Update 15/11/2021 – The 2022 Tribe Original Electric Plus is now available, offering even more power and a bunch of other features. Learn more here.
Since launching the Tribe Original, we’ve had numerous questions about it’s pulling power up hills from people who live in hilly areas (hello Sydney!). Previously, we’ve done a hill test on the Tribe Original, proving it can get its way up hills, but it does have its limits.
We’re excited to be launching the Tribe Electric Assist Plus, with a more powerful mid drive motor and enhanced braking capability. More below.
How is it different?
The Electric Assist Plus is equipped with a 250w mid drive motor. The original Electric Assist is equipped with a 250w hub drive motor. Whilst we love the hub drive motors for their cost effectiveness, bullet proof reliability and ability to take weight off the front of the bike, they are considered ‘old tech‘. Mid Drive motors offer more torque then their hub drive equivalents which simply gives them more power!
Given this bike is designed to haul loads up hills we thought it was important to beef up the braking capability. As a result we’ve equipped it with powerful front hydraulic disk brakes, brakes that are usually placed on high end mountain bikes, which significantly increase the bike’s braking capability.
Is it legal to ride in Australia?
Australia’s e-bike laws state that bikes must have motors no bigger than 250w, must be limited to 25km/h and must not have a throttle if the motor is greater than 200w. The electric plus bike meets all of these requirements, with a 25km/h limited motor that is 250w, with no throttle.
Of course you can go faster than 25km/h, just at this speed the assist will cut out and it will be your own pedal power that gets you there. We find cargo bikes are best ridden at speeds of 15-20km/h anyway so it’s not an issue.
How does it perform on hills?
This is the all important question. How does the new mid drive motor perform on hills? The answer is much better and we’ve done a little hill test to prove it.
When we tested the Tribe Original Electric Assist last year, we found the steepest hill around and Steve drew the short straw to ride it as fast as he could. He made it (just). We’ve re-ridden the course and the results speak for themselves.
We didn’t have a child handy at the time, so we simulated children with a 30kg sandbag. The original ride had a 4 year old, at an estimated weight of 15-20kg, we’d estimate we’re carrying at least an extra 10kgs of weight in the latest mid drive test. The rider may also be carrying a few extra kgs after a year of COVID restrictions!
You can refer to the original blog post to understand the hill, essentially it has a 7.4% gradient, with over 10% at its ‘peaks’. The blog also shows how to calculate gradient from Google Maps to better understand the size of the hills in your area.
Hill test results
Tribe Original Electric
Tribe Original Electric Plus
Let’s break this down:
- Average HR 134bpm compared to 144bpm, or 7% less. This doesn’t tell a huge story, as my heartrate just walking is about 70bpm, so it’s around 15% less than my walking heartrate.
- Calories burned, 63 vs 89 or 29% less. This tells a huge story as calorie burning increases exponentially with effort. Think about it, low intensity activities like walking aren’t great for fat burning, but high intensity cardio is great for fat burning.
- Average speed of 9.6km/h compared to 8.6km/h, so not only did I burn less energy but I did it going faster!
Heart rate gradient
Below I’ve overlayed my heart rate over the two rides. In the initial ride my heart rate hit the orange zone pretty quick, peaking in the red zone. The Red zone (90-100% of max heart rate) is super high intensity and generally can only be sustained for short periods.
With the Electric Plus, I spent most of the time in the Green zone. The green zone is considered ‘base rate’ intensity, where you can sustain for an extended period of time. My heart rate peaked into Orange where it hit red zone with the Original Electric Assist.
If you’re after a little more grunt from your cargo bike, the Tribe Original Electric Plus may be the bike for you. Proven to help with hill climbing, paired with hydraulic brakes to help you coming down, it makes for a great bike!