The E-Cells Super Monarch Crown AWD 1500 E-Bike Will Get You Anywhere, Anytime.
I’ll tell you right up front: The only downside about this bike is that I was smiling the entire time I was riding it. If it had been summer, I would’ve had bugs stuck on my teeth.
From my first ride on the E-Cells Super Monarch Crown AWD 1500 Off-Road E-Bike, I confirmed that my money had been well-spent. This solidly made bicycle offers more power, more range and more features than anything I’ve seen on the market. And, it comes with more extras thrown into the deal as well.
Take it hunting, take it on a fun trail ride, or use it as a daily commuter. When things get serious, load it up with your bug-out gear and escape to a remote outpost out of harm’s way. It’s rated to carry up to 400 pounds of rider and gear, not counting the weight of the bike. It’s quiet too, so you could use this for scouting and reconnaissance. You can pedal it on your own, get pedal assistance from the motors or simply turn the throttle and hold on tight.
TWO MOTORS, TWO BATTERIES
What separates the E-Cells Super Monarch from the competition is that it’s a dual-motor, dual-battery, dual-suspension, fat-tired e-bike. That’s right—it’s an all-wheel-drive bike! There are motors in the hubs of the front and rear wheels. When you need the power, the work is spread between the two motors so you’re not overstressing one power plant. And, with both wheels driving the bike, you’re not as apt to lose traction in sloppy terrain.
Also, there are two rechargeable lithium-ion batteries on board: one on the down tube of the frame and one under the rear rack. So, you can get there and back. In addition, with front and rear suspension, together with the fat tires, it smooths out what would be bone-jarring terrain with lesser bikes.
The E-Cells Super Monarch AWD 1500 Crown Off-Road E-Bike has an aluminum alloy frame. My bike is the Hunters Edition (HE II), which has a camo paint job. That makes it less obvious if you chain it to a tree when you’re out scouting, hunting or when you want to be discreet about where you’re camped. If that’s not for you, the bike is also available in Shiny Black, Candy Apple Red and Metal Flake Blue. The 19-inch (large) frame size is standard, but you can special-order a medium (17-inch) or extra-large (20-inch) frame.
The bike features a 10-speed Shimano Deore Hyperglide gear cassette on the rear hub, along with a Shimano Deore shifter. The wheels are double-walled aluminum to prevent spokes from puncturing a tube if there’s a serious impact. Those spokes are 12-gauge steel with stainless steel beds. The tires are Vee Bulldozer (26×4.25 inches). If the tires seem wider than that, it’s because the aggressive off-road tread actually stretches to more than 5 inches across.
The bike has hydraulic disc brakes, front and back. With a bike that weighs a hefty 95 pounds, you need good brakes, and these work well.
The front forks feature the RST Air Suspension Shock with 96mm of travel. They’re adjustable and have a lockout feature. The rear suspension is a RockShox Monarch RL shock. It, too, is adjustable with a lockout feature.
There are front and back racks for carrying your gear. What’s nice about the front rack is that it’s not attached to the handlebar. So, if you get a little bit of weight in that front rack, it’s not going to hamper your steering.
The seat is wide and comfortable, and its height is adjusted effortlessly by flipping the quick-release clamp. That makes it easy when you’re switching from road riding, for which you want nearly full leg extension, to the trail, for which you probably want the seat to be lower.
The grips are leather and are shaped to support the heels of your hands. There are bosses with hex bolts on the top bar of the frame for installation of a water bottle cage or other accessories.
The bike comes with a headlight that attaches just above the forks. The taillight is attached to the rear battery, but it runs on two AA batteries of its own so that if you leave it on by mistake, it won’t drain the batteries that power the bike.
Speaking of power, let’s get technical for a moment, because it’s one of the things that make this bike so special.
The bike features twin 750-watt, 52-volt Bafang geared hub motors that give you up to 170nm of torque. Between the 17.5AH front battery and the 14AH rear battery, you get 1,638 watt hours of power and up to 2,200 watts of peak power. You’ll also be happy to know that the front battery has a USB charge port, so you can spare some of that raw electrical power to charge your phone. The rear battery has an on/off switch on the bottom if you want to run on just one and keep one in reserve. However, these batteries run cooler, and I’m told you’ll typically get longer ranges if you run both at the same time. The 45-amp controller is sealed, as are the other electronics.
Both batteries have push-button battery level indicators, but you can also get your battery level readout on the dashboard computer. The batteries lock onto the bike, and two sets of keys are provided. The batteries can be removed to be charged separately using the included AC charger. However, the bike also has a charging port on the frame that allows you to charge both batteries onboard simultaneously. The charging time when the batteries are fully drained is listed as seven hours.
So, how do you unleash that all-wheel-drive power? Well, you’ll find the on/off button, menu button and pedal-assist level buttons near the left grip. There’s also a rocker switch that lets you run with the front motor only, rear motor only or both (all-wheel-drive). Again, I’m told that running both usually means each has to work less, thus consuming less battery power.
The bike features nine pedal-assist levels and gives you a top speed of more than 30 mph. From the factory, the bike’s computer is set to just five pedal-assist levels and a top speed of 20 mph so you can comply with limits imposed by some jurisdictions for this type of vehicle. Nevertheless, the computer can easily be reset to take those limits off—a good feature if you need the extra power because you’re using the bike primarily for off-road use.
Start to pedal, and the motors kick in according to the power level you’ve set. Lots of companies tout their mid-drive e-bikes that have the motor in the crank. But, they’re dependent on the pedal and chain movement, whereas a wheel-hub motor e-bike isn’t. So, with the E-Cells bike, if you don’t want to pedal, you can still make use of the motors and control your speed from the throttle near the right grip—the same way you would with a motorcycle.
“IF YOU’RE NOT EXPECTING IT, THIS BIKE CAN REALLY TAKE OFF ON YOU, ESPECIALLY ON THE HIGHER ASSIST LEVELS.”
I like this feature. It could be important if you become injured miles off-road and you aren’t able to pedal out. There’s a walk-assist mode too: Press and hold the “down” power button, and the bike will move right along beside you as you walk. It moves pretty fast, so you might have to use it in a succession of short bursts.
To keep track of what’s happening with your E-Cells bike, there’s a display dashboard right on the handlebar. It shows which power-assist level you’re using, along with your battery level. You can see your current speed or cycle the display to show your top or average speed. The mileage indicator lets you toggle between odometer, trip distance, riding time and range.
“WHAT SEPARATES THE E-CELLS SUPER MONARCH FROM THE COMPETITION IS THAT IT’S A DUAL-MOTOR, DUAL-BATTERY, DUAL-SUSPENSION, FAT-TIRED E-BIKE. THAT’S RIGHT—IT’S AN ALL-WHEEL-DRIVE BIKE!”
There’s also a clock, so you’ll know when to stop having fun and get home in time for dinner! An important display feature is your wattage output indicator. Using this similarly to how you would a vehicle’s tachometer, you can keep track of how hard your motors are working— which directly affects battery usage. In addition, the dashboard computer allows for mobile navigation through a Bluetooth connection to an app you can download to your iPhone (if you have one. I don’t).
LOTS OF EXTRAS
When you buy an E-Cells bike, you’re provided with lots of accessories for no extra charge. Included are a bike helmet; a separate taillight that fits the rear of the helmet; two rearview mirrors that fit into the ends of the handlebars; a stretchable cargo strap; cargo net; complete tool kit; two clip-on panniers; a rechargeable electric air pump; and two aluminum heat sinks for the controller.
The tool kit contains everything you need to maintain everything on the bike. After all, you don’t want to be miles from help when something vibrates loose. There’s an included inner tube repair kit, as well as a mini manual air pump. It all fits in a sturdy zippered case with straps on the outside so you can secure it to either of the racks. This is a great kit!
The soft-sided panniers are made of heavy-duty nylon with zippered closures. They clip onto the rear rack in three places each. That makes them easy to attach or remove. And, when you remove them, each has an adjustable shoulder strap. When traveling off-road, I like to keep my gear higher on the racks and out of the mud. Nevertheless, these panniers would be great when traveling by road. For instance, commuters might make use of these to store a laptop computer and other items needed during the daily work routine. In addition, they’d come in handy for quick trips to the grocery store or for other errands.
The included portable electric air pump is programmable. You can set it for several regularly used inflatables. On the “bike” setting, I set the pump for 10 psi, which is the recommended inflation pressure for this bike’s fat tires. The pump inflates the tires effortlessly and stops automatically when the set pressure is reached. It runs on a USB-rechargeable lithium battery and also has a flashlight and charge port to charge your phone or other devices.
When my bike was delivered and I opened the box, I found I had a little bit of work to do; but, it wasn’t difficult. I had to attach the handlebar to the stem and the pedals to the crank. The batteries, rear rack and rear wheel were already in place. So was the seat, but I had to adjust it to the proper height for me. Attaching the front wheel took a little finesse (it would’ve been easier with two people, but I got it done without too much effort).
The front fender, headlight and front rack needed to be attached too. These were all simple tasks, and all the tools you need to get the job done are included in the zippered tool pouch. I used the electric pump to inflate the fat tires. That was the easiest part. In fact, I probably spent more time cutting up the cardboard box for the recycle bin than I did assembling the bike!
On my first ride—a short jaunt around the neighborhood—I was literally laughing out loud (the neighbors must’ve confirmed their previous suspicions that I really am completely crazy!).
I grew up riding off-road motorcycles, and I continue to log lots of miles on bicycles every year. Because this is a heavy, but powerful, bike, I’d compare the ride as somewhere in between a bicycle and a motorcycle.
If you’re a novice bike rider, I’d advise you to start on a low pedal-assist setting. If you’re not expecting it, this bike can really take off on you, especially on the higher assist levels.
I spent time during my testing of this bike finding the highest hills in my area. None of them was the slightest challenge for this bike. With the chain on the proper gear and the assist level set properly, you can get up any hill with almost no effort on your part.
And don’t forget to use your gears when you pedal. The temptation is to let the motors do all the work. But, when you’re anticipating a stop, such as at an intersection, it’s a good idea to downshift to an easier gear. That’ll make starting again easier on you and on your motors. Move through the gears as you build your speed.
I tried the bike both on and off the roads. On a road, there’s no fear of going off into the gravel along the shoulder. Between the bike’s fat tires and the pedal-assist, you just power right through it.
However, off the road is where this bike really outshines other models. That all-wheel-drive system gives you lots of traction and power to go through dirt, mud, stone and snow (yes, I rode it through snow). It was late fall when I started testing this bike. One day, we had about 3 or 4 inches of snow. I bundled up and took out the Super Monarch. I crossed my street and headed uphill through my neighbor’s yard (I hope she didn’t mind all the tracks in her yard). The bike performed very well. This is truly a four-season bike.
There are a few cautionary notes: Because this bike has so much torque, changing gears when you’re on the highest pedal-assist levels could cause problems with the chain. And every so often, you should check to make sure your spokes remain tight. I also discovered that the batteries don’t like to be charged when they are cold. Bring them in and let them warm up to room temperature, and they’ll be fine.
HOW FAR CAN I GO?
The range you’ll get on a full charge can vary widely, depending on the terrain, wind conditions, how fast you’re going and the level of pedal-assist you’re using. Around town on level roads, I was using Level 3 with little effort and cranking it up only to Level 4 or 5 for the moderate hills. I rarely got into the upper assist levels.
Riding conservatively like that, I found that the battery level barely dipped. On one ride, I traveled slightly more than 41 miles and used 50 percent of my battery capacity. Even so, much of that time, I was playing around—seeking out hills, using the throttle instead of pedaling and testing the bike’s capabilities. Using the power more judiciously, I believe I could get more than 100 miles on a charge.
Keeping an eye on your wattage output will help you conserve the bike’s batteries. The wattage will jump when you accelerate, but it should level off as you settle in at a particular speed and with the proper gearing.
LOTS OF VALUE
The MSRP price of the E-Cells Super Monarch AWD 1500 Crown is $5,195, but the company had it on sale for $4,195 as of this writing. That’s comparable to the cost of some other e-bikes that don’t provide nearly the same levels of power, range, cargo capacity and off-road capability. In addition, E-Cells offers a financing offer of 0 percent for 12 months, and the bikes ship free.
“FROM MY FIRST RIDE ON THE E-CELLS SUPER MONARCH CROWN AWD 1500 OFF-ROAD E-BIKE, I CONFIRMED THAT MY MONEY HAD BEEN WELL-SPENT.”
Batteries: 52-volt 17.5AH front battery with USB phone charge port and charge indicator; 52-volt, 14AH rear rack battery using SAMSUNG 35E 18650 3,500mh matched batteries with an on/off toggle switch and built-in rear taillight
Transporting your e-bike on the back of your car might take a heavier-duty carrier than you use for your conventional bike. Carriers designed for fat-tired e-bikes can cost between $500 to more than $1,000. What many e-bike owners are doing to save a few bucks is buying a hitch-mount carrier that’s designed for motorcycles. These carriers are designed for the weight, usually have a ramp to roll your bike onto it and cost under $200. Harbor Freight (HarborFreight.com) and Black Widow (BlackWidowPro.com) are two sources to check out.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the April, 2021 print issue of American Survival Guide.
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