However, the V2 now also offers a new transmission, one folks in the car world may be more familiar with- a CVT. This commands a slight price premium. Ride1Up will want $2,695 of your United States dollars for those models with the same choice in frames.
Here, the CVT on our Prodigy tester works with the help of a grip-integrated twist shifter. So, anyone who’s ridden one of Lyft’s rental e-bikes will be familiar with the operation. Our mission today is to find out if the belt-driven CVT is worth it over the standard chain drive.
Design EvaluationThe choice in transmission doesn’t do anything to the looks. At least, not initially. Our LX model (step-over frame with CVT) finished in Faded Bronze looks like a cross between a gravel bike and a city commuter, with knobbly Maxxis tires and the integrated rear rack definitely crossing up the vibes.
As an aside, it appears the rack is removable if you go to enough effort, so gravel riding is definitely on the table for owners. There’s other high points here too, like the integrated rear brake light and two water bottle cage options. The combination, paired with the handsome integrated front light, makes the bike both stylish and practical for longer journeys day and night.
Real World TestingSwing a leg over the Prodigy V2, and you’ll find it plenty comfortable. The riding position is solid, and some definite adjustment is available between the bar angle and seat position. Speaking of the seat, the material and quality are a huge step up from the Rift we tested a while back. At one point, I even swapped the new seat over to the Rift for a trip to the grocery store.
But the big talking point here is that transmission. Paired with a Brose mid-drive motor, the new continuously variable system replaces your average bike’s derailleur with an internal hub housing metal ball bearings that transmit power to the ground. The result is the elimination of traditional gear changes. Instead, you twist the integrated grip to change “ratios.”
There are other benefits here, too. Unlike chain-driven bikes, this Gates Carbon belt-driven bike is nearly silent while riding, due both to the belt and to the motor’s enclosed inner workings. The aural experience is like riding in an electric car. Suddenly, you realize just how quiet things can be.
From a maintenance perspective, these should be easier for owners to preserve. There’s no greasy chain to work with, or a derailleur to adjust periodically. All you’ve got to do is change the brake pads and fluid.
Those, by the way, work great as well and do a good job stopping the Prodigy. The bike is light, at least in e-bike terms (61 lbs for the CVT model), which certainly helps it both stop and go. Boy, does this bike go. As a class 3 bike, the V2 has a top speed of 28 mph, and even in the transmission's lowest ranges, you won’t be working hard to get there.
There’s four by the way: Eco, Tour, Sport, and Boost, with each ramping up the effort the motor puts in. You can also ride unassisted for a workout. Regardless, I managed to land well within Ride1Up’s claimed 30-50-mile range while riding the bike, and I’d imagine that strong riders in Eco mode could eek out a few more miles depending on terrain.
That leaves our initial question: Is the CVT worth it? For the bike-uninitiated, I’d say yes. Much like their automotive counterparts, the CVT is great for those who want a low-maintenance experience with little learning curve. There are no ratios to learn, simply watch the little stick person in the display.
Did I prefer it to a traditional chain? Perhaps, but I like the tactility of going up and down through gears, aligning the derailleur, cleaning the chain. It’s part of the experience of riding for me, but if I need something that’s more civilized to go from one place to another, the Prodigy V2 is an excellent choice.
- CVTs aren’t all bad
- Quiet motor
- Excellent build quality
- No throttle