EV Bikes

KBO Ranger Review, 2024 | Electric bike review

We found the ride quality of the bike to be acceptable overall, although this section of our KBO Ranger review lists and explains our biggest gripes.

First of all, the bike was overall comfortable for us to ride. The saddle and ergonomic handles made the upright sitting position feel relaxed and comfortable. At 5′-11″ tall, I could tell I was nearing the upper end of the bike’s 4′-11″ to 6′-3″ adjustment range as my hand position seemed a little low and my legs weren’t as extended I usually prefer. Taller drivers may want to beware, but those of smaller to average height should feel right at home.

The Ranger felt more maneuverable than we expected based on our previous experience with cargo e-bikes. This made more sense when you looked at the geometry of the bike. At 47 inches or 1194mm, the wheelbase is shorter than similar bikes we tested, all of which were well over 1200mm. The difference in dimensions is relatively small, but the impact on the bike’s handling was noticeable.

While the shorter wheelbase has the side effect of reducing the size of the luggage rack, I personally think the trade-off for improved handling is worth it. Many other cargo e-bikes I’ve tested felt long and uncomfortable to ride without additional cargo, but the Ranger behaved and responded similarly to a shorter utility e-bike.

The Ranger’s total payload capacity is 350 pounds—which is a bit below what we typically see (400 pounds seems to be the norm for a full-size cargo hauler)—but still quite practical. The bike has bamboo footboards/footboards to allow carrying passengers. Although two children may feel a little cramped, fencing accessories should help keep the little ones contained. The brand also offers a front and rear basket for groceries, gear bags, or anything else.

It was great to see the included running boards, but potential owners should be aware that we found it necessary to remove these components along with the rear fender when removing the rear wheel to replace a flat tire. With the right tools, the job was fairly easy, although we wouldn’t rather have it done on the side of the road.

We liked the overall performance and responsiveness of the engine; As PAS levels increased, the bike felt punchy but generally behaved more reserved. With a cadence sensor, the motor activates and reactivates after about half a turn of the crank, which we think is good for a bike in this price range. When riding on flat surfaces without added weight, the bike felt like a ghost pedal in the medium to high setting range, although this was improved on climbs and when carrying loads.

However, one element we would like to see changed is how the engine engages at the top of the bike’s rev range. Driving in PAS 5 with the Class 2 20mph limit (19.9mph as shown in our speed test above) the ride became a bit jerky as the engine cycled off and on again to reach the top speed Maintain but not exceed. The experience could be a bit disturbing, so we recommend KBO to investigate the cause and find a solution to make the journey easier.

While we liked the overall maneuverability of the bike, there was also room for improvement in some of the handling. When I tested the bike, I noticed that the frame flexed noticeably in the bottom bracket area, resulting in a “slippery” feeling when cornering. When comparing the Ranger’s frame design to similar e-bikes, it appears to be missing some major structural elements to stiffen the connection of the seat tube, down tube and chainstays. We again encourage KBO to consider changes for greater stability.

Otherwise, we liked the 20 x 3-inch CST road tires. They offered a good balance of stability and maneuverability without the added weight of wider 4-inch tires. The rigid fork may initially seem to be a disadvantage for some riders, but we’ve found the lack of suspension to be an advantage for improved handling when transporting cargo.

The simplicity and straightforwardness of the motorcycle’s cockpit layout was also appreciated. With a twist throttle and an over-the-handlebar thumb switch on the right bar and a small control panel on the left, the Ranger was easy to use.

Ultimately, while there is certainly room for improvement, the KBO Ranger does a lot of things right. It was a fun bike overall, so we’re hoping KBO continues to improve some areas to make the foundation even stronger.

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