Review: Vanpowers UrbanGlide-Ultra, going Dutch for Black Friday

VanPowers sent us its top-of-the-line UrbanGlide-Ultra bike last month which is touted to be a Dutch-style e-bike and top spec in its Urban Glide lineup. But with Black Friday prices starting under $1000, how close to a real Dutch “Gazelle” type bike is this? You might be surprised…

Vanpowers isn’t Dutch like it sounds and looks, they are a relatively small team based in Chino California as part of a larger set of Chinese companies. Are they trying to rip off Gazelle? Maybe! They even tried to call one of their bikes the Gazelle before the lawyers got involved. Urban Glide the European mobility company or Thule stroller might also dislike this bike’s name.

But the Vanpowers UrbanGlide-Ultra definitely gives off those Dutch vibes with its upright riding stance, swept-back handlebars, and lack of a throttle. It comes in 3 different step-over configurations at 3 distinct price tiers.

From 11/10-11/30, UrbanGlide is running a huge sales promotion on their UrbanGlide series: 

  • UrbanGlide-Ultra: $2099 (save $400)
  • UrbanGlide-Pro: $1549 (save $350)
  • UrbanGlide-Standard: $999 (save $300)

Every UrbanGlide purchase made during this promotional period will also come with the following free accessories: Waterproof Pannier Rear Rack Bag + Folding Lock.

We got the high-end “Ultra” model in Gunmetal (dark aqua, it also comes in Lava Red) which pleasantly surprised us with its high-quality components, excellent build quality, and a great ride.

The spec sheet for this bike includes:

  • 690WH UL-certified removable downtube battery with LG cells
  • Bafang M600 500W nominal mid-drive motor with torque sensor
  • Tectro HD-E350 hydraulic disc brakes with 1800mm rotors
  • 3.5”Color TFT-LCD Display, comes with app and 4 digit security lock
  • Weight 70.55 lbs./32 kg
  • Range: Optimistic 65-70 miles. Realistic about 40 miles going 20mph on full assist.
  • Zoom adjustable seat post with 3cm of travel and handle
  • 9-speed Microshift® RD-M26L Derailleur, cassette, and gear shift

Urban Glide Ultra is easy to put together and my son and I got it running in about 15-20 minutes. The battery came about 60% charged so budget some time to get this thing fully charged if you want to roll out with full power. The waterproof/fanless charger is an impressive 4 amps at 54.6V, about double the standard charger speed, but comes with a charger head I haven’t seen before, and might be harder to find a replacement. Also, the charger port and battery power button are located pretty low on the downtube which can be inconvenient to reach and plug in. For a full charge, figure about 3.5 hours, which is quite fast.

The headlining part on this bike is the Bafang M600 motor which we’ve seen power off-road mountain bikes that go 35 miles per hour. It is rated for mountain bikes and cargo bikes so it is over-specced on a 20mph commuter – which is good. You can never have too much power!

It has a torque sensor and 2 speed sensors built in so its pedal tracking is very accurate though not dialed in quite as much as the new Brose or Bosch equivalents.

Strangely, the Urban Glide Ultra says it is a Class 2 e-bike but on the high end, it has no throttle making it a Class 1 e-bike in reality. Lower-specced versions of this bike apparently do have a throttle?!

The incredible power of this motor cuts off abruptly at 20mph which is a shame because this motor has at least 10 more mph left in it even with the controller it came with. The 9-speed rear cassette is very nice and smooth but in reality, most people will only use about 2 gears with this motor’s insane 120nm of torque.

When I ride this on flat ground, I usually start in the nearly hardest gear on PAS 5/5. I’m bouncing off of 20mph in just a few seconds and that’s where I stay until hills come up. For a smoother, less aggro ride, I roll in PAS 2 or 3 which usually keeps me just under the 20mph hard cutoff. On hills, I put it about midway through the gears and let the M600 do most of the work.

I asked our PR Rep if there was a way to make this a Class 3, 28mph e-bike via software update or controller configuration and she got back with a hard “no”. I have to believe this should be remedied because this commuter bike wants to go faster than 20mph. It is begging to!

I got it up over 40mph unassisted on a downhill and it feels super stable and it rode well. No rattles or speed wobbles.

The ride overall is super smooth and even potholes are evened out with a really nice Zoom adjustable suspension up front with 3+ inches of travel. That’s paired with that Zoom seat post with an inch and change of movement. The 27.5″ aluminum wheelset with Kenda 2.2″ low-resistance city tires feels soft and grippy, but I might prefer to put some Schwalbe Big Bens on here for more efficient road use.

Braking is also very impressive with the Tektro hydraulic brakes on 180mm discs. Easy to modulate, these brakes also will lock up and get you stopped as fast as tire friction will allow. The safety focus continues with controller-connected front and rear lights, though braking doesn’t activate the rear light as it should.

There are some extras like an app that will give you some data on your rides but isn’t really worth setting up in my opinion. What would have been nice is some more configuration options for that huge color display including map projection, Strava integration, etc.

The experience vs the inspiration

This is a fabulous e-bike and one I’d use every day – if I didn’t hit that hard wall at 20mph. It is quiet but powerful and as a step-thru, easy to hop on and off. The lighting makes riding at night doable though the front light could be a little brighter in a perfect world.

Gazelle Ultimate C8 HMB

Is this the same level of experience you’d get with a $3500 Dutch Gazelle bike (pictured above) that it coincidentally resembles? In some ways yes and it even exceeds the Gazelle in acceleration and hill-climbing torque by a noticeable margin. But overall it just isn’t as smooth or built quite as tightly or integrated with a built-in lock, better reflective wheels, a belt drive, and internal gears.

But you are getting 90% of that experience, with a more powerful motor at around half the cost. Which is to say a great deal, and one one that’s even better this week…

From 11/10-11/30, UrbanGlide is running a huge sales promotion on their UrbanGlide series: 

  • UrbanGlide-Ultra: $2099 (save $400)
  • UrbanGlide-Pro: $1549 (save $350)
  • UrbanGlide-Standard: $999 (save $300)

Every UrbanGlide purchase made during this promotional period will also come with the following free accessories: Waterproof Pannier Rear Rack Bag + Folding Lock

 

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