Yamaha Urban Rush Ebike Review

An excellent pavement-pounder for your commute.

The Urban Rush uses Yamaha’s own 250W mid-drive motor.
The Urban Rush uses Yamaha’s own 250W mid-drive motor.Yamaha

In 2017, Yamaha launched into the North American ebike market as the first—and currently only—ebike drive system producer to make a complete bike. This is the third bike from the brand that Cycle Volta has tested, and it’s impressive.

The Urban Rush tips the scales at just 43 pounds (size large).
The Urban Rush tips the scales at just 43 pounds (size large).Yamaha

What Is an Urban Rush?

The Urban Rush is a road bike, with dual chainrings, slick tires, and a speed-oriented cockpit. It’s a category that is growing with surprising quickness.

Assist on the Urban Rush comes from Yamaha’s PW Series SE system, with a 250W motor peaking to 500W and 70Nm of torque on tap, fueled by a 500Wh downtube-mounted battery. Shifting duties are handled by Shimano Tiagra 10-speed shifters and derailleurs, and it’s all brought to a halt via Shimano hydraulic calipers grabbing 160-millimeter rotors front and rear to provide consistent braking with little effort. The whole package weighs in at a commendable 43 pounds for our size-large sample.

The ebike rides well with or without pedal assist on.
The ebike rides well with or without pedal assist on.Yamaha

How Does the Urban Rush Ride?

We couldn’t help but directly compare the Urban Rush to its gravel sibling, the Yamaha Wabash. Since it is literally the same Yamaha system, no-assist riding was just as easy, which is particularly nice on a road bike when conditions are more often ideal for no-assist pedaling compared with other types of riding. However, with its impressive range, this is not something you’ll likely need to do. Even on maximum assist we managed more than 40 miles on a single charge.

The controller is placed ahead of the handlebars.
The controller is placed ahead of the handlebars.Yamaha

Control placement is identical to the Wabash, with display buttons that are easy to locate and intuitive, especially the assist-level selectors. A quick thumb flick engages up/down, and color-coded lights atop the display forward of the handlebar indicate assist level at a glance.

There are four levels but only two light colors; green for Eco+ and Eco and blue for Standard and High. In a perfect world, four colors would make a quick glance at the display even more informative.

The Urban Rush rides very well with assist on. There’s a notable step between levels, and we found ourselves using the Eco+ or Standard modes most of the time, with High reserved for extreme needs. Yamaha’s new speed sensor with zero cadence assist provided power from the first pedal stroke without lag. It’s also cleanly integrated, improving appearance and eliminating the all-too-common issue of lost function due to the wheel magnet getting knocked out of place.

The Urban Rush is a rock-solid hill climber.
The Urban Rush is a rock-solid hill climber.Yamaha

While the Urban Rush is a Class 1 bike that cuts assist above 20 mph, the system doesn’t feel like you’ve dropped anchor when pedaling beyond the assisted speed. It was slightly more noticeable than on the Wabash, likely thanks to the taller road gearing. As with the Wabash, power never inadvertently engaged during times when it wasn’t warranted—like waiting for a light at an intersection.

Yamaha shines when it comes to low-end grunt. Climbing steep hills presented no problems, even when bucking strong headwinds on particularly difficult climbs. Keen observers will notice a round purple sticker on the motor’s non-drive side, which is a one-way permeable membrane that vents heat while keeping the elements out. It’s visible proof that Yamaha did its homework, and part of the reason we were not able to get the motor to shut down due to overheating (and we tried—hard).

Ride quality was par for the course, given the aluminum frame and fork. The 700 x 35c tires are a good size for this application, but ride quality and grip are sacrificed for durability. We found it an equitable trade given that we had several flats on the Wabash with grippier, more supple tires, and no flats to speak of on the Urban Rush. Geometry is identical to the Wabash, with a bias toward stability that makes it less nimble than other road frames. On the plus side, Yamaha again used a full complement of 32 standard J-bend spokes with brass nipples front and rear—it’s not sexy, but it makes for a strong wheel that is easy to maintain and repair.

We appreciated the integrated headlight, but would have liked a taillight too for rear visibility.
We appreciated the integrated headlight, but would have liked a taillight too for rear visibility.Yamaha

A road bar on a longer stem distinguishes the bike’s purpose as much as the slick tires do. The integrated front light was a surprisingly nice addition to the bike—good not only for night rides, but for greater daylight visibility to cars. The absence of an integrated taillight was disappointing. In urban settings, almost everyone runs a taillight for visibility, even during the day.

The Urban Rush has a suggested retail price of $3,299.
The Urban Rush has a suggested retail price of $3,299.Yamaha

How Much Does the Urban Rush Cost?

With an MSRP of $3,299, the Urban Rush is $200 less than the Wabash. While intended for different purposes, their shared frame geometry makes them very similar aside from parts selection to dictate the use. If you know you’ll only be hitting the tarmac, the Urban Rush is the obvious choice. It gets fuzzy when deciding which is more versatile.

At the end of the day, a set of slick tires on the Wabash makes it about 90 percent of what the Urban Rush is on the street, while being completely capable in the dirt. The Urban Rush’s dual chainrings provide more gearing choices, but the power and range of the Yamaha system effectively nullifies that advantage.

So for versatility, get the Wabash and another set of tires. But for a dedicated road ride, go with the Urban Rush.