Overall rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Is it a motorbike? Is it an e-bike? Well, yes, it’s an e-bike, but the Synch Super Monkey, £1,899, is going big on the quirky, retro moto-style looks with its big headlight, fat tyres and big handlebars. It goes to show that e-bikes don’t need to just look like traditional bicycles, but beneath the visual theatre, is this electric cruiser any good? We’ve been queuing up in the Electroheads office to try it, and find out.
- Standing out
- Relaxed cruising
- Eye-catching looks
- Considerably cheaper than similar rivals
- Good-quality components
- Bright, clear display
- Comfortable ride quality
- Very happy on gravel and trails
- Massive torque, great for heavier riders
- Riding position won’t suit everyone…
- …and isn’t adjustable
- Mudguards, rack and light are only options
- Heavy especially if you run out of battery
- Can rattle (mudguards are metal)
Based on the reactions of several members of the Electroheads staff, there’s no definitive verdict on the Synch Super Monkey. One reviewer thought it fundamentally style over substance; too much money for a bike that has too many compromises. It’s too heavy, and he hated the riding position.
But others in the office fell in love with the Super Monkey’s style, off-road ability and the fact that, compared to similar rivals from the likes of Super73, it’s relatively affordable.
What we all agree on is that the ride quality is very comfortable, it’s more than capable on the rough stuff and that it’s fitted with some excellent components, even if some of them are only options. And if you want to stand out on your e-bike, it’s a fantastic choice.
One size, suitable for adults between 162cm/5’4” and 198cm/6’6”
Max Rider Weight
Shimano Altus seven-speed
Tektro hydraulic disc brakes front & rear
Assembled & built
Poole, United Kingdom
Up to 64km/40 miles
250-Watt Bafang rear-wheel hub
5 hours. Charger included
15.5mph (UK e-bike speed limit)
Five power-assist modes
|Components and build quality
|Safety and security
|Performance and handling
|Comfort and practicality
Components and build quality
Let’s start with the distinctive, rhomboid frame of the Super Monkey, which is a radical departure from traditional e-bike shape. It’s made from aluminium tubing and the various other components are attached. It’s a curious design, with enough space in the middle that my colleague Moja managed to squeeze his entire body through it.
On top is a long, squishy seat that’s fixed in place – there’s no seat tube, no way of raising, lowering or even moving the saddle. It’s very comparable to a motorcycle seat, and I found it squishy enough to be comfortable, but firm enough to keep your backside in place.
Up front, tall ape-hanger-style handlebars really ram home the motorbike look, although as the seat is mounted very low, I didn’t find my arms sitting super high. The bars sit on top of an adjustable suspension fork for extra comfort and off-road ability – more on that in the riding section below. The wheels are 20-inch units with fat Kenda Krusade off-road tyres, over Tektro hydraulic disc brakes.
Inside the frame is the large 15Ah, 35V battery, which if you squint could do a passable impression of a motorcycle fuel tank. Sort of. Synch says it’ll give you a range of around 40 miles, although the real-world figure will depend on how heavy you are and how much you rely on the Bafang 250W motor, which is housed in the hub of the rear wheel. It’ll give you five different levels of assistance, which you control with a pad on the left handlebar.
There’s also a switch to control the huge motorbike-style headlight… if you’ve specified it, as it and its rear companion are only an option. Our bike also has mudguards, which are also optional, but we don’t have the rack, which is another option. Are we being fussy to say that a £1,900 e-bike should include lights? I don’t think we are.
Still, the included display is very nice – large, full colour and easy to read, with a battery readout that includes the percentage so you can keep a watchful eye on how much assistance you have left.
To the right of the display is the gear shifter, which uses a seven-speed Shimano Altus setup that’s proven reliable and hardy on many other e-bikes.
Several variants of the Super Monkey are available, including a Longtail version with an extended frame and seat to carry a passenger or cargo. One of our reviewer’s friends fitted some child handlebars to their longtail and takes his son to school on it. Ever since then they always seem to be on time for school!
Synch design and assemble their bikes in the UK from the ground up and even offer a 2 year warranty on their frame and forks. This is a massive peace of mind as getting parts is easy and if anything does go wrong, you’ve got a team of engineers ready to sort you out.
Safety and security
The Super Monkey is a standout design, which means it catches the eye when parked up. A kickstand is included, by the way, but we’d recommend at least a couple of beefy D locks to ensure it’s not pilfered by ne’er-do-wells. You can also remove the battery from the frame, either to charge it or to dissuade thieves, but it’s a monster of a unit that you probably won’t want to carry around with you for too long.
From a riding point of view, the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are excellent, and we found they scrub off speed very nicely despite the Super Monkey’s hefty 28kg weight.
You can have the bike fitted with integrated lights, including a large and powerful headlight, but it’s a shame they’re options rather than standard. It’ll cost you an extra £65 for the front light and another £20 for the back unit.
Performance and handling
If you don’t want to turn heads while riding, then the Synch Super Monkey is not the bike for you. Cruising through the streets of London, even among ebikes of various shapes and sizes, eyes followed me as I went.
While it’s a heavy bike, the 250W motor, when combined with the seven-speed Shimano gears, is more than enough to provide decent assistance. Although the bike’s cadence sensor only activates the motor when the pedals are already moving (unlike bikes with a torque sensor that do so immediately) it does so quickly, and as long as you shift down into a low gear, I never had a problem moving away from standstill, even on inclines. When I set the assistance level to max, I was zipping up to the UK max assisted speed of 15.5mph very quickly, despite the combined weight of the bike and its far-from-slimline rider.
My test of the bike included small alleyways, back roads and cycle superhighways, as well as a grassy blast across a park, none of which fazed the Super Monkey in the slightest. My colleagues took it a step further, tackling some large off-road hills, which the Synch clambered with no issues: “Although not purpose built, it is capable of crushing pretty much any terrain. I’ve had this bike up a mountain bike trail with rocks, steep offroad hills and through heavy potholes in the centre of london. It takes any terrain with ease.”
In short, it can cope with anything that the roads can throw at it, and it’ll deal with some lumpy terrain too. It feels confident and agile(ish) for its size, ensuring I didn’t feel wobbly and unbalanced while threading through pedestrians on shared use paths, and it’s composed and stable at higher speeds. Sure, there’s no fancy belt drive system or clever gearing, but the Super Monkey uses tried and tested tech very well.
Comfort and practicality
At this point, we have to talk about the riding position. Because the seat can’t be adjusted, there’s little-to-no adjustability on the Super Monkey, save for angling the handlebars closer or further away. For some in the Electroheads office, this wasn't a problem – my colleagues Kol and Moja had a great time with the bike, as you can see in their video.
I, on the other hand, hated it. I sat far too low, my legs felt like they were round my ears and I felt like my pedalling motion was woefully inefficient. More than perhaps any other e-bike I’ve tried, this is very much one that you should try before you buy, because if you don’t like your position on the seat, there’s not much you can do about it.
Putting that aside, however, the ride quality of the Super Monkey is excellent. Pedalling over cobbles and some pretty lousily maintained roads had no impact whatsoever, thanks to the fat tyres, front suspension and the soft seat. You can also adjust the dampers on the fork to make it stiffer for nippier handling or softer for even more comfort. Personally, I’d go at the harder end unless you’re literally rock-crawling, as the big tyres and the seat do much to get ride of lumps and bumps before they reach the rider.
From a practicality point of view, the well-tested Shimano gears will need the usual bike maintenance of regular cleaning, lubrication and so on, which is a slight faff compared to rivals that use belt-drive systems. Having said that,this does mean replacement parts are cheap and available from just about any bike shop.
We’ve touched on the lack of lights, and the same is true of mudguards, which will cost you an extra £45, while a rear rack is £90. You can also get a “Synch Caddy”, which is an aluminium cargo box that fits inside the frame. It’ll cost you another £105, however. As standard, the Super Monkey isn’t the most practical machine, but it gets considerably more so with these extras. You’ll just have to throw money at it first.
Phill Tromans has been a journalist and reviewer since 2001. As both a keen road cyclist and car aficionado, he’s fully embraced the concept of e-mobility, and while he still loves pure pedal power, he also likes not being a sweaty mess at the end of every bike ride.
Kol Heydel also contributed to this review - you may have seen him reviewing mountain bikes and fat-tyre bikes on our youtube channel