Motorbike

Front Wheel Burnouts and Utilitarian Fun: Meet the UBCO 2×2


Glamor shot of New Zealand’s UBCO 2X2 ADV. (UBCO/)

UBCO is short for the Utility Bike Company, and the UBCO 2X2 ADV is the New Zealand-based company’s bold attempt to create a new niche in the emerging electric bicycle market. Or the electric scooter market. Or maybe it’s the electric motorcycle market? The fun part of whatever this emerging category may be is that its category hardly matters. Hit the button on the fob, twist the throttle, and go.

As the name implies, the 2X2 ADV is two-wheel drive. Both wheels feature 1kw Flux motors, which ruins traditional dirt burnouts. But front wheelie burnouts are highly addictive. It adds a pleasing simplicity to max throttle, no matter what surface you’re on.

The ADV model is similar to the WRK model (get it, “Work”?), but 4.4 pounds heavier with less aggressive knobbies. The sturdy frame is identical, as are mounts for optional luggage and racks. The WRK model forgoes mirrors and the LED display and is priced $1,000 less ($5,999 MSRP). The WRK comes with a 2,400 LED floodlight and the ADV gets a 2,100/1,200 lumen headlight with high/low beams, plus turn signals and a license plate mount.

At first glance, riding the UBCO 2X2 ADV in Chicago is like testing a John Deere in the Loop. But the pockmarked streets of Cook County are as good a place as any for off-road bikes. And for those in the know, there are pockets of off-road escape in odd places. Just don’t get caught.

Although I carefully observed all applicable local laws regarding electric-powered whatnot, the 2X2 ADV poses unique challenges in traffic filled with IC vehicles and bicycles. Riding without a plate (hypothetically) offers the opportunity to bypass Chicago’s extensive network of speed and red-light camera enforcement. The electronically limited 31 mph limit renders speed camera issues moot. But in 18 days of testing, I estimated that 34 red-light violations ($3,400) could be avoided without the legally mandated license plate and registration. Obviously, Motorcyclist encourages all readers to comply with all applicable local laws.

A live dash lets you monitor speed, battery level, and front/rear motor temperature. Software and firmware updates are also available through the app, as well as a diagnostics display for troubleshooting. Pairing the app was impossible at first, but taking a setup course with “UBCO University” finally allowed pairing. The kickstand disengages drive mode when down, and also allows you to access rider modes. So don’t sit on the bike for 10 minutes in traffic trying to do this, like I did.

Once paired with the bike, the app allows for On Road and Off Road rider modes. Off Road offers more initial torque than On Road. Hunting mode turns the headlight off, allowing you to stealthily hunt or approach things (hopefully animals). Learner mode dials back responsiveness for beginners. Regenerative braking maximizes range and comes in four modes; Normal, Shy, Sticky, and finally, Aggressive. Power modes vary from Eco, Normal, or Boost. The limit is 31 mph regardless which you choose, but Boost makes it happen faster. All modes can only be changed while the bike is in neutral with the kickstand down.

While two rider modes are offered via the UBCO app, a few unofficial rider modes are offered. Jerk mode allows the user to filter and lane split traffic, either in between cars or in the right turn lane (illegal in Chicago). Total Bastard mode allows the user to ride in the bike lane, disregarding the safety of bicyclists unable to go 31 mph.

Battery life be damned; Boost is recommended in the city. After filtering past cars at a stoplight, you need getaway speed. But less aggressive riding is fine with the Eco setting. No matter the mode, you’ll get lots of head nods from food delivery drivers on ebikes. And be prepared for plenty of stoplight convos and questions.

The claimed 75-mile range was optimistic, but with full regen braking and Eco mode, I got 50 miles with a couple of bars to spare. A full recharge time of 4–6 hours was accurate with the 10-amp fast charging system. Either model comes with an optional 3.1kWh battery in place of the standard 2.1kWh battery, though it’s 10 pounds heavier. The difference in range isn’t noted on the site, but the larger battery likely adds a few miles to range.

In the interest of a thorough review, the 2X2 ADV got more rides (and riders) than a petting zoo pony. Opinions were uniformly positive, with seasoned riders wishing for more power. Still, dirt riding was a blast. The narrower and slower the trail, the more the ADV shined. With an estimated 3.2 hp, it’s definitely not a proper motocross or enduro bike. But that front wheel clawing its way over anything underneath it means you just point and shoot over muck, ruts or bad hill decisions.

Small logs and berms were no problem, thanks to the 5.1-inch front suspension and 4.7-inch rear. Both are adjustable, though differences are negligible. Disc brakes with 203 x 2.3mm rotors and Dash 3 brake lines front and rear are fantastic, though susceptible to wetness. Like many electric bikes, the right lever goes to the front brake, leaving the left for rear braking. This keeps your muscle memory working. Regenerative braking is appreciated in the city, but best turned off in dirt. Fixing a flat rear tire was a breeze without a greasy chain. Just unplug the power to the hub, loosen four bolts, and prep the patient for surgery on a milk crate.

After promising UBCO not to enter the 2X2 ADV in any events whatsoever, the MotoAmerica Superbike at Road America made for a great unofficial proving ground. Rolling hills, gnarly dirt trails, and miles between spectator points made the bike invaluable. And irresistible to about 20,000 drunk Wisconsin race fans. I stopped counting at 23 the number of times I got asked, “What is that thing?” But everyone under the age of 17 (also sometimes drunk) just seemed to know what it was.

Additional research with about 17 unofficial test riders (sorry, UBCO) were used to gather opinions and reviews. Of note, the key fob doesn’t have a proximity sensor. So besides the steering lock and optional tracking (after it’s already been stolen), conventional bike locks are needed to prevent theft. Thankfully, Wisconsinites may be drunks, but they’re not thieves. Rider reviews ranged from “That’s awesome” to “Can I borrow it again?” Unofficially, I was able to easily haul 351 pounds of race spectator (rated for 330 pounds) up the steep incline to Fireman’s Hill. However, riding two-up is not recommended. Again: sorry, UBCO.

It never failed to put a smile on anyone’s face until the price came up. The $6,999 price tag is hefty. And the utility angle might just be a cover for fun rips around one’s property. But it’s more than just a capable commuter, and could make for a great delivery platform with the extensive luggage and rack options available. The price point isn’t exorbitant by the standards of certain established mountain ebikes. And the payload-specific design renders comparisons with electric enduros and motocross bikes moot. Are you an UBCO rider? As with preventing forest fires, only you can decide that.

How to love living in the city: ride dirt bikes in abandoned lots between train yards.

How to love living in the city: ride dirt bikes in abandoned lots between train yards. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Little logs, no problems with the UBCO 2X2 ADV.

Little logs, no problems with the UBCO 2X2 ADV. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Bright lights, but Hunter mode turns off the headlight in case of spontaneous hunting needs.

Bright lights, but Hunter mode turns off the headlight in case of spontaneous hunting needs. (Anders T. Carlson/)

At home on the dirt trail, but easy to pick up if dropped.

At home on the dirt trail, but easy to pick up if dropped. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Wide, flat bars (32.3 inches) helped with control, but caught lots of underbrush on narrow trails.

Wide, flat bars (32.3 inches) helped with control, but caught lots of underbrush on narrow trails. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Beware Chicago alley shortcuts. But changing tires was simple.

Beware Chicago alley shortcuts. But changing tires was simple. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Just four bolts and an unplugged cable frees the back wheel.

Just four bolts and an unplugged cable frees the back wheel. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Brakes were fantastic, once bedded in. Some slippage in the wet was noticed, however.

Brakes were fantastic, once bedded in. Some slippage in the wet was noticed, however. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Typical Chicago alley hazard.

Typical Chicago alley hazard. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Off to the races: light pitbike duty at Road America’s turn 1.

Off to the races: light pitbike duty at Road America’s turn 1. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Greetings, race fans: the 2X2 ADV at Road America’s main entrance.

Greetings, race fans: the 2X2 ADV at Road America’s main entrance. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Borrowed plate, borrowed ride: All vehicles must be legal and plated at Road America.

Borrowed plate, borrowed ride: All vehicles must be legal and plated at Road America. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Which one of these doesn’t belong? Liter beaters and electric bikes coexist uneasily.

Which one of these doesn’t belong? Liter beaters and electric bikes coexist uneasily. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Front wheel dirt burnouts in full effect.

Front wheel dirt burnouts in full effect. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Perfect for Road America’s endless dirt paths. Shown here by the turn 9 carousel.

Perfect for Road America’s endless dirt paths. Shown here by the turn 9 carousel. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Think back in the box. The 2X2 ADV heading back to Eugene, Oregon.

Think back in the box. The 2X2 ADV heading back to Eugene, Oregon. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Flat is probably fine. It’s just a battery.

Flat is probably fine. It’s just a battery. (Anders T. Carlson/)

UBCO 2X2 ADV Technical Specifications and Price

PRICE $6,999
ENGINE 2 x 1kW brushless DC air-cooled Flux² motors
BATTERY Lithium-ion 2.1/3.1kWh
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 3.2 hp
CLAIMED TORQUE N/A
FRAME Alloy tube trellis cradle
FRONT SUSPENSION UBCO ATFZ, preload and rebound adjustable; 130mm (5.1 in.) travel
REAR SUSPENSION UBCO ATF, preload and rebound adjustable; 120mm (4.7 in.) travel
FRONT BRAKE UBCO Quadratic² brake system, passive regenerative braking
REAR BRAKE UBCO Quadratic² brake system, passive regenerative braking
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR Aluminum; 17 x 1.85 in./17 x 2.75 in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR Multiuse
RAKE/TRAIL N/A
WHEELBASE 47.8 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 32.0 in.
CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT 155 lb.
WARRANTY N/A
AVAILABLE Now
CONTACT ubco.com

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