
The large controller is also mounted under the battery…this is a lot of stuff mounted in the rear end. If this were my bike I would put a pannier bag on the rack, and hide some of this ugliness while also moving some of the weight a little lower. At least the rack was welded on, instead of clamped on.
We would have expected by now that a mature design from an experienced company would have moved the battery pack to the frames triangle. It would be easy and inexpensive to make a heavy-duty plastic enclosure that matches the shape of the downtube, so the weight of the battery pack would be more centralized and lower. Such an enclosure would be backwards-compatible for the thousands of existing Pedego owners, even if the compartment was only used for gloves and a bike helmet.
Pedego frankly seems more focused on marketing than they are on offering an innovative product.
The good news about this design, is that this is a decent-looking cruiser bike which is nicely color-coordinated. Seems simple…but its hard to get a China electric bike to look right. Take a look at the Currie Zuma for an example of a design that falls flat and gets color coordination wrong.
The Pedego Advantage
Pedego, a five year old California company, has become one of the two biggest players in the USA ebike business (Currie Technologies is the biggest). Pedego follows a simple model and does it well:
- Made in China
- Reliable drive system (very few customer returns)
- Welded battery mount
- Reliable lithium-ion battery
- Fun color co-ordinated bikes
- Effective marketing campaign
- Excellent after-sale customer support
The Interceptor, one of the original Pedego models, follows that successful pattern. No doubt about it, the Interceptor is a simple bike, following a simply successful business model.
Pedego’s business model is focused on the word “fun.” Interestingly if you go to the Pedego website there is no technical specifications on the Interceptor. Nothing on how large the battery is, what components it has etc..
So, for $2,500 what do you get in a bike that is really not that technologically special? Pedego does a great job of providing a reliable product, and the Interceptor is no exception. If the Interceptor does give you trouble, expect Pedego to be supportive during the one-year warranty. One year is admittedly short (many companies are now offering two years), but even after the warranty, getting replacement parts should be no problem. However, Pedego is a company that seems to charge big for replacement parts when you do need them. Read the next section for an example.
The Pedego Interceptor uses a 48V / 10-Ah (480 watt hours) lithium-ion pack consisting of 18650-sized cells. I have heard from many sources that this battery pack is indeed reliable, and should last the average user at least a couple of years. The battery pack has a key on and off switch and a battery meter built in.
The very bad news about the Pedego battery pack is the company charges a large amount for a replacement pack or an extra pack.
Check out these prices:
- 36volt 10ah $595
- 36 volt 15ah $890
- 48 volt 10ah $795
To me these prices are ridiculously high, especially since I know how cheap they are getting these from China. Luckily there is atleast one ebay seller selling Pedego compatible packs for cheaper. However it just goes to show what to expect when it comes to getting replacement parts from Pedego…expect to pay high prices.
The Pedego interceptor uses a direct drive hub motor. As you can see in the picture, this is a large hub motor, which is not very well hidden. It is not as compact as a geared hub motor, such as the motor used on some of the new Pedego models like the Trail Tracker and the City Commuter. (read our comparison between direct drives and geared hubs). The geared hub motor on the back of those other Pedego’s is hidden nicely behind the disc brake rotor. As you can see in the above photo, there is nothing hidden about the interceptor motor.
The advantage of the direct drive hub motor is that it has a single moving part and is therefore ultra reliable and robust. The Interceptor is hot-roddable by simply changing the controller to a unit with higher amperage, higher voltage, or both. (read our article on hot-rodding a hub motor)
Also the Interceptor motor is a bit quieter than a geared hub motor.
I like that Pedego uses real cruiser handlebars on their cruiser bikes. Other electric bike cruisers such as Currie’s Zuma use half cruiser bars for some weird reason (I think it is to save space in the retail stores). Also like the rest of Pedego bikes, good color choices and styling are used.
The long “sweep-back” of these bars allows the rider to sit upright when just cruising. But if you stand up to pedal, your knees will still clear the front of the handlebars.
There is nothing fancy about the Pedego control panel. The red button is an on and off switch. A simple 3-light battery indicator is as cheap as they come, and only will give you a general idea how much battery you have left. It has a twist throttle with no pedal assist. The 6-speed is a click shifter, and is also controlled by left hand.
For this price point I would really like to see some kind of digital dash or pedal assist system, but the Interceptor has no fancy bells or whistles. Well, actually it has a bell on the left hand side…also notice the fake leather hand grips (skimpy for a $2,500 bike):
6 speed Shimano
The Pedego comes equipped with a Shimano 6-speed to aid with its pedal assist. I notice the gearing is high, which is great for a faster electric bike. At top speed, I was still able to comfortably pedal-assist the Interceptor up to speeds of around 30-MPH.
The cushy seat has springs built into it to ease the ride. Also there is a suspension seat post. On my test ride I could feel the suspension squishing but it was not a very nice compression. The set-up was squeaky and not very effective. To me it was more annoying than effective, at smoothing out the bumps.
The Pedego utilizes a center kickstand which is a bit harder to activate than a standard side kickstand. The benefit of a center kickstand is that it is suppose to be more solid on uneven or soft terrain. While photographing this bike in level grass, I noticed that the bike tipped over onto its side pretty easily.
On a closer look at the center kickstand, it appears to be solid, but is actually pretty cheap and flimsy in its construction…a disappointment in a $2,500 bike. The components in general all around this bike are pretty cheap in quality. Pedals, crank set, seat, etc. Mixed with these parts are some nice quality name brand components such as the tires (Schwalbe) , brakes, and the shifting set.
Front Brake: Avid BB7. Considered one of the best mechanical brakes on the market. To get better brakes you would have to go with hydraulic. Provide excellent stopping power (needed for a heavy electric bike, and they have easy tool-less adjustability.
Rear Brake: Dia Compe hub brake: Dia Compe is the second biggest component builder in Japan, just behind Shimano and they make some quality stuff. The hub brake provides adequate stopping power, but not as much as disc brakes would offer. Hub brakes have the benefit of being virtually maintenance free. All you need to do is squirt a syringe full of grease into the access port when the brake stops squeeking. No need to change pads ever.
Pedego is known for offering bikes in a wide variety of colors. The Interceptor, originally intended as a police bike, used to come only in black or white. Today you can also order a Pedego Interceptor in red, or the very snazzy brushed aluminum. In addition you can choose what color of Schwable tire you want at no extra cost. You can get Black, brown, cream or grey. If you dealer does not have an Interceptor in the colors you want, you can always order what you want , and just wait a few days. Also, it is possible to special order an Interceptor in any of the flashy colors that the Comfort Cruiser comes in.
My favorite color?…brushed aluminum which is also the Interceptor that Captain Kirk (William Shatner) of the Enterprise chose. I will take some of whatever that man has:
Motor: Brushless, gearless hub motor in rear wheel
Power: 500 watt continuous
Pedal Gears: Shimano 6-speed rear derailleur
Shifter: Shimano SIS 6-speed thumb shifter
Battery Size: 48V / 10-Ah, 480-WH ( read our watt hour story)
Tires: Schwalbe balloon, with free color upgrade
Throttle: Twist grip
Frame: 6061 aluminum, in standard and step-through
Handlebars: Cruiser type with Promax Stem
Battery indicator: Simple 3-light system on throttle
Brakes: Avid BB7 mechanical disc (front), Dia-Comp hub brake (rear)
Measurements: 46″ Wheelbase, Height 33″-39″
Weight: 56 pounds
Warranty: one year
Price: $2,5oo Retail
If you are considering the Interceptor, you might also want to take a look at the Motiv 48V Cruiser bike, which offers a very similar cruiser electric bike, with geared hub motor, mid mounted battery pack, upgraded color choices, with a longer warranty and a lower price.
Stay tuned for our upcoming California Electric Cruiser shoot-out, comparing these electric cruiser bikes.
For me, the Interceptor is not a very exciting ebike, and does not offer enough for its $2,500 price tag, and as of 2013 it has become outdated by some nicer bikes in the same price range, including models with a purpose-built frame and geared hub motors as an option. The Interceptor established itself back when it was one of the few electric bikes on the market, but…in today’s market they badly need an update to keep up with new offerings in the ebike scene.
Many thanks to the nice folks at Electric Bikes LA for loaning me the Interceptor to review.