R17 Review


New Member
Got the R17 a month or so ago, it is great with a few exceptions.

Mine came with an air shock which surprised me since every Elite Optibike I’ve seen has a coil shock which is what I wanted. The explanation from Optibike was that the ‘new linkage’ doesn’t leave enough room for a coil shock. Linkage looks the same to me. I took a few pics and measurements, called up Cane Creek, and ended up with a Tigon coil/air shock which fits perfectly and works really well. Real pain to install though, requires removing linkages and dropping the rear shock mount. But it was worth it.

I also replaced the air spring in the Fox 38 fork with a Vorsprung Smashpot coil and the combo of coils front and rear transforms the bike into a ground hugging ride that is really fun to ride and lets me go much harder and more comfortably over rough terrain than air suspension would.

The seatpost angle is super shallow and mine is a mullet with 29” front and 27.5” rear which drops the rear a bit and makes the seatpost angle even shallower. Every saddle I wanted to run wouldn’t work because even with the front of the saddle tilted as far down as possible the nose of the saddle was too high. I finally put a Berthoud Aspin leather saddle on which works well even with the nose tilted slightly up.

The pedelec is nice but takes about 1-2 seconds to cut off after you stop pedaling. Normally not a big deal but a few days ago I was climbing a really loose section and the rear wheel slid out around a curve. I stopped pedaling and put a foot down but the motor kept the rear wheel spinning for a couple of seconds and I almost went down. I’ve had an Optibike SIMBB (which I traded in on the R17 and is for sale on the Optibike website…it’s the titanium fat bike) with throttle only which I found I prefer and when Optibike makes the new MMI available in a few months I’ll get one…it will allow disabling the pedelec when you want to.

Power levels 1-3 ramp up gradually but when you engage level 4 it’s a really big jump and with pedelec you find yourself jetted forward with a pretty heavy power burst which is ok unless you’re climbing…pretty easy to wheelie yourself over backwards which almost happened to me a couple of times until I got used to it. Throttle only would be easier to control power delivery with the higher power levels. I don’t use level 4 or 5 very often anyway, levels 1-3 are sufficient unless the climb is really steep or you want high speed on the flats.

And it is def louder than I remember the SIMBB being.

Those are most of the negatives, and the positives def outweigh them. It’s a super fun bike to ride, more power than you will ever need and the battery lasts forever. Did a 17 mile, 2 hour ride yesterday which was short but climbed 3000’ up steep dirt fire roads, used level 3 for the most part and level 4 for a lot of the really steep sections and when we got back it had not even dropped a bar which means I had more than 80% battery left. Pretty good. With the coil suspension the bike descends rough sections with ease, and the weight of the bike helps with that planted feeling as well.

So I like it, well worth the price, and was great working with Optibike to make it happen.
Highly recommended.


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The hub is nice but the max, not nominal, that it can take is 130Nm. And that is with a normally weighted bike of around 42-pounds plus a 200 pound rider on up to a 12% grade. The rated nominal torque on this motor is 160Nm. Under 20% nominal max is better and allows for peeks within the margin. This is almost over 25% beyond max. If you blow the hub it is big bucks to replace and re-lace. In my humble opinion over 2.5 hours of riding has dismissing returns as each additional mile becomes less fun that the mile before. Oh, delete the last post @RAB63 and private message. This is all public.