I’m sitting The Civilized 1 electric bike feels like it’s rocking very slowly. The rear suspension starts to hiss—psssssss. Air escapes from the shock absorbers under the bodywork. The rear end of the bike starts to sink, all the way, until the suspension drops and comes to a stop. The onboard air compressor starts. It looks like a small hammer. The rear ends of the bike begin to swell again and rise.
As flashy as it is, it takes just 10 seconds to adjust the rear pneumatic, self-leveling suspension on the Civilized’s 1 electric bike. It’s a neat, but still a working bike designed to carry two people — or one seat and a child — and a load of cargo in its expandable bags. Adjusting the bike’s suspension while adding or subtracting passengers and cargo keeps ride quality consistent because the system always uses the right amount of shock stiffness for the weight you’re carrying. It’s like Goldilocks – always commenting from july right. And it really works — not just for everyone.
Before I brought the Model 1 home, I did a test ride around Brooklyn Navy Yard with Civilized founder, Zachary Schieffelin, on the back seat. I was targeting every traverse and digging train track—you know, for testing. The Model 1 overwhelmed them all, even with 330 pounds of humans riding on top of it. With its wide tires and powerful electric motor, the Model 1 reminded me more of carrying a passenger on my motorcycle than carrying a passenger on any bike I’ve ridden.
However you combine it, the bike can hold a total of 400 pounds. Two adults can load basket bags (25lbs per bag) while still cruising at over 20mph. Most cargo bikes have a similar capability –Our current favorite The cargo bike, the Tern GSD, can carry up to 440 pounds—but unlike most other bikes, the Model 1 will adjust itself each time to gain new weight once you’ve gone through the routine. It also comes with an easy-to-use dual leg rest in the middle, instead of a less stable single leg rest.
When the hard-sided plastic bags are closed, each holds 20 liters of merchandise. The battery and charger are screwed inside, and there’s an integrated three-digit lock on each drawer so you can store things in it, like the trunk of a car. You can also open the plastic wrap to expand it up to 80 liter capacity. This is enough to run groceries for an entire week, although it is less safe than theft with the cloth section exposed.
Depending on power settings and rider weight, expect 25 to 30 miles on a full charge. That’s really low for an ebike, especially at this price, but it’ll be enough for commutes, errands and a coffee if you live in a city and aren’t trying to take it for a day trip without charging. There is room to install a second battery in the other bag which will double the range. You can also charge a device from the USB ports on the battery.