Faraday Porteur E-bike—Welcomed Refinement.
Here is a report from the newest Faraday convert. I’ll be the first to admit as I followed the birth of this E-bike, I was concerned they spent too much time on its style and not enough on its rideability. As it hit the Kickstarter phase I remember seeing a suggested price that seemed once again all about aiming for the Rolex crowd. As I waited past the first production run (started in January 2104) for a bike to test, my doubts continued to fester.
Little by little, independent and customer reports filtered through the net with levels of satisfaction that raised my personal expectations. News of large and small refinements confirmed that maybe the folks behind the Faraday were serious about bikes, not just eye candy. Turns out that this E-bike has every feature of a Rolex (looks, performance, reliability and user friendliness) except a buy-in price straight from the pages of the Neiman Marcus catalog.
Occasional contacts with the friendly folks at Faraday showed their interest in getting a bike to San Diego for me. With no local dealer, the months seemed to roll. A brief sighting of a Faraday and its rider during one of our E-bike club rides reminded me to keep up the pressure. Then, just recently I met an owner who allowed me a fast blast and video opportunity. Days later, just before my last E-bike seminar, I received word that Adams Avenue Bikes was taking on a strong local retail stance. After a great showing at my event, Steven from the shop offered me a several day one-on-one with a fresh floor model demo bike.
It didn’t take long to see the attention to detail on every square inch from stem to stern. As my admiration peaked, it was time to ride. So as it turns out, that same commitment to its appearance was offered to the bike part in a way seldom seen in a mass production E-bike. If my words don’t relay my positive experience well, just be assured it was one of total wonderment of design success. This is just not in the ride, feel and control system, but the way the bike and rider melt into one entity.
A little about the bike’s pieces are due at this point. I keep wanting to see the Gates CenterTrack belt drive on more bikes, and we see it here. Being tired of neighborhood only lighting systems speced as an up-grade, the Porteur’s included pair (front and rear) are better than most aftermarket units on bike shop shelves. My old-school need for steel bikes is rewarded with both the fork and frame. As I prefer an upright regular bike for my E-bike ride, the Faraday delivers that too.
As much as the E-bike world is embracing hydraulic operated brakes nowadays, I think Faraday has found the same as me, they are too touchy and too risky for E-bike riders. You will find these disc brakes to work just as well or better, yet taking the right amount of hand power to prevent a panic stop tumble. The thumb and finger shifted 8-speed rear-geared hub matches the bike’s electric-assist speed range to a tee, one more thing I am disappointed with so often.
All these things add up to a great E-bike, but it is the control system for the motor that really proves the E-bike knowledge of the designers. Torque-sensed systems (something I call intelligent control) make for the best rider experience. It is especially appreciated by people who ride a lot, yet most all riders will love it. The bike also knows the fact that you are pedaling (cadence control), and mixes those two inputs to decide how much the motor should assist you. A seamless and never jumpy motor assist are the result here, a great feel.
Practically touching your left thumb is a 3 position lever to allow you to choose your assist sensitivity. As each ride continues, that switch gets a workout. Being such a light bike, you will find that lever in the ‘no assist’ notch quite often. As your mind senses the need, a quick click brings into the ’mid?’ stetting and the boost hits without a loss in momentum. When the hill looms, bump it into ’high’ and the power maxes out to match your feet’s pressure on the pedals. You need to ride this bike to see just how smooth and smart the power assist comes to your ride.
To turn the tables for a minute, the fact is that the Faraday doesn’t fit the same mold as most E-bikes on the market today. With no hand throttle, you must pedal to initiate the motor-assist, something I call a ‘true pedelec‘. Many buyers will balk at this feature (or lack of one). I fully understand that. I have found that a 350 watt motor is all the juice an E-bike needs for all but the most serious climbs, yet 500 is the norm almost across the board. This bike also has a smaller capacity battery then those same bikes.
With the lithium battery enclosed in the frame’s down tube, it maximizes the stealth factor and lowers the bike‘s center of gravity (the front to rear balance is near optimal too). Because of the designed-in power efficiency, the smaller capacity battery still offers some decent range and power. It is also a factor in the 39 lbs total weight that gives the Faraday a decided edge in agility, once again not found often in the E-bike world. Lots of aluminum on-board works well with the steel frame, another combo rarely seen with E-bikes.
Riding this bike is a joy, the kind of joy that will be savored by most, but not fully embraced by others. Upon returning the bike to Stephen at Adams Avenue Bikes, we had a long discussion on why he chose it as the only E-bike on his sales roster. He understands bikes, and understands his customers. The shop welcomes the recreational rider, yet caters to the bike savvy folks who have helped to keep the doors open for many years. This is a bike rider’s bike, something we both agreed on. The quality and factory support helped seal the deal.
Some great accessories for the Porteur include a front, frame mounted, color matched rack (BTW, the bike comes in two color choices and three frame sizes). That rack includes the gear to mount the headlamp onto the front of it, once again the nicest looking pieces. Too, a rear rack is on the books. Want leather goodies? Just ask. The bamboo fenders are factory, same as is the inverted V kickstand. New to the roster is the S model (coming in August) with a little downgrading in specs and price. I say, get it all, you deserve it.
At the risk of sounding corny, the Faraday Porteur proves that you can have your Rolex and eat it too, Turbo Bob.
“Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”—Grant Petersen.
Learn more about Faraday Bikes on their website and Facebook pages
Adams Avenue Bikes is my local Faraday dealer
Here are a couple videos I posted on the Faraday Porteur