Civilized Cycles’ Model 1 E-Bike Could Replace Your Second Car

The utility of a scooter in the skin of a bicycle

Key Takeaways

  • The Civilized Cycles Model 1 is built for a rider and passenger. 
  • It has two built-in, water-resistant cargo pods.
  • The rear air suspension smooths rough roads and conquers potholes.
The Civilized E-Bike.

Civilized Cycles

The Civilized Cycle Model 1 wants you out of your car and on two wheels.

Technically, the Model 1 is an electric bike, yet one look will tell you it’s not a typical bicycle. Long, wide, and with seating for two, the Model 1 is built to be so comfortable, quick, and fun that even timid cyclists might leave their Expedition in the garage and take the bike instead. 

I took it for a spin to see if it comes close to this seemingly impossible goal. 

I made a beeline for every pothole I could find...The bike always won.

A Bike to Replace Your Second Car

The Civilized Cycles Model 1 might be electric, but its key feature is low tech. It has passenger seating.

Placed just aft the rider’s saddle and above the cargo pods, the passenger seat is a strip of padding and fabric that wouldn’t look out of place on a Vespa. The seat can handle an adult or a child, though Civilized recommends it only for children over the age of 8. The bike’s total maximum load is an impressive 400 pounds.

The Model 1 is not the first e-bike with passenger seating, but Civilized lives up to its name with a focus on comfort. Built-in footrests provide a stable platform for the passenger and the cargo pods, which billow from the bike's rear, offering stability and thigh support. 

It also packs a secret weapon: rear air suspension. Great ride quality is common among modern electric bikes, but the Model 1 is on another level. I made a beeline for every pothole I could find in an attempt to upset it. The bike always won. 

Civilized e-Bike Model 1

Lifewire / Matthew S Smith

Despite its perks, the Model 1 is not ideal for every situation. The cargo pods provide a ton of space for luggage or groceries, but won’t close with any significant cargo inside, so you can’t carry a passenger and cargo at once. The Model 1 also lacks kid-centric accessories, like child seats or a safety bar. This will be a deal-breaker for parents with young children.

Function Over Fitness

The Model 1 is a step-through bike, perfect for riders who lack the flexibility to quickly swing a leg over a traditional bike’s tall saddle. The gearing is also designed to minimize obstructions and keep shoes from snagging while mounting the bike. A chain guard is standard to keep the chain, and your pants, clean. 

Selecting one of the bike’s five speeds can be handled with a twist of your left hand, while your right has access to the throttle. The Model 1 has a powerful motor that makes the throttle unnecessary for cruising, but essential for launching with a passenger on board. 

I had some trouble with the shifter. It didn’t want to shift when under the slightest power. Many e-bikes have this troublesome trait to a degree, but the Model 1 was more finicky than any I can remember and forced me to plan ahead when deciding how to shift. 

The cargo space on a Civilized E-bike Model 1

Lifewire / Matthew S Smith

A large, color touchscreen is centered on the Model 1’s wide handlebars. It looks far more modern than the black-and-white LCDs used by most competitors. The screen displays speed, power mode, mileage, and range—which is good, because you may suffer range anxiety. Civilized promises just 25 miles on a charge, which you can extend to 50 miles with a second battery. 

What the bike lacks in range it gains in power. The electric assist provides a boost up to 28 miles per hour, and that top speed is not difficult to reach. I managed it with modest effort on flat terrain. Riders content to cruise at a more casual 20 miles per hour may never break a sweat. Once up to speed, the smooth air suspension helps maintain your momentum. 

Not a Second Car, but Certainly a Comfortable E-Bike

Can this e-bike truly replace a motorcycle, moped, or second car? That depends.

The Model 1 is more comfortable to ride, and attractive to look at, than other cargo e-bikes, but the finicky shifter could create friction for inexperienced riders. Still, couples and families that don’t have small children should put the Model 1 on their list. 

The Civilized Cycles Model 1 is available for pre-order starting at $5,499.

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