If you’re a first-time buyer searching for the best electric bike, being able to go and try one out for yourself is a bonus. With nearly 200 locations throughout the US, Pedego is the largest brick-and-mortar ebike retailer in the country. While many people find walking into a bike shop to be an intimidating experience, Pedego stores seem to be designed to be as unassuming and unpretentious as possible.
The Interceptor (opens in new tab) is a weirdly aggressive name for a beach cruiser-style bicycle but is one of Pedego’s flagship models and has been around for much of its 14-year existence. The bike has changed little in that time and remains a popular choice for riders, despite its relatively expensive price point. My first question was, why?
Pedego Interceptor review: design and features
I was underwhelmed when I first saw the Interceptor, but over time, its looks grew on me, particularly the integrated rear rack. Frames come in both standard and step-thru varieties, and buyers can choose between 24-, 26-, and 29-inch wheel models as well as multiple colors. My hefty test bike weighed in just shy of 60 pounds.
The Interceptor comes with a 749-watt rear-hub motor and 52-volt 10.5 Amp battery as standard, with the opportunity to upgrade to a 52-volt 17.5 Amp battery. The battery slots underneath the rear-rack and not the downtube like many of the e-bikes currently being released. That means the downtube isn’t as beefy, making this potentially a more comfortable option for slight riders.
There are five ride levels with a maximum assist of 20 mph. If you need to get up to speed quickly or just don’t feel like pedaling, a turn of the wrist will engage the throttle (making it a Class-2 ebike). The LCD display screen is fairly large and tracks your battery and ride-assist levels, as well as speed, mileage and more.
A Shimano 7-speed shifter pairs with an Acera rear derailleur, while Star Union disc brakes provide the stopping power. Front and rear lights come standard, but not fenders. The taillight flashes when you brake, adding a nice safety element.
My loaner bike came with wide Schwalbe Fat Frank tires that gave me plenty of stability on damp streets. Quick-release levers do not come standard, making changing a flat on the road much more difficult.
A base-model Interceptor sells for just shy of $3,500 (roughly £2640/AU$4740), with upgrades potentially adding $900 or more. Most Pedego bikes come with a lifetime frame guarantee, as well as a five-year warranty on defective (not worn) parts and from theft. The company promises to replace defective batteries for free for the first three years, then on a dwindling pro-rated discount for two more.
Pedego Interceptor review: performance
The Interceptor I tested had the older 500-Watt motor which felt powerful, even on the hills, but wasn’t the smoothest. The motor felt slow to engage with the pedal-assist at 1-3, but very herky-jerky when getting restarted at levels 4 and 5. If you need to maneuver around a bollard or other obstacle on the trail or road, you’ll definitely want to power down a level or two.
Pedego claims the 10.5Ah battery will last up to 46 miles, while the larger 17.5Ah battery can go up to 76 miles, depending on power-assist levels. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time on the Interceptor to put that assertion to the test. Battery-life numbers are often hard to replicate in real-world use, but even if the Interceptor’s battery lasts to the low-end of that range, it’s still better than most of the e-bikes I’ve tested. I’d like to get my hands on one for a longer test period to truly find out for myself.
I’m not a fan of the flared handlebars, which I find makes braking and handling more difficult. (According to the rep I spoke to, many customers agree; switching out the flared bar for a straighter handlebar is one of the most requested customer upgrades.) That said, many riders will prefer the flared bar, which gives them a more upright riding position. The grip-shift throttle is awkwardly placed; when I was first getting used to the bike, I accidentally engaged the throttle several times by just adjusting my grip on the handlebar. That said, the throttle quickly got the bike cruising at 20 mph with no pedaling on my part. It’s a great feature for riders needing to cross a busy intersection on their commute.
The ride quality was … fine, I guess. The fat, wide tires helped smooth out any rough sections of pavement. While pedaling felt all-too easy, I didn’t feel connected to the bike; my overall experience with the Interceptor was pleasant, but not truly fun.
Pedego Interceptor review: verdict
If you prefer a one-stop shop approach to making an ebike purchase (and don’t mind paying a premium for it), the Interceptor could be for you. The dedicated stores are definitely part of this bike’s appeal, but service does come at a price.
If you’re happy to buy online, or from a more generalist store, there are lighter and more affordable ebike solutions out there. Cost aside, this is a well built and dependable electric bike solution.
Pedego Interceptor review: also consider
The Schwinn Coston DX e-bike has a less-powerful motor, but many of the same features as the Interceptor for about a grand less. There’s even a cruiser version, if you really like those handlebars.
The Priority Current costs similar money to the Interceptor. This is a Class 1 ebike (so you need to pedal) but it can be easily upgraded to deliver up to 28mph. Though it lacks the rear rack (and the cruiser handlebars) it’s arguably the better-looking bike.