Analog Motion AM1 Ebike Review: Cheaper, Cheerful

By Gary Cutlack on at

The Analog Motion AM1 was one of last year's big Kickstarter winners, proudly sitting on a total take of £333,486 -- blowing away initial targets and proving that yes, electric bikes are definitely a thing and cheaper ones are particularly desirable.

And now the AM1 exists in its final form. They made it. They delivered loads. Others are in a shop right now. Everyone pulled through and promises were kept. There's one right here that came in the post. It's a Kickstarter story that didn't fall apart in acrimony and failure.

The AM1 is in the living room on the carpet and everything, as even enough it's relatively cheap for a modern electric bike and this is a loan one I haven't paid for, it's still a grand's worth of equipment. Plus another £200 for a second battery. That's too much tech to live in the shed or risk leaning up outside on the wall for a bit. I did take it out for a photo though:

For this money you get a lightweight, hybrid-style machine with narrow handlebars, powered by (a) pedalling and (b) a 200W motor housed in the hub of the rear wheel. Components are mostly unbranded, although where it matters down there on the disc brakes it reassuringly says "Tektro," even though the brake levers on the handlebars are anonymously manufactured. The rubber foot fell off the kickstand on day one, but apart from that it survived delivery and some rides in the rain intact.

A second battery though? That's a subtle hint that some corners have been quite closely shaved to hit the lowest possible RRP of £999, as the entry level bike's included "lightweight" battery offers just 125Wh of electricity storage. That's quite low in modern ebike terms, perhaps a quarter of what you might expect from a costlier high-end electric bike option, giving riders a maximum projected assistance range of 20 miles.

And that's the ideal-conditions best case estimate for people with the mental fortitude not to keep it on the highest and most enjoyable of the five power assistance levels all the time. Our riding experience put the range at a little less than that, but then we live in a place where it's hilly, which is an unfair demand to place on a machine built primarily for cruising the flatter tarmacs of our towns and cities.

As with most UK-spec ebikes this is an assisted pedal option, lacking a throttle of any sort and requiring at least some effort on the rider's part to move the bike forward. You do a bit, the motor does a bit. People who say electric bikes are cheating are wrong and don't understand. They're thinking of motorbikes.

The AM1, with its one-speed fixed drive system and 200W motor doesn't have the same kick up the hills as rival crank-driven ebikes, so needs to be kept on roads and ridden as envisioned; while wearing your work clothes and in an upright position, perhaps with a rolled-up Daily Mail under your arm to use to swipe at hesitant pedestrians.

It powers along the flat in happy style, mind, with the rear-wheel hub motor doing a fine job of assisting pedal turns and applying that power in a smooth manner, with only an accompanying whine to tell you when the power's on.

Despite a low battery capacity, there is one massive advantage to the AM1's smaller battery and rear-wheel motor combination; hugely reduced weight compared to larger ebikes with their massive batteries and crank motors. This entry-level AM1 weighs barely more than a normal, non-powered hybrid bike, and the battery itself weighs well under 1kg, making the bike perfectly rideable at lower assist levels or even with no battery attached at all.

That's quite a game changer in ebike land, as the more expensive, heavier, longer range competitor models, with their enormous li-ion lumps, are several kilos heavier, and therefore complete nightmares to ride when you've made an error and let your battery die far away from home.

Being lighter all round means the AM1 has thinner wheels than the chunky tractor tyres usually found on hefty ebikes, helping it roll better and require less effort to keep at a decent pace, perhaps even letting riders cruise above the legal level (15mph or so) when the assistance fades out.

Maybe I've only been unlucky in riding heavy, cumbersome ebikes in the past, but the AM1 is the first electric bike that's been anything other than a life-sapping liability when its battery dies. You could get this up some stairs without help too.

For the few not the many

This is a nice, but very specialised bike. It is for people with short ish, urban commutes. It's great at those, as its lightweight build and narrow handlebars suit whizzing between white vans and railings on flat roads. It's light so can be lifted into cars, buses and put various racks with ease, too.

Don't plan on heading off through the countryside on it at the weekend, though, as those same narrow handlebars make pulling up hills tough, as does the lack of gears. The modest battery capacity means you need a spare battery for long trips too, and at £200 a pop for an extra battery that lessens the stock AM1's bargain status a little.

But there's one important caveat to remember; it's lightweight and more affordable than other ebikes because of its small-ish range and simple, gear-free setup. Many people want exactly that. The AM1 is a smooth ride for city folk who want to commute on two wheels without breaking the bank, or a sweat.