The Denago City Model 1 is the first bike from a new e-bike company. It features a 500W motor with more muscle than we expected, a battery that gave it range enough to be useful for long commutes and a frame that comes in three different sizes.
In our experience, most companies’ first efforts leave something to be desired in the form of a sub-par motor or battery, brakes that aren’t powerful enough or a drivetrain that makes a rider suffer on the hills. The Denago City Model 1 is an impressive freshman effort because it lacks any glaring faults.
When we ask ourselves what are the features of a great city bike that matter most and are least likely to be upgraded, our first three features are a great motor, a solid battery and powerful brakes. Once a rider buys a bike, changing any of these can be difficult (or even impossible), so it’s important to purchase a bike that satisfies the rider’s needs in those regards.
That mindset appears to have informed the design of the Denago City Model 1 because it enjoys a terrific motor, solid range and its hydraulic disc brakes give it terrific stopping power.
This is a city bike, but compared to some of its competitors, this is a more stripped-down version. Most city bikes are equipped as all-season commuters, and as such, come with fenders, a rear rack and lights. Denago took the view that each of these accessories are just that—accessories—and can be added at the time of or after purchase, depending on the rider’s needs and budget. By leaving off fenders, a rear rack and lights, Denago is able to present a value-packed e-bike for less.
So why skip items like fenders and lights? Riding in the rain or before the sun has risen is the stuff of only the most dedicated riders. Not many of us really enjoy that. The Denago City Model 1 squares off against the notion that a bike should be equipped to be ridden 250 days a year, rain or shine.
After all, if someone is going to skip riding when it’s dark or raining, why spend money on accessories intended to ease riding in those conditions? And if someone does decide they want to be a dedicated commuter, well all the accessories necessary—fenders, lights, rear rack, saddle bag, etc.—can be purchased with a few mouse clicks.
This is a Class 3 e-bike with a maximum assist speed of 28 mph and the 500W hub motor hits well above its weight class; we found its performance to be unexpectedly strong, especially on hills. Its five PAS levels are well-differentiated and provide noticeable bumps in performance.
As we mentioned before, this is a great bike, but it isn’t a perfect bike. We have an issue with the shifter’s performance and we think the throttle lacks some finesse. We’ll get to that soon enough as we go through the performance section of our Denago City Model 1 review.