Last week I had the pleasure of meeting the good folks over at Junto E-Bikes. Their offices are located in Northwest Philadelphia about 15 minutes from Center City.
Their office had a cool vibe to it – part workshop and part tech startup. I sat down with Sam Ebert, Junto’s Product Manager and devout bike enthusiast, and chatted about all things light electric vehicles, the Junto e-bike, and how great Philly would be if all the cars would just go away.
Afterwards, Sam took me for a spin on one the Junto bikes, where we zipped through the streets of Philly and tested out the bikes. The bike performed amazing.
Junto is kind of like one of those restaurants where the chef prefers to cook with local ingredients. All testing of the e-bike took place on Philly streets with the goal of making the ultimate alternative commuter vehicle for Philadelphians.
Now, if you’ve never enjoyed the wonders of Philly streets, you are one lucky bastard. You might as well be driving on the moon in some places. Potholes, glass, nails, and half-finished construction zones make up the greater portion of asphalt surfaces in the city.
So, if an e-bike has been tested and designed to withstand the deplorable quality of these streets, then it can survive anywhere.
The bike’s design features pretty fat tires for a street bike. This allowed them to save weight on shocks. The tires do a good job of absorbing bumps in the road, as does the seat, which is quite comfortable.
The e-bike uses pedal assist with 5 different levels of assist that can be operated via a small square pad on the handlebars. It has no throttle option.
The E-bike’s pedal assist will get you up to 20 mph, but can move faster if going down hill or with extra pedaling. It has 5 pedal assist settings and a range of 30-60 miles, depending on assist level, rider weight, pedaling force, and hill grade.
The bike has a 350 W motor (rear hub) and a lithium ion battery that uses Samsung cells.
There’s a 30-day return policy and 2-year warranty (7-year warranty on frame).
Overall I really enjoyed riding the Junto e-bike. It had a great feel to it, rode smooth, picked up quick, and felt super comfortable. Plus, at a little more than two grand, the price is right.
Here’s my conversation with Junto’s Sam Ebert, where we dive into how Junto came about and why their bikes are different.
A Brief Yet Stimulating Chat with Junto’s Sam Ebert, Product Manager
LEV: What is your background in the world of e-bikes and what inspired Junto’s inception?
Junto: Our CEO Brian Powell had the initial vision. He first learned about e-bikes after seeing someone blow past him on one while riding up a hill.
He was a neighbor of my mom and after she heard about Brian’s interest in e-bikes, she connected us, knowing we shared a love of cycling. We immediately hit it off and realized our shared passion for LEVs and the future of e-bikes. We soon built a team together and got started. We’ve been rabidly expanding ever since. We’re still under a year old, which seems unreal.
LEV: On your website, you discuss your vision of e-bikes as alternatives to automobiles. What advantages do e-bikes offer commuters?
Junto: First, I’d like to comment a bit on our passion for LEVs and e-bikes, specifically.
You live in Philly, you’ve sat in the traffic. We started Junto because Brian and I were tired of Philly traffic. We live in a beautiful European style city and have this wonderful grid for biking that is suffocated by gas and emissions. It’s painful to drive around here. We want to spur the age of alternative vehicles in Philadelphia.
E-bikes, in my opinion are the best LEV option for commuters. Anyone can ride them and you can go 30-60 miles on a charge, which is more than enough for city commuters.
E-bikes are great too because you don’t have to be some super fit cyclist to enjoy and use them. If you’re less fit or have a minor handicap, you can still enjoy an e-bike.
E-bikes aren’t replacements for your regular bike. They are a replacement for your car. There are huge demographics that we can target that wouldn’t be interested in regular bikes.
As far as benefits, e-bikes offer mobility, freedom from traffic, exercise, less stressful commuting, no parking hassles, and money saved from gas, parking, and tickets.
LEV: I read that you guys tested the Junto e-bike on Philly streets. Looking at the bike, I’m surprised this mode of testing didn’t lead to thicker shocks, given the ubiquity of potholes around here.
Junto: Shocks are heavy. We chose to lighten up the frame with a rigid suspension system and added voluminous tires to provide some cushion. Paired with the geometry of the bike, which is a bit of a hybrid style, you get a lot for the price point.
LEV: I live in Northwest Philly, which is infamous for it’s crazy steep hills. How does Junto perform on steep hills?
Junto: Great, we’ve tested up to 12% grade, going ¾ mile with zero loss of power. So you’d be good.
LEV: You currently offer one model in 3 sizes. Can you tell me about this bike and how the design came about?
Junto: I personally worked mostly on the geometry of the bike, which I based off my racing bikes. I participate in pro mountain biking events. I like the wider handlebar for commuters as it helps keep your lane straight. I also spent a lot of time ensuring the frame caused the proper posture we wanted. We dropped the bottom bracket to be more stable for city biking. We also use disc brakes, a must for city biking – anything heavy and quick needs to stop fast.
We created 3 sizes to please everyone. I know how much of a pain it is when you find a great bike but it’s not a good fit.