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Review: Opus E-Big City

Can an ebike make commuting more fun?

Photo by: Jeremy Worden

I love biking and I love biking to a destination, but, throughout the pandemic, the lustre of a commute had truly lost its appeal to me. I found myself putting off plans when someone wanted to meet somewhere outside of walking distance and particularly if it was even remotely an uphill ride. So, when I found out I was testing the Opus E-Big City commuter ebike I realized I was in the perfect place to evaluate whether this bike would make a difference to my commuting apathy.

My excitement for the bike grew as I watched Jeremy Worden from Bateman’s Bicycle Company in Toronto build it up in a very satisfying TikTok.

@batemansbikeco⚡️Unboxing a new Opus E-Bike! #bike #ebike #satisfying #tools #toronto #batemansbikeco♬ original sound – Bateman’s Bike Co

I picked up the E-Big City from Bateman’s on a very hot day. As I cranked up the pedal-assist and was hit with a slight breeze riding down Bathurst Street, I knew immediately I was in for some fun.

photo:Jeremy Worden

Unexpected rain

While testing the Opus E-Big City I had the unfortunate experience of getting caught in a rainstorm. It was one of those unexpected summer downpours that last for about 10 minutes and completely soak you to the bone. I wouldn’t have explicitly sought out the opportunity to ride around the city in corduroy pants saturated with water, but it did give me a chance to really test out the commuting capabilities of the E-Big City.

Like Opus’ non-electric Big City LRT, the E-Big City comes stock with front and rear fenders that work well to keep the rider’s pants dry. (Rain falling from the sky is, unfortunately, not blocked by fenders.) The fenders cover the bike’s large, Kenda Kwick Seven.5 27.5 x 2.4 tires, which roll smoothly over everything from local streets under construction to very wet streetcar tracks. I felt very stable riding and cornering with these tires, even in a storm.

Opus E-Big City and Giro Sutton MIPS helmet

The bike also stops well—with the pedal-assist at full power while riding in damp and slippery conditions the Shimano MT201 hydraulic disc brakes did their jobs.

To test this commuter bike I wore the Giro Sutton MIPS helmet, which also turned out to be the ideal rain helmet. Read more…

RELATED: Review: Giro Sutton MIPS helmet 

Big City big battery

The E-Big City features a Shimano Steps E-5000 motor and E-8014 418-Wh semi-integrated battery. The battery lasts about six hours or 125 km. Through a few weeks of testing and semi-regular commuting, I didn’t have to charge it. My commutes tended towards the shorter side, but I kept a keen eye on the green charge indicator battery lights which only got down to two bars.

photo:Jeremy Worden

In terms of power, the motor will lend power assistance to your pedalling up to the legal limit of 32 km/h. I obviously wanted to test the limit and (after a few really fun sprints) I can confirm that once 32km/h is reached there’s a marked difference in the difficulty of pedalling. It was really easy for me to see how fast I was going, as the bike has an included speed sensor and displays your current speed on the integrated display.

photo:Jeremy Worden

Buttons next to the display control which of three levels of assist you’re riding at. Some riders might choose a lower level of pedal-assist for narrower streets with lots of turns, or maybe when they are starting and stopping a lot. I personally spent most of the time riding this bike at max assist, successfully avoiding showing up to any engagement with even a drop of sweat on my body. My extreme laziness about Toronto’s marginal Northbound inclines was no longer an issue. 

The E-Big City has a 1 x 9 Shimano drivetrain setup, which, with pedal assist, I found was a satisfactory number of gears for city riding.

Photo: Jeremy Worden

With the battery, the aluminum frame bike weighs 43.6lbs. While I could almost lug it up and down the stairs myself, it was much easier to get a bigger person to carry it out for me. Unfortunately, I don’t think the E-Big City would work well for a person who lives on the upper floors of a no-elevator walk-up, although that may just be my personal lack of upper body strength talking.

Everything else 

The all-black colourway and internal cable routing give the bike a clean, timeless look. Opus made a safe choice with the colour, but for an all-season bike, black truly is a good bet for minimizing the look of road grime and whatever else might end up on the frame.

A few other miscellaneous features that are notable on this bike:

The battery locks, which could be useful for someone who does deliveries and is quickly popping into a store.

For enhanced commuting, the E-Big City features front and rear rack mounts.

I didn’t love the Velo Ergo dual density handlebar grips—after longer rides, my hands were a bit uncomfortable. The saddle, on the other hand, Opus’ own E-City model, was quite comfortable.

As the E-Big City is a heavier bike, I found the kickstand to be incredibly useful. It made stopping to chat with a friend, placing the bike for a park hang and even storing it at home a much smoother experience.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed riding the Opus E-Big City. The bike made commuting much more enjoyable and performed well in a range of weather conditions.

The Opus E-Big City is $3,500 and is available from your local Opus dealer.