The Impel IM-2 is the latest addition to Carrera’s growing electric assist range, which also includes Bosch-equipped mountain bikes and hybrids, a drop-bar road bike and even electric scooters.
The IM-2’s frame is nicely finished, with tidy welds, hydroformed tubes and a battery neatly integrated into the down tube, a detail only usually found on much more expensive electric bikes.
The battery locks in place and is easy to remove, making off-the-bike charging possible.
The power-assist system is based around a 45Nm/250W rear-hub motor by the Taiwanese ebike specialist Hyena.
How we tested
We tested four ebikes to see if the budget end of the category is now accomplished enough to encourage the commuter to forget about public transport or paying for petrol.
Are the ebikes at this price light enough to make them easy to handle, do their motors provide effective assistance in an urban environment and do their batteries provide a useful range?
In the main, the models on test instilled a sense of how far ebike technology has advanced in a short space of time. Rather than there being any discrepancies in the quality of design, the best model now comes down to how well it suits individual needs, which is by no means a bad place for the category to be in.
Other bikes on test
The Impel IM-2 is backed with a two-year warranty on electrical parts and 500 recharges, or two years, for the battery.
It’s certainly a neatly put-together system, with the wiring from the compact LCD display and integrated front light running through the head tube and frame, for a high-quality look.
The display-cum-controller has a clear display and buttons that cycle through three modes, along with a walk button and a USB-out port.
The battery has a 367Wh capacity, which Carrera claims is good for up to 50 miles. That seems a little generous because I managed between 30.1 miles/48.38km with 1761ft/537m of climbing and 39.7 miles/63.9km with 1259ft/384m of climbs on a succession of rides – in keeping with the ranges achieved by the similar batteries I’ve tested.
The IM-2’s ride is great. Its 650b wheels, short wheelbase, fairly upright riding position and wide bar make for an easy ride, but it’s nippy enough for darting through traffic on, and its 47mm tyres offer enough cushioning and suspension for off-road shortcuts.
The wide, backswept bar shortens the reach and speeds up the steering, which balances the relaxed head angle.
This all makes for a well-balanced ride on poor surfaces and opens up towpaths and byways.
The IM-2’s Vee tyres are rounded like a slick tyre, but with a water-dispersing tread. They’re quite hard, but grip well, even in the wet, and their slight lack of suppleness is a fair trade-off for the tough casing’s puncture protection.
The basic rims stayed true after plenty of abuse, so I’ve no complaints, and the same is true for the drivetrain.
Shimano’s basic nine-speed Alivio rear mech is paired with an Altus shifter and the simple 1x setup proved accurate and reliable.
The Prowheel chainset places the cranks further apart than would be the case with lower-profile cranks, but as with the Mycle Classic it keeps your trouser cuffs away from the chain.
The gear range is well suited to commuting, the 38/11 top is big enough for speedy progress, with the 38/36 bottom and 45Nm of torque enabling me to crest some of my steepest local hills, well beyond anything you’ll find in most towns.
Tektro’s cable disc brakes lack a progressive feel, but stop well enough whatever the weather.
However, as with old-school cantilevers, I found myself grabbing fistfuls of the levers on high-speed descents.
That said, challenging double-digit climbs are unlikely to be on many IM-2 riders’ regular routes.
I’d have liked more control from the brakes, but more significant for a commuter competing with the best electric hybrid bikes is the lack of mudguards, especially on a bike that’s otherwise so well equipped.
It has great contact points in the saddle, bar and grips, and the lights are smartly integrated, but guards are a commuting essential.
The IM-2 mixes comfort and handling, the motor delivers plenty of power and it’s well equipped.Overall, the Carrera Impel IM-2 is a bike that’s better than the sum of its parts. The ride is spot-on, the position is commuting gold and it’s great fun.
The range is sufficient for most commuters and its compact charger can go from empty to full in five and a half hours, great for recharging at work.
For a Little less
- Carrera Subway E
Carrera’s classic Subway hybrid, with its mountain bike-derived styling, has been reimagined with a Suntour rear-hub motor and a down-tube mounted battery that promises a 40-mile range for a bargain price.
For a Little more
- Carrera Impel IM-3
The IM-3 has the same frame, fork and Hyena rear-hub motor as our test machine, but the gearing has been upgraded to Shimano Deore and its higher-capacity 496Wh battery has a claimed range of up to 75 miles.
|Features||Extras: Laite C9 front light, Laite LR C9 rear light
|Headset||1 1/8in alloy|
|Tyres||Veetire Zilent Sport 650x47c|
|Shifter||Shimano Altus trigger|
|Saddle||Carrera memory foam|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Alivio rear|
|Motor||Electrical system Hyena 36v 250W rear hub motor with internal 367Wh battery, LCD Compact EX display, three modes plus walk mode|
|Handlebar||Carrera alloy flat|
|Available sizes||S/M, M/L|
|Chain||KMC X9 anti-rust|
|Cassette||Shimano Alivio 11-36|
|Brakes||Tektro C310 cable disc|
|Bottom bracket||Unidentified square taper|
|Wheels||Carrera double-wall aluminium, cartridge bearing front hub|