Review: Ubco's 2x2 Adventure Bike is environmentally friendly and a blast to ride

Ubco's 2x2 Adventure Bike
Is the Kiwi company's hybrid commuting and adventure bike worth the cost? Photo credit: Supplied / UBCO

When I hit my early forties my life changed. I like to think of it as a re-evaluation, making better choices and decisions, with a desire to leave this planet more sustainable than it had been when I was born.

Others might call that a mid-life crisis. However you want to describe it, it came with this longing to dump my petrol car forever and embrace the new technology in electric vehicles.

Unfortunately they're not cheap. Actually, they're just flat out unaffordable for a lot of people, myself included.

I considered a motorbike to get me from the sticks to work but frankly, as someone who has fallen over and hurt themselves just by walking a handful of times in the last 18 months, it seemed like I would be asking for trouble.

New Zealand's own Ubco could partly be the answer. Their electric utility bike won't get me all the way to and from work, but it could certainly help me ditch the car for anything but. So just how good is it?

I tested out the Ubco 2x2 Adventure Bike for a week and here are my thoughts.

The good

The Ubco Adventure Bike offers a dual function - it's designed both for inner-city riding as well as for those who anticipate enjoying a little off-road action in their lives.

It's limited to a top speed of just 50km/h which means that anyone with a standard driver's licence is able to ride one to their heart's content. Does that technically make it a scooter? Maybe, but calling it an electric motorbike definitely sounds cooler.

Talking of hearts, mine jumped somewhat the very first time I rode it.

Ubco's 2x2 Adventure Bike
Photo credit: Getty Images

I wasn't expecting the torque to be so strong. I rotated the throttle to head out of the driveway and almost fell over at the power. It took me a little while to adjust my preconceptions so I wasn't endangering myself or others when I sped off from junctions.

If your experience on any kind of motorised bike is limited, then I can heartily recommend spending serious time getting used to it before venturing out onto roads with other traffic.

When you do feel comfortable doing so, however, I can virtually guarantee you are going to have a serious amount of fun.

Out in Helensville we have a lot of utes in the village and it was particularly enjoyable being able to get away from the one set of traffic lights quicker than them, even if my speed advantage didn't last.

After my first ride, my partner came out of her studio to ask how it had been and to make sure I hadn't hurt myself.

She was able to see quickly that it was more than I hoped thanks to the stupid grin I couldn't remove from my face. I just wanted to head straight back out again.

I found the whole experience hugely enjoyable. The 1kW motor in each wheel ensures an all-wheel drive experience, different to most bikes which are rear wheel only.

Combined with a low centre of gravity, I never felt less than secure zipping around the roads with the locals. I was slightly less enthusiastic about my use of the throttle when I took it on dirt roads, but again never felt in any danger when I did hit higher speeds.

The bike, with battery, weighs in at around just 70kgs so is incredibly responsive while riding, even if that dead weight makes it more cumbersome when you're trying to move it around your garage.

Without the battery it can easily be hitched on the back of a decent sized car or truck if you want to go somewhere to take it off-roading, with the battery transported in the boot rather than attached to the bike.

Ubco's 2x2 Adventure Bike
Photo credit: Supplied / UBCO

Ubco says the bike will handle a payload of up to 150kg - that means the driver plus anything they are carrying or is on the cargo carrier on the back of the bike.

I'm weighing in at a tad under 70kgs these days so can't describe how it felt under those conditions, but I accelerated up hills easily and, unlike electric kick scooters, never felt like I was ever pushing it to do something it wasn't capable of.

Range is also pretty good, with up to 120km with the biggest battery, although that does depend on the outside temperature and how hilly your ride is. A cold winter day's trip that involves a few steep inclines will reduce that a fair bit.

After you've drained the battery, four to six hours of charging time will get you back up to 100 percent - so perfect for commuters who can get to and from work on a single charge and then leave it connected overnight.

It's also incredibly easy to ride. The throttle I've already mentioned, but the brakes are reasonably responsive and there are independent front and rear brakes.

There's both hydraulic and regenerative brakes that operate together to minimise battery drain and performance. They just worked as I expected.

The wing mirrors are easily adjustable to fit the rider, and the screen provides an easy way to glance at your speed and battery. Signalling is just the flick and a push of the switch away. Even for a two-wheel novice like myself, it wasn't hard to pick up.

There's even an Ubco app that allows you to adjust settings, get firmware updates for the bike and view live information from the bike's dash.

That's a comprehensive package! It was comfortable to sit on and ride for elongated periods of time. And no, the smile hasn't yet faded from my face.

The bad

There are only two negatives as far as I can see, but they could be pretty major depending on your point of view.

Ubco's 2x2 Adventure Bike
Photo credit: Supplied / UBCO

Firstly, the cost. At $7999 for the smaller battery option - which will get you a range of well under 100km - it's not cheap. You can pick up non-electric mopeds or even motorbikes for significantly less which will still save you a ton on petrol costs over a car.

They don't really have the added benefits of doing something to help protect the environment, however. It just means those willing to take the leap need to be prepared to fork out a little extra to enjoy an electric ride, whether that's a bike or a car.

Prices of such vehicles will come down eventually.

The second is the style. I've seen comments from others who absolutely love it. I'm not totally convinced.

Yes, the white paint is going to make sure I clean it a lot, but the stripped back look doesn't appeal to my sense of aesthetic. Is that important when the planet is dying?

Obviously not - but then we make so many purchase decisions on such calls that it's hardly unfair to mention it.

I suspect many more people are happy with the look than not. I'm sure with a bit of paint or some decals I could convert it into something I'd be proud to be seen riding, even if it doesn't look like a Harley Davidson.

Ubco's 2x2 Adventure Bike
Photo credit: Supplied / UBCO

The verdict

Did I mention how much fun it was running around town on the Ubco bike?

Despite some downsides, I really loved my time with it. However, coming in at around $8000, it's not a particularly cheap solution to my local travel woes.

It would be overkill to take it to the shop just a few kilometres away when I have a particularly decent pedal bike and a functioning pair of legs. It's just not practical for my 44km commute twice per day, particularly as I'd have to avoid motorways.

That would change, however, if I lived in one of the suburbs nearer the city centre, especially one where you can get to work avoiding stretches of road where the speed limit is beyond 50km/h.

That use case suddenly becomes pretty mighty. Yes, there's a one-off cost in buying it, but when you consider the price of both parking and petrol in the city then the payback period reduces significantly.

There's no question I would be investing in an electric utility bike under such circumstances, with the car for emergencies only.

Ubco's 2x2 Adventure Bike
Photo credit: Supplied / UBCO

I like to think I'm the adventurous type, so I would prefer something that'll handle a bit of rougher terrain too, for those days when I want to head off-road for some peace and quiet.

If you can't see yourself needing that particular functionality, there are other options available in Aotearoa, like Niu's range of road scooters which are available between $4k and around $8k depending on styling and how fast you want to go.

But if you want a solid, dependable and environmentally friendly way to get around and can justify the investment? The Ubco 2x2 Adventure Bike really is a tremendous option.

Newshub was supplied with a Ubco 2x2 Adventure Bike for this review.