E-bikes are everywhere but sometimes it’s hard to take them everywhere you want to go.
This was the dilemma I encountered during the pandemic when the popularity of e-bikes was at full throttle and I got my first battery-powered two-wheeler. I loved that I could ride 20 to 40 miles on a single charge but I didn’t love how hard it was to transport the bike if I wanted to stray beyond my local area.
One dark day, when I thought about taking my bike with me on an excursion from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, it hit me that I would need a massive car rack to support the extra weight of an e-bike, and for that I would need to install a trailer hitch! The installation estimates I got were in the $400 to 500 range, and that didn’t include the rack, which retailed for $499. As I investigated further, I read reports that installing a hitch on my particular vehicle – a Prius – could void the car warranty (this is up for debate). Even if I could install one, I decided it wasn’t worth the fuss and cost.
Flash forward to this fall when I discovered the Buzz Centris Class 2 Folding e-bike, which does nearly all the things my massive COVID e-bike does but also has a neatly hinged aluminum frame to fold up for storage or to put into a car. I love the way the Buzz Centris looks and the fact that it cruises up to 20 MPH, has five levels of power assist and a 6-speed Shimano Tourney derailleur for detailed shifting whether you’re pedaling or e-faking it.
Still, I wanted to give it the ultimate test. Could I fit the Buzz Centris not only into the back of my Prius but into my mother’s pint-sized Honda Fit?
First, I had to ride it. Getting the Buzz Centris out of the box was easy enough. It comes mostly assembled, folded and virtually ready to roll. I untwisted the top tube and stem/handlebars and locked them into place. Next I unfolded the pedals by twisting those into place. With a quick adjustment to the seat to fit my height, I was ready to #BuzzThroughLife, as they say.
It’s a very smooth ride. The bike and handlebars are more compact than my Herculean RadRover but it didn’t take long to accommodate the tighter turning radius and more upright stance. The Buzz Centris LCD controls are simple and clean, though I did have some trouble figuring out what different buttons around the screen meant. I like the fat tires, the bright headlight and the fact that the vehicle comes with a front and rear rack that took less than five minutes to install.
My mother lives about two miles away and her Honda fit was waiting in the driveway for the load-in. At 68”L x 23”H x 53”D inches in riding mode, the Buzz Centris isn’t tiny. On its kickstand next to the Fit, I had my doubts whether it could squeeze in. But after reversing the assembly process – lowering the seat, folding the pedals, unlocking and twisting the handlebars and top tube – the Centris shrinks almost in half. Folded, the bike is 34”L x 22”H x 34”D.
Nobody would call the Buzz Centris a lightweight at 70+ pounds with its accessories installed. My 85-year-old mother certainly couldn’t lift or load it. But with Honda’s rear seats flat and the hatch open, I was able to slide the folded bike straight into the back of the car. Voila! It fit into the Fit.
It felt silly but my mom drove me home—ending an experiment that left me feeling hopeful and inspired. At last, an e-bike that goes everywhere I need it to go.