About a month ago, I purchased an electric bicycle from Scooters Plus here in Memphis. A week later, there was a posting about how some parts broke and how I got into some trouble.
Since then, I am happy to report most of the main problems have been addressed, but there are some things to look out for when purchasing these types of e-bikes.
Before going into the issues, here are the good aspects about the Roketa ES-44 and my experience with it thus far. It’s important to note that while state laws have varying definitions of motor vehicles, this is NOT a scooter or moped but could easily be interpreted as one.
While it looks like a scooter, the Roketa ES-44, or Emmo Urban in Canada, has some distinct features that set it apart from Vespas or similar motor bikes. One key aspect is a pedal and chain system. Just like any old bicycle, this e-bike can be propelled by human power, in addition to pedal-assist (where the motor turns on after a few repetitions) or throttle (aka twist-n-go).
It’s also significantly slower than a scooter, but much faster than a normal bike. Unless you are Lance Armstrong, someone will be hard-pressed to pedal faster than this bike’s speed.
The Roketa’s top speed is 20 mph, which is the legal limit set about Federal law. Anything beyond that, it’s not considered an e-bike.
It may seem fast but it is actually easy to control once you practice for roughly 10 minutes. When I first got on the e-bike, it was like learning how to ride a normal bike…minus the scrapes and bruises. If you ride bikes (motorized or not) on a regular basis, then you’ll have little to no adjustment riding an electric bike.
Like all bicycles, it has brakes and bike rest so it doesn’t topple over. There are also some pretty neat things like front and rear blinkers, brake light, headlights with high & low beams and flashing lights, horns, speedometer (in metric system) with battery indicator, side mirrors, and a small front storage compartment.
Unlike most scooters and motorcycles that are powered by gas, the Roketa e-bike is powered by a lead battery, and capable by being powered by longer lasting lithium-ion batteries. Replacement batteries will be the biggest expense as getting the needed cells will run up between $200-$400 depending on type (lithium-ion or lead).
On a single charge going full throttle, it will last around an hour and a half of driving or roughly 16-17 miles. You can get upwards of 20 miles on a full charge; however, I recommend recharging it once you get through a 10 mile trip. This is especially true if you’re making a return trip and don’t want to stuck pedaling for the remainder of the journey. Human power will recharge the battery but the juice is not substantial. Also, recharging the battery takes 4 to 5 hours.
In my initial experience, I enjoyed riding this e-bike. It cuts down on travelling and importantly I don’t show up to my destination dripping in sweat. It’s a breeze riding on this thing, despite it being heavy.
Now, here are some things I didn’t like about the bicycle. Aside from the horrible Scooters Plus return policy (which is non-existent), the Roketa ES-44 has some shoddy craftsmanship. To start off, the chain popped off after two days of using it. The rear tire, which was missing the air-cap, suddenly went flat on Day 3. There is also a crack on the battery casing.
I’ll give Scooters Plus some credit in fulfilling its 30-day warranty (seriously only a month) by replacing the tire and chain free of charge. They didn’t repair the cracked battery casing but added some padding between the seat and battery compartment to absorb shocks from bumps.
Since coming home from the repair shop, I’ve noticed the seam on the right side of the bike (between the seat and petals) is slightly exposed. Also, the light indicators below the speedometer are off center and not firmly in place.
Also, the side mirrors, which had to be tightened with proper tools, are perhaps there for show. It’s almost impossible to use them to see who is behind the bike. Oftentimes, I would have to look behind me to see how is riding my tail.
Because of the hastily crafted Chinese design, I am not certain how long this bike will hold up. Whenever it starts to fail (hopefully not too soon), it will be replaced with higher end models like a Jetson e-bike or a Vespa scooter.
The remaining negatives are not necessarily due to the bike, but more on the laws concerning electric bikes in the United States. Federal law considers e-bikes the same way as traditional bicycles. This includes scooter style ones if they max out at 20 mph and weigh less than 170 lbs. A license, insurance, and registration are not required to ride an e-bike in the country.
However, local laws are much different. Most states have clearly defined laws that determine whether or not a driver’s license and/or helmet are required. Some places, like Tennessee, are vague in what they classify these vehicles.
In this state, law says you need a license and helmet for mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles to operate on roads. There are no mentions of electric bikes in the law, but recent opinions tend to suggest that e-bikes like the Roketa ES-44 would require a license. It’s just that it doesn’t fit in the same category as a motorized bike or scooter. Regardless, you’ll need at least a helmet but don’t need to register and get tags for it.
With that said, it would be safe to have a regular driver’s license, but it could be possible to get a specialized Class M license in Tennessee. I plan on contacting the local DMV this week to find out which would be appropriate and schedule a test, if required. It’s an extra layer of protection, since you’ll get glances from police if you’re not wearing a helmet or not following traffic laws.
In summary, I have enjoyed riding the Roketa ES-44 both on the road and bike trails like the Shelby Farms Greenline (which e-bikes are permitted). However, the shoddy construction makes this a less desirable bike.
The price of the Roketa ES-44 ranges around $700-$900, but I bought mine for $825 without tax. It’s a really inexpensive electric bicycle.
As they say, you get what you pay for. As for this e-bike, it’s cheap in price and quality. I can not recommend this bike for anyone wanting a long-term alternate form of transportation.
I am actually selling this for $500 on Craigslist, and hopefully it gets sold. Whenever someone buys it or it craps out, I will invest in a well-built machine like a Jetson e-bike or Vespa. They’re more expensive, but people seem to love them and do not have much quality issues with them.
I have to score the Roketa ES-44 a rating of 2.5/5. It’s a pretty mediocre bike. It runs well, but the construction and failing parts makes me want to invest in something worthwhile.
If you’re looking to buy this e-bike and don’t have a lot of cash, then know what you’re getting into. Make sure to know the laws regarding e-bikes and return policies of the store selling it.
If you have the credit or cash to afford a better, more expensive electric bike or even scooter, STAY AWAY FROM THE ROKETA ES-44.
Here is a video from Global News from Toronto with a story about e-bikes. The Roketa ES-44, called Emmo Urban, is featured in this clip.