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Five years ago, I started riding an electric bike between my home and the local Sounder train station since there is very little parking available at the station. I have a locker to store my bike at the station for those days when I don't want to transport it to the office on the train. This flexibility allows me to have an optimized commute experience with a bit of exercise thrown in the mix.
While I have an old solid bike I purchased in 1994 when I want to exercise by cycling, I prefer not to sweat in my office clothes when I go to work. An electric bike provides me with a form of commuting that lets me leave the car behind and have a blast flying along the road outdoors.
For the past month, I've been testing the black and tan Bluejay Sport electric bike. The Bluejay Sport bike is available in Army Green, Bluejay Blue and Black/Tan in either M/L or L/XL sizes for $3995. The L/XL model is intended for people 5 feet, 10 inches, or taller, and since I am 6 feet, 1 inch, I tested the L/XL model.
Mainstream good quality electric bikes can be found in the $1,500 to $4,000 price range, with some high-end models priced at more than $8,000. Bikes at the lower end of this spectrum tend to have less aesthetic appeal with visible bulky wires, lower quality tires, and other cost-cutting features. The Bluejay Sport is priced at the upper end of where the majority of bikes are priced, but most of the features and build quality justify this selling price.
The bike arrived in a large cardboard box with the Bluejay name stamped on the outside. I carefully cut open the box and revealed the very well-packed bike, nearly fully assembled. I only had to attach the front wheel, front fender, handlebars, front rack, headlight, and pedals.
The package contains the tools needed to help you assemble the bike, necessary bolts, and a battery charger. There were no assembly instructions in the review sample, but the Bluejay tech support quickly answered the one question I had as I assembled the bike. It didn't take me long to get everything put together, but you can also have a local bike shop assemble the bike for you. If you pre-order the bike before the full launch, you can take advantage of the free shipping and assembly bonus ($300 value).
The bike includes a bell typically, but it was missing from the review sample. The bike was tested by someone else before me, so it was likely forgotten. I didn't get to test out the effectiveness of the bell, but it is an important safety accessory for a bike.
While the entire bike is made of high-quality materials, the front headlight is fairly cheap and not representative of the total package. I was unsuccessful in getting the contacts in the light from making an electrical connection with the wires from the battery, so I could not observe the power of the light. It only weighs a few grams, and other bikes I tested in the past had a much more robust headlight assembly.
The bike is very well built of aluminum with high-quality welds and an attractive matte finish. It has a rated capacity for a 250-pound rider. I weigh 250 and never felt anywhere close to pushing the limits of the bike structure, so I'm sure it can handle more too. Heavier riders will see a reduction in the speed and range of the bike, like every other electric bike.
The handlebar is comfortable with a couple of ergonomic leather hand grips. It has a very slight backward angle and good width for riding. The color display is positioned at the center of the handlebars and can be angled to your optimal viewing angle. It is visible in all lighting conditions with big numbers and letters so it can be read at all times. There is also a USB-A port on the underside of the display unit that can be used to power up your phone or other connected accessories.
Also: Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X electric bike review: The complete commuter experience
The bike power and display controller module are located just inboard of the left leather grip with the front brake handle in front of the grip. The Bafang display controller has large plus and minus buttons to increase or decrease the assist level of the mid-drive motor. There are also buttons for toggling the lights and power.
The brake handle and gear shifter/indicator are found on the right side of the handlebar. The Bluejay Sport has a 10-speed gear hub with levers to shift up and down through the available gears. An indicator bar with a red dot informs you of the selected gear level. Unlike the CrossCurrent X bike that I bought three years ago, there is no throttle on the Bluejay Sport, so it is an electric-assist bike that requires you to pedal to move forward.
Wires for the brakes and motor lead forward and then down into the frame of the bike so minimal wires are visible. This is one area where you see a huge difference between expensive and less expensive bikes, as intelligent wire control gives you a cleaner look to the bike.
A front rack is secured to the post above the front forks with four large bolts. This front rack can hold up to 24 pounds and was useful for securing groceries with the brown elastic strap that matches the color of the bike. The rack remains straight in position with the bike frame and does not rotate with the front wheel when you turn the handlebars.
A front fender is included to help keep down water and debris flow as you ride the bike on your commute or off-road adventure. The headlight is positioned in a bracket on the left side of the forks. The Tektro front hydraulic disk brakes are also positioned on the left side of the front wheel. High-quality WTB Venture tires with all-road traction are provided with spoked wheels.
Moving back from the handlebar area, we find a large 48V battery attached to the lower frame piece. It can be removed after unlocking the battery with a key. There is also a push-button power level indicator so you can quickly see what the remaining battery power is on the pack. The specifications state that the battery provides up to 75 miles of riding, but that depends heavily on your weight and the path you are traveling on. I road the bike for many miles on paved hills and only had to charge up the battery once.
The Bluejay Sport is powered by a mid-drive torque sensor motor, Bafang 500W, which offers an enjoyable power level and a very capable electric bike experience. The pedals flow freely when you pedal backwards, and then as you peddle forward, the motor kicks in. Bluejay recommends that you always start at level 1 and then use the controller to bump up the levels as you ride because the motor will clearly kick in as you pedal and help propel you forward. I was able to reach speeds up to 25mph (40kph), with lighter riders possibly achieving 28mph. This is the first time I have tried a mid-drive motor; all past experience was with rear hub drive motors. Mid-drive motors are becoming more popular today but are also more expensive than hub motors.
Also: VanMoof S3 review: An electric bike for Apple and Tesla fans
One significant advantage for my use case with a mid-drive motor is the support for variable gear ratios. I live at the top of a long, steep hill, and while I can get to my house with the hub motor bike, it was easier to ride the Bluejay Sport up that same hill. The mid-drive motor is also quite small and lighter than the hub drive motor.
The leather seat is comfortable but also has minimal padding. I did not test out the bike on an extended ride, longer than five miles, so I never felt any discomfort with the seat. The seat post also is easily adjustable and fit my height well.
The back tire matches the front tire with a 10-speed Shimano Deore gear hub at the center of the wheel. Above the rear wheel is another rack, capable of supporting up to 55 pounds and compatible with a Thule Yepp Maxi child seat. Mounted at the back and under the rear rack is a red taillight. This worked well and was connected to the controller system in the box.
One advanced feature of the bike is that you can connect your phone to it via Bluetooth using the Bafang Go smartphone application. I fired up the app on my iPhone, and the app quickly found and connected to the Bluejay Sport. The smartphone app provides you with a similar view of what the onboard display shows but with a bit more detail and color. You can view the bike speed, odometer, battery charge remaining, and power output. The lights can be controlled with the app too.
Also: Best electric bike: Top e-bikes for commuting
Details of the battery status are available, including remaining capacity, full capacity, temperature, cycle count (very handy reference), and when you last charged up the battery.
Drive data provided in the smartphone app includes odometer, cadence, range, estimated calories burned, torque signal, and more. Details about the bike are also available, including controller info, sensor info, and firmware management. You can set up maximum parameters for the bike, including speed limits for the five different levels of pedal assist.
I still think in terms of miles per hour but could not find a way to change the units either in the smartphone app or on the Bafang display on the bike. The bike actually showed it was in mph, but I clearly was not traveling at 40mph on the bike, so while the bike is still in the pre-order phase, it is clear a firmware update is still needed before the bike ships to buyers.
This is the fifth electric bike I have tried out and the first with a mid-drive motor. I have yet to make it up to the top of my hill on my standard bike and have relied on electric bikes to make it with significant effort. The mid-drive motor of the Bluejay Sport has proven to be the best of all of the bikes I have tested so far, with fantastic pedal assist support. Just be careful when you first start pedaling as the bike takes off quickly as you apply torque to the pedals.
The bike has vintage good looks with simple lines and minimal visible cables. The grips are comfortable and controls are easily accessible. The seat was comfortable for short rides, but I'm not sure it offers enough padding for longer rides.
The two racks are very nice to have included with the package, and I was able to ride to the store for a bit of shopping. The high-quality elastic strap, tan to match the bike color, kept the groceries secured in place, and I like that the front rack stays aligned with the bike frame.
I was very disappointed with the front headlight and expected something more robust and substantial for the $3,995 price. It is easy enough to add a light on the handlebars or replace the battery-powered light, but you shouldn't have to.
Since my local community does not have bike lanes, getting up to at least the 25mph local speed limit is important for safety and keeping with the flow of traffic. It was easy for me to get up to this speed on flat local roads with pedal assist, and I greatly appreciated this support of these speeds. The bike rides smoothly, the tires are fantastic (though I would have liked to have seen some puncture resistance), the build quality is solid, and the bike looks great.
The $3,995 price is higher than other bikes I have tried out, but for the customer who wants a bike for commuting or riding out on the trails, then it may be just right. The first Bluejay bikes were popular and sold well, so the Bluejay Sport is likely to appeal to customers as well. The bike is currently available for pre-order with estimated ship dates in late May or early June so you can hit the road in the summer.