There are many ways a person can spend $2,800. For the young professional who commutes a relatively short distance, you may find yourself contemplating the notion of spending that sum on the all new Urtopia Carbon E-Bike, a smart electronic bike with a rear hub motor, carbon everything, LED dot-matrix display, haptic feedback, and even a built-in fingerprint reader. Yeah, it has all of that and then some, and if you’ll believe me, it’s not as gaudy as it may sound. It’s actually quite slick and modern.
Riding around my small country town, I received many compliments on the aesthetics of the bike, which I was pleasantly surprised by. Around these parts, you’re either rolling coal or a traitor to this beautiful nation of ours. Toxic patriotism aside, the bike’s frame is quite a bit different looking than that of a traditional bicycle, with essentially all of the main components (frame, fork, handlebar, seatpost) made from carbon fiber. This helps keep the bike’s weight down to only 30 pounds, allowing for nearly anybody to carry this up a flight of stairs if necessary.
Build It, Activate It, Ride It
Upon receiving the bike, I had to build it, which is pretty common if you order a bike and aren’t picking it up prebuilt from a store like REI or a speciality bike shop. I’ll admit, I was rather intimated by this because I have little experience building bikes and I hate working on my Cannondale mountain bike, but thankfully, Urtopia had a wonderful video guide on installation and set up. After about 30 minutes I was ready to ride, but was then reminded that this is a smart bike and before you get to use it, you’ll need to download the Urtopia app and activate the bike. This is where spending nearly $3K on something with software becomes problematic in my mind. For that price, there has to be amazing support from the company, but due to its Indiegogo background, there’s no track record to ensure we’ll see super longterm support.
For activation and set up, I had to use my wife’s work iPad because neither of us have iPhones and Urtopia’s Android app was still in development. It has now since launched, available for download on Google Play. For 95% of my time with the bike, I didn’t have the companion app to go along with the experience due to its unavailability. This wasn’t a major issue, but the app is what allows riders to tap into and set up the many features offered by this bike, such as the antitheft, GPS tracking, and movement alerts. Because I couldn’t use any of that, I focused on battery life and actual ride quality for the two weeks I used the bike.
Now that I do have access to the Android app and bike at the same time, I can go over my ride logs, see how much CO2 I’m not pumping into the air, plus plenty else.
So Many Features
While I may not have been able to use all of them, it would be silly for me not to discuss them, as they’re important to the context of what makes this bike so cool — and pricey. There are hydraulic disc brakes on both the front and rear wheels, an AI-powered voice assistant for essentially all of the bike’s features, customizable horn beeps, an incredible Advanced Rear Early-indication System (ARES) that uses a mmWave radar to alert the rider of incoming vehicles from behind when making turns, projection lights for turn signals, gyroscope, accelerometer, fingerprint scanner for antitheft and startup purposes, a speaker for audible feedback, and haptics system. It’s basically a Tesla with two wheels, capable of getting fresh features at any time thanks to over-the-air system updates.
Charge It, Ride It, Repeat
Urtopia comes equipped with a removable Samsung-made lithium ion battery, rated at 360Wh. According to Urtopia’s documentation, the battery can quick charge in just 2.5 hours, providing an assisted pedaling range of 30-80 miles depending on which motor speed you use. There are fives modes (aka gears) to choose from, all accessible via a d-pad on the left side of the handlebar (SmartBar). There’s 0, which is a fixie setup and powered 100% by the rider, gears 1 through 3, and then a somewhat hidden Turbo mode that is accessed by long pressing the up button on the d-pad. As you’d expect, the more power you draw from the motor, the quicker your battery will drain.
In my testing, I’d ride across town to my gym, which is 2.7 miles away. I’d do the majority of my riding in gear 3, because I like to go fast and pedal very lightly. The bike will assist you in speed until you hit 25 miles per hour (MPH) and then the motor no longer assists. I was able to get to the gym and back home on average 3 times, then I’d need to charge the battery. That’s an average of 16.2 miles, which is a little more than half of what Urtopia advertises. My route is relatively flat, too, so either the battery needs more breaking in or it’s simply not as good as advertised.
Ride Quality, Hardware
Overall ride quality is nice, but if you’re coming from another bike that has a bit more cushion, you’re going to be feeling every bump in the road. My rear was feeling every little crack and bump after riding Urtopia, as there is no dedicated shock system. That’s typical for a commuter bike such as this, and while the rigidity of the frame and parts is helpful in making you feel safe, you will be feeling it. Urtopia stresses that the bike is designed with the urban rider in mind and not for trails or gravel, so please, adhere to its intended purpose. With regard to the motor and its integrated torque sensor, it’s exceptionally smooth. I’ve never ridden an e-bike before, so the first time you feel the motor kick in and assist with pedaling, it was quite the thrill. Urtopia has also teased auto speed adaptation in a future software upgrade.
As far as service and repairs go, I’m afraid that if something goes wrong with anything besides the tires, there’s likely a shipping process that will need to happen. This is what happens when you have a bike with a LED dot-matrix display, fingerprint scanner, voice-activated front headlight and turn signals, plus a carbon drive belt. Speaking of, Urtopia rates the carbon belt at 30,000km or at least 5-7 years with normal use. That’s not bad, with the company also providing a warranty for the belt that’s good for two years. Should anything happen to the belt caused by normal usage, they’ll replace it.
For the price, all you’re getting is the bike and the battery. Urtopia has an accessories store where you can purchase a kickstand for $29, water bottle cage for $39, mudguards for $99, an extra comfy seat for $59, eSIM service for the bike (it supports 4G connectivity), as well as backup batteries for $399 a pop.
Should You Buy One?
If I’m someone making Google software engineer money and my house isn’t too far from campus, sure, this bike is a fantastic option for getting to and from work. Even for my life, it’s a really great way to get around a small town. Having been designed for that urban commuter, it comes packed with so many antitheft and safety options that it’s very clear the makers put a lot of thought into what the bike needed to have at time of shipping. Furthermore, we know they can get things done, having raised about $3.5 million from just 1,354 backers on Indiegogo. A lot of products don’t even see the light of day following successful funding, but Urtopia seems extremely proactive and in tune with influencers and sports personalities. It’s a good thing to see from a lifestyle/fitness/tech product such as this. They even have Tracy McGrady selling these things. That’s awesome.
I’ve let a few of my friends try out Urtopia, as well as my wife. Everyone really enjoys riding it and get a kick out of all of the smart features. But then I mention the price tag. It’s up there at $2799. You could get a lot of things for that kind of money, including an amazing street bike for commuting. However, if you love the technology and being one of those early adopters who always has the latest thing, it’s hard to deny that the Urtopia looks and rides awesome.
For additional spec details and information, please see Urtopia’s website.