Mid-drive electric bicycles (e-bikes with a motor that powers the bike near the pedals in the centre of the bike) have a number of advantages over typical hub motor e-bikes.

Electrek, By Micah Toll

© Electrek | Buzz E-bike review: The most affordable mid-drive electric bike on the market?

However, the price isn’t usually one of them. The more complicated motor and smoother operation of a mid-drive often jack up the price. That is precisely the reason why I was excited to test out the Buzz E-bike, which is perhaps the most affordable mid-drive e-bike on the market today.

Buzz E-bike a $1,499 mid-drive electric bicycle

Considering that a mid-drive electric bicycle below $2,000 is almost unheard of, there’s got to be a catch here, right? How can a mid-drive electric bike sell for $1,499?

The main factor that helps the Buzz E-bike hit this price point is that it doesn’t use a standard BoschBroseYamaha, or another popular mid-drive motor from the main European or Japanese companies. Instead, it uses a 500W peak mid-drive motor from a Chinese company called Tong Sheng. And before you write it off, take a closer look. Because this mid-drive actually works really well and puts out an impressive 80Nm of torque, setting it on par with the best that industry leaders like Bosch have to offer.

Buzz E-bike tech specs

  • Motor: TSDZ2 350W continuous, 500W peak Tong Sheng mid-drive
  • Top speed: 32 km/h (20 mph)
  • Range: 45-72 km (25-45 mi) depending on power level (PAS only, no throttle)
  • Battery: 36V 10.4 Ah (375 Wh)
  • Weight: 26 kg (57 lb)
  • Tires: 24″ x 3″
  • Frame: 6061 aluminium
  • Brakes: Mechanical disc brakes
  • Extras: Frame-mounted sturdy front basket, rear-mounted kickstand, LCD display with speedometer, battery gauge, PAS level indicator, odometer, tripmeter, USB charging port, light status indicator, front and rear LED lights, 4-speed settings, metal fenders, funky flame pattern tires

An affordable mid-drive competitor

The Buzz E-bike is something between a comfort bike and beach cruiser. It’s not as long as a cruiser but it still gives a similar feel with its relaxed, upright riding position.

The power supplied by the TSDZ2 mid-drive is smooth and comfortable. It doesn’t come on too strong or abruptly, but still gives you quick confidence without much lag. The reason for the lack of lag is that the TSDZ2 mid-drive motor has a built-in torque sensor. Unlike most pedal-assist e-bikes in this price range that only have a cadence sensor for pedal assist, the torque sensor is a more premium feature that can provide near-instant motor feedback by constantly measuring how hard the rider is pedalling. Cheaper cadence sensors only measure the pedalling speed and thus have longer lag while they count the passing speed-sensor magnets as the rider pedals.

That nearly-instant pedal assist is a big help on hills or when starting from a stop. It simply makes the ride nicer, especially for heavy e-bikes that can feel wonky when getting started in high gear. The TSDZ2 is a bit louder than some other mid-drive motors, especially the whisper-quiet Brose motors, but I can live with a slightly louder whirrrr if I’m saving $1,000 or more compared to e-bikes that offer those name-brand motors.
Despite the somewhat smaller-than-average battery capacity, the bike still gets decent range since there’s no throttle only pedal assist.

So for those that are used to throttling around with a 500Wh battery, you’ll probably go just as far on this e-bike’s 375Wh battery when swapping pedal assist for a battery-draining throttle.
The step-through frame of the Buzz E-bike is massive in its construction. It uses large tubes, partly to conceal the battery in the frame. There’s also a super-sturdy basket on the front of the bike. It feels like I could stand up in that thing and the bike wouldn’t even shrug.

The wheels feature 3-inch-wide tires and are smaller than typical comfort bike wheels, measuring in at 24 inches. That helps make the bike easier to mount and gives it a lower seat height, though taller riders can still adjust the seat plenty high to fit longer legs.
I really like the display on this e-bike, as it’s one of the clearest and easiest to read that I’ve ever seen. The digits are huge and almost look like one of those geriatric calculators which are probably not an accident.

I can definitely see a silver-haired biker gang cruising Palm Beach on these things trading the flame-painted hot rods of their youth for the flame tread on the Buzz E-bike’s tires.

But of course, nothing is ever perfect

The battery is the one area of the bike that gave me some frustration. It contrasts with the extreme ease-of-use of the rest of the bike.

You’ll find the battery hidden inside the frame, accessible via a plastic door in the down tube. However, I use the term “accessible” a bit loosely. 

The problem is that the latch on the door is really tight, meaning it can sometimes be a bit of a struggle to open the hatch and access the battery. 

Maybe mine was just trickier than others because it actually surprised me how much I had to persuade the door to open so I could unlock and remove the battery. 

On the one hand, that battery is nice and protected. On the other hand, I’d rather not have to play with the latch for an additional five seconds each time I finish a ride and want to bring my battery inside to charge.

Other than that issue, though, there’s nothing else I can complain about on the Buzz E-bike.

As a mid-drive e-bike, you can’t beat the price. As a comfort e-bike, it’s a blast to ride. 

And for just $1,499, you get included metal fenders, a sturdy front basket (and mounting points for rear racks), a comfortable torque-sensing mid-drive motor, LED lights, and more. That’s a lot of value.

This article was originally published by Electrek.  
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