Kalkhoff Agattu E-bike—European Flair.
You may remember reading a post I did several years ago that was based around a Kalkhoff E-bike. The post was more about the prototype (at the time) self-shifting rear hub that was fitted to it, but I really loved that bike and the way it rode. I have been hoping to get some updated time with one, and that day arrived last week (actually that day was two weeks of riding). It has been kind of hard to find Kalkoff retailers here in the US, but all that is changing lately. Their west coast distribution headquarters are in San Diego and that makes it all easier.
Kalkhoff and Focus E-bikes are one entity, with the Kalkhoff brand catering more to the street bikes and riders, and Focus to the mountain bikes. I did a review on a Focus a couple years ago that proved to me they had a good track towards the E-bike world. This Agattu is a German product that displays many characteristics you don’t find on most E-bikes here in the states. It does have a few Asian sourced parts, but not many.
This is a mid-drive electric-assist bike, meaning the motor’s power drives the back wheel through the standard drivetrain. This brings many advantages and few parts that can hold back some riders. Having most of the extra weight of the assist system in the center of the bike (and mounted low) helps the bike’s handling and feel at all times. It also allows the motor more flexibility in the way it uses its torque and horsepower. These are good things.
Kalkhoff has all but solved one of the issues by adding a momentary throttle cut-off that takes effect every time you shift gears. That allows the 8-speed rear geared hub to make a clean shift while the power to it is relieved. This will add to the longevity of the chain and hub, and make your riding more comfortable and quiet. Mid-drives are very needy in correct and timely shifting, although this Kalkhoff Agattu was not as needy as many other mid-drive E-bikes I ride and test.
The fit and quality are first class, something you will experience with each and every ride it takes you on. I am a fan of upright comfort bikes as your body and mind are uncluttered with weird angles and unneeded pressures. Everyplace your body contacts with the Agattu is a pleasure. The nicely contoured handlebar and ergo grips are matched to a stem that easily adjusts to your personal contours. The ‘just right’ saddle is perched on a suspension seat post with no flex or slop. Pedals are pedals, yet these ones are hooked to that smooth motor for a supercharged ride.
Even though 700c tires and rims on a aluminum framed bike can sometimes result in a somewhat jolty ride, the plush front suspension smooths out much of that. Those Schwalbe Marathon tires not only have the larger cross-section for extra mush, they will also protect you from flats by all but the worst road debris. Once again as we look deeper, the quality level of the bike and its parts give you confidence and comfort, as does the electric assist on hills and during headwinds.
250 watts can seem a little anemic when compared to hub-motored E-bikes with higher numbers. That is where a mid-drive shines, adding more oomph to your ride than you might expect. Using the gearing of the drivetrain, that power is multiplied and used wisely (as long as you shift wisely). It also increases the efficiency in a big way. This Agattu has a claimed range of over a 120 miles (when ridden in the lowest power assist setting). This is a lot, but I wouldn’t expect to personally get these numbers, as I mostly used the two higher settings for the majority of my riding. I did expect to test the bike through several battery cycles, yet with all my riding I only needed to recharge the 36 volt 17 Ah battery once.
The easy to reach button panel lets you choose between 3 levels of assist (plus an off setting). It is a true pedelec, meaning there is no throttle to allow you motor assist when not pedaling. Your assist is controlled by how hard you are pushing the pedals (torque-assist sensing). I also call this intelligent control as the bike kind of reads your mind to automatically add the motor power you want and need, when you want and need it. The small display unit keeps you abreast to much of what is going on, yet mine was set in KPH, as opposed to the American standard MPH.
More European influence can be seen in the factory lighting system. I found the headlamp to be well focused (unlike most every light you will see on American bike shop shelves and bikes). It is pretty bright, yet like I often find, for the open road or faster riding you will want a supplementary light with more lumens. Both the front and rear light are powered by a front hub dynamo that lights things up whenever you are moving. When you stop, the headlamp is off, yet the front keeps two small LEDs lit and the rear glows, both for maybe 5 minutes.
A sturdy kickstand, a full chain guard, a pair of decent fenders and a multi-use rear rack come standard, and are well appreciated (don’t forget the bell). A city lock mounts to the frame to secure the back wheel from turning, yet is is mostly for those short stops when you will be nearby. It is nice to see this Kalkhoff E-bike so well equipped for touring, cool fun rides and urban exploring. Even a tire pump is part of the package, which is good because my test bike was fitted with the Dunlap (Woods) valve stems that don’t match well with most American bike pumps. Not to worry, as all Kalkhoffs sold here starting in 2016 will have either Schrader or Presta valves.
This Kalkhoff Agattu I rode seems to be called the Agattu Impulse 8 HS. It comes in a diamond or wave (low) frame. It is a fairly large bike, although with the saddle at the lowest setting my wife was comfortable on it. With the substitution of a regular seat post more people might fit. They also offer a starter model (the Agattu Impulse 7 HS) if you want a lower buy-in for your pocketbook. It comes only in the wave frame style.
Last up I want to talk about the hydraulic rim brakes. They work great and I find them a refreshing break from the way over-powerful hydraulic disc brakes coming on so many E-bikes nowadays. Of course when the need to stop arises you want some strong anchors, yet you don’t want to add to your worries. They work just right, yet may be just a bit on the complicated side. They do include a quick-release on one side for rim and tire removal when needed.
So there you have it, a smooth riding and comfortable E-bike for the long rides and short. It will be interesting to see what cool new features the 2016 models sprout, as this bike seems to have it all already. They are on their way and I only see good things in the world of Kalkhoff E-bikes.
Have fun, Turbo Bob.
“Every time you miss your childhood, ride on a bicycle.”—Mehmet Murat ildan.
Look for Kalkhoff on the web and Facebook
Here are a couple videos I posted on the Kalkhoff Agattu