Urtopia Carbon One electric bike : test / review
Published on: 26-02-2022 / Modified: 14-05-2023
I test all kinds of products but as this blog is not my main occupation, I have to test products that are useful to me on a daily basis to be sure to have enough time to test them. Among these products there was one that I hadn't really thought about, it was the bike. I'm not a great athlete but I try to cycle one to two hours a week to remain in good shape. Bikes are not usually products for geeks like what I usually test, but I found a product that will reconcile geeks with cycling.
The Urtopia Carbon One ebike is an electric bike that started its life in crowdfunding on Indiegogo, the campaign raised just over 3 million euros. It's a very good performance but these beautiful figures do not give any guarantee that the product will end up being manufactured. There is always a risk with this kind of campaign but this time it's the right one, I received my unit in October 2022!
There is an upgrade version of this bike now and it's called the Carbon 1S. It is basically the same bike but with additional gears. This is really what was missing for me, it will allow you to better adapt your speed to your need.
If you are interested in this bike: Urtopia Carbon 1/1S
How to use this coupon?
1. Go to the following link: Urtopia ebike
2. Add the right product to the basket like on the following picture:
3. Enter the promo code / coupon in the appropriate field:
What is Urtopia Carbon One?
Urtopia Carbon One is the first electric bike marketed by Newurtopia. This Chinese start-up is positioning itself in an ecological niche to design different products with a zero carbon footprint. Newurtopia has surrounded itself with European and American profiles to design their product with in particular Mathis Heller (https://www.mathisheller.com/) who has a series of successes in the field of design, you can find his professional career here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mathisheller/details/experience/
Video with French voice over but subtitles in 6 languages.
I received my Urtopia Carbon One bike in October 2022, it was later than originally expected but I see orders are now being delivered quite quickly so you won't have to wait as long as I did. The box of the bike is quite imposing, it weighs more than 25kg, so it is better to be present at the time of delivery.
The bike is almost fully assembled, you just have to mount the front wheel and install the saddle, all the tools are delivered in the box and you don't need any special skills to be able to mount this bike.
Urtopia - The bike
The Urtopia Carbon One reminds me of another project I supported some time ago, the design is very similar to the Superstrata which was also launched through crowdfunding. Urtopia and Superstrata look very similar with the absence of vertical support from the saddle to the crankset. I read many negative reviews about this when Superstrata came up with this idea but all those so-called experts were wrong, the concept works.
The frame is entirely built in carbon fiber, it's the same for the forks and the handlebars, it's not the first bike of this type but the weight reduction is a nice performance, the Urtopia only weight between 14 to 15 kilos (with battery). Carbon unleashed creativity, you can imagine bikes with different design but this is all a matter of taste, the most tangible thing is the weight reduction.
The motor is a 250W motor with 35Nm of torque which on paper shouldn't be too noisy. This engine alone weighs 1.7kg and has a lifespan of 20,000 km. The European version is limited to 25 km/h, beyond this speed the motor will no longer offer assistance. The American version is limited to 32 km/h. The engine has 5 assistance level starting with 0 (no assistance), ranging from 1 to 3 to help you going uphill but there is also a boost mode to give you a bigger push. The motor is powered by a 360Wh Samsung Li-Ion battery which will take 2.5 hours to recharge. The battery is also removable to allow you to recharge the bike without having to bring it into your home.
The engine is quite discreet, I just hear a little noise coming from the rear. You can configure the app to produce a small vibration whenever you switch to another assistance level. You can change the level of assistance directly on the handlebar (arrow up/down). I use level 0 (no assist) to and level 1 (minimum assist) most of the time because the bike is so light and easy to handle that going slightly uphill doesn't require much assistance. These different levels of assistance allow me to keep an almost constant speed of 25km/h even uphill. I have several roads that I have been riding for a few years with my race bike and for the steepest climbs my speed drops to around 15km/h with my race bike and I end up coughing up my lungs. With the Urtopia, I manage to maintain a speed of over 20 km/h without getting too tired, but let's be clear, it's not because there is assistance that you won't have to do anything but the effort is clearly less intense.
Bicycles are in most cases equipped with a chain to ensure the transmission from the crankset to the rear wheel. The Urtopia uses a type of carbon fiber belt that requires no maintenance and has a lifespan of 30,000 km. I had never tested a bike with this type of transmission and it helps the bike being quieter. I'll need to use it for a longer period of time to see if the belt is better than the traditional chain.
The crankset looks huge with its 55 teeth, the cassette has 22 teeth. With 700C wheels, this brings the bike to a development of 5 meters per pedal revolution. It's not a lot, it's even nothing like a race bike that can easily do 10 meters with each revolution. Beyond 25km/h you quickly have the feeling of pedaling in the air and it's difficult to go much faster, you can expect to reach maybe 29-30km/h on flat road and above 30 downhill but you won't be able to give an extra push. If you're used to press hard on pedals all the time, you'll need to get used to this, there is only one speed and it's a easy one designed for casual rides.
The Urtopia is equipped with two hydraulic disc brakes with 2 pistons. I don't have disc brakes on my race bike and expected harder braking with disc brakes but it's the opposite. Braking isn't harsh, I found it even slower than the Ultegra brakes on my bike but they do their job well. They are in line with what you can expect from this bike. As you won't be much faster than 25 km/h and it's not a racing bike, you don't need the brutality of race bike brakes.
My racing bike has normal wheels, so I was very surprised by how light the wheels of the Urtopia were. They are really ridiculously light and their aesthetics contribute greatly to the modern aspect of the bike. The tires are Kenda Kwest 700x35c, the rim measures 19mm. The manufacturer recommends a pressure of 50-60 PSI, I inflated my tires to 60. So I lose a little comfort but I'm used to riding with 90 PSI on my other bike, so the Urtopia is more comfortable but for those who would be used to riding a classic city bike, the Urtopia can probably give the impression of being a little harsh. Comfort is somewhere between a normal city bike and a racing bike.
I was a bit scared when I first saw the saddle, I thought it was going to be too hard and uncomfortable but it's not at all. I will see if this is confirmed over time, but after riding for an hour at full speed, I didn't feel any pain. The saddle can also be adjusted to a great height and even if you are tall, you will probably find the ideal saddle height. I'm 1m94 and I still had plenty of room for saddle height.
Urtopia developped its own app to configure the bike and enjoy a more connected experience. The app records your trips each time you synchronize your bike with your phone, you can keep track of distance, speed, calories,... all the usual things. You can also configure your bike like setting up the alarm (and a perimeter), checking the bike's health, changing sounds (and volume levels),... I was really positively surprised by the app, they did it right from the start unlike many other chinese companies.
The bike is equipped with lights on both sides. You can setup the bike to switch on lights automatically so that you don't have to worry about it. There is a small led on each side at the back that projects a light halo on the ground when you use the left/right flashers. While it's a nice idea, I would have preferred to use the same light as the brake to act like a flasher so that you can indicate your intention to turn also during daylight.
On the left of the handlebar:
You can increase or decrease the engine assistance with the up/down arrows, you can turn the motor off completely and quite frankly this bike works very well without the motor also thanks to its lightness. If you run out of battery, you don't have to worry too much about it, you will still be able to ride without dragging too much dead weight with you.
The left/right arrows are used to trigger the corresponding flasher.
On the right of the handlebar:
The button on the right of the handlebar has several functions. It is equipped with a fingerprint sensor that will allow you to start the bike or unlock it if the alarm is turned on. The alarm is very noisy and very annoying but I guess this is what we should expect from an alarm.
This button also serves as a buzzer, you can even choose the sound used from the application but even if I find the idea interesting, the sounds offered are not very serious. In any case, they have the merit of startling the people who are on your way. There's also a little latency to using the buzzer and it can make it sound like it's not working and make you want to press it a second or third time which will result in two or three delayed honks for other people around you. The pedestrians around you will already be surprised after one warning, imagine their face after three warnings.
The third function of this button allows you to give voice commands to the bike but these are only available in English. You can for example lock the bike, turn the light on/off, trigger the flasher,... It's an interesting concept but not very useful if you don't speak English or if you have to act quickly because asking to turn right will take always longer than pressing the button provided for this purpose.
In the middle of the handlebars there is a huge screen that displays the current speed and the battery level. I find that the screen could have been a little smaller but the idea is to be able to use it as a navigation screen with the GPS signal but I could not test this feature because it is not yet available on Android. The screen isn't clickable, so you can't interact with it even though its surface invites you to touch it.
Other features available include:
- gps and esim for connectivity
- accelerometer and gyroscope to send an alert if your bike is moving (eg to warn you of a theft)
- remote update
- rear radar to warn of the arrival of vehicles
The geek stuff looks really interesting but software often means bugs and I don't really want to have a software bug when I ride my bike. I had some bugs on my first kilometers using the first version of the app, the bike would turn itself off when I was riding. It was no big deal really but it's surprising. After I updated the software, I did not encounter any problem anymore..
Urtopia Carbon One review
I will post my experience below as I use the bike.
I have traveled nearly 100km with the bike, including a 30km uninterrupted ride, here are my first impressions.
As I wrote above, I've never tested an electric bike before this one, I'm mostly used to having to push very hard to go fast. I had to get used to the pace of this new bike a bit because the effort is less intense but you have to pedal much faster (more revolutions / minute) and I end up pedaling in the air as reaching 25 km/h is very easy.
I have ridden roads that I usually ride with my other bike and I notice the following:
- I go slower than with a racing bike (around 5 km/h less and my racing bike is a basic one and I'm not an athlete)
- I am less tired
- on my 30km course, my heart rate was 20 beats lower even though I did not stop pedaling at the maximum speed on the course. Normal users will probably not push it so hard so you can expect the heart rate to be much lower.
- the saddle is comfortable
- I had no back pain, ride position is good
- hand support end up in a triangle shape which results in a bit more pressure in the middle of your hand
- I'm not a fan of the horn, nor the noise it makes nor the latency
- the bike is so light that I don't need assistance on flat road
- I had to recharge my battery after 80 km but as I was testing the bike, I could probably do better by riding like a normal person
The weather is not helping me finish my review. I had prepared some videos but there was so much wind that my voice was mostly covered by the wind blowing in the microphone. I'll have to record all videos again. I have added my unboxing video higher on this page.
I have tried the bike on a road going up with 6% and even if it still requires some effort to go to the top, it is nothing compared to a normal bike. When I arrive at the bottom with my normal bike, I'm around 30km/h and I end up with something like 15km/h. With the Urtopia, I start climbing at 25 km/h and I manage to keep more than 20km/h all along the way and I'm not completely out of breath once arrived.
When the bike is in its shelter, the bike is slowly consuming the battery to be able to send you alerts in case the bike gets stolen. This means that you will need to check your battery levels to make sure there is enough battery left to continue monitoring the bike. You should get an alert on your phone when the battery level is too low.
I have added my video review for those who prefer this format. It's now time to write the conclusion.
I did my last ride on november 13rd as it was getting too cold and too rainy but I did my first ride of the year on Feb 2nd while the temperature was around 9°C. It was a good test for the battery and also my physical shape. The battery was full when I did my 30 min ride and it was still almost full after my ride despite the cold. I went for one of my short loops (13 km) and I did my second best time ever. Not bad after a winter break.
Urtopia has launched a new version of this bike with a 4x7 gears and a 350W engine for those in need for more power. I haven't tested this version as it is only reserved for the American market.
I have a normal (race) bike and that's a choice I made a couple of years ago because I wanted to stay in shape while being outside. I'm not a professionnal cyclist, I try to ride a bike between 1 and 2h / week when the weather allows it and when I ride, I push hard all the time because I like this. I had always seen electric bikes as something for older or lazy people, I always thought that it was somehow cheating. With this first electric bike I changed my mind, not because of the assistance it provides but because it works on muscles in a very different way. With my normal bike, pedaling is hard, pedaling velocity is average and speed is high. With the electric bike, pedaling is (too) easy, velocity is very high and speed is average.
The Urtopia Carbon One is not the usual ebike, it has a very particular shape and design, it looks different. Its low weight is definitely one of its biggest strengths, not so much to carry it on your shoulder when going upstairs somewhere but sufficiently light to be able to ride it without assistance. Electric bikes are usually heavy and when you run out of battery, you feel the weight of the bike. It's not the case with this Urtopia, it is very light and battery range is really good (fully charging takes between 150 and 180 minutes). With my riding style (assistance only when I go uphill and pushing hard all the time), I can ride for around 100km before charging the battery. Weight and battery range are the two most obvious strengths of this bike.
When I rode this bike for the first time, I thought it was not for me because pedaling was too easy but when I started riding it like my normal bike I was surprised to feel my muscles working in a different way so I went on by taking it for a 30km ride pushing as hard as I could. People passing by probably smiled as pedalling very fast all the time made me look like I was in a movie played in fast forward. My average speed was much lower than with my normal bike but my heart rate was also much lower and I did not feel exhausted at all, I could have done more kilometers without any problems. Comfort is another strength of this bike because even after 30km, I felt no pain in the back or in my neck. The bike has no suspension but the frame absorbs vibrations quite well.
The Urtopia Carbon One is also equipped with a couple of additional features. I like the possibility to unlock the bike with fingerprint, it feels so natural. The screen is probably a bit too big, it displays speed and battery most of the time and sometimes give other indications like when you're turning, using voice commands or navigation. The screen is very easy to read by daylight and might be a bit too bright at night but it works pretty well. I would have preferred to see a battery percentage instead of a single number but you get used to it. One of the weaknesses here is the horn, there is a latency, you need to wait 1 or 2 seconds before hearing something and 1 or 2 seconds is important if you have to warn someone. The second thing is that the sound it produces is not the usual sound of a bike. When using it, people first look at you because they are curious about the noise while they should be moving.
Voice command is an interesting concept on a bike but at this stage, I see it more like a gadget. Locking the bike is probably the most interesting voice command while asking to turn left/right is a bit less useful because it goes much faster to activate the lights by pushing the corresponding button on the handlebar. Voice commandes could probably be useful for navigation, interacting with your phone (ex: calling someone or answering a call), ...
I was also positively surprised by the Urtopia application. When I test new products, especially chinese products, applications are often neglected. There are often bugs, texts in chinese, feature do not always work like expected. It's not the case at all with this application, everything works as expected, it's very easy to use. I still use Polar Beats to record my rides as it also registers heart rate but if you don't need all this, the Urtopia application is probably good enough.
This bike will probably be interesting for a lot of people with different types of motivation. If you're looking for a "vehicle" that brings you from point A to point B without too much hassle and without polluting or if you want to (re)start riding a bike without too much effort, this bike is a good candidate. If you're already a bike enthusiast, you may discover something new with this bike too.
What I liked about the Urtopia bike:
- design, futuristic looks
- comfort, riding position
- unlocking with fingerprint
- battery range
- Urtopia app
- easy to reach 25 km/h
What could be improved:
- horn latency & sound
- other voice commands, more interactions with phone
- crankset configuration (less than 22 teeth) to go faster
- recharge battery when not using assistance