With e-bikes becoming an increasingly common sight on the bike paths and trails in urban areas around the country, manufacturers are starting to refine the look and feel of the e-bike to the point where they are almost unrecognisable. Australian outfit Lekker is leading the charge (no pun intended) down under with a new range of stylish electrically assisted steeds that are smart, unassuming and capable machines.
So with a competitive build kit adorning the spec sheet and quality design queues, we reached out to Lekker Australia, got our hands on the company’s recently released E-Amsterdam flagship commuter and set about putting it through its paces.
Who’s It For?: The urban commuter seeking a stylish, mostly maintenance free mid-range commuter e-bike.
What We Liked: Stylish aesthetic, sublime belt drive system, unassisted rideability.
What We Didn’t: Limited sizing options, battery life below its competition, harsh riding tyres, and the vinyl lock-on grips.
- Related Reading: The Ultimate E-Bikes Buyer’s Guide
Form and Function
Making use of a quality 6061 aluminium frame and fork, the E-Amsterdam (RRP AU$3,498 as tested) is equal parts form and function. The frame features an integrated battery case, which aids in the sleek aesthetic of the bike, while the tapered rigid fork up front should provide enough dampening for most urban commuters. Our test bike was fitted with a belt drive system (more on that later), so our frame was designed with this drivetrain in mind; however, standard chain drive framesets and builds are also offered. The welds on our test rig were smoothed over, with no apparent gaps or seams visible
Offered in just two sizes, Medium (suits 170cm-190cm), and Large (suits 185cm-205cm), the E-Amsterdam is more or less exclusive to those of decent height and above. The geometry on our tester was typical of the urban bike category, long and stable. The 180mm tall head tube places the rider in a comfortable, semi-upright riding position, however; the curiously long 62.5cm top tube did leave us a little lower and closer to the bars than expected.
- Related Reading: Understanding Bike Geometry
Motor and Battery Specifics
As one of the largest manufacturers of e-bike drive units on the market, Chinese outfit Bafang has come a long way in the last 10-years. After getting its start with front and rear hub-drive motors (found on the Lekker X e-bike), Bafang has branched out into the world of mid-mount pedelec motors with the M400.
The M400 fitted to the E-Amsterdam boasts similar output figures touted by its rivals in Shimano and Bosch, with 250 watts and an impressive 80Nm of torque assisting the rider. The drive unit makes use of torque and cadence sensors at the cranks, which aids in the predictable and linear assistance. Five levels of support are available to the riders, providing increased torque and responsiveness as you ramp up the power.
Acting as the fuel tank for the electrical assistance is a 36V/11.4Ah Samsung battery system. This output is similar to a 400Wh battery offered by rival brands, with Lekker claiming an average range of 50-70km per cycle. From dead flat, we found the battery takes around four hours to charge with the 2amp charger provided.
The build kit and fit out of the E-Amsterdam is typical of the mid-range price tag, with a component list loaded with durable items. The stand out here is the Gates belt drive system. The belt drive system is more or less completely maintenance free, requiring nothing more than a routine inspection and wipe over to perform at its efficient best. The belt drive system is paired with a Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal geared hub out back, providing ample range across its spread of gears.
Stopping duties are handled by Tektro in the form of its TD-285 hydraulic disc brakes, paired with 160mm Shimano rotors. Looking to rolling stock and the in-house double-walled aluminium wheels are wrapped in puncture resistance Kenda E-Bike specific 45c wide rubber complete with reflective strips running the entire diameter of the tyres.
The finishing kit is also an in-house affair with a Lekker branded aluminium stem, seatpost handlebars providing the touch points. Down below, a kickstand and VP aluminium flat pedals are in use while vinyl lock-on grips and a Lekker branded saddle finish off the build.
When news of the E-Amsterdams’ release filtered through to BikeExchange HQ, we were keen to throw a leg over the assisted steed after the gorgeous analogue Amsterdam Elite commuter we tested last year left us feeling wanting a little more from the riding experience.
With electrical assistance, the riding experience aboard the E-Amsterdam is transformed. While it’s not really fair to compare the two bikes, the ride aboard the assisted Amsterdam is much more responsive, comfortable and polished compared to the analogue version.
The M400 mid-mounted Bafang pedelec drive unit was superb in operation, effortlessly propelling the bike forward with minimal fuss, noise or lag. While this bike will most likely be ridden with motorised assistance the vast majority of the time, thanks to the wide range of gears on offer in the internally geared hub, the riding experience isn’t lessened when the drive system is switched off.
The steps between the gears felt evenly spaced, and more than suitable for the rolling landscape that made up our commute to and from the office. We’ve gushed about belt drive systems plenty in the past, and the system fitted to the E-Amsterdam is no exception. It’s smooth and silent in operation, and we’re still left wondering why they’re still not more popular despite apparent appetite and interest from cycling consumers both locally, and abroad.
Lekker states that bikes should be left to charge for 12 hours for the first three cycles or so to ensure the battery system performs to the extent of its capacity, with a full charge taking around five hours from here on in. Despite this, we still found the range on offer from the 410Wh unit lacking, offering around 50km to a charge. While this is within the manufacturer claims, we’ve tested similar systems before, achieving closer to 100km of relatively flat commuting to a charge. As such, we’d love to see a more generous battery system fitted to future iterations of the bike to bring it in line with its competition.
Aesthetics are certainly Lekker’s strong point, with the E-Amsterdam silhouette requiring a double-take to realise that this is in-fact an e-bike. The battery system recessed into the downtube certainly helps this, but it’s the classic triangle geometry that impressed us most. The geometry, with its long reach, tall headtube and 1175mm long wheelbase made for a ride that was long, stable, yet upright enough to make it somewhat nimble enough to navigate the urban landscape. However, the choice to offer the bike in just two sizes feels like Lekker are missing out on a significant portion of the e-bike market, after all, the proportion of riders over 170cm tall would be less than half by our reckoning
On the subject of negatives, two areas that let the bike down for us are the stock tyres and the cheap vinyl bolt-on grips. The tyres, while bombproof in operation, offer a harsh ride as a result of the thick tread and hard rubber compound. If you’re in the market for this bike, we’d recommend upgrading to something a little more supple, as there’s ample space for wider, more comfortable rubber on offer. As for the grips, they’re another easy and worthwhile upgrade, as the stock offerings, we found to be uncomfortable in operation and not very grippy when things got even remotely damp.
Elsewhere, the rest of the finishing kit was faultless in operation. The bars were plenty wide enough for a tight turning circle, without compromising fitment in narrow spaces. The included kickstand does its job, although it does rattle a tad on rough terrain, the saddle was comfortable enough to ride for hours at a time, without bib shorts, and the pedals provided ample grip regardless of what shoes were worn.
While we’d like to see some refinement to the touch points and battery life, the flagship e-bike offering from Lekker is an attractive proposition. Improved by its quality drivetrain, brakes, aesthetics and powerful drive system, there’s little else to fault. So with more positives than negatives, the Lekker E-Amsterdam is easy to live with day-to-day and should shape up as a worthy purchase for those in the market for a mid-range commuter e-bike.
Thanks to Lekker Bikes for the providing the product for this test. The E-Amsterdam retails for AU$3,298 (chain drive - AU$3,498 belt drive). Our chief tester stands at 186cm and rode a size Large.