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The HovRanger e-bike is $500 cheaper but just as capable as my daily commuter

Review: The Hovsco HovRanger is a great-looking commuter bike that can freely hit 28mph thanks to its Class 3 rating.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by June Wan
hovsco-hovranger-10.jpg

Hovsco HovRanger

8 / 10
Excellent

pros and cons

Pros
  • Beautiful design and Indigo color
  • Class 3 option via smartphone app
  • Comfortable ergonomic seat
  • Hydraulic brakes
  • Bright emergency light on battery
Cons
  • No fenders
  • Limited app functionality
  • Battery operated tail light

Three years ago I tested and then purchased the Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X for its Class 3 classification, a standard that allows me to achieve speeds over 25 mph so that I could ride along with traffic in places without dedicated bike lanes. Since then, I have been using it as my daily commuter, traveling around town, to work, and around the neighborhood.

For the past month, I decided to switch things up, commuting with another e-bike, the Hovsco HovRanger, that's just as capable, even sleeker than the CrossCurrent X, and is roughly $500 less. Here are my thoughts after testing it.

Specifications

Motor size 500 watt Sutto rear hub
Range 60 miles assist, 40 miles throttle only
Top speed Class 2, unlockable to Class 3 (28 mph)
Battery capacity 48 Volt, 720Wh Samsung/LG lithium
Lights Integrated front LED, battery operated rear tail light
Payload capacity 300 pounds
Brakes Hydraulic 180mm disc brakes
Drivetrain 7-speed Shimano
Tires 27.5 x 2.25 inches
Bike weight 55.8 pounds with battery

Assembling the e-bike

In typical e-bike fashion, assembly took about 30 minutes and included installing the kickstand, mounting the handlebars, positioning the front wheel, and attaching the pedals. I've assembled a few too many e-bikes over the years that made this procedure easier than normal. But for new riders, Hovsco does include detailed and clear instructions for assembly, as well as graphics to help you better visualize the construction.

Matthew Miller pushing the Hovsco HovRanger along a trail.

A lovely bike that is built to take on the roads and trails

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

One thing you will notice on the battery pack is that Hovsco added a large and bright three-level LED flashlight on the bottom of it which can come in handy if your bike breaks down and/or you need a light while riding. It's an interesting feature, and since it doesn't add any significant heft to the bike, I'd say it's the most underrated tool on the vehicle.

Review: Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X: The complete commuter experience

Controls for the bike are found on the left side of the handlebars: Four large buttons provide the basic functionality of the bike, with a thumb throttle on the left side as well. The 7-speed Shimano gear shifter is located on the right side of the handlebars. I particularly like the rubber grips on the handles, which are just soft enough to press on without building too much pressure in the palms.

An image of the e-bike's handlebars with buttons and a display attached.

The control center for the bike.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Performance

Hovsco includes an adjustable suspension system on the front forks that helps provide a comfortable ride on most of the roads and trails I tested on. There is no rear or seat post suspension, however, so the bike is not the most optimized for off-road travel. Still, the bike felt very nimble and responsive while riding, so I never felt unsafe or apprehensive while rocking along at more than 26 mph. 

Given that I often ride my bike in the rain, I was pleasantly surprised by the knobbiness of the tires which handle wet grounds very well. Just watch out for puddles, because the lack of fenders means wet pants is inevitable if you ride too aggressively.

An image of the HovRanger's front wheel and suspension system.

The suspension system is adjustable for different roads and conditions.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

While the e-bike is similar in weight to my CrossCurrentX, it felt lighter due to the distribution of parts throughout the frame. Compared to recent bikes I have tested, the 56 pounds were easier to haul up and down the stairs of the train station.

More: Best electric bikes for committing and off-roading

Even though the HovRanger doesn't have a 750W motor, the 500W rear hub is just as capable, easily achieving 26 mph by pedaling the bike with assist turned on. Hovsco rates the e-bike's battery assist as up to 60 miles, but from my testing, I was only able to achieve a range of about 50 miles. That was enough to propel me through my week's commute, but I wouldn't go as far as to say that the HovRanger is an endurance champion.

A smartphone application is available for iOS and Android devices, designed to help you control the Class levels of the e-bike, as well as track your trips and mileage and provide digital manuals. While I managed to use the app to unlock the bike and switch it to Class 3 mode -- it's Class 2 by default, I didn't have as much luck using the tracking features. 

The HOVSCO Ranger set aside on a commuter train.

It's perfectly sized for the train ride to work

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

In most cases, I was able to initiate trips through the Bluetooth connection, but then the app would stop tracking whenever my phone display turned off. Even for shorter distances, I was unable to get the app to track and record any of my trips, so I only used the app for switching e-bike classifications. I'll have to test the app further and see if there are any improvements to the software.

Bottom line

The Hovsco HovRanger has been fantastic to commute with, but I would like the e-bike even more if it came with the fenders and racks that HOVSCO bundles separately for an additional $300. Still, the Hovsco HovRanger is a reasonably-priced e-bike that is built well with seamless aluminum welds and a rock-solid assembly. For those who want a commuter e-bike that works both on and off dedicated bike lanes, I'd highly recommend the HovRanger for its flexibility and build quality.

Alternatives to consider

The Hovsco HovRanger is a nimble and powerful e-bike, but if you are looking for something with more features, then you may want to consider these options:

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