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Cyclotricity Stealth 1000 Watt electric bike review

The First impression

The delivery is much the same as any other bike. A courier arrived carrying a preposterously large brown cardboard box with the odd little hint at what might be inside…

Once you get into the giant cardboard box you find a partially assembled e-bike with a couple of extra boxes inside containing things like the battery, the charger and pedals. There is a little bit of assembly to do before you can hop on and ride it. The handlebars need to be attached, the pedals fitted, the wheels need to be put on, and lastly you connect the battery. In terms of ease I’d give this an 8/10. It took me around 10 minutes with just a pair of Allen keys to get it built and another half hour of tweaking to get everything “just right”.

 

 

There are a few differences between this and the (now discontinued) Stealth 250 watt which jump out at you when you start exploring the bike.

  • The 1000 watt has a new frame design which looks very similar but has a few improvements over it’s older counterpart. It now has some cut-outs for internal cable routing, helping to reduce the visible cable mess that plagues some ebikes.
  • The paintwork is much higher quality than the older 250 watt frame and should last longer, the branding and decals are much better applied on the new frame and look very sharp.
  • The new frame is made of thicker aluminium making it substantially heavier than the 250’s and a lot stiffer, there is a tiny bit of flex in the 250 frame which the 1000 doesn’t have, the flex makes the 250 a little more comfortable on cobbles and rough surfaces but the increased sturdiness of the 1000 is definitely reassuring given the extra weight.
  • The 1000 Watt Stealth has Suntour suspension forks which offer an improved experience than the Zoom forks on the older Stealth 250. They are very well built, have no flex at all and have a good range of adjustability to give you exactly the feel you want from your suspension when riding.
  • Unlike the front wheel drive Stealth 250, the Stealth 1000 is rear wheel drive. The large motor sits in rear wheel making it much more obvious that it’s an electric bike you’re riding, the old style silver bottle battery is also gone now with a new very well made black cartridge design instead. The new battery feels very solid, and the latches, key and USB port feel like they are up to taking quite a bit of abuse. The USB port on the side of the battery is such a great new feature! It often helped to top up the battery on my GPS and it seriously saved my bacon one evening where I had forgotten to recharge my front bike light.
  • The brake levers are a very welcome evolution of the older design. They share the same basic appearance as the levers on the 250 but this newer version on the stealth 1000 allows for much better modulation, has a much more predictable cut off point for the motor, and they feel more substantial without actually being any heavier.
  • Quick release cable connectors! At last. Taking off the drive wheel of the 250 was always a time consuming and irritating job when you can’t remove the motor cable without taking half of the electric bike apart. Replacing tyres or brake rotors is a lot easier on the 1000 as the cables can be disconnected and the wheels easily removed.

 

 

How does it stack up:

 

In the style of my first electric bike review (which you can read here) let’s see how the manufacturers claimed specs work in the real world.

 

  • 1000W brushless and gearless rear hub motor (comes restricted to the UK/EU regulation of 250W power and 25km/h speed by default. Reaches up to 50km/h once de-restricted to the 1000W mode.) – While I can’t verify actual power rating, a little napkin maths shows the stated power is definitely in the right ballpark… The speedometer on the LCD dashboard is surprisingly accurate and gives similar readings to an iPhone’s built in  gps and a calibrated wahoo speed sensor. 25kph is reached very easily when running in road-legal mode, and once you have signed the “I promise not to be naughty” de-restriction waiver and applied the code, the Stealth 1000 watt will easily get to the 50kph limit. The motor accelerates very smoothly whichever mode you’re in and is much quieter than my old Stealth at 250watts. It gets noticeably louder above 35kph but the sound isn’t distracting or unpleasant, I found myself quite enjoying the motor noise as time went on.
  • LCD dashboard showing power output, Speed, Time, journey Distance etc and ability to control the de-restriction settings. – The dashboard is externally identical to the old Stealth 250’s LCD… which is no bad thing as the old display was absolutely excellent. It is still very crisp and clear, the settings and menus are easy to navigate, and it still has a great backlight (a feature which is still inexplicably absent from the product blurb!).
  • Thumb throttle (optional extra: contact us for more info) – This seems to me like a strange omission, with an eBike using only pedal assistance there is a slight delay between you starting to pedal and getting the help from the motor, on the Stealth 250 this was never a problem as the 250’s is easy to ride completely unpowered. Stepping up to the 1000 Watt Stealth though riding it unpowered almost feels liek you’re towing another cyclist behind you,  up a hill, with two flat tyres. Even with PAS turned on the extra weight makes it quite taxing to set off from traffic lights before the sensors catch up and turn the motor on. Once I added the throttle, having instant power available exactly when you need it most, improved the experience a lot. I would make this my second highest recommended add-on for the Stealth 1000.
  • 5 levels of pedal assist modes – The PAS sensor took quite a bit of adjustment to get working properly, but once setup, worked very well albeit with a slight lag when setting off from a stop. At first it failed to pick up pedal motion a lot of the time. This was fixed by moving one of the rubber spacers from the inside to the outside of the magnetic disc, and then moving the disc a fraction closer to the sensor. I had the same problem on the Stealth 250 and corrected it another way by adding small neodymium magnets on top of the existing magnets on the disc, it has been flawless ever since.
  • Fitted with mechanical alloy disc brakes. Electric brake levers cut the power when applied. – The new design brake levers, as mentioned in the opening, are a lot better to use than the 250’s, they have a pleasing solidity to them and the motor cut off feels much more precise then the earlier models. While the new brake levers improved on the older Stealth, the new brakes were a monumental step backwards. The “Repute” brake callipers look and feel very cheap and the smooth chromed brake rotors look nice, they provide a very poor braking surface causing them to make a lot of noise when braking heavily. At first the performance was just reasonable but they quickly started to lose stopping power and were badly affected by changes in weather conditions, particularly cold temperatures. At the road legal limit of 25kph I wasn’t too concerned with the poor braking performance but once you de-restrict the stealth they start to become rather more of a liability.
  • 48V/12Ah Lithium-ion battery (25-30 miles range between charges depending on terrain, weight of cyclists, frequent use of PAS, frequency of stops/starts, air pressure in tyres etc. Based on 250W restriction mode. Range could drop down to 15miles once de-restricted to full power) – In my testing I spent 20 days commuting on mostly flat roads. The commute takes me from the Essex border into Central London, 12 miles each way giving around 24 miles total. Riding in the 250 watt mode it easily managed the 24 miles and still had 2 bars of battery remaining at the end of each trip. Changing the PAS settings or adjusting the amount of throttle I was using during the rides didn’t have any noticeable impact on the battery life at 250 watts. For the de-restricted testing I took the Stealth 1000 on a couple of rides around Epping forest. De-restricted my napkin maths suggests that the battery lasted around 10 miles with the speed cranked up to 50kph (bare in mind there was a 5 mile ride to get to the forest at 250 watts before the de-restricted testing was done).
  • New Stealth Charger: UK plug charger with LED indicating level of charge (battery should be fully charged within 5 hours) – Cyclotricity’s new charger is quite a bit smaller than the old stealth 250’s rather cumbersome power-brick, making it much more portable and so easier to take out and about with you, throwing it in a rucksack isn’t a problem anymore. The charger itself features bright LED indicators which help you see when it’s charged from across the room (old one was a single dim LED). It was able to charge my battery from being completely flat to 100% full in 4hrs 42mins.
  • Suspension: SR Suntour Alloy – The forks are worlds apart from the Zoom forks on the original Stealth 250. They have a great range of adjustment to suit the rider’s style and the types of terrain you are riding through, in my tests they were completely unphased by pot-holes, cobbles or tree roots.
  • Gears: 7 speed Shimano derailleur – The use of a “one-by” setup is a superb choice for this kind of electric bike. Having only one gear at the front instead of the three you might normally see, makes the bike a little lighter and simpler to maintain as there are fewer moving parts to service or to go wrong. The readily available power from the motor means you won’t ever need to use small front chainrings and by not having a shifter for the front gears you save a bit of handlebar space too. The rear gearing is handled by a very basic entry-level offering from Shimano, the same that you might see on those £50-£75 bargain basement bikes sold in some of the big supermarkets as Tesco and Asda have done recently, or from the big catalogue stores like Argos. While the gear shifter certainly works, it feels jarringly cheap compared to the rest of the bike. The rear gears work well enough at low speeds but the smallest gear having 14teeth makes it  impractical when you’re going fast on the flats or downhill as the motor quickly takes you over the speed at which you can keep up by pedalling. It’s a good enough match when riding with the motor restricted to 250watts but any faster than 30kph and you find yourself quickly wishing it had an 11t gear and a much bigger front chainring.
  • Rims: 26″ Alloy double walled – The 26″ wheels both arrived perfectly trued and they seem very solid, the body of the rim is painted in black with the braking surfaces as bare metal with a pleasing black stripe inset. These wheels feel well made and should stand up to a lot of abuse. The brand stickers are a little on the obnoxious side but these at least can be very easily peeled off.
  • Saddle: PVC leather – The Saddle is very comfortable and the branding looks great. Thrashing the bike up some local hills and along an abandoned railway line produced none of the discomfort that other saddles have caused me in the past. The rails have a good range of adjustability to suit the rider’s preference though it doesn’t have any markings to show the maximum or minimum positions on either the saddle rails or the seatpost so you’ll need to take some care when first setting up the bike to fit you.
  • Steel Bell – The stealth came with rather a nice bell which works as expected, it doesn’t look intrusive, helps fill the gap left by the front gear shifter leaving plenty of handlebar space for other things. The mount seems to be strong and secure, I can’t see it breaking any time soon.
  • Total weight of e-Bike including battery: 24kg – The Stealth 1000w fully assembled with the battery attached came in at 29 Kg for me. I weghed it by first weighing myself (the less said about that the better!), then weighing myself holding the bike off the ground (not an easy feat), then subtracting my weight from the second result. Given the difference between the website claim and my own results I did this twice, getting the same result both times. At 29 Kg this is hefty, even for an electric bike. When you pick it up all of the weight is concentrated towards that back of the bike with the heaviest part being the motor. Riding the Stealth 1000 with the battery turned off is a dtrange sensation, akin to riding a mountain bike with a flat tyre. Thankfully the motor is more than able to compensate for this and with the power on, the weight doesn’t affect the riding experience at all. For servicing the bike or moving it in and out of storage the battery has a really well designed latch mechanism letting you easily take it off, considerably reducing the weight of the bike.


Photo Gallery

 

 

How is it to ride?

Well that’s the thing, this bike has two very distinct personalities..

Road Legal, Limited to 250 Watts

As an urban commuter bike on mostly flat tarmac the Stealth is a very relaxing steed. It is a comfortable and stable ride which gets you where you need to go with as much or as little effort as you feel like putting in. Much like any other electric bike. Riding the 1000 watt Stealth with the limiter turned on was an underwhelming experience. Gently cruising the roads between Essex and London isn’t very challenging in terms of terrain, I do this trip at least once a week on an unpowered fatbike after all. I quickly came to the conclusion that the Stealth 1000 wasn’t really designed with this mundane a task in mind so I switched things up a little and threw a couple of hills at it. London may not have many hills, but there are one or two brutally steep climbs to chose from if you want to put a bike through its paces. Swain’s Lane is probably the most famous, it’s a short and sweet climb through Holloway and Highgate in north London, it has a long 14% gradient at its steepest point and climbs high into the hills above Hampstead Heath. See this video (not mine) for a clue about just how gruelling it can be!

This is a road I have cycled many times before, mainly on a Planet X XLS full carbon cyclocross bike. There’s always a moment as you get to the top of the steepest section that you suddenly realise you still have another 200meters of only slightly less-steep hill to climb up before you get to the top for a rest. No matter how many times I climb Swain’s Lane I always seem to forget that last 200m is there. In the past few years I have taken my older 250 watt Stealth up this hill quite a few times and it noticeably runs out of steam as the road gets steep, forcing you to change down a couple of gears to keep a reasonable cadence. I’ve climbed Swain’s Lane on the fatbike too but the resulting wobbly sweaty mess that barely made it to the top doesn’t bare thinking about.

Even with the road-legal limiter turned on the 1000 Watt stealth did not struggle at all. It didn’t occur to me at the time but the jump from 36volts to 48volts on the new bike gives you a lot more torque than on the old Stealth so it never seems to struggle on any gradient. To see the looks on people’s faces as you serenely waft past them up the hill without furiously panting and dripping in sweat was definitely worth going a few miles out of my way for. I didn’t have to change out of the middle gear I started in for the entire climb… and this is what the Stealth 1000 seems to have been designed for. 250 Watts is more than enough power for the vast majority of the riding most people will be doing, but for those who have a more challenging route, the extra oomph you get from the Stealth 1000, even with the limiter on makes a lot of difference. If I lived somewhere hilly, a more powerful electric bike would be a complete no-brainer.

De-Restricted at 1000 Watts

To de-restrict the Stealth you must first deal with a little paperwork. After asking Cyclotricity for the de-restriction code I was sent a form to fill out, essentially a legal document saying that the rider fully understands that riding the bike de-restricted on public roads is an offence. Once that’s done and sent off to Cyclotricity an email turns up with the instructions on how to de-restrict the bike. For obvious reasons I won’t share what the process is, suffice is to say that it takes about 30 seconds to do and is fairly easy to remember once you’ve done it a couple of times.

Running a Cyclotricity Stealth at full power is a very different experience. The entire composure of the bike changes dramatically. Setting off feels no different as you gently accelerate up to 25kph but once you push beyond 30kph you get a “second wind” and the Stealth really starts to shift. On flat surfaces the 1000 watt motor is an absolute blast, getting you up to around 50kph without even needing to pedal. If you do want to pedal as well though bare in mind that the entry-level shimano gearing is not well suited to high speeds to you’ll find it very uncomfortable to go any higher than about 30kph. Speed is not what this bike is about though, it’s power. While 1000 watts of power is certainly good for going quickly, it’s even better at handling sharp climbs and rough terrain, though the supplied tyres are good all-rounders you may want to switch them out for more specialised tyres if you plan on going seriously off-road. My 4 mile test route through Epping forest takes in some forest trails, bumpy gravel roads, and rolling hills. I found the sweetspot for me was in PAS mode 3 with the motor set to 35kph. This stops you from going too fast to pedal, yet provides just the right amount of oomph from the motor when you really need it. I was really very impressed with the way the Stealth’s electric drive system was engineered, all of the pieces work together seamlessly in a way that lets you take advantage of it completely intuitively, there’s almost no learning or acclimatising needed to get used to it. It really is a fantastic setup!

While I cannot heap enough praise onto the electric drive system on the Stealth 1000 watt, it does come with rather a bitter sting in the tail. During my second loop around Epping Forest the brakes were becoming noticeably weaker and started to squeak loudly when applying a bit of gentle braking. A quick check showed that the pads weren’t wearing down but the rotor (the steel disc) was being smoothed down instead. No amount of tweaking the brakes with the barrel adjusters made up for this issue and by the end of the second loop, the brakes were performing so badly that riding the Stealth de-restricted no longer felt safe or enjoyable… I had to call it a day. I even opted to take the Stealth back home on the train instead of riding it back the last 5 miles as I just could not trust that the brakes would be able to stop me if I had to brake harshly. I was ready at this point to bring my time with the Stealth to an end and to write it off. I couldn’t quite bring myself to ship it back with such a cloud hanging over it though given just how impressed I was with the electronics I felt I had to give the bike a second chance.

 

Take two…

After experiencing these problems I decided to try out a couple of upgrades on the 1000 watt version. First I swapped out the all-purpose tyres for some mountain bike specific Continental X-King 2.4″ tyres. These are very wide knobbly tyres designed to run at low pressures for incredible grip and puncture resistance off-road. The Stealth’s frame has excellent tyre clearance and the 2.4″ X-Kings fitted without any problems. The second upgrade I made was to remove the original brakes and completely replace them with Avid’s excellent BB5-MTB braking system. The BB5’s are at the lower end of Avid’s line up but provide immense stopping power and incredibly precise braking and modulation at a very good price point, with replacement pads and rotors very easy to come by. The stock brakes on my loaned Stealth 1000 Watt came from “Repute”, an absurdly low-budget Chinese mass producer of dubious quality bike components. They have a suspiciously similar outward design to a popular brake set from one of the big European manufacturers, while lacking any of the quality. These absolutely had to go! They were such I liability that I wouldn’t even consider riding the Stealth de-restricted with these fitted. With the “Repute” callipers and brake rotors set safely to one side (I do have to return the bike after all) I fitted the Avid BB5’s to the Stealth and the transformation was incredible. With brakes that could now match the performance of the motor, I no longer had any of the trust issues I was suffering from before. I was content to throw the Stealth down steep embankments without having any concern that the brakes would be able to stop me at the bottom or if I got into any trouble. With these upgrades in place it no longer felt like it might be unsafe at higher speeds and the whole feeling of haring around on the 1000 watt Cyclotricity Stealth went from one of constant worry, to being absolutely thrilled, the entire time.

In Conclusion…

In the slightly upgraded configuration I could seriously see myself considering the 1000 Watt Stealth as a go-to “FunBike”. One reserved for silly adventures in unexplored places at the weekends, a role currently filled by my On-One Fatty FatBike. There are so many good things to say about the Stealth 1000’s electric drive system and the new frame with the excellent Suntour suspension forks, that I could definitely see myself buying one if I had to commute in hilly areas or wanted to take on some light off-roading.

The Stealth 1000 Watt also comes with a 1 year warranty from Cyclotricity. Their customer support is absolutely excellent in my experience and being UK based, is very responsive.

While there are undeniably some questionable component choices on the 1000 Watt Stealth, these are not deal-braking. They are easily upgradable either immediately or once they wear out. If you like to tinker with component choices or already have a good specification mountain bike then the 1000 Watt drive system is available as an upgrade kit to your existing bike.

For those considering an electric bike for inner-city riding or commuting in flatter areas this may not be the best choice for you, the extra weight and power will be of little use in a flat well paved city and so the lighter, simpler and more versatile Cyclotricity Revolver 250 watt would get my recommendation. If you need an electric bike which will never struggle on even the steepest climbs then the Stealth 1000 Watt is a great choice.

 

Click here to visit the manufacturers website

 

FULL DISCLOSURE

Following a crash on my Stealth 250, I reached out to Cyclotricity for assistance in getting replacements parts for the repairs. Cyclotricity were familiar with my in depth review of the 250 Watt Cyclotricity Stealth and graciously offered to loan me their 1000 Watt variant while my own e-bike was off the road. I have not received any payment, goods, or services in respect to this review and attest that this is my full, frank, and honest review of the product.

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