About a week ago, I received a bit of a surprise. Arriving home from work I had discovered that the publishers of this lovely site had arranged for an i4 Mountaineer e-bike to be delivered to me for review.
When I write one of these e-bike reviews, I normally save my opinion on the ruggedness of the bikes for later on, but this time, I decided to share it early because whichever delivery service brought it out to my place saw fit to toss the bike over my fence with all the care of an over-caffeinated gorilla.
The corners of the box were bashed in and there was a nice big tear down the side of the box. It’s not exactly how I like to see my packages delivered, but hey, it’s only cardboard, right?
So, after dragging inside the unopened remains of the box, I opened it to inspect the contents. Unbelievably, the only damage that I could find was a ding on the battery! The wheels were straight and the frame was unharmed, so it was good to go.
When ordering this electric bike online, what you can expect to get is an 85% complete bike. You’ll need to attach the forks, the handlebars and connect the controls. If you aren’t too keen on doing that, you can take the e-bike to your local bike shop and have them do it for you. Another option, if you are buying from Amazon, check to see if the option exists to have your order delivered directly to your local bike shop for free assembly.
What you will find once assembled is an e-bike that’s a lot closer to being an actual mountain bike than many other e-bikes that are labeled as mountain bikes.
The bike has 350 watts nominal power and features pedal assist. No throttle option is available, but you won’t mind that because the three power modes with five different power settings and 27 speeds from which to choose make most any terrain you encounter manageable.
The Test Ride
I spent a few hours just tooling around on the Genesis i4 to see what it can do. Despite living in the 9th largest American city, San Diego is blessed with plenty of off road opportunities in the form of poorly maintained roads that simulate the unpaved beauty of the worst trails the Moab has to offer!
There are canyons everywhere, potholes, narrow lanes and gullies galore!
While this doesn’t make for the best ride in a car, it is something that most mountain bike riders seek out because potholes are where the true measure of the bike and rider are made.
I chose to take the Genesis e-bike on a speed trial up and down a few of the canyons to see what it could do. The 350-watt Bafang motor, even in its lowest setting, was more than enough to get me, and I’m not a small guy, up and down the hills with minimal effort.
The e-bike easily got me up and down those hills at an average speed of roughly 18 mph with minimal effort from me!
In fact, riding the i4 Mountaineer was so easy that I didn’t even break a sweat until I intentionally tried to see how fast it could go on the flat with full assist and me peddling like a maniac. That yielded 32 mph, which, one could do fairly easily on a standard road bike, but with a great deal more effort.
Keep in mind this speed was hit on a flat road with mountain bike tires, so that’s still pretty quick!
The Nuts and Bolts
In the week since I’ve had the e-bike, which included 50-60 miles of riding, I’ve come to a few conclusions.
First off, this e-bike demonstrates that it is possible for a bike to be greater than the sum of its parts.
If you look around, you can find any number of e-bikes that are more refined. There are bikes that are better put together and hide the fact that they are electric at all, which if you happen to be in New York, could be an advantage. But this bike seems to bring it all together in just the right way.
The Genesis i4 Mountaineer e-bike features a rear hub drive (my personal favorite configuration) with a very smooth pedal assist. The disc brakes let you stop on a dime and aren’t too grabby. The bike also has easy access to a locking battery, and a simple set up. I’ve ridden a lot of bikes in this price range, but this one pulls it together better than most of what I’ve seen and ridden.
One thing you will find in a lot of lower priced e-bikes, depending on the level of finish, is a lot of exposed wiring. Despite that, the i4 has hit a happy medium. Most of the wires for the bike do run through the frame, but there are a few exposed.
They seem to be wholly necessary though and not just a cost cutting measure, as I’ve seen on some models. In the event of maintenance, this set up could actually make this work better for the DIY crowd.
The wires that you do see are mainly just connectors. They are well insulated and out of the way of moving parts such as cranks, feet or most road obstacles.
This e-bike is a 27 speed – three in front, nine in back. The switching is made easy by dual trigger shifters, which seem more than up to the task of dealing with the power this bike produces.
I’ve been riding it quite a bit, and because it is for a review, I haven’t been gentle. I’ve been riding it like a character in GTA, but I have yet to see any wear at all on the gearing or anywhere else for that matter, which is something you may see on other low cost e-bikes. The bottom line is that the i4 Mountaineer is even tougher than it appears.
What Would I Change?
Honestly, about the only additional thing I would want on the i4 Mountaineer Genesis e-bike would be a sprung seat to absorb a little more of the road shock and an additional spot for a water bottle. These are small complaints that can be easily resolved with a visit to the accessories section of your local bike shop or Amazon.
If you are wondering if this is an e-bike you would like, take this into consideration. While testing the bike I was stopped more than once by people asking questions about it and where they could get one. I actually had one person offer to buy the bike from me on the spot!
That’s about as sure of a sign as any that what you have is something worth having. If you are unsure about what e-bike should be your first, or even your next one, check out the i4 Mountaineer. You will not regret your decision.