The original Metro (not being sold at Best Buy) is actually more of a moped than a bicycle. It has a twist throttle,  smallish wheels like a scooter (which enhances acceleration from a stop), along with front and rear suspension–pedaling optional:

  • Maximum road speed under power – 20 mph
  • Up to 20 miles* unassisted range (extendable to 40 miles**)
  • Battery chemistry: lithium ion
  • Nominal voltage: 36 volts
  • Continuous power output: 500W
  • Real-time state-of-charge indicator
  • Frame: TIG welded 6061 aluminum
  • Suspension (front): Ultra Motor shock-absorbing front fork (80mm  travel)
  • Suspension (rear): Ultra Motor shock-absorbing swing arm (30mm  travel)
  • Tires: 20 x 3.0 Kenda Kraze
  • Gears: Shimano Alivio Derailleur with 7-speed twist shift
  • Brakes (front and rear): Avid BB5 disc brakes
  • Saddle: oversized Ultra Motor comfort saddle
  • Weight of A2B Metro with battery: 72lbs

Model 13102 has an unspecified wheel diameter, but appears to be smaller than 26 inches on this photo-shopped image. There is no mention of this model on the A2B website. Front suspension only. Specifications are sketchy but this model may use a throttle instead of a torque sensor to call for power from the motor.

  •     Front suspension and disc brakes
  •       Help the bike come to a complete stop safely.
  • 400W electric motor
  •       Helps you power up steep hills.
  •     36V lithium-ion battery
  •       For great performance. Power-on-demand conserves battery power.
  •     Reaches speeds up to 20 mph
  •       With a range up to 20 miles (depends on rider weight).
  •     Minimal assembly required
  •     Note: The purchaser and rider of this scooter or bike are responsible for knowing and obeying all local, state and federal regulations regarding the riding and use of this bike or scooter.

This is model 13107 (click here for larger view), which appears to be a black version of the model 13108, which is painted blue. On the A2B website it is called the Hybrid. They all have standard 26 inch diameter wheels and you have to pedal to get the motor to help out.

  • From our expanded online assortment; not available in all Best Buy stores
  • TIG-welded 6061 hydroform-structured aluminum frame
  •       Provides durability, strength and style.
  •     Avid BB5 disc brakes
  •       Provide precise control for coming to a safe stop. Also features a 7-speed derailleur with twist shift.
  • Brushless 400-watt direct-drive motor
  •       For reliably powering up steep hills and variable terrain with on-demand acceleration and responsive torque.
  •     Sanyo advanced 36V lithium-ion battery
  •       To efficiently power the bike. Smart charger charges in up to 4 hours to keep you on the go. Charge status indicator near the throttle keeps you aware of charge status.
  •     Reaches speeds up to 20 mph
  •       With a range up to 20 miles (depends on rider weight).
  • 26″ x 2″ tires
  •       Provide comfort and stability while you ride.
  • Full front suspension
  •       Helps reduce impact from road obstacles for a smooth ride.
  • Comfort seat
  •       For ergonomic support during long bike rides.
  • Minimal assembly required
  • Note: The purchaser and rider of this scooter or bike are responsible for knowing and obeying all local, state and federal regulations regarding the riding and use of this bike or scooter.

The Metro is rated at 500 watts while the others appear to be rated at 400 watts. My guess (by looking at the similar price tags) is that all models use the same motor, controller, and battery, which is good from a maintenance and supply perspective.

Laws vary radically from country to country and from state to state so an electric bike maker has standardization problems.

Best Buy was wise to choose a product made in the USA that uses the same basic electric components because customer support is critical for retail sales, however, they are about to embark on a steep learning curve. Many bikes will be returned because they don’t meet the near infinite variety of customer expectations. A 300 pound guy who thinks he is getting a scooter will not be pleased to find his range is only five miles. As with all retailers, a stock of used bikes will begin to pile up and people are going to want some kind of warranty to buy them.

If they don’t plan to provide bike servicing this experiment will fail. What will you do when your bike quits working? There are no electric bike repair shops. Are they going to teach the Geek Squad electric bicycle repair, and what will the hourly rate be?

There is also a liability issue to deal with. Electric bikes move and will have electromechanical failures, throttles can get stuck, people will get hurt and they will sue.

I called a store in Portland to see what I could find out. Nobody seems to know what is going on and there does not appear to be any kind of protection plan like you can buy for a computer. These bikes are not cheap. This is an investment you need to protect.

The best marketing strategy for now might be for manufacturers like Ultra Motors to do their own local retailing and repair, eventually transitioning to franchises later on, but I’ve been wrong before. Time will tell.