While I ride the Sounder commuter train to and from Seattle every day, the local station in my town continues to reduce parking for commuters to the point where there are only spots for those on the first two trains of the day. Thus, driving a car to and from the station is no longer an option, so I had to look to other options for my six-mile roundtrip commute.
A couple of years ago, I purchased a RadCity electric bike and recently passed 1,000 miles on the odometer. The RadCity has been an excellent workhorse for me -- with the only problems being a few blown-out tires since I ride along the edge of roads that are full of puncture sources.
One month ago, the folks at Juiced Bikes sent a CrossCurrent X commuter electric bike for me to test out -- since the new CrossCurrent S2 is selling well and not available for testing. The CrossCurrent S2 is very similar to the CrossCurrent X (CCX), with the CCX having a larger capacity battery, Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, and a bit beefier setup for high-performance urban riding.
Also: RadCity electric commuter bike review: Affordable, urban, green, and just plain fun
While there are more attractive electric bike options, many of these are priced thousands more than the CrossCurrent X. I also weigh in at 250 pounds, so I need an electric bike built for heavy capacity while offering solid, reliable performance. As much as I like my $1,500 RadCity, I much prefer the $2,499.99 CCX for several reasons discussed in this review.
The Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X is available in three sizes with three color options, including matte black, red gloss, and brushed aluminum. For the past month, I've been testing a large (18-inch) matte black model. The large size is designed for people who are 5ft 8in tall and 6ft 3in tall, and since I am 6ft 1in tall, the bike fit perfectly after raising the set up a few inches.
The bike arrived in a large cardboard box with the Juiced Bikes logo 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 fenders, and pedals. The tires were not inflated either, but everything else was ready to go.
The package contains assembly instructions, tools needed to help you assemble the bike, a battery charger, fender stays, a bell, and extra spokes. Even if you are not a bike mechanic, the bike was easy to get up and running in no time.
The bike is very well built of 6061 aluminum with high-quality welds and an attractive matte finish. The handlebar is comfortable with a couple of fantastic ergonomic handgrips with wide flat ends that let you rest your hands as you ride. On the left side, you will find the brake handle, throttle, power button, and LCD/controller. The throttle faces down and is positioned outside of the LCD unit.
The power button is positioned on the back of the display unit, front of the bike, and a press and hold of the button turn on the display/bike after you first press the power button on top of the battery. There are plus and minus buttons below the display to toggle through the different modes and also navigate the system. Press and hold the plus button to toggle the front headlight on and off. The LCD matrix display has a resolution of 120x64 pixels and an IP65-dust and water-resistant rating.
The LCD has basic and advanced modes. The basic mode shows the remaining voltage, battery status levels, selected pedal assist level, and speed. You can also view an advanced mode for more data such as amps, watts, odometer, trip distance, and more. System settings can be accessed to set a maximum speed, set a low voltage limit, adjust display brightness, and more.
The brake handle and gear shifter/indicator are found on the right side of the handlebar. There are nine gears to move through on the bike -- all mounted on the rear wheel. It's common for these less expensive electric bikes to have cables running all over the place, but Juiced Bikes does a good job of having a brake, controller, throttle, and gear cables collected in front of the handlebars and then routed through the frame to their termination location. The bike has a fairly clean look and doesn't look cheap or shoddy at all.
Working down from the handlebars, we have a powerful 1,050 lumens light. This is great to see since I had to replace the substandard 200 lumens light on my RadCity, as that was unacceptable for dark conditions or even awareness of drivers. The metal-encased light on the CCX is wired to the battery so you can count on having power available at all times.
Below the light is the front fender. One fender stay was missing from the package, so I ordered the upgrade V-Brace stay system from Juiced Bikes and then installed that on the bike. These stays are a bit more substantial and are working perfectly well for me on the CCX. Just behind the fender support is the Suntour NCX suspension fork with hydraulic lock and adjustable spring rate for a smoother ride.
I've experienced a few flat tires on my RadCity due to the conditions on the side of the road and the use of cheap tires. Thankfully, Juiced Bikes offers the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires that have a puncture-resistant 5mm thick belt to help prevent flats. The tires also have anti-aging sidewalls for additional rigidity and performance on e-bikes. If I keep my RadCity, I need to move to these more reliable tires for commuting, as my last blow out at 23mph was a bit too dramatic for my tastes.
The heavy, high capacity battery is locked into the large mainframe piece that is welded securely together with other frame pieces. You can charge the battery with it mounted to the bike or with it removed from the bike. There is also a Cycle Satiator fast battery charger available for $319 that is compatible with most Juiced Bikes. The battery pack itself is sold for $799.
An extremely comfortable Selle Royal Looking gel seat is mounted on a Promax seat post with a quick-release clamp. I rode 39 miles one way to the office -- a two-hour ride -- and the seat remained comfortable the entire ride. At the bottom of the bike, under the seat, are platform pedals that are connected to torque and cadence sensors. There are also two water bottle cage mounts incorporated into the frame opening below the seat post.
The CCX includes a rear rack with pannier rail and light holder. The rear LED light is battery-powered and has multiple light modes for steady, flashing, and pulsing patterns. This rack has a 50-pound payload limit, so don't use it as a seat for a second rider. I mount a bag here to carry things like tools, glasses, gloves, and more. A rear fender with mudguard is attached below the rear rack.
The rear tire is the same as the front tire, so you can rest assured you are protected from flats. With the rear wheel hub motor, the rear wheel also has heavy-duty spokes. The 750 Watts Bafang Motor is mounted at the center of the rear wheel. A kickstand is also attached to the frame to keep your bike securely in place when you are done riding.
See also: Garmin Edge 530 and Varia RTL510 review: Keeping your bike commute safe and enhancing your outdoor fun
The Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X is available now in matte black, red gloss, and brushed aluminum for $2,499. The website currently also shows a $200 sale so that you can buy the bike for $2,299. Shipping is free too, which is awesome since the box is large and heavy.
To evaluate the various commuting scenarios with the CrossCurrent X, including battery life, comfort, the effort required, and fun, I rode the bike 39 miles one-way door-to-door and then daily for 6.2 miles roundtrip to and from the commuter train. I was able to complete the 39 mile trip in just under two hours (one way) at an average speed of just under 20 miles an hour. When I made this trip with my regular 1994 Bridgestone bike, it took me 45 minutes longer, so this is a significant time savings thanks to the electric power.
Full throttle mode is limited, by law, to 20 mph and while it is handy to have available, it impacts the range of the bike. I use the throttle in power boost mode to help get me off the line after a stop, and as I ride up steep hills. The weight of the person, ground profile, and environmental conditions will impact your range. Juiced Bikes provides data that a 190-pound person -- with payload, on level ground, and no wind -- may go 50 miles at 20 mph.
The various levels of pedal assist will provide you with very responsive performance and various speeds with the same effort. From my experiences on my long flat commute, I saw the following speed ranges at various assist levels with about the same effort:
See also: Coros Omni smart cycling helmet hands-on: Protection, music, and safety
In typical daily commute mode, I set the assist to level three since that helps me get to the 25mph speed limit on my roads. I feel much safer traveling at the speed of traffic rather than having vehicles pass me the entire time I am biking. The Garmin Edge 530 and Varia RTL510 are mounted on the CCX to help me monitor traffic and track the details of my ride. I also wear the Coros Omni helmet while commuting.
So, did the CCX battery last for the entire 39-mile commute with a 250-pound guy and another 20 pounds of gear? Yes. I started at level three assist and then dropped down to level two after about 20 minutes since I saw the battery level depleting. After another 15 minutes or so, I dropped down to level one until I hit about three bars (out of 10) on the battery indicator when I dropped to ECO mode. I used power boost with the throttle to start from stops and go up bridges. At the end of the trip, I had one bar left showing on the display.
So, the CrossCurrent X made it to the entire 39 miles one way to the office, but I still had three miles to ride home after loading the bike onto the train for 36 miles. The battery died during this final three-mile leg, and I had to walk up the hill into my neighborhood. Usually, I can cycle up the hill at 8 to 10 mph with pedal assist.
However, during my typical daily commute -- the three-mile gap to and from the train -- I can go all week between charges. But the other great thing about an e-bike is that I can commute to my train without even using a car and while wearing my work clothes. I've been riding daily for more than a year, in rain and shine, and am an e-bike believer.
I wasn't intending to test emergency braking, but a rude driver of a construction truck was behind me and should have seen me with my three rear lights pulled around me and then cut into a driveway directly in front of me. I was traveling at about 22 mph and squeezed the front and rear brakes. I was able to stop in about 10 feet, just a couple of feet from plowing into the side of the truck, and was relieved by the braking capability. My other ebike doesn't brake as fast as this CCX.
After a month with the Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X commuter electric bike, I am strongly considering selling my RadCity to pick up the CCX. There are several aspects of the CCX that I find better than the RadCity, yet the bike is still much more affordable than many other e-bike models. I enjoy my commute, as the bike takes off when I apply a pedal stroke and helps me get to the train in less than 10 minutes.
The best aspects of CrossCurrent X for me are:
I've seen compromises made before to make e-bikes affordable, but have to say that Juiced Bikes hits it out of the ballpark with the CrossCurrent X. The only con of the bike, for me, is that it is quite heavy at nearly 60 pounds. However, with the extended battery range, I don't have to ride it unassisted, and my commuting route means I rarely have to lift the bike either.
I was very impressed by all aspects (comfort, performance, appearance, price) of the CrossCurrent X, and it is a perfect upgrade to my RadCity. While the matte black looks great, I may go for the brushed aluminum model if I decide to purchase one for myself.