e-JOE ONYX sport commuter e-bike review: mid-drive looks, hub motor power Leave a comment


One of the most common uses for electric bicycles is as an alternative urban transport vehicle. Why drive a 3,000 lb car when a 60 lb electric bike can move you through the city quicker and cheaper? But unlike typical metro e-bikes, urban e-mountain bikes like the e-JOE ONYX add a bit of sportiness to the mix.

We’ve covered the concept of urban electric mountain bikes before.

They aren’t truly mountain bikes, they just borrow some of the geometry and ruggedness to better take on the urban jungle.

The e-JOE ONYX is a great example, as it combines a sporty mountain bike-style frame with utility features needed for a proper urban commuter e-bike, and then throws in a bit of comfort as well.

See it all in my video review below. Then keep reading for my detailed thoughts on this e-bike mashup.

e-JOE ONYX video review

e-JOE ONYX tech specs

  • Motor: 750W continuous, 1,000W peak rear geared MXUS hub motor
  • Top speed: 40 km/h (25 mph)
  • Range: 45-72 km (25-45 mi) depending on throttle or pedal assist
  • Battery: 48V 14Ah (672 Wh)
  • Max load: 136 kg (300 lb)
  • Frame: 6061 aluminum
  • Tires: 26 x 2.125″ Kenda
  • Suspension: Front spring suspension fork
  • Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc brakes
  • Weight: 27 kg (60 lb)
  • Extras: Fenders, rear rack, LCD display, front and rear LED lights, 5 PAS levels, 7-speed Shimano drivetrain
e-joe onyx e-bike review

Part comfort, part sport, part utility

Even though the e-JOE ONYX looks like it’s hiding a mid-drive motor down by the pedals, don’t be fooled.

That seems to be a decoy (or rather a convenient place to stuff the controller and wiring).

Instead, you’ll find a 750W continuous and 1,000W peak MXUS hub motor in the rear.

But I’ll give the company props for the side covers that try to give the appearance of the mid-drive motor and make the bike look a bit fancier than it really is. Nice play.

e-joe onyx e-bike

Even with an old-school hub motor, the bike is quite peppy.

The 1,000 watts of peak power send the e-JOE ONYX scooting right up to 25 mph (40 km/h) without a problem. There’s a throttle for those that need it as well as decently responsive pedal assist for anyone in search of an honest workout. Though with five levels of pedal assist, riders can choose anywhere from serious fitness riding on one end or high electric assist on the other end.

I also liked that the pedal assist levels also control the throttle intensity. A low PAS level also means the throttle power is limited, while a high PAS level gives full power when you apply the throttle. There are times when a lighter touch is nice, especially with a 1,000W peak motor, and so this is a good feature to have.

As a commuter bike, the powerful motor is handy for zipping around the city. While I enjoy the pedal assist to keep me in tune with my bicycle roots, the throttle definitely comes in handy when I need a quick burst of speed or I just feel a bit lazy at the end of the day.

e-joe onyx e-bike review

The throttle is mounted on swept-back handlebars that lure you into a false sense of cruiser security. This isn’t a cruiser bike by any means, but the cruiser bars do give it a more upright ride than a typical mountain bike. And with the front suspension, the bike is – dare I say – even quite comfortable for a sporty bike.

“Powerful” and “cruiser” don’t normally go together in the same sentence, at least not in the e-bike world. But the mashup of parts work well here and combine to create a sprightly, fun, and easygoing ride.

But the e-JOE ONYX isn’t designed to be a leisure or recreational e-bike, even if it can certainly dabble in those areas. It’s meant for commuters and comes with the utility for that role.

Included with the bike are a pair of fenders, a rear rack, and built-in lights.

That trifecta of necessary commuter components means you won’t have to start searching around for accessories to add to your bike, as the important ones are all right there. You could easily add a set of panniers to the rack and have a sporty e-bike that works as a grocery getter as well.

You’ll be hopping curbs on your way to Trader Joe’s, then sticking to the smooth bike lanes on the way home to get your eggs home intact.

A few of the choices had me scratching my head, though. This isn’t a low-end e-bike, as evidenced by parts like the nice hydraulic disk brakes. We’ve reviewed e-JOE e-bikes before, and they make some nice models.

But then they went and slapped a pair of plastic pedals on this otherwise fairly nice e-bike. Come on, guys… give me some legit alloy pedals. These plastic ones may work fine but feel a bit cheap to me.

Interestingly, the company splurged in other areas. The bike arrives almost entirely assembled, and that requires a much larger box than most e-bikes.

Many companies offer free shipping on their e-bikes and thus try to cut their own shipping costs as much as possible by disassembling the bike to fit in a smaller box. That leaves the user having to bolt together more components after unboxing.

Even though e-JOE also offers free shipping, the bike arrives in nearly completed assembled form.

The giant box must cost a fortune to ship, especially since they use a freight forwarder instead of shipping by Fedex or UPS. That also means the box arrives in much better condition since it doesn’t come from a UPS driver slowing down while he kicks it out of the van near the end of your driveway.

It’s actually not bad on the trails

Just for fun, I took the e-JOE ONYX out of its element for a bit of trail riding to see how it would do.

I was pleasantly surprised by the bike. The cruiser bars are a bit new to me for off-road riding, where I generally prefer straight bars, but the bike held its own on some sandy double track.

It was sliding around a bit, too, but that’s to be expected with urban-optimized tires that are designed more for splashing through a city puddle than cutting corners in dirt.

The front suspension is not a high-end fork but it works just fine for my recreational riding needs. And again, this bike is really meant more for urban use, so the fact that it handled a bit of off-road riding just fine was a nice surprise.

Priced to sell

While the e-JOE ONYX’s MSRP of $2,199 is a bit on the high end, it’s on sale for $1,799, which feels like a great price to me.

Between the hydraulic disk brakes, suspension, built-in lighting and powerful motor, not to mention a nicely integrated 672 Wh battery, there are plenty of components that place the bike a cut above the many budget-level e-bikes out there.

And with free shipping in the US, there aren’t any extra hidden costs to worry about, either.

While the bike doesn’t blow me away with fancy design or high-tech features like a companion app (or even a display that is big enough to read while bouncing over potholes), it works great as an urban commuter with a bit of extra sportiness and comfort thrown in for good measure.

If you’re the kind of rider that enjoys the fun ride of a recreational bike like a RadRover but want narrower tires that turn it into a better urban assault e-bike, the e-JOE ONYX could be a great choice for you.

If you’re mostly in the market for an electric mountain bike that can also do some commuter work, I’d say look elsewhere.

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