Sherpa—A Utility Cargo E-bike from Motiv Electric Bikes.
Motiv Electric Bikes has earned a respected place in the electric bike world by following a smart business plan. They started with a pair of quality boosted beach cruisers (in standard and low-frame). The time needed to perfect those bikes was invested before moving onto other models. Once that was accomplished they did the same with the Shadow. With many established retail locations keeping things rolling, they were able to introduce two new models this year. I have already reviewed the fat-tired Stout.
I first rode one of the prototype Sherpa E-bikes last year at a E-bike demo day at Myron’s Extreme Machines in Fullerton. The design was solid, yet they worked the final details hard before putting it into production. As this year began, their new Sherpa cargo E-bikes hit the showroom floors ready to perform and please. It handles both these tasks well, and so much more.
Component and power-system wise, this cargo E-bike is very similar to their other E-bikes. This makes sense in so many ways, allowing them to fine tune the different bikes to a high level. It also makes for a great customer experience in the short and long run. The 500 watt geared rear hub motor is of the modern brushless design. You can choose between the 36 volt or 48 volt model. The one I rode for two weeks was the 48 volt machine.
Of course I’ve ridden the Motiv Electric Bikes in both voltage levels. The extra voltage gives you a bit better acceleration and hill climbing ability. Both ride fine and will handle most any riding situation you can throw at them. Still, for the little more it takes to get the 48 volt Sherpa, you will benefit well when you start loading the rack and basket with all your heavy gear. Need more carry capacity? Add a bike trailer, the Sherpa can handle that too.
On the bars is the display that feeds you the info, and it works in conjunction with the button panel near your left hand. Being a dual control E-bike, you can chose between 5 levels of automatic assist, and use the throttle anytime for a larger and instantaneous boost. Each of those five levels are nicely spaced in the speed ranges. 1 goes about 8 mph, and 5 about 20. The other 3 fill in the gaps between those, allowing you to do most of your riding without having to hold the throttle continuously.
Because the motor is geared, it will climb well, have minimal drag when not being used, and make just the slightest amount of noise when powered up. The battery is mid-mounted in the chassis, helping to balance out the handling. Another plus here is that the front basket is frame mounted so it won’t affect your steering when loaded to capacity. I found the Sherpa fun to ride and even enjoyed some basic hot-rodding, using all that power it offers.
The tires have a fairly aggressive tread, but gripped well, and rolled smoothly on the pavement. Like most decent E-bikes nowadays, disc brakes are mounted front and rear. Don’t be drawn in by all those with hydraulic offerings, as quality mechanical disc brakes like these work great, are simple to maintain and keep the bottom line more affordable. When this bike is loaded with all you carry, these brakes will still punch your speed to zero quick.
The weight is kept in check with aluminum pieces from front to rear, including the rigid frame work. The frame has nice lines, adding looks to the convenience you expect from a electric-assist bike. The first Sherpa I rode was in a sharp shade of blue, this one in black. If I had my choice I’d go with the blue, yet matte black bikes are selling in record numbers I’m told. Also popular in today’s world are custom paint jobs for that one-of-a-kind look. Maybe that is your desire.
Just like the brakes, you could have more, but 6 speeds work fine on E-bikes. The Sherpa has the extra low first gear for the steep climbs, and all the variety of ratios you will ever need. How do I know this? Because I’ve ridden tons of E-bikes with everywhere from 1 gear to 30. 30 gears is about 24 more than most any E-bike rider will ever need. That makes for less shifting, less cost, and less maintenance and complexity. The gears are spaced fine and handled the speed ranges of every ride I took.
So here you are, sitting tall on your new Sherpa. The upright position matches well with the close to cruiser style handlebars. The slightly wider (than so many E-bikes) saddle is cushioned with both reasonable padding and a suspension seat post. The comfort level is matched with the power the motor adds as you push off for your next journey. All your gear is along for the ride—all is well with the world. Are you feeling it?
The big front basket is removable with the twist of some allen bolts, if you want a sleeker look and feel. That was good because when it was on my bike rack with another bike, I did have to pull it off for clearance when hauling the Sherpa to rides on the other side of town. During the time I had it, it got ridden by me, my wife, and several others. It was hard to hide the smiles generated with each turn of the pedals. The smooth ride, the good looks and the easy power rush make for an E-bike that is difficult not to like.
As E-bikes continue to gain in popularity and sales, the good ones are the ones you will spot around town. I know in my town I see plenty of Motiv Electric Bikes riding the streets and bike paths. We rode them in Denver on an E-bike tour, and I’ve seen them in other cities during our travels. They get around, just like the people that ride them. I am convinced they have a good thing going.
Load down your Sherpa and the mountain will come to you, Turbo Bob.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”—Ernest Hemingway.
Motiv Electric Bikes can be found on the web and Facebook.
Check out my video of the Sherpa