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Electric Bicycle: Polaris Sabre EV505

By Arv Voss, February 20th, 2016

The Polaris Sabre EV505 is an electric pedal-assist bicycle available in several sizes and types focused on delivering the ideal in electric-assist cycling.

I first spied an EV505 resting on its side stand in the paddock and pit area of California's Sonoma Raceway during the recent Ferrari Challenge, which was held at the iconic track. No one was around, so I noted the make and model of the fat-tired mountain-bike-looking ride. It featured a step-through frame that housed the battery and rolled on fat "knobby" off-road or trail-type tires. I shot a couple of reference photos and later in the day, saw someone riding it at a healthy rate of speed with seemingly little or no effort.

The next step was to contact a Polaris representative so I could test-ride one. I was able to obtain a new Polaris Sabre EV505 finished in Matte Brown (a light tan) from a nearby bike dealer.

The Sabre pedal-assist (pedelec -- "pedal electric") bicycle is capable of operating either as a regular geared bicycle, as a totally electric powered bike, or a bike that utilizes both human and electric power in combination. The frame is made of 6061 T-6 alloy with a low step through/stand over and balanced geometry for optimum weight distribution. The Polaris Sabre EV505 rolls on Kenda Juggernaut Sport Fat tires mounted on lace-spoke 26x4-inch wheels.

The Sabre motor system consists of a rear hub-mounted 750-watt Evantage DuoDrive motor powered by an 11-pound 44-volt lithium-ion Pro Ride battery that locks into the main crossmember. The bike is capable of reaching a speed of up to 25 mph and operates in EV or assist mode from 12 to 25 miles depending upon several variable factors.

When using Pedal Assist modes only, range varies depending upon terrain, weather, riding style (starting/stopping), tire pressure, overall weight, mode, and gear of operation; using Active Trail Mode extends the riding range. The battery may be charged in or out of the bike's frame using a 110- to 240-volt smart charger.

Some pedelec models come equipped with a throttle for pedaless power, which may be engaged by beginning to pedal (to disengage the safety) and by pressing the throttle lever. This feature is easily added to all models, limits speeds to 15 mph, and will not affect the overall pedal assistance speed. With the system off, the Polaris Sabre EV505 functions as a conventional bicycle.

My test Polaris Sabre EV505 pedelec had a sticker price set at $3,499, and an as-tested price of $3,813.91.

To pedal or not to pedal? That is the question. Riding the Polaris Sabre EV505 eBike allows one to exercise as if riding a regular bicycle, or to take a break from a rigorous physical encounter. The Sabre's Gear Speed technology is an integral part of the speed acceleration and deceleration process with each gear programmed to provide the appropriate torque or acceleration based on riding style and terrain.

As one starts pedaling, speed increases with each gear change to boost rapid acceleration. The BioSync pedal features a proprietary sensor that reads cadence speed and power output. Instant pedal responsiveness is designed to provide torque when climbing hills or to conserve power for longer distances.

Two levers on the right handlebar assist shifts -- pushing the aft lever shifts gears upward, while downshifting is done by pulling on a forward trigger; the current gear registers in the attached display. The throttle lever is positioned on the left handlebar and is activated by pushing forward. It is important to shift to the appropriate gear before taking on a steep hill, and to benefit from the electric assist.

Riding the Sabre EV505 delivers an exhilarating riding experience -- not as rewarding in terms of exercise as a regular bicycle unless you want it to be, but not as thrilling as riding a motorcycle. Long-legged rider must increase the seat height for proper leg extension when pedaling. Without also raising the handlebar, this can place the rider in an awkward "top-heavy," forward-canted orientation, minimizing optimum control.

Adding a rack for cargo and rear-view mirrors would enhance the overall riding experience, making the Polaris Sabre EV505 an ideal form of urban transportation.

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