Overall rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Emu range is born from British heritage, combining the best quality parts that can be sourced for at each of their bikes’ price points. Starting from £1k, Emu want to make their electric bikes accessible for those who are on a lower budget, without majorly compromising. Today we’ll be taking a closer look at the Roam step through. This is the a straightforward, cost-effective e-bike at the bottom of their range that doesn’t compromise on quality.
- Beginner riders
- Urban commuters
- Weekend riders
- Those who want more wardrobe diversity when cycling
- Has gears
- Extra features in-built despite the lower price
- Comfortable riding position
- Rear rack for extra cargo
- Nice range of pastel colours
- Cadence sensor takes a couple pedals to initiate
- Heavy at 24kg
- Less range than stated
If you are on a budget, but would like to experience the added benefits of an electric bike that is comfortable, practical and comes in some nice shades of pastel, then this could be a great option.
Although the range claim is less than Emu states (10.4Ah: 27-45 miles), it is enough to cover a decent cycle (around 25 miles). So whether you’re commuting to work, taking a leisurely ride out at the weekend or using this as a runaround to the shops, the Roam Free Step Through remains versatile.
The assist is less sophisticated than other ebikes in our store, but is a welcomed boost when you have added cargo on the rear and diminishes the fact that you are riding a 24kg bike.
It has a lot of functionality thanks to the included rear rack, the removable battery for easy charging and Enviolo Hub Gears that give you much more flexibility with terrain than a single speed would.
Overall, a fairly priced bike that ticks a lot of boxes for those looking wanting an ebike on a budget.
|Components and build quality
|Safety and security
|Performance and handling
|Comfort and practicality
|Light Blue, Fuchsia, Grey and Navy
|10.4Ah or 14.5Ah
|10.4A: 27-45 miles, 14.5Ah: 35-55 miles
|250W, 36V (Front hub mounted)
|700 x 36c (punture resistant)
|Enviolo Hub Gears
|LED headlight and rear brake light
|Max rider weight
|rear rack load
Components and build quality
The Roam Free frame comes as either a cross bar (20”) or step through (18”) option. Built from Aluminium Alloy, as you move around the bike you can see Emu has opted for more affordable components, but the overall build quality doesn’t feel compromised.
Cheaper components will generally add up to an overall heavier bike. The Roam Free step through is 24kg, heavier than other ebikes of this calibre on our store, but packs a lot in!
On the front wheel you have a 36V hub motor and on the rear is an Enviolo gear hub. The motor is basic, but it does the job. Gear hubs are a favourite of mine as unlike standard shifting gears that give a definitive click, this is based on friction and lets you make micro adjustments to the resistance - I really enjoy fine-tuning my cadence. The indicator even comes as a joyful illustration of a person on a bike on a shifting hill that shows a change in its gradient as you turn the grip shift.
The Roam Free boasts lots of extras for its reasonable price tag: A pannier rack that is well fixed and can take a load of up to 25kg, in-built front and rear lights powered by the bike’s battery, plastic mudguards, a bell that gives a nice ring, plus puncture resistant tyres.
Brakes are from Tektro, lesser known than Shimano as a brand but I found they work well and offer great levels of performance and reliability. And the Samsung battery comes as either 10.4ah (30-50 miles) or 14.5ah (40-60 miles). I’ve been riding the 10.4ah version and managed to get around 25 miles on one charge using the highest assist setting consistently.
The colour display tells you everything you need to know, from assist to trip distance and speed. However the battery reading can fluctuate from when you first turn it on to when you’re into your ride. For example, I finished a ride with 38% battery, but when I turned it on the next day the display read 50%. With that in mind, the best thing is to try and remember where your battery was at when you finished riding last, rather than going off what it says at the start. When in doubt, keep the battery charged up so you don’t get caught out.
Safety and security
In terms of visibility, the Emu Roam Free comes with everything you would expect. Built-in rear light and headlight powered by the ebike’s battery to light you up when riding at night. Usually the rear light is separate, but I like how it’s all integrated as I’m always forgetting to charge standalone lights.
A bell always seems to be a hit and miss addition, but the Emu Roam Free comes equipped to alert others of your presence. It’s nicely nestled behind the left handlebar and in front of the left brake, so you don’t need to actively reach over like some other placements would require.
A removable battery is an instant plus if you’re looking for ways to make your bike less of an target for thieves. I’m lucky enough to have the space to store a bike of this size in my flat but I do remove the battery when locking it up on the street. You could even go as far to remove the seat post if you regularly need to lock this outside due to limited space. The less available to thieves, the less tempting it will be.
Performance and handling
The Emu Roam Free step through has a lot to offer for its near £1k price point. However, the motor and cadence sensor are a touch slow to respond. It takes a couple of pedals before the motor wakes up and kicks in.
The gear hub however is a great back up for this as you can twist into whatever resistance you need - even when stopped, which conventional gears can’t do - and get a couple of pedals in pretty quicksharp to wake up the motor. Once the motor starts it gives a generous push and depending on what level of assist you are on, will get you up to the required speed.
Level 5 assists you all the way up to the legal limit of 15.5mph. If you want to go any faster then you need to be pedalling through with your own brute force. Getting the bike past this is tricky as it is a heavier model.
The assist is a little more off and on than say the Ampere Deluxe which costs around £500 more. What I mean by this is when I got up to the allotted speed with assist, the motor would sometimes switch off and allow you to cruise with your own legs, until it detects that you have dropped below said speed and will then kick into action again. This in turn can create a bit of a nudgy ride, rather than one smooth delivery of assist. But for an ebike that costs £1k, this more basic assist isn’t a surprise.
The smoothest assist of the step throughs we have would be the ADO 28, however that is a one speed which works best on the flat or smaller inclines. If you need a geared step through then either the Emu or the Ampere Deluxe are options.
I have been riding around with the smaller 10.4Ah battery, which according to Emu can cover up to 45 miles on one charge. Although the range claim is less than Emu states, from my own testing on level 5 assist it is enough to cover a decent cycle (around 25 miles). Depending on how far you’ll be commuting this is something to bear in mind. If you’re using it as a sub for the car to nip around the shops, go for a leisurely ride or even have less than a 10 mile cycle each way from your home to the office, you’ll be able to use a good cycle of charge before needing to rejuice.
Comfort and practicality
Although I am 5ft10 and would choose a cross bar 20” option, the step through caters nicely to a range of rider heights with just a tweak of the adjustable seat post. I’m a little more hunched in rider position on this bike, but again that is because the frame is right on the lower limit of what size I should be riding. This ebike will cater for anyone from 5ft1 upwards, so if you’re shorter in height than me then you’ll get that lovely, straight back ride that I adore from the dutch-bike style set up.
Although this bike is designed for those on a budget, Emu haven’t skimped on the extras to add to the overall comfort. Both the saddle and ergo grips are from Velo, shaping to your hands and seat and soaking up the vibrations as you go.
The 700c wheels offer balance and stability and I felt a good connection with the ground beneath, adding to the overall comfort experience. The tyres are also puncture resistant so double up for practicality, to keep you and your bike on the roads for longer, without needing to make an unexpected trip to the bike repair shop.
It’s all proven to tick a lot of boxes for practicality with the time I’ve spent with it. I cycle to and from work in just under 14 miles a day, so the range of the smaller battery worked fine. For an extra £200 you get the bigger battery, which I personally would go for.
It should be noted that this is a fairly weighty bike at 24kg. Lifting isn’t as easy as there’s no inbuilt handle or obvious place to grip. To lift it up stairs I’ll naturally grip the bottom of the seat tube and lift, but there is a wire that runs along the back which makes things more fiddly. If you live in a flat without a lift like me, then I’d recommend looking at something lighter like the ADO 20 or Estarli e28, because the drudgery of a climb with a near 25kg bike can be a put off.
Finally, the rear rack is included - which is always a bonus in my eyes - and offers the ability to load up for the day. I took it as an opportunity to get rid of my backpack on my commutes, meaning I was much more comfortable and free to enjoy the ride. If you prefer a basket, you also have the ability to add this on! Overall, this ebike caters wonderfully to those who want a good looking ebike for £1k that offers a relaxed rider experience with the ability to take hills, load up on cargo when needed and help you to go further.
The colourways of the Emu Roam Free step through may seem more skewed to a female rider but here at electroheads, we’re clear that all the ebikes on our store are for anyone. As long as you’re the right height for your selected frame, the choice is endless. However, women riders often have different requirements around looks, practicality and comfort to men.
The pastel colours are particularly eye catching for me, especially considering this ebike is in the lower end of price range. Usually colours would be overlooked, but Emu has done a great job with the colour choices. They’ve even chosen a really nice slate grey, so whoever is in charge of the colours cheme has got a great eye. So whether you prefer a playful pink or pastel blue, or only have blacks, whites and greys in their wardrobe - the Emu Roam step through caters for you.
The step through has also been designed with a smaller frame size (18”) so that anyone from 5ft1 and above can hop on. All too often, e bikes will come as one frame size, leaving our shorter riders behind. With the average woman's height in the UK being 5ft3, that leaves a lot of female riders with less choice.
Despite the price, Emu hasn't skimped on comfort, including ergonomic handles and a comfort saddle from Velo. The larger 700c wheels also make handling very simple and comfortable, with your weight nicely centred through your hips as a dutch-style bike offers. As you move into more hybrid/road bikes, your body will start to tilt forward, putting more pressure on your sit bone, through your ams and on your back as you compensate.
This is a bike made for women who are looking for a comfortable, well priced ebike with the functionality of a rear rack. You can even add a third party basket if you prefer.
My one dig is that this is a heavy ebike. 24kg to be exact. You won’t want to be carrying this up and down stairs, particularly if you will be loading up cargo to the rear rack. This one’s for those who have a lift available to use or live on the ground floor.