Bicycles have been a popular form of transport for hundreds of years, from the hilarious big wheel bikes of yester-year to the carbon fibre featherweight bikes that tear down the Tour De France.
Now bikes have become electrified thanks to developments in battery technology able to propel them to speeds between 25 and 35km/h.
Unfortunately for most, the average price of an E-Bike ranges from $1400 to as much as $12,000, making them relatively unaffordable for the average consumer.
In steps ALDI with an electric bike that costs only $999, and it’s Australian made too.
Developed by passion cycling company Cell, since 2002 the company has been proudly helping Australian’s embrace bicycles and reigniting the passion of ex-riders to ‘get back on the bike’.
Dave Musgrove, CELL Bikes lead product designer and brand manager describes themselves ‘as early disruptors of the local bicycle market’.
First launching at a market stall, Cell has now teamed up with ALDI to bring you the Ultimo E1.0 Urban Electric Bike.
‘In a very short period of time, ALDI has established themselves as market leaders in both price and quality of their product offering – which is exactly what we want CELL Bikes to be known for again’.
The Ultimo meets both the Australian AS15194 safety standard and the much stricter European standard EN1519.
Following the Special Buy exclusive sale through ALDI, the Cell bikes will be sold through bicycles online.
ALDI was kind enough to pass on the Classic version of the Urban E-Bike, sporting a 374Wh removable battery for up to 50km of riding on a single charge.
There is also a step-through version at the same price.
The Drivetrain is controlled by a Shimano 7-speed Revo grip shift with the chain sitting on a freehub rather than outdated freewheel systems found on some lower-end bikes.
Featuring the Entity E200 system, the bike includes an all-in-one LCD speedometer display that tracks your battery life and distance.
The included USB port also lets you charge your phone on the go, which is handy if you want to use the companion app.
While this level of connectivity is impressive, without a phone mount, it can be challenging to access these features, unless you’re an experienced rider.
Connecting directly to your bike, the Entity app will display inbuilt maps, navigation as well as additional information during your ride.
When first switching on the bike, the Entity system measured miles rather than kilometres, which can be adjusted inside the app.
On the bike is a front-facing light for illuminating your pathway and rear-facing brake light which automatically lights up whilst braking.
The rear of the bike features a rear rack which holds the battery along with three bungee straps for securing whatever you’re riding with.
One reviewer even managed to strap a huge JBL speaker to the back with no trouble.
According to Dave Musgrove, ‘the focus during the design process was a consideration, not compromise’.
In terms of this review, I decided to tackle it as an ‘inexperienced’ rider using an E-Bike for the first time.
Being a novice rider myself, I have owned an old Cannondale bike for the last year and a half, which I use to ride to and from the bus stop, with the occasional leisurely ride here and there.
Switching over to the Cell Ultimo was a massive difference in comparison.
The bike is suitable for riders between 160 and 197cm, and at 189cm, I fit perfectly into that range.
Though fellow reviewer Peter Wells at SMH had more luck with the step-through model, being much shorter than me at 172cm.
First thing I noticed right off the bat was that the Cell Ultimo weighed considerably more than my Cannondale.
Unlike more expensive E-Bikes, the Cell features a brushless motor built into the rear wheel, which adds a considerable amount of weight to the rear of the bike.
The extra weight can, unfortunately, make hills a little challenging to navigate as gear shifting becomes critical in these situations.
Without the battery, the bike weighs in at 23kg compared to my 10kg Cannondale.
When asked about the weight of the bike, Cell said the Ultimo E1.0 is ‘comparatively light for an e-bike’ with a majority of the bike being made from alloy.
‘The fork is Hiten steel, it is possible to save a few hundred grams and use alloy but there is also a compromise with ride quality where alloy forks can be too stiff’.
Both the battery and the motor make up about 6kg of the bike’s weight.
While the 7-speed Shimano gear shift does provide you with adequate control over the movement of the bike, it does have a bit of a learning curve to master.
According to Cell, the ‘rotating mass’ (chain, wheels, tyres etc.) need to be kept as light as possible as they have a much bigger impact on the overall efficiency of the bike.
That being said, riding around the suburban streets of Sydney and along the Artarmon Freeway bike path has never been easier.
Thanks to the chunky 26-inch rimmed tyres the ride was very comfortable without the need for added suspension.
The Elastomer comfort saddle was pleasant enough, though I’ve never really found a ‘comfortable’ bike saddle.
Nylon platform pedals were wide and sturdy, and the seat was quickly height adjustable.
The battery, with 40Nm of torque from its 36V 250W entity motor, engages after the first pedal giving the bike a slight jolt of power as you ride.
Electric propulsion from the motor makes short rides a breeze, or what I like to call a ‘sweat-less ride’.
Rated to a range of up to 50km, I rode 24km/h in total during my review, which barely depleted the 10.4Ah battery.
Cell has also included a fully functional diagnostics unit inside the battery to maintain the battery life over approximately 2000 cycles.
What I wasn’t expecting from riding the E-Bike was the level of vibrations that the battery pack outputs when it starts working.
Whirring away when riding up a hill, you can feel the battery working to deliver power to the motor.
For $999 you get what you pay for and more from Cell.
Featuring a high-end Shimano 7-speed gearshift, an all-in-one speedometer and tracking LCD display with smartphone connectivity and a self-diagnosing battery that will last you 50km.
On BicylcesOnline, the closest bike in terms of price, other than Cell’s 2.0 E-Bike, is the $2,999 2020 Polygon Pat E-Bike wth a centre mounted battery.
For a third of the price, you can get all the bells and the whistles.
While it is a heavy bike at 23kg, the 2020 Polygon weighs only a kilo less than the Cell, meaning you’ll probably have to spend a lot more to bring the weight down.
Overall, I am impressed with the quality and the performance of the bike, with simplistic black Dutch frame design, and plenty of power to get you up a hill.
The Cell Ultimo E1.0 Urban Electric Bike is a suitable choice for anyone looking to jump back on the bike or to have their first ride on an E-Bike.
If you have enough disposable income, it may be worth looking at the E2.0 Urban Electric Bike from Cell for $1499 with better tyres and a lightweight alloy frame.
However, for under $1000, the Ultimo E1.0 Urban E-Bike from Cell is a good value for money with the performance of a more expensive model.