The Evelo Omega is the most technologically advanced electric bicycle I’ve tried in over 10 years. Other bikes are faster, throw out more power, or load up with IoT gadgets, but the Evelo Omega pushes the boundaries of eBike tech by removing the gear shifter from the handlebars entirely.
At first glance I wasn’t completely comfortable with this idea, but some 10 miles later, I began to love it. While I can’t for certain say I’d buy this bike for myself, I can say that I know people who would. Folding Electric Scooter
The cooks at Evelo have made a fantastic dish, with some very ambitious ingredients, but it comes together in a wonderful finished product. Many other companies wouldn’t dare make a bike without a shifter, but Evelo has the gumption to take a risk, and experience to make it pay off. As an overview, Evelo has combined a custom programmed 750w torque-sensing mid drive motor with an automatic shifting rear hub that maintains a preset pedal rotation speed. After turning on the bike one only needs to pedal and brake, and the motor power and automatic transmission will do the rest all on its own.
At the heart of the matter is the rear hub made by Enviolo – a model called the Automatiq. Finally, we can say there is a fully automatic transmission for a bicycle. For some years we’ve heard bikes that “feel” like they shift themselves, including other products from Enviolo, but this time the training wheels come off, and the system is ready to operate like an automatic car transmission, axing the shifter entirely. Here’s how it works. The rear hub connects to a smartphone app where the user can set their desired pedal rotation speed (cadence), and the transmission will do the rest. Furthermore, it will remember this setting, so that after a few rides and testing, the user can hone in on the most comfortable number and never need to change it again. Uphill, downhill, stop or start, the rear hub will automatically adjust to the conditions and maintain the pedal speed that was set.
My first few miles on the bike were familiar in some ways. I had to put aside my many years of shifting habits, and train myself to “let go.” I’ve had this feeling before, when my first car was a stick shift, and my next was an automatic. In a very similar fashion, I held onto my pride saying to myself “I can shift better than this doggone car can,” telling myself that I had more fun with a stick, and got better fuel efficiency. While this was true, it wasn’t until later in my life that I realized what I was missing: The peace and comfort of an automatic frames the world in a new way.
The Evelo Omega is very similar. While approaching a stop, I would let off the pedaling, and the transmission would work internally, sensing the speed. When I started up again, the gearing was ready for me, and as I pedaled the first few yards it kept up with the perfect tension to maintain my desired cadence. Not having to shift, I put bike riding skills aside and just began to soak in the surroundings. My mind would drift from the peace of the river trail, the wind across the trees, what I was having for dinner, or the social and religious cycles that sprout from ancient and modern cultures across the globe.
So far we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the pedaling movement, but there is a lot to be said about the way it flows with the rest of the bike, particularly, the motor. Between the geared hub and motor the Omega is using a gates carbon belt drive to make things smooth, strong, clean, and maintenance free. We’ve talked about belt drives a lot on this site, and in brief they make a bike much more classy and nice of a ride, and are usually found on high end bikes, like the Omega.
Right in the center of it all is the motor that really checks all the boxes. The 750w torque sensing mid-drive motor has torque sensing engagement, and a throttle option for smooth pedaling power on the flats, and a jolt of power for the hills. With so many options and power, all smooth as silk, you’d be hard pressed to find a place this bike doesn’t feel like your personal magic cloud.
The pedal assist levels can be changed on the fly, and don’t affect the Automatiq transmission, excepting for increased speed making the gears internally change faster. The Automatiq can really keep up with high speed starts and sharp brakes. I tried to “trick” the system a few times, but found it was always ready.
The rest of the bike deserves some credit, too, as Evelo is one of the OG electric bike companies in the US, and they have been making amazing builds like this that other import companies can’t touch with a 10-foot pole. The tire and wheel combo is super plush, with tons of air volume in the eBike-specific 26” x 2.8” tires. The riding position is relaxed and comfortable, in part thanks to Evelo custom building their own high rise stem. In line with their astrology theme, it’s called the Star Gazer Stem. Complementing the full coverage fenders is a set of integrated front and rear lights. The rear light also functions as a tail light, flashing when the handles are squeezed.
One thing that wasn’t all that great was the seat. Since the Omega puts riders in a relaxed position, more of the rider’s weight rests on the seat, and it was uncharacteristically stiff. After some more time it might wear in, but the hard seat was in contrast to the otherwise comfortable bike. Fortunately, bike seats are one of the easiest things to change.
The Omega is coming in at $4,699, a hefty price for a comfort commuter electric bike. There are other electric bikes using the same automatic gearing, however they are nearly 2x the price, take months to ship, and use a 250w motor. If you wanted to spring for the plug-and-play dual battery rack, that will cost you an extra $400. By the way, you can enter this coupon code for $100 off an Evelo order: evel
If you’re getting into cycling for the first time in a few decades, and you just want the power and simplicity of riding with 10-year-old legs, this is the bike for you. The ease of use, the power delivery and relaxing riding is simply the best I’ve ever tried.
If you’re a seasoned cyclist, then this bike would be an incredible experience worth trying out, but the benefits are most felt by the newcomer. Other parts on the bike are really good, but the automatic shifting/motor combo is the standout reason for getting this bike.
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