Ninety One Cycles Meraki S7 electric bike review: Ease your commute

When Ninety One Cycles contacted me to review their latest e-bike, the Meraki S7 e-bike, I was hesitant. My biggest fear was to make sure it didn’t get stolen as even the most basic cycles have been stolen from our house in the past.

Then there was the fear of where I would ride this. Unlike my colleague who bravely rode the Hero Lectro 2Fi through the wicked streets of Noida, I am a grade A coward on a cycle. I like to cycle but I just don’t trust the good citizens of Delhi in their cars. But curiosity got the better of me and I agreed to test the Meraki S7. Here is what I learned about the electric bike.

Meraki S7 e-bike review: What’s good?

When the e-bike first arrived for review, my husband immediately pointed out that something was missing. “Where’s the mudguard, who will cycle in India without a mudguard?” He was right. I also noticed that the bell wasn’t there, which I rely on a lot every time I ride my bike. Ninety One Cycles accepted both requests and promptly sent them.

Meraki S7 also comes with seven gears and an LCD display to access pedal assist mode. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

The Meraki S7 comes with an IP68 rating for the motor, which makes it water resistant. The battery case also has an IP65 rating and it is a non-removable, but serviceable battery, according to the company. The black colored bike should appeal to most people looking for a bike as it is not too flashy. You can also adjust the level of the seat to your liking quite easily.

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It has a smart LCD display on one side and Shimano 7-speed gears on the other. The LCD screen will display the speed, battery level and also the pedal assist mode level. The bike supports five levels of pedal assist. You can press up/down on the screen to increase/decrease the pedal assist as you like. There’s also a throttle on the right side, which you can rely on for extra speed.

It also comes with E-Brake with a power cut function and has a key lock switch to turn on the motor. Remember that the e-bike function cannot be activated without the key, so I suggest that if you buy one you keep the second key safe.

The Meraki S7 has a 250 watt motor and comes with a Panasonic 6.36AH battery, which the company claims will last 2000 cycles. The electric bike has a range of 18-35 km, and the fastest speed is around 25 km.

I have to admit, the first time I rode the e-bike, I had no idea what each feature did. I mostly relied on the throttle to zoom forward, which was both exhilarating and scary. I didn’t know you had to tap the screen to increase/decrease the pedal assist function.

The LCD screen on the bike. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

It was also a bit scary to have the bike forward when I was pedaling hard. Things didn’t feel like they were in my control. So in the second half of my ride, I decided to ride without the e-bike feature. After all, I needed to do some cardio for the day. But after Ninety One explained all the features, I had a better grasp on things.

And it’s a smooth ride and I really enjoyed riding on it, even without pedal assist. It almost makes me want to buy a slightly more expensive cycle. Also, this one has powerful brakes, especially compared to the base cycles I’m used to.

Pedal assist is designed to take the strain off you – the higher the pedal assist mode, the lighter pedaling will move the bike forward on its own. I still found it a bit disorienting and takes some getting used to. But it was especially helpful when I was cycling in Deer Park, which has paths that require an extra push to climb. And my post-covid body is in no condition to handle that.

The pedal assist would also be useful for those who decide to take the bike out for a long ride, involving pedaling uphill. This can help relieve pressure on your back and knees, especially if you’re getting back on your fitness journey. And there’s plenty of fun to descend with this bike, just make sure the pedal assist is at zero.

Fully charging the bike takes more than two hours. I’ve only loaded the bike up once since it arrived and have had it on two to three rides since then, and those have been around 4-5km each on average. But the company says battery power will also depend on the weight of the person riding it, how often you keep the pedal assist going, and other conditions. Remember that I keep electronic mode off for part of my rides.

The gear option and throttle can be seen in this photo. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Meraki S7 e-bike review: What’s not so good?

There were a few small issues with the bike. For one, the LCD screen was attached upside down, which added to my confusion. Just make sure that if you decide to buy this, the person attaching all the components knows what they are doing and explains all the features clearly.

There’s also no separate app to record or track your bike. But I wouldn’t see the point of an app either, as most hardcore riders will use their Apple or Garmin watch. I also used my Apple Watch to record the ride. I noticed on my last ride that the speedometer had broken. Although I could shift gears, I had no idea what gear I was on. I don’t know why this happened, and it could be a fault in that particular unit itself.

Meraki S7 e-bike review: Who should buy, should you?

The question remains as to who should get an e-bike. People who really enjoy cycling – we have an aunt in the family who does 150km almost every weekend like it’s no big deal – have probably developed the muscle strength to cover long distances, including uphill , without thinking twice.

But still, there’s something exhilarating about riding an e-bike once you get the hang of it and are more confident about how to handle all the modes. If you’re one of those people who wants to go on long rides but sometimes needs extra help, the Meraki S7, which can also be considered a mountain bike (MTB), is a solid option. After all, not everyone has the strength to ride 20-30 km in a row.

It can also be useful if you just want to get to the market for a quick ride or if you want to go out early in the morning when the city traffic is less intimidating. But in a city like Delhi, the challenges of riding an e-bike remain. I’m not denying that maybe we need to go back to a time when bikes ruled the streets and cars were the exception. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Overall I really enjoyed the e-bike experience and I say this as someone this bike is not designed for. It’s intended for people between 5ft 2in and 6ft 3in in height, so keep that in mind when considering it as your bike.

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