n+ Mercedes-Benz are at it again, offering up yet another steed that bucks the trend of big brands slapping their likeness on a product without any thought or care. The result is a well-thought-out commuter e-bike at home in the city and looks ideal for those in the market for a durable assisted steed to waft them around their urban environment effortlessly.
Read on below for more on what makes up the n+ Mercedes-Benz EQ E-Bike and our impressions on how it rides.
Who’s it For?: Those in the market for an assisted ride that thrives in the urban environment.
What We Liked: The Gates carbon belt drive, sleek aesthetics bang for your buck drive unit.
What We Didn’t: The quirks that come with the specified rear hub, the minimal saddle height adjustment on offer.
What we’d change: Add fenders, lights and swapping out the included tyres.
While most e-bikes on the market are defined by the electronics they possess, the reality is that the mechanical components of an e-bike can make or break the riding experience. In the case of the n+ EQ E-Bike, the frame and mechanical parts on the bike are well-considered and well suited to city riding.
The EQ e-bike makes use of a 6061 aluminium frame and a carbon fork, which is a nice touch at this price point.
As is the case with a large number of urban e-bikes, n+ makes do with an internal hub at the rear, in this case, the Sturmey Archer RX-RK5 5-speed disc-brake hub mated to a grip shifter.
In terms of braking, the bike uses a Tektro hydraulic brake system with 160mm rotors front and rear.
The n+ Formula-E e-bike is available in three different sizes, S, M and L and is claimed to suit riders from 165-200cms in height. Our bike, as tested, hits the scales at 17.4kg for a size M with pedals fitted and retails for AU$4,620.
The electronic heart of the n+ e-bike is aimed squarely at urban riders looking for a switch-on and ride experience. This means no faffing with modes, cables or apps; just switch the thing on and ride it. The drive is courtesy of Bafang mid-mounted pedelec motor, which will assist riders up to 25kph with 250 watts of output and 65Nm of torque due to local limitations.
Fuelling the drive unit is a 252Wh battery, which mounted in the seat tube adds to the bikes sleek aesthetic. The battery is said to provide between 60-100 km of assistance. A full charge is claimed to come in at 3.5 hours, with options for riders to charge the battery on or off the bike.
As a consumer-direct brand, n+ ships all of its bikes from warehouses in Australia, North America and Europe. In our case, the bike was shipped from Fremantle, Western Australia and arrived in less than a week, which is impressive in a COVID affected world.
Inside the box, the bike was mostly assembled, requiring only the handlebars to be fitted, the seatpost slotted onto the bike, the front wheel attached to the front fork and some air in the tyres. While this is by no means demanding, less experienced riders or those wanting peace of mind may want to make use of their local bike store to have the bike built and checked over before riding. n+ includes everything riders need to get the bike operational, including the charger, a kickstand, pedals, reflectors, and a small toolkit containing a 15mm spanner for the wheel bolts and a 3-way hex key, which covers every bolt used on the bike. All-in from a closed box, it took around half an hour to get the bike in a ready to ride condition.
While the bike is aimed squarely at urban riders, I managed to cover a wide range of terrain from bike paths and city streets to fire trails and gravel roads with relative ease during the test period. The bike shines in town, effortlessly wafting along undulating roads and bike paths, requiring little to no thought at all. For those wanting to get a little more adventurous, while the bike is capable of tackling some off-road trails, the lower bottom bracket due to the drive unit combined with the flat-bar geometry limit its use to light offroad use think gravel walking tracks and hard-packed gravel.
Having tested several Bafang equipped assisted steeds, I was looking forward to experiencing the drive unit again. While it is often used on more value-orientated rides, the ride feel and power delivery on tap feel no less refined than more prominent drive unit offerings from Bosch or Shimano. The bike itself is not equipped with a mode selector for the drive unit. Instead, it uses speed, cadence, and torque sensors to deliver power matched to the terrain. In my experience, this is not a perfect system, but it works well enough in the environment the bike is designed for. That being said, I’d love to see a controller of sorts fitted to future iterations of the bike to give riders a little more control over motor output so they can adapt the bike to their riding environment.
The mechanical components fitted to the bike are well suited. I’m a big advocate for belt drives; they make perfect sense for urban, commuter and leisure bikes. The drive train is more or less maintenance-free, requiring nothing more than a spray down if you manage to get some dirt or grime on the belt. It’s cleaner, with no chain lube needed and makes for a quiet ride, too, with nothing more than a gentle hum coming from the drive unit of the bike when the power kicks in.
While bulletproof in its reputation, the 5-speed Sturmey Archer internal drive hub is not without its quirks. Adding a grip shifted internally geared hub makes absolute sense for this bike; however, our test bike did require some minor adjustment to the cable tension out of the box to get it shifting as expected. The adjustment was by no means difficult, requiring some fine-tuning with a barrel adjuster similar to indexing a derailleur on a standard bike. It’s worth noting that the unit didn't miss a shift or raise any further concerns to note once it was adjusted.
Outside of the hub quirks, the rest of the components were as expected. The Tektro brakes provided ample stopping power, and the touchpoints were comfortable for the month, or so I spent riding the bike.
As with every bike, there are minor things we’d change. In the case of the n+ E-bike, while the Kenda puncture-proof tyres are durable and grippy, they suffer when it comes to rolling resistance as such an upgrade to a lighter commuter tyre would only add to the comfort and ride feel of the bike. While there are mounting options for mud guards front and rear, these are not currently offered by n+. Similarly, this bike has no integrated lighting, so be sure to budget for a front and rear lightset.
Lastly is the sizing; our test unit was a Size M, which is claimed to suit riders 175-185cms. Measuring in at 186cm, I am smack bang on the border of a Size M and an L; however, as the battery is located in the seat tube, this leaves limited adjustment for saddle height, meaning that the bike does run a little on the small side. So if, like me, you’re on the fence of sizing, a size up is recommended.
Priced at AU$4,620, the n+ Mercedes-Benz EQ E-bike sits smack bang in the middle of the red-hot middle-tier e-bike market. With such a competitive market, it’s easy for a bike to get lost in this company. However, given this bike's specification and intended use, it deserves a spot on your list of rides to consider if you’re in the market for a City E-bike to see you through your day-to-day.
While n+ has paid activity on BikeExchange, the thoughts expressed in this review are the authors own. This review and no product reviews on BikeExchange are sponsored content.