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One word that comes to mind with the new Buzz Cerana electric bike is “bargain.” Good luck finding another mid-drive e-bike with a torque sensor that’s priced under two grand. If you’re new to electric-powered bicycles, the terms ‘mid-drive motor’ and ‘torque sensor’ might not mean much to you yet. But it’s those two features on a bike with a list price of $1,499, with free shipping anywhere in the lower 48 states of the US, that make Cerana leap out of the crowded e-bike market and demand some attention.
Buzz Bicycles has been around since 2019. The design team is based in Dayton, Ohio, but the company’s family tree has deep roots. Owned by parent company United Wheels, Buzz is a sister company to well-known brands like Huffy Bicycles, Batch Union, Niner Bikes, and Allite, Inc. Mid-drive Motor: Putting The Power Where You Pedal There are a couple of ways to add external power to a bicycle. First, an electric motor is tiny when compared to a typical gas motor, so engineers have figured out how to put a motor into one of the hubs of the front or back wheel or to put the motor where the cranks turn to pedal the bike, which is called a mid-mount motor. There are some advantages to having the motor in the center of the bike, rather than in one of the wheels. Since the electric motor will weigh about eight pounds, putting the weight in the middle of the bike improves stability, and power delivery tends to be smoother. In the power delivery, the other standout feature of the Cerana comes into play: the torque sensor. An electric motor is there to assist your pedaling, not to do it all (that would make it a moped or motorcycle). So, the electric motor needs a sensor to measure the rate of pedaling. A cadence sensor is typical on lower-priced bikes. Still, it can slightly lag in power delivery since the electronic sensor counts pedal rotations to measure the rider’s pedaling speed. A torque sensor measures the amount of pressure you’re placing on the pedals, so it’s more direct and smooth when it adds power.
The Cerana features a 350 Watt motor. The brand of motor that Buzz powers up with isn’t one of the well-known European or Japanese brands, and that’s one place that a bit of uncertainty may enter the equation about the true value of the Cerana. The 36-volt lithium-ion battery gives an estimated 40 miles per charge. This range is only an estimate, though, and it’s based on riding in Eco-mode, the lowest of the Cerana’s four power-assist modes. The Cerana offers pedal-assist electric power up to 20 miles per hour. Unlike many e-bikes on the market, the Cerana has no throttle, so you’ll probably get quite a bit more miles to a charge than you would with a throttle. Throttle control on the handlebars makes it easy to rely excessively on the motor power and less on pedal power, which drains the battery in a hurry. The basic look of the Cerana is reminiscent of a comfort-riding classic bike you’d see in Holland. It’s got a low-step through frame, sturdy front and back fenders that are equipped with lights integrated into the bike’s electric system, and a very sturdy front basket. The wheels are just 24” high, a bit smaller than standard 26”. This slightly lower center of gravity is ideal for a smooth, stable ride combined with the step-through frame. In addition, the 3” wide tires aim for the sweet spot between 4” fat tires like off-roaders use and the thinner tires that are standard on many road bikes.
● Price: you’ll have to look far and wide to find an e-bike with the standard features that are included on the Cerana at a cost below $2,000, and you still may not find it’s equal. ● Design: the Cerana is a well-thought-out e-bike that may be ideal for many new riders who want stability and comfort over a sleek flashy look. ● Reputation: Buzz Bicycles are new in the business, but they are part of a longtime legacy in the biking world. And while most biking elitists don’t have many good things to say about Huffy Bikes, as an example of just one of Buzz’s sister companies, you can’t question the length and breadth of experience the company has in the bicycle business.
● Unknowns: beyond the Buzz Bicycle name itself, which is fairly fresh on the market, some questions persist about the quality and longevity you can expect of some key components like the electric motor and battery. However, the main electronics are covered by a two-year limited warranty, and you get a 10-year limited warranty on the aluminum frame. ● Throttle-less: many e-bike riders find that they quickly come to love the throttle for that quick burst of power that can take the pressure off of weary legs. The absence of a throttle on the Cerana has a couple of benefits, including legal compliance in areas where throttle-assist power isn’t allowed on a bicycle, and, probably most importantly, it will really help to stretch your battery power out over longer rides. ● Online only: Like many e-bikes on the market today, the Cerana is only available online. This may help the company to keep prices low, but it limits your ability to test ride and ‘kick the tires’ on the bike before you buy. On the plus side, shipping is free in the Continental US.
The Buzz Cerana is a bargain at a price point of $1,500, but the question remains whether it’s a good value for the price. If you’re a stickler for top brand names, especially in parts that will be getting a lot of stress like the motor and battery, the trade-off of low-cost versus uncertain results may not quite add up to a bike you want to invest fifteen hundred bucks on. But, if you believe that the only real difference is in the name on the label, then the total package of the Buzz Cerana may add up to a bargain that’s too good to pass up. There are many valuable standard features included in the Cerana, and it’s backed up by some bike industry veterans that own the company.
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