A2B Entz E-bike—Mid-drive Magic.
Normally when you are talking magic, it is either sorcery or slight of hand, yet the magic in the new Entz from A2B is as real as can be. I had coined the phrase intelligent control years ago, yet this bike is just plain smart. It does use a torque-sensed control system (intelligent control), yet the heart of the magic comes from the N360 NuVinci Harmony self-shifting continuously variable transmission. Mix that with a modern belt drive, a up-to-date Continental 250 watt mid-drive motor, and a well designed bike, and you have the A2B Entz.
It has been close to 4 years since I reviewed a prototype NuVinci Harmony (mounted on a European mid-drive donor E-bike). I had masses of praise for it and expected to see it sprout up on E-bikes left and right. Well, the years passed and the well was dry. Last Interbike when I saw the Entz in the A2B booth, the excitement started to rise again. I felt then if they worked the same feel of their other E-bikes into this one, it would be a major winner (and they did). It sure didn’t hurt that it is the most pure and bright shade of red you will find.
There are 2 drawbacks to mid-drive E-bikes, one, the need for correct and timely shifting, the other is the bang to the drivetrain if shifted with the power applied. The NuVinci Harmony swats those issues aside and will help bring the advantages of a mid-drive motor to those who desire such a set-up on their electric-assist bicycle. Gone is the abrupt wear and noise during shifting, and with the harmony doing the shift work, that fancy shifting part is off the table too.
I have written about the Harmony before, in the post mentioned above and on a review of the Autobike, a regular bike with one speced from the factory. You can check out those posts (and the NuVinci website for more insight). To sum it up, it has 2 modes, manual shift and auto shift. In the both modes it uses a computer and servo motor to move the shift arm at the hub. In auto mode you are pretty much choosing your pedal cadence speed and the hub will continually shift to keep it constant. Because the mid-drive sends its power through the chain to the bike, the correct gearing for the motor matches your pedal speed and that is why it all works so well.
The belt drive is the icing on the cake, to eliminate maintenance and the greasy mess that is a bicycle chain. It is smooth and quiet, and I spend time wondering why most every new bike doesn’t have one. These three modern advances work together as a team to push this E-bike above the rest, even the already great offerings in the A2B electric bike line-up. I can write about it all day, yet watching the videos I have posted (links below) and trying it yourself are going to fill in for the many words I will bypass.
Beyond all that tech stuff about the motor, trans and controls, what we have here is a very comfortable, easy riding bike. The massively strong frame is easy to mount, and looks great (not just because of the color though). Those 24 inch tires have plenty of meat to soak up the bumps, and the front suspension fork helps much in that department. Full fenders and built-in lighting (the bright, focused European kind) are standard. And ring, ring, bell too.
The strong hydraulic disc brakes have one feature I desire. That is the 2 finger brake levers that work perfect and help add safety to these very powerful brakes by limiting the amount of finger force you can apply to them. I sometimes dream about starting a one-man campaign to make these levers mandatory on all hydraulic disc brake bikes, yet thanks to A2B, this is one bike I don’t have to rail on. Loving it.
There is just so much to love about the Entz, but I did find one big failing (kind of by mistake) and a few hiccups. This bike won’t be out until May (2016) and from what I know about A2B, these issues will probably be history on all the production Entz E-bikes they offer. I found if I rode the bike to the end of the battery charge (not really recommended) (and hard to do because the range is so far), once the power was gone from the electric-assist, so was the power to the Harmony auto-shift. This left the bike in a fairly high gear that made riding without the assist cumbersome and difficult.
The bike has a nice strong kickstand, yet it rattled most all the time during my rides. The battery has a hidden (by the reflector) area for the lock and charge jack. The plastic clips that hold it (the reflector) in place are too wimpy, allowing me to break one. Believe me, I am generally pretty gentle with such things. And last of the hiccups is the reflector that is mounted on the rear fender came loose with just the smallest bump of my hand. I remounted it, yet was concerned I would leave it on the road behind me at some point (yet it is still there right now).
I feel it is my job to point out such things, but even more important is to tell you just how great this E-bike rides. You will find the buy-in level to be higher than most (lower than others of course), yet with all the Entz has to give, it should be worth it for people that are looking for an E-bike that seems to have it all. I could easily envision this bike in my stable, and am sure it would get more than its fair share of saddle time. It is one sweet mount. Keep in mind this is a true pedelec (no throttle), so to get the electric-assist, you must be pedaling the bike.
In a couple days it will be back in the hands of the local A2B rep, and he will be bringing it to the San Diego Electric Bike Expo for you to try. I strongly suggest you do, and if you aren’t local, consider the fact that the Expo will be in 4 more places this year (Houston, Denver, Portland and Palo Alto). If you can’t make the show, by mid-year they will be in A2B shops nationwide for you to get the full experience.
The Entz is all I hoped for and more, Turbo Bob.
“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.”—Peter Golkin.
Look for A2B on the web and Facebook.
Here are two previous posts I wrote on the NuVinci Harmony Drivetrain (and one on the N360 Hub).
Check out the videos on the Entz from my You-Tube site.