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Meraki S7 test ride review

R Balaji | Updated on: Mar 23, 2022
Meraki S 7 e-cycle

Meraki S 7 e-cycle | Photo Credit: BIJOY GHOSH

The Meraki S7 can certainly handle the ample punishment our roads can dish out. Also lets you rest your quads on the return journey! 

Bicycles haven’t been as much in the limelight as they have in the past few years. They’ve become part of the active lifestyle of both the health-conscious and the urban explorer. While pedal power rules, all of us can still do with a bit of assistance, can’t we? The ride back is always less exciting. And a bit of battery-fed assistance can come in handy even at other times. The newbie in the market attempting to deliver that convenience is the Meraki S7, an electric bicycle from ‘91’, a dynamic new start-up. The bike was shipped to us for an extended test ride and here is my first impression.

As the facility of using a sort of dual-fuel (pedal-electric) bicycle goes, the S7 is certainly a joy to ride. The surge of power and the boost that the BLDC motor provides addresses the issues that a cyclist faces in the stop-and-go traffic of a peak-hour commute and adds to the fun of early morning, breezy ride. The bicycle copes well with the challenges of the city roads – potholes, ruts, random speed breakers, mud puddles, and sand traps -- and lets me experience a relatively smooth ride and concentrate on the traffic. 

Of course, the efficient 160mm disc brakes and the surge of power from the motor, at the turn of the throttle, add to the safety and maneuverability. The MTB-style carbon steel frame, chunky tyres, and the front fork suspension (80mm travel) do a lot to add to the smooth ride. Covering over 120 kms during multiple commute rides, spread over a couple of weeks for this review there were some pain points and concerns.  

But overall, the S7 takes things in its stride. 

Meraki S 7 e cycle.

Meraki S 7 e cycle. | Photo Credit: BIJOY GHOSH

Design

The S7’s best look is its side profile. With the cables for the gear, brakes, and accelerator, and the electrical wiring, routed internally through the frame, it is neat and clutter-free and the bicycle’s stance is neat. But from the front, the view is chaotic, with a bunch of wires and cables making it look like the rear end of a desk top computer. 

The vehicle scores on looks with the traditional diamond-shaped frame giving it a no-frills, neat outline. The bicycle under review is a silver-grey unit, with geometric patterns on a darker background. The paint and finish, including the frame welds, are neatly done. The cycle certainly drew a lot of attention whether parked on the roadside or standing at traffic signals.

Meraki S 7 e-cycle

Meraki S 7 e-cycle | Photo Credit: BIJOY GHOSH

Charging and Features 

Charging the battery for the first time takes about four hours and the power pack indicator light turns green from red. Subsequently, from the nearly drained battery to full charge, it takes about three-four hours. The overall layout is simple with an ignition key on the right of the handlebar to turn the battery unit on or off. This is an entirely superfluous feature and is a bit of a bother -- the cylinder-shaped component with the key just gets in the way of the rider operating the gearshift lever. After all, there is one more power switch on the electronic control unit to turn on the pedal-assist power feature. 

This control/ display unit, just about the size of a matchbox, is mounted on the left-hand side of the handlebar. There are two small switches on the side of the unit, the one on top is the power switch to turn on the display screen. The lower one, with a small ‘M’ on it just befuddles the rider – it is a troubleshooting thingy meant only for the technicians.

You press the top switch to turn on the unit. The display comes on – showing the battery charge, five square dots in a row at the bottom of the screen to indicate a full charge, and five square dots on top to mark the level of battery assistance you can set. The center space is dominated by the speedometer number in kmph. The flat surface of the screen acts as a toggle switch to set the level of pedal-assist. You press the top of the screen to increase assistance or the bottom to reduce power.

The basic specifications as mentioned by the company: The S7 is available in 18-inch, carbon steel frame, with 27.5 X 2.1 inch Hartex nylon tyres. The front-wheel comes with a quick-release lever. The power source is a 6.36 AH Li-ion battery integrated inside the frames’ down tube. The battery is made by Panasonic. The motor is a 36 volt, 250W BLDC (Brushless, Direct Current) unit in the rear wheel hub. The seven-speed gear set is Shimano’s Tourney series, the ubiquitous range you see on the most entry level, budget cycles whether road, hybrid, or MTB.

Meraki S 7 e-cycle.

Meraki S 7 e-cycle. | Photo Credit: BIJOY GHOSH

Range  

At full pedal-assist setting it was possible to consistently hit a top speed of 25-28 kmph, enabling the rider to cope well in peak traffic. From a full stop at a traffic junction to cruising, you can feel the pedal-assist feature start kicking in at about 5-6 kmph, and pedalling becomes easy. 

At the middle setting for pedal assist, and in mixed traffic, the bicycle was at top performance till about 20-24 kms after which the power starts tapering off, possibly till about 30 kms. Similarly, running on battery power alone, with some pedaling, on a single charge the battery range was about 25 kms, till the battery runs dry. 

The Meraki S7 takes on flyovers in its stride purely on battery power. The ride is comfortable, with the handlebar grips and seat feeling good, and the MTB pedals were sturdy holding the rider’s feet without any slippage.  

But, as a 7-speed MTB, the Meraki S7 can comfortably bring you home with just pedal power even without battery power. While it weighs a solid 22 kg, it is possible to pedal comfortably with judicious use of gears, to make it a viable manual bicycle. 

Meraki S 7 e-cycle

Meraki S 7 e-cycle | Photo Credit: BIJOY GHOSH

Pain point 

In battery mode, while the throttle action is smooth, there is one significant pain point. Half the right-hand grip is a regular cycle hold and the inner half is the throttle action. I started feeling a strain on the base of the thumb and wrist within a couple of kilometres of riding with the throttle whacked open. Maybe, as is the case with motorcycles, the entire right-hand grip should be devoted to the throttle. 

Also, in the case of the bicycle under review, the gear indicator ring stopped working within a couple of days of the ride, and later, there seemed to be some issue with the electronic display, which did not power on.

Overall, priced at about Rs 35,000, the Meraki S7 offers value for money and a great ride for the commuter and the leisure weekend rider.

Published on March 23, 2022
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