I recently had the opportunity to test a really cool bicycle. It’s called the Pluto R Electric Bike, and today I’ll give you all the results of that testing, along with several photos and a video overview that together should give you all the information you’ll need to determine whether or not an e-bike might be for you.
Incidentally, a related model called the Pluto C2 Electric Bike is also currently available. While the Pluto R has the bar across the top (from just below the seat to the handlebars), the C2 is the slanted bar (or “female”) version of the bike, which many people, including older riders and anyone concerned about slipping off the pedals and landing on the bar, might prefer.
Read on for full details of my time with the Pluto R!
Pluto R Electric Bike Features and Specs
The Pluto R Electric Bike has a lot of cool things going for it, but what really makes it stand out from other typical bicycles is the fact that it has an electric motor that provides riders with a helpful pedal assist that tops out at an impressive 32 km/h and makes riding the Pluto R an absolute pleasure.
The Pluto R also incorporates all of its electronics very well—so well in fact that you can barely even tell that it’s an electric bike. With its 350 Watt Bafang brushless rear hub motor (shown below) and single cable design (just a tenth of the cables that most e-bike’s have), the Pluto R Electric Bike looks almost like any ordinary bicycle.
In fact, the Pluto R’s design is an award-winning one: It hides its battery and motor so well that it doesn’t look like an electric bike at all (making it less attractive to potential bike thieves), it features a lightweight aluminum alloy frame and is incredibly light for an electric bicycle, and its overall aesthetic is both sleek and attractive.
What’s more, it uses the highly reputable Shimano branded gear system and has 9 different pedal assist modes for you to choose from. Of course, if you’d prefer to do all the hard work yourself, simply choose 0 and you’ll have your wish.
Other features of the Pluto R Electric Bike include a bell for warning pedestrians and other riders of your approach, a red light in the back so you’ll easily be seen when riding in the dark, front and rear hand brakes, and a trigger shift mechanism for easy gear shifting—just to name a few.
We’ll get into more of the Pluto R’s features and specs as we work through the remainder of the review.
Assembling the Pluto R Electric Bike
Unboxing the Pluto R was not lengthy or difficult, though it was a messy business. Getting everything out and unwrapped only took about 10 minutes, but by the time I was finished, there was a lot of cardboard, tape, and plastic to dispose of.
The most frustrating part of the unboxing was when one of the smaller parts got buried amongst all of the debris. I probably spent a good 10-15 minutes looking for the part (I initially thought it was missing), so less wrapping debris certainly would have been appreciated.
The Pluto R does require some initial assembly: You need to attach the handlebars, the front tire (including brake assembly and fender), the pedals, and the seat.
Most of the more complex parts of the bike come already assembled (for instance, the electric motor, chain and gear system, rear brakes, and the overall frame are already together in one large piece when you take everything out of the box), which is very nice and makes the remainder of the assembly process rather quick and easy.
Once everything was out of the box and ready to put together, the rest of the assembly process only took about 20 minutes to complete (subtracting, of course, the time spent looking for the buried part).
I was actually rather pleased with this entire process, though, as it required no professional assistance whatsoever and also took very little in the way of tools (just a couple of Allen wrenches that I already had on hand).
Things to Note
One thing to note about the tires is that their air intake valve is a high quality Presta valve (as opposed to the Schrader valve that many mountain bikes seem to have).
This meant that I had to go out and buy a valve adapter to be able to inflate the tires.
The adaptor cost all of $3 at a bike shop that was just a few blocks from my house, so it wasn’t a major issue, and it allowed me to pump the tires up at my local gas station with a standard air hose. Super easy!
Testing out the Pluto R Electric Bike
Hitting the Road
Once assembly was complete, it was time to hit the road, and I must say, riding the Pluto R was really a lot of fun. This was largely owing to its electronic Backlit Display (which features an odometer, a battery level indicator, and information about which pedal assist level you are in). It’s really a lot of fun to know how fast you’re riding the bike!
I rode the Pluto R on both regular (mostly flat) streets and in a very challenging park that was full of steep hills. While riding on the flat surface of my local streets I easily achieved the pedal assist’s top speed of 32 Km/h, and I actually went a bit beyond that at times.
Acceleration & Braking
The Pluto R definitely gets up to speed quickly! I actually found that in many of the shorter blocks in my neighbourhood, I had to constantly use the brakes just to keep from blowing through stop signs.
This is because in just a few feet of space I was easily getting up to 30 Km/h of speed and beyond. It was always easy to feel the pedal assist kicking in, and that made really fast riding both easy and fun.
Luckily, the Pluto R’s brakes were always up to the task, stoping me within just a few feet of space and without any incidents of close calls. The only minor issue I noticed at all was that the front brake is a bit loud when stopping.
Hitting the Hills
I rode up a number of different hills in my area, and many of them were probably in the range of about 30-45 degrees of slope. The Pluto R didn’t mind at all!
Where things didn’t go quite as well was on some of the really steep hills in a local park that is full of hiking and riding trails. Some of the hills down there are so steep (probably around 60 degrees of slope) that I had to get off the bike and walk at times.
For this reason, I would have to say that the pedal assist is mostly just that—an assist. It will help you out (especially on smooth terrain), but this thing isn’t a motorcycle, and the electronics aren’t going to do all of the work for you.
The Comfort Factor
The only thing I didn’t like at all about the Pluto R was it’s very uncomfortable seat. Though certainly not a deal breaker, I was not impressed with it.
But perhaps I should have been. This seat is in fact a special type of seat (long, narrow, and firm) that’s frequently found on road and hybrid style mountain bikes. It was designed for lengthy bike rides, and it’s actually intended to prevent saddle soreness after such a ride.
Even so, I would definitely prefer something a bit softer and would at least look for a soft (possibly neoprene?) cover to put on it.
Examining the Video Evidence
Please take a couple of minutes to check out my brief video overview of the Pluto R Electric Bike. In this video I give a good up-close going over of the bike itself, discuss some of what I particularly liked (or disliked) about it, and show a bit of footage of me riding it:
Although I do have a complaint or two about the Pluto R Electric Bike, my overall opinion of it is extremely positive. In fact, I would love to have one of these amazing bikes myself. While e-bikes aren’t exactly entry-level bicycles, you sure do get a lot for your investment. And if riding a traditional bike is difficult for you (perhaps due to the constant hard work of pedaling), an e-bike might just be the answer. If so, you really can’t go wrong with the Pluto R!
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