This Electric Road Bike is a Blast and Got Me Back to Big Nature (Spoiler: It’s Not a Cheat)

If you’re wondering if riding an electric bike is like cheating on your workout, it’s not. Our Editor-in-Chief Laura Klein still broke a sweat reviewing the Denago City Model 1, and she had tons of fun!

Laura Klein stands with e-bike at Lake Tahoe
Credit: I’m not a fan of running, or high impact anything—it’s tough on my back and joints, and frankly, it just hurts. Biking is much better!

When I first heard about e-bikes, I thought it was a cheat. My first thought was, “Really, isn’t that cheating? Humans need to move more, not less.” But after hearing friends rave about their experiences, the exercise they get, and the fun they have, I knew one would be in my future. Thus, when I was given the opportunity to review the Denago City Model 1 Top-Tube EBike, I jumped right on it. 

Are E-Bikes Worth It? Denago Electric Road Bike Review

Biking is a Great Low-Impact Workout

Laura Klein stands with e-bike at Lake Tahoe
I’m not a fan of running, or high impact anything—it’s tough on my back and joints, and frankly, it just hurts. Biking is much better!

I currently live in Los Angeles, and owning a bike hasn’t been convenient or felt safe. Without dedicated bike lanes, getting around the city can be a challenge. Fast forward to a post-COVID shutdown era, now there are full car lanes that have been converted to dedicated bike lanes, complete with traffic lights designated for bikers. With gas prices at an all time high, expensive parking and groceries, getting around the city on an e-bike is even more attractive.

I love working out. I’m a gym rat, skier, yoga, pilates lover and I love the great outdoors (I grew up in Colorado). Working out to me is a reset and a great way to clear the head. However, I’m not a fan of running, or high impact anything—it’s tough on my back and joints, and frankly, it just hurts. I love biking, though, because even though it’s low impact, you can break a sweat and get a challenging workout. On my bucket list is taking bike vacations and riding through the Alps and European wine country in the summer. 

Specs and Features of the Denago City Model 1 E-Bike

Backlit display screen on the denago road bike
The Denago City Model 1 comes with an easy-to-read LCD display. It’s even backlit for night riding.

The Denago City Model 1 Top-Tube eBike comes with a 48-volt electric system and a powerful 500 watt motor that makes getting up hills a breeze. It has five levels of pedal assist that will take you up to 28 mph while pedaling, and a throttle that will take you up to 20 mph without pedaling—this makes the Denago City Model 1 a “Class III e-bike.” It comes with a high-capacity battery for longer range rides, and has an easy-to-read backlit LED display that tells you your speed, pedal assist system (PAS) range, trip distance, battery charge and more.

For my first outing, I took the bike on a family trip up to Lake Tahoe. I wasn’t going to do any mountain biking (I’d rather soak up nature and experience the views), but I knew I could find a bike path somewhere around the lake where I could take it out for a ride. My brother-in-law and I found a fully paved bike path, the Tahoe East Shore Trail, that runs along the lake with stunning views. It provided some great challenges with hills and long stretches of flat terrain to put this new e-bike to the test. 

How does it feel to ride a Denago electric bike?

The Denago City Model 1 at Lake Tahoe
There’s a bit of an adjustment period while you retrain your brain to expect an e-bike’s pedal assist function.

I have to admit, starting out, my experience was a bit jerky with the pedal assist—here’s why: When starting out on an e-bike, there’s an adjustment period while you retrain your brain to expect the bike’s pedal assist function. I had a hard time finding a happy medium between the different levels of pedal assist while changing gears, climbing hills, and navigating around other people walking or biking along the path. All this while learning to get comfortable with the faster-than-a-normal-bike speed, and not overusing my brakes. Not quite “as simple as riding a bike.” Once you experience an e-bike, you’ll know what I’m talking about. 

Learning to Use the Pedal Assist System on an E-Bike

Lake Tahoe with swimmers and beach
The larger tire size of the Denago e-bike gave me confidence to handle higher speeds while holding the road and navigating unpaved sandy areas off-path.

As I rode along the scenic Tahoe East Shore Trail, navigating people, hills, bridges, and turns, my ride with the PAS eventually became smoother as I learned that if I stop pedaling (and go into neutral), the pedal assist stops, and I can control the speed better while not overusing my brakes. If I want more speed, I can simply start pedaling and the PAS kicks in and I can either pedal more and or up my speed via the pedal assist. The larger tire size also gave me confidence to handle higher speeds while holding the road and navigating unpaved sandy areas off-path.

My two favorite times to use the PAS are when I’m starting off, coming from a stand still, and going up hills. It makes these two movements surprisingly easy. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when it came to hills, I thought there would be a low level of support, but when I experienced it, there was an unexpected zippiness that pushed me up the hill while pedaling. Oh, and did I mention, it’s tons of fun?!

If you’re wondering how easy it is to change the level of PAS, it’s surprisingly easy. On the left handle bar is your power control and up down buttons for the PAS. Just a tap of the thumb and the PAS kicks in, accelerates or decelerates (depending on what you choose). On the right handle bar is your gear shift and a bell. 

Riding a Denago E-Bike in Los Angeles

Venice beach bike trail
I can’t wait to get a bike basket so I can use my Denago e-bike to run errands and pick up groceries.

After my scenic ride along Lake Tahoe, I took the bike back home to the streets of LA. With traffic back to pre pandemic levels, high gas prices, and new dedicated bike lanes and signals, I was eager to give it a shot. It did not disappoint. I zipped around Culver City, Beverly Hills, and took it to the beach and Venice and Santa Monica boardwalk. You must be aware of unaware drivers though (they’re always around!) and I would recommend wearing a bright colored shirt and helmet.

I like riding around town so much, I’m going to get a basket for my bike so I can zip back and forth to the grocery store and run simple errands. My ride up and down the Santa Monica and Venice boardwalk was tons of fun, and further helped me adjust to the different levels of the PAS and simply cruising along, enjoying the ride. My next ride will take me down to Manhattan Beach and back—24.7 miles. 

Braking and Battery Life of the City Model 1 Electric Bike

Santa Monica pier in the Los Angeles sunshine
I felt very confident and safe using the braking system of the Denago City Model 1 e-bike.

At first, I was concerned that the e-bike’s brakes might have trouble handling the higher speeds. Happily, I discovered that breaking was effortless. I never felt like I couldn’t stop in time for whatever was in front of me, even at higher speeds. The Denago bike comes with hydraulic disc brakes, which gave me confidence when stopping and slowing during higher speeds. Braking also features motor cut-off, which made me even more self-assured.

In terms of battery life, I felt like the battery life exceeded my expectations. I did not record exact measurements of the range, but according to the website, battery life can fluctuate depending on how much you weigh, use the PAS, the grade of the hills you climb, and how many stops and starts you make along your route.

The battery is easy to charge, too. It’s fast—fully charged in just 3-4 hours, which is 50 percent faster than many competing e-bikes. The battery is conveniently removable, so if you live in an apartment or take it to work, or out to dinner and need to lock up the bike outside, you can remove the battery and charge it inside.

If you’re concerned about the Class III settings, they can be configured to meet your local trail access requirements, and for riders who prefer lower speeds. 

Traveling with a Denago Electric Bike

Trees at Lake Tahoe, California, with mountains in the background
The Denago e-bike is a super fun addition to road-trips and excursions out of town. I can’t wait for our next trip!

Now that I have a trailer hitch on the back of my car and a bike rack, I’m now planning several trips with my Denago electric bike. In August, my husband and I are heading down to Laguna Beach to celebrate our anniversary, and we’ll be able to ride up and down the coast, to the beach, dinner, and shopping. In the fall, we’re planning to head to our local wine country in San Luis Obispo to see the changing leaves on the vines, watch the grape harvest, and squeeze in a few sips of wine along the way! 

The Final Verdict on the Denago City Model 1 Electric Bike

Denago City Model 1 E-Bike on a trail in the woods
Spending less time in the car should be a goal for everyone. Using an e-bike is a great way to get your transportation and exercise needs met, and it’s better for the planet.

What I love most about my new e-bike is that it got me back to nature! After living through COVID and every struggle that went along with it, somehow it feels like this e-bike gets me to nature easy and quick, while getting in a workout, and having a blast. Even if it’s just a quick zip around my neighborhood, or to the park and back.

This city bike is great for riding around cities when you don’t want to get in your car and deal with parking, expensive Uber rides, or traffic. I can now say goodbye to the grind of fighting for parking at the beach, too. Climate change is real, and if the non-stop wildfires, melting ice caps, and natural disasters of recent years have you concerned about the future of Mother Earth, reducing your time spent in a car is a great way to help reduce your carbon footprint and be part of the solution.

Laura is a trained chef with roots in the organic food movement and brings intelligence, intoxicating energy and girl-next-door... More about Laura Klein, Chef & Wellness Expert