Review of Leitner Ultimate 700c Electric Bike. Almost Ultimate!
In September 2019 I purchased my first e-bike, the Leitner Berlin Cruiser.
You can read my detailed review here: https://blog.thegerrings.com/2020/08/review-of-leitner-berlin-cruiser.html.
Even if you're not specifically interested in the Berlin Cruiser model, I still recommend that you do read the above review because it talks more broadly about e-bikes, about Leitner, about self-assembly, etc. than this this review does.
In November 2020 I purchased *another* Leitner electric bike, the 700c Ultimate.
- My wife said I could. Thanks Em!
- The 700c is Leitner's latest model, and I *probably* would have chosen this one the first time around, if it had been available back in September 2019.
- It was a pandemic present to ourselves.
- It's significantly lighter than my Berlin Cruiser. It weighs in at 17kg instead of 25kg. It feels and handles less sluggishly. True, the electric motor helps to nullify the weight effect when you're riding it. But let's say that you expect to be frequently lifting the bike onto a bike rack or similar. You will notice the difference. Indeed, you might even struggle to lift up the Berlin Cruiser if your upper body strength isn't what it used to be.
- The battery is internal, not external, which gives the bike a very clean, uncluttered, minimalist look. I love this! Not that I'm trying to keep it a secret, but to the untrained eye it looks like I'm riding a 'normal' non-electric bike. Technically speaking it's the "down tube" where the battery is stored (I just had to look that up!). I'm guessing that, at time of writing, the Leitner 700c Ultimate has one of the slimmest down tubes of all e-bikes.
- One of the selling points of an external, easily-removable battery is that it's physically easier to get that battery closer to a power point for recharging. In truth, I can't imagine many scenarios where this is a problem, and it certainly isn't for me.
- Like the Berlin Cruiser, the rear wheel is not quick release, which means that it's quite a mission to get the rear wheel off if you need to fix a puncture. My understanding (I could be wrong) is that this is for a good reason. The electric motor generates significant torque in the rear axle, and a quick release mechanism is not as solidly reliable for strongly holding the real wheel in position as the good old trusty nut and bolt mechanism. For this reason, and as I recommended in my Berlin Cruiser review, you may wish to invest in super thick/strong inner tube and/or tyre for your rear wheel (or both). This will minimise the risk of a puncture in your rear tyre ruining your day.
- It's been literally decades since I rode a bicycle without front shock absorbers. The Ultimate 700c doesn't have front shocks, so the ride is a little harder than I'm used to. That said, I got used to this pretty quickly. If there was the option to include front shocks, I would have taken it. I might fit them at some stage in the future.
- Both bikes have a digital display panel mounted on the handlebars. The problem with the Ultimate 700c one (an LED display), *unlike* the Berlin Cruiser one (an LCD display), is that you literally can't see the display if you're wearing polarised sunglasses! It magically disappears. I actually thought the display was broken when I first experienced this. The same thing happens with my laptop computer. But whereas I rarely have reason to use my laptop wearing shades, I'll almost always be wearing shades when riding my e-bike, which pretty much renders the display useless. Which doesn't *really* matter... it's just a bit irritating.
- The Ultimate 700c comes in a single frame size, i.e. no small, medium, or large options. This is totally fine for me and my family as we're all fairly tall. But if you're below average height, you might find the frame a little too big for you. I speculate that the reason the frame is as large as it is because they've had to make the down tube as long as possible to compensate for the fact that it's so slim. If the down tube were fatter, they could have made it shorter to accommodate an internal battery with the same electric storage capacity.
- There appears to be another minor negative associated with the very long down tube. When you're pedalling, it feels like the bottom bracket (the axle through which your pedalling power is transmitted) is positioned slightly more forward, slightly less underneath, than where it normally is. It feels like your pedalling effort is being directed a little more forward (less efficient?), a little less downward (more efficient?), than normal, if that makes sense. This may have nothing whatsoever to do with the long down tube. I'm just speculating.
- Just like with Berlin Cruiser, if you're expecting that the Ultimate 700c will take you effortlessly up *really* steep hills, prepare to be disappointed. The battery doesn't deliver a huge amount of assistance when faced with a large amount of resistance. There's a super-steep hill near me that I can actually ride my non-electric bike up slightly more easily (because it's lighter) than my Ultimate 700c bike (which is about 40% heavier). For low to moderate inclines, the battery assistance is wonderful!
- There are no mount points on the frame to attach a cage for a water bottle. Doesn't bother me. But it feels like an oversight.
- By (Australian) law, the e-bike is not permitted to deliver assistance above a speed of 25 km/hr, otherwise you're basically riding a moped, and different rules and regulations must apply. I get this, and have no problem with this whatsoever. But on the flat, and/or with a tail wind, it's actually super-easy, especially on this lighter e-bike, to have a natural cruising speed of 25 km/hr or greater. As I've watched my speed drop down towards 25 km/hr (e.g. I'm starting to go uphill), the expectation is therefore that at precisely 25 km/hr, or maybe 24 km/hr, you'll feel that assistance kick-in. Not so. It seems to wait until you hit 23 km/hr or less. This leaves you feeling very slightly short-changed! I don't know if I can tweak/hack this a bit... :-)
Additional minor notes/observations:
- There's no Leitner branding on the Ultimate 700c. Me, I don't care. But a missed opportunity for Leitner to get their name out there, especially on this sexy bike! They offered to send me a sticker for my bike, but I politely declined.
- Leitner include the supply of a small set of basic tools to cover most minor maintenance scenarios. One v. minor oversight, which I'm sure they'll resolve, was that none of the 3 allen (hex) keys supplied were the right size for the adjustable-height bike stand. I've reported this to Leitner.
- The charging point on the bike is positioned facing upwards, above the bottom bracket. It's protected by a plastic cover that rotates into or out of position, but doesn't click and stay as solidly in the closed/protected position as I'd like. So I'm slightly nervous that, if I'm riding the bike in rain, water will drop too easily right into the charging point.
- It's tantalising to imagine how much lighter this e-bike could be if Leitner offered up a version with higher-end components. (In 2020, Scott claims a weight of 10.75kg for it's Addict RC eRide road bike).
- Aesthetically I didn't like the supplied plastic long curved 'classic' mudguards. I removed the front, and replaced the rear with a straight one. You can actually choose this configuration yourself when ordering, but in my haste to order I didn't spot that this choice was available. Doh!
At a glance you might think that, because my "Cons" count is more than my "Pros" count, I favour my original Berlin Cruiser over my Ultimate 700c. Wrong!
Some of the cons of the Ultimate 700c are shared with the Berlin Cruiser. But in truth, all the cons are very minor.
If I had to keep just one of my two e-bikes, I would confidently choose to keep the Ultimate 700c. Overall, I like it more. It's minimalist, the colour is gorgeous, it's lighter, it suits me better. It's just so damn sexy.