2018-12-06

Bike Review: Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X


I’m now a few hundred miles into my new electric bicycle, a CrossCurrent X made by a company called Juiced Bikes.

The CrossCurrent X is a rather fancy e-bike with a lot to offer. Let me first say a few words about how I came to decide on the CrossCurrent X, and then I will review the bike itself.

I. The Decision

My first exposure to e-bikes was via a different company. Their offerings seemed interesting, but as I started to expand my research, I realized that there are actually a lot of e-bike companies out there. Some, like Trek and Raleigh, are traditional bicycle companies that offer electric bikes. Others, like Juiced Bikes and Rad Power Bikes, are dedicated e-bike sellers. Even my beloved BikesDirect.com sells a few different electric bicycles. With such a full marketplace, I figured I was going to have a lot of options. So I started comparing bicycles based on their specifications and components.

In my experience, Trek usually provides a benchmark for a “top of the line bike.” Almost every product they sell is a top-quality bicycle. One possible approach to researching bicycles is to start with whatever Trek’s best couple of offerings are, and compare anything else you could buy to those offerings. When you do that with e-bikes, you discover two things: First, a lot of companies offer bikes with similar specs to Trek bikes for much less money. And second, there aren’t a lot of companies out there who are offering as much value-per-dollar as Juiced Bikes.

This is not to say that Juiced Bikes are the least expensive or most value-conscious bikes on the market. Depending on your needs and desires, and your ability to build a bicycle yourself, there are many other options out there. But Juiced Bikes offers products that are actually even a bit better than big, name-brand bikes for the same amount of money or less.

I briefly considered buying a value bike or building my own, but then I remembered something about myself. I’m always trying to do things on the cheap and squeeze as much value out of things as I possibly can. When it comes to my hobbies, this invariably turns into a situation where I spend a little money up front, then a little more money a couple of years later, then a little more money a year later, then a little more… I wanted to circumvent this process this time around. I told myself that if I’m going to buy an e-bike, I should buy more e-bike than I actually need, so that I would have absolutely no reason to upgrade later. Buy one good, solid e-bike for slightly more money and then avoid the necessity of future spending.

Juiced Bikes seems to do everything “the Ryan way.” They manufacture their bicycles in China, import, and sell direct, thus shaving tons of money off the price. They invest a lot of time in engineering, designing, and testing to ensure their bikes are unique. The CrossCurrent itself has an interesting story. It started out as an e-bike kit paired with the best components they thought they could offer. Then they improved the line based on customer feedback, adding new components and features. The CrossCurrent X is evidently the latest iteration of that process. It’s a great blend of engineering and customer feedback.

Thus, I arrived at the CrossCurrent X. This is Juiced Bikes’ top-of-the-line commuter. As far as commuter bicycles, it comes fully loaded with everything you already want. There is nothing else to add to the bike. If my objective was to avoid the temptation of spending more money on e-bikes in the coming years, I think I met my objective perfectly.

II. The Bike

My bicycle arrived in a big, sturdy box, almost fully assembled. I unpacked everything according to Juiced Bikes instructions and carefully assembled the bike, almost without a hitch. Everything was perfect and easy to install. In fact, all I really needed to install was the front wheel and the bell. I put the wheel on, charged the battery, and inflated the tires.

Finally it was time to take my CrossCurrent X for a spin. As per Juiced Bikes’ recommendations, I started with a short ride around the block on Eco mode to ensure that everything was working correctly. I then took a longer ride, trying out the various levels of pedal assist: Eco, 1, 2, 3, and Sport.

Eco mode is designed merely the cancel out the weight of the e-bike. It feels just like riding a regular bicycle, and you can’t really feel much pedal assist at all, even though it is there. Switching to Level 1 was a fun introduction into the world of e-bikes, but of course things got really fun in the higher levels of assistance, where the rider can quickly get up to a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour with almost no physical effort. Hills are unchallenging. I don’t know exactly how long it takes to get from 0 to 20mph, but it’s only a matter of a few seconds. Very fun.

The CrossCurrent X also has a push-lever throttle on the left handlebar, and this is a great way to jet through an intersection or speed up from a stop sign without having to worry about the cars on the road impatiently trying to drive past or around you.

Accessing the settings menu enables the user to increase the maximum speed from a default of 20 mph to 30 mph and beyond. Check your local laws before making any adjustments here. It’s possible that you’ll only be able to exceed 20 mph on private property. That said, once you’ve adjusted the settings, you’ll find that 25 mph on a typical flat neighborhood road is quite easy to achieve, and with a little bit of pedaling you can get up to 30 mph. The CrossCurrent X is a thrilling bicycle to ride because it has so much power and responds so well to throttling, or to pedaling. The hydraulic disc brakes are superb – on one of my first rides, two children darted in front of me despite my warning them with the accompanying bell, and I had to slam on the brakes. No problem. The bike has excellent stopping power, and the weight of the bike help keeps it from “endo-ing.” The children escaped safely, as did I.

What really sets the CrossCurrent X apart from other bikes, though, in my opinion, is the attention to detail. The seams on the frame were decoratively welded, which I thought was a rather pleasant touch. The paint is a beautiful, shiny “brushed aluminum” that gleams in the sunlight and offers an attractive curbside look. The grips are ergonomically contoured, and fan out at the ends, providing the heels of your hands with a nice platform to lean on as you ride. The gel seat is extremely comfortable. The 1000-lumen headlight seems as bright as a car’s headlight and makes the road perfectly visible when you’re riding in the dark. The riding posture is comfortable for anyone.

One of the big upgrades on the bike are the Schelbe Marathon puncture-resistant tires. If you keep your tubes properly inflated and steer clear of mountain bike paths, you may end up going years before having to repair a flat, and certainly years before replacing a tube or tire. This was a thoughtful thing to include with the bike.

The fun-factor of this bike is off the charts. It feels like riding a cruiser, but it goes a lot faster. The added speed and torque make the rider feel at ease in heavy traffic, but the laid-back posture and design of the bike ensures that you never really feel like you’re racing. It’s not unlike a fast, well-built luxury car that feels so comfortable while you drive it that before you know it you’re several mph over the speed limit. Same deal with the CrossCurrent X – you set out for a nice, pleasant ride, and before you know it you’re barreling down the road or the bike path at surprisingly fast speeds. It is the ultimate commuter’s tool.

At this point, I have only one criticism of the CrossCurrent X: the fenders. The front fender was so difficult to attach, thanks to the tiny spaces where the nuts and bolts fit together, that I just gave up on it and left it unattached. The rear fender came already attached to the bike, but it was rubbing against the rear wheel. Since its nuts and bolts are also assembled in teeny-tiny spaces that can’t be accessed without detaching the entire rear wheel, I used a pair of pliers to gently bend the fender into a more acceptable place. I will, however, detach it as soon as the rear tire needs replacing.

Well, that’s about all there is to say. I can’t recommend this bicycle highly enough. For my needs, it’s absolutely perfect, and I’m so glad I bought it. It is well designed, well constructed, and it rides like a dream. In the future, I might upload a video review via YouTube, but then again maybe not. The bike is fun enough to ride that I don’t feel particularly inclined to stop and take a video of it. But we’ll see.