Ninety One Cycles’ Meraki S7 electric bike review: Take the load off your ride

When Ninety One Cycles contacted me to review their latest e-bike, the Meraki S7 electric cycle, I was hesitant. My biggest fear was ensuring it didn’t get stolen given that even the most basic cycles have been stolen from our house in the past.

Then there was the fear of where I would ride this. Unlike my colleague who courageously rode the Hero Lectro 2Fi on the mean streets of Noida, I’m an A-grade coward on a cycle. I do enjoy cycling, but I just don’t trust the good citizens of Delhi in their cars. But curiosity did get the better of me, and I agreed to test out the Meraki S7. Here’s what I learnt riding the e-bike.

Meraki S7 electric bike review: What’s good?

When the e-bike first arrived for review, my husband immediately pointed out that something was missing. “Where is the mudguard, who will ride a bike in India without a mudguard?” He had a point. I also noticed the bell was not there, which I definitely rely on a lot whenever I’m cycling. Ninety One Cycles obliged with both requests and quickly sent these over.

Meraki S7 electric cycle, Meraki S7 review, Meraki S7 price in India Meraki S7 comes with seven-gears and an LCD screen as well to access the pedal-assist mode. (Image credit:Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

The Meraki S7 comes with an IP68 rating for the motor, making it water-resistant. The battery case has a rating of IP65 as well and this is a non-removable battery, but serviceable, according to the company.  The black colour bike should appeal to most folks looking for a bike because it’s not too flashy. You can also adjust the seat level as per convenience quite easily.

It has a Smart LCD screen on one side, and the 7-Hi Speed Shimano Gears on the other. The LCD screen will show the speed, the battery level and also the level for the pedal-assist mode. The bike supports five levels of pedal-assist. You can press up/down on the screen to increase/decrease pedal-assist as per your convenience. There’s also an accelerator on the right side, which you can rely on for extra speed.

It also comes with E-Brake with a power cut off feature and has a key lock switch to turn on the motor. Remember the e-bike function cannot be turned on without the key, so I suggest if you do buy one of these, you keep the second key absolutely safe.

The Meraki S7 has a 250 Watt motor and comes with a Panasonic 6.36AH battery, which the company claims will last for 2000 cycles. The e-bike has a range of 18-35 km and the fastest speed is around 25 km.

I have to admit the first time I rode the e-bike I was entirely clueless on what each feature did. I mostly relied on the accelerator to zoom forward, which felt exhilarating and scary at the same time. I did not know that one has to press the screen to increase/decrease the pedal-assist feature.

The LCD screen on the bike. (Image credit:Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

It was also a little scary to have the bike zoom ahead when I pedalled hard. Things did not feel like they were under my control. So in the second half of my ride, I decided to ride without the e-bike feature. After all, I needed to do some cardio for the day. But after Ninety One explained all the features, I had a better grip on things.

And this is a smooth ride and I thoroughly enjoyed cycling on this, even without pedal-assist. It almost makes me want to buy a slightly more expensive cycle. Also, this one does have some powerful brakes, especially compared to the basic cycles I’m used to.

The pedal-assist is designed to take the load off you — the higher the pedal-assist mode, the lightest pedalling will push the bike forward on its own. I still found that this a bit disorienting and it takes some getting used to. But it was especially useful when I was riding the bike in Deer Park, which has some paths that require an extra push in order to go up. And my post-covid body is in no shape to manage this at all.

The pedal-assist would also be useful for those who decide to take the bike out on a long ride, involving uphill pedalling. It can help take the pressure off the back and knees, especially if you are restarting your fitness journey. And there’s quite a thrill in going downhill with this bike, just make sure pedal assist is down to zero.

Charging the bike to full takes more than two hours. I’ve only charged the bike once since it has come and taken it for two-three rides since then, and these have been around 4-5 km each on average. But the company says the battery output will also depend on the weight of the person riding it, how often you keep pedal-assist on, and other conditions. Do keep in mind that I keep the e-mode turned off for some part of my rides.

The gear option and the accelerator are seen in this photo. (Image credit:Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Meraki S7 electric bike review: What’s not so good?

There were some small issues with the bike. For one, the LCD screen was attached upside down, which added to my confusion. Just make sure if you decide to buy this that the person attaching all components knows what they are doing and explains all features clearly.

There’s also no separate app to record or track your bike. But I also would not see the point of an app, since most hard-core bikers will either use their Apple or Garmin watch. I too used my Apple Watch to record the ride. I noticed on my last ride that the gear indicator had broken. While I could change gears, I had no clue which gear I was on. I’m not sure why this happened, and it could be a defect in this particular unit itself.

Meraki S7 electric bike review: Who should buy, should you?

The question still remains on who should get an e-bike. Folks who are really into cycling–we have an aunt in the family who does 150 km nearly every weekend as though it is no big deal–have likely developed the muscle strength to ride long distances, including uphill, without giving it a second thought.

But still, there’s something exhilarating about riding an e-bike once you get the hang of it and are more confident on how to handle all the modes. If you are one of those who wants to go on long rides but need that extra help at times, the Meraki S7, which can also be considered a Mountain Terrain Bike (MTB), is a solid option. After all, not everyone has the strength to ride for 20-30 km at a stretch.

It can also be useful if you just want to go to the market for a quick ride or want to ride out early morning when city traffic is less intimidating. But in a city like Delhi, the challenges of riding an e-bike remain. I’m not denying that perhaps we need to go back to a time when cycles ruled the streets and cars were the exception. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Overall, I really enjoyed the e-bike experience and I say this as someone for whom this bike is not designed. It is meant for people in the height range of 5-feet 2-inches to 6-feet 3-inches, so do keep it in mind when considering this as your bike.

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