Review: Currie Tech eFlow E3 Nitro

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Curie Tech is not a newcomer to the electric bike market. Started in 1997 as an e-bike only manufacturer, the brand is now owned by the Accell Group, an international corporation with a growing portfolio of over a dozen bicycle brands, including Redline and Raleigh.

Regardless of ownership, Currie has over 15 years of experience building e-bikes, and it shows in the Nitro. Unlike many e-bikes that give off a utilitarian vibe, the Nitro looks and feels sporty. The oversized oval tubing, integrated head tube suspension and all-black components add up to a sleek, sturdy and speedy-looking bike.

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Those looks are backed up with performance from a 500-watt motor powered via a 36V/396Ah battery, which also serves as the seatpost. The battery-in-the-seatpost idea struck me as curious, but Currie explains that it works to keep the overall combined weight of the rider and bike centralized, allows for easy battery removal for charging away from the bike, and works as a passive theft deterrent. Makes a lot of sense when explained that way.

The Nitro has both a pedal-assist and power on demand (throttle) modes. The throttle is still active in pedal-assist mode, allowing for a boost even while coasting. After switching between both modes for a while, I left it in pedal-assist all the time, where it offered the best of both worlds, with its four boost levels smoothly blending human and electric power. The control unit was easy to read, but not the easiest to use. As a bonus, it works as a key: a quick quarter-turn removes it from the handlebar mount, disabling the motor.

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This bike’s 500-watt motor immediately makes itself known when riding, with an extra 150-250 watts over many competing designs. With quicker acceleration, less shifting on hills, and higher average speeds, the Nitro feels sporty, even to someone like myself with a good bit of time on road racing bikes and street-going motorcyles. While the current model cuts off the juice around 20 mph, next year’s model will continue to assist pedaling up to 28 miles an hour.

It may not seem like much on paper, but the speed this bike is capable of reaching, even uphill, means adjusting some habits to adapt to cornering and handling rough pavement while going faster than you normally would. Or just turn down the juice a bit and use the brakes more—your choice.

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The sturdy wheels are wrapped with heavy-duty 26×2.0 Maxxis Overdrive tires. Both wheels have quick-release axles, rare for e-bikes with wheel motors. Hydraulic disc brakes provide predictable and powerful all-weather performance, and the double-chainring crankset and ten-speed cassette provide plenty of range for going fast or climbing hills. A $200 “city kit” is available with high-quality lights, fenders and rear rack for those wanting some practicality with the e-bike boost.

My only complaints are about the handlebars and controls. Unlike a motorcycle, the throttle is only half the size of the grip, leading to an uncomfortable transition between the two. I’d rather see a full-length motorcycle-style throttle, or a much smaller one, leaving room for a bigger grip. The handlebars are too narrow and straight, but more width and sweep would be an easy swap at any bike shop, so I won’t harp on this issue.

The Nitro looks and acts like an e-bike that is the result of years of development and manufacturing. The level of fit and finish on almost all parts of the bike is impressive, and its performance as a spirited urban commuter was impeccable. An all around solid e-bike for riders looking for some speed and style.

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Vital stats

  • Price: $3,500
  • Weight: 52 pounds
  • Sizes Available: One size

Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Bicycle Times Issue #26. Order a subscription here.

 

 

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