A New Koben S
We’ve been waiting to announce this one for months, but the bike industry had other plans in mind. Bike-sharing is taking off in China, and their new dock-less model is being brought to the US. What does that have to do with our production? Well there’s a huge backlog of orders from much (much!) bigger companies. We’ve been pushed to the end of the queue again (like last year) and our frames, parts and assembly time-slot have been delayed until June. Worry not, we should still have bikes in July and will be shipping from our California warehouse immediately upon arrival.
While the new Koben had some major updates to increase the Fun, Comfort and Capability of that model, the Koben S remains pretty much the same. Think of it as a version 1.2 instead of a full v2 update like our new Koben. The Koben S was already one of the best super commuter bikes available. We just made it that much better with a few choice upgrades. A lot of these spec changes came directly from suggestions and feedback from our Karmic Owner’s Group Facebook Group. Thank you to current Karmic Owners for helping us make the Koben S even better for future members of the KOG.
Now, on to the updates!
NuVinci + Gates Carbon Belt Drive = Perfection
We’re happy to see other bike brands join us on the ebike side of the business. The Big Three have all announced mid-drive commuter bikes for 2017, and the resemblance to our Koben S is flattering. When we first used the NuVinci CVT it was still a relatively unknown gem in the bike industry. Now many other brands have spec’d this unique transmission in their ebikes. The only thing that makes it better is the addition of a strong, silent and maintenance free link to our powerful motor. Welcome Gates Carbon Drive!
I’ve been a huge fan since they debuted the Gates Carbon Drive™ System a decade ago. I’ve owned about a half-dozen belt bikes since then. It doesn’t hurt that Todd and Frank are two of the nicest guys in the bike industry. We love working with great people! Over the last two years we’ve been working with the Gates technical team (Thanks Marc & Mike!) to engineer a solution for our Koben S. After our original Kickstarter campaign, the prototype bike was rebuilt to use the Gates & NuVinci combo. It just took us a while to make sure it worked well enough in production. I’m so glad we finally got it done.
The Gates Belt is much stronger than a regular chain. It should also reduce the amount of tension adjustment required by our owners, something we found out over the last year. The belt also makes the Koben S even quieter than before, and likely one of the quietest ebikes on the market. The last thing is the best thing, lower maintenance on an already easy to own bike.
Staying at the Head of the Class 3
As one of the first Class 3 (28mph) ebikes in America our Koben S was hard to beat. There are plenty of Class 1 ebikes available, including our own Koben. But for serious commuters, ruling the bike lanes and having the power and speed to take the full lane when needed is essential. Speed is it’s own Fun. So we kept the spec the same, with a 350W mid-drive and 80N-m of torque to stay ahead of the pack. Please don’t ask us if it can go faster!
We did make an evolutionary change in the Karmic Battery pack. As some of our longer-distance commuters noted, while they were getting 40+ miles of riding, range-anxiety is a very real concern. The new battery pack on the Koben S has been upgraded to a new cell, which gives us 500Wh of energy. That’s only a 10% increase over the original Karmic pack, but a big 25% more than most ebikes with standard 400Wh batteries. The extra energy adds a few more miles to your commute range but reduces the stress on that ride home with only a few bars left. When we say we design our products for the complete Karmic Experience, we mean it. Riding your Koben S should be fast, fun and stress-free. We’re here to make your commute easier, not give you something else to worry about. That’s how we keep it Karmic.
Fenders, Lights, Tires
I’ll admit I’m partial to the base model Koben. It’s so much fun and MTB inspired design is closer to what I’m used to riding for most of my bike life. My daily commute — if you can even call it that — is just a few miles a day to drop my kids off at school and ride to a coffee meeting or two. That means I only charge my battery once every two weeks. We know our Koben S owners are much more hardcore. They need an electric vehicle that’s dependable, reliable and unstoppable in any weather condition. They want a Koben S!
Adding fenders and integrated lights to an ebike is a no-brainer. While it seems minor these two changes took a lot of work to get just right. Some customers were worried that our bikes didn’t work in the rain and that’s simply not true! The Karmic motor and battery are both engineered to be IP65 water-resistant. That means they can be used in rain, snow, sleet and hail. We just don’t recommend riding through a river or submerging them under water. Fenders are tricky because they have to fit well, provide enough coverage and look good doing it! We think we picked some good ones, and we redesigned the frame and fork mounts to make for a good pairing too.
Lights are required in all 50 states at night and serious commuters know the importance of these little devices on those early dawn departures, or after a few late nights in the office. While these aren’t your traditional headlights or tailights, they do improve your visibility and safety on the road. Think of them as daytime running lights for your Karmic. Science shows they work. While we didn’t include a rack (since they are a personal choice), we did relocate the rear seatstay mounts to accommodate more styles than before.
The last change is an important one, when you consider a bike’s tires are the only two contact points with the road. While we loved the speed and smoothness of the Panaracer Gravel Kings, some customers reported less than ideal durability for a “daily-driver”. We’ve been testing the WTB Horizon Road Plus tires since they were released last year. While they do give up a little weight to the GK’s, the added durability and traction more than make up for it. The Horizons have a smooth centerline to keep speed high on the street, and a herringbone pattern on the shoulders for added traction in turns and mixed-surfaces. These are the same TCS version that retail in stores, so you can set them up tubeless if you want to.
Amazing Value, Always
We hope the updates we’ve made to our Koben S make it an even more logical choice for serious bike commuters. While we welcome the competition from the Big Three in the high-end commuter bike niche, we know they can’t compare to the price and performance of a Karmic Bike.
Even with the added cost of these new parts and design changes to run a Gates Carbon Belt Drive, we’ve kept prices as low as possible. Our direct-to-consumer sales model allows us to pass on the savings to you. Retailing at just $2999 the Koben S remains the best ebike available and your best value.
Sign up for our Newsletter to be one of the first to get one. Bikes will start shipping from California in July. We hope you love it!