Emu Crossbar review: Simple but stylish at least by electric bike standards | T3

Emu Crossbar review: Simple but stylish at least by electric bike standards

Classic town bike styling meets modern electrical assistance in this affordable, if slightly hefty, e-bike

T3 Verdict

It's a heavy old thing and the electrical assistance isn't the most advanced, but it is at the more affordable end of the e-bike spectrum and we enjoyed its comfortable ride and the ability to haul cargo

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Well-built

  • +

    Impressive range

  • +

    Racks and mudguards included

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Torque sensor is patchy

  • -

    It's heavy

  • -

    Looks won't be to all tastes

Unlike some of the more expensive electric bikes we've reviewed here at T3.com, the Emu Crossbar doesn't try and dazzle with fancy styling, nor does it offer an array of smartphone compatibility or trick technology. It's not the best electric bike, but it's also by no means the worst.

This is the dictionary definition of a daily workhorse and its non-corrosive aluminium frame, robust battery pack and chunky front hub motor probably won't win many design awards, but this is a practical machine that's very easy to live with every day.

• Shop for Emu Crossbar from £1,299

Tipping the scales at a hefty 23kg, we found it a bit of a brute to wheel on to public transport or attempt to shift up and down stairs in the office block, while the Dutch town bike styling probably won't be to all tastes.

But for a simple and fuss-free way to beat the morning traffic, this is a solid choice and it's sub £1,000 means it is also available on the government's Bike2Work scheme, making it an affordable option given the fairly generous spec.    

Emu Crossbar: the styling

Simple town bike design won't suit all tastes

If you asked a four year-old to draw a bicycle, it would probably look something like the Emu Crossbar. With basic geometry, chunky aluminium tubes and swept-back handlebars, it bears all the hallmarks of an old steed you might find floating in a Dutch canal.

The fact that the battery pack is  bolted on to the frame - rather than neatly integrated - and the electric read-out feels like an afterthought, mean it can't quite compete with the likes of Gocycle and VanMoof, but these can easily be overlooked when you realise how practical the thing is.

Smooth across the cobbles, the Emu is function over form

There's a large, squishy saddle that makes longer rides perfectly comfortable, the basic flat pedals are easy to use in any shoes and the weighty rear carrying rack is great for attaching bags and bits from the shops.

The gloss black paintwork is nicely applied and there's even a built-in set of lights that run off the main battery, meaning you don't have to go out and buy a separate set when the longer nights close in.

Tough steel mudguards and CST puncture-resistant tyres are also a neat touch, as it opens up the option to ride in all conditions - although you'll probably want to stick to paved roads, considering the bike's weight.  

Emu Crossbar: the tech

Shimano Nexus gears come as standard 

The simplistic styling is complimented with arguably some of the most basic electric assistance, but the benefit of such 'off-the-shelf' components is that they are tried and tested, and therefore reliable.

A 374Wh Samsung battery pack is attached to the frame (it can be removed for charging with a key if you like) and this powers a 250W motor that is located in the front hub. Customers can choose between two battery types: a 10.4Ah version that delivers 50-miles on a single charge and a slightly more expensive 14.5Ah model, which offers 65 miles per charge.

Built-in front and rear lights are a bonus

A new LCD colour display that is mounted to the handlebars  gives the rider the option to cycle through various assistance levels. It also gives readouts on the state of charge and speed in mph or kph, as well as controlling the lights and offering a USB Port for charging a mobile phones.

It's all extremely easy to navigate and the Shimano Nexus 7-gear hub is operated by a simple twist of the grip. A combination of Shimano V-brake and Tektro power cut-off brake levers provide ample stopping power, too.

Emu Crossbar: the ride

The Emu isn't the smartest e-bike available

The first thing to hit you when manoeuvring the Emu Crossbar is its weight, as shifting almost 30kg of aluminium frame, battery packs and electric motors isn't fun when assistance isn't provided.

But fire up the little display and the electric motor is called into play, with a Walk Assist function available to make pushing the thing around town slightly easier. Hop on the comfortable gel saddle and the Emu will offer electrical assistance when the rider begins to put power through the cranks.

Five assist levels flatten hills nicely

Not quite as advanced as more expensive e-bikes on the market, the assistance software feels a little bit sporadic, with the rider having to put an exact range of torque through the cranks to get the most out of the electric motor.

Stamp on the pedals and there will be a big dollop of electric motor shove, only for it to ease off when it feels you have mixed out. Not putting enough pressure on the pedals means very little assistance is added. The result is a slightly on/off ride, where the motor fluctuates between power and coasting.

Flicking between the five modes can help this somewhat, but we found that sticking it in the highest level and pedalling at a consistent cadence seemed flatten out the power delivery.

The built in carry rack comes in handy

The onboard computer is fairly simple but does a good job and the built-in USB port is handy for charging phones on the go. Just get a long charging cable, as it's likely you'll have to stash your phone in your pocket to keep it out of the elements.

Although heavy, the Emu Crossbar makes a perfectly good bike for hacking around town. The swept-back bars are comfortable, if not the most precise, while the large saddle and upright riding position will suit those who don't like to don tight-fitting shorts on the way to work.

Plus, the addition of racks and mudguards make it properly functional for popping to the shops or using in poor weather.

We found the battery range was pretty much spot on, with our daily commute sapping only a small percentage of the remaining juice. Even after a week of journeying, we found it only needed a top up on the Sunday night. 

Emu Crossbar: the verdict

We grew to love the classic styling

This is not the most high-tech electric bike that money can buy, but then it isn't pretending to be. It is a bicycle that's built to be used everyday and with little tweaks to riding style, it offers just enough assistance to make longer rides easy on the legs.

The battery range should be plenty enough for most riders and charging is as easy as finding a nearby domestic socket. Due to its mass, however, some riders will find that pedalling the brute once the assistance has maxed out to be a chore, as you are theoretically having to shift what its a very heavy bike.

But keep things at a moderate pace, enjoy the scenery and you'll find that the Emu Crossbar is a very chilled out way to dispatch of the daily commute.