It’s hard to feel indifferent about a bike after you’ve lived with it for a little while, and gotten to know its strengths, quirks, and faults up close. Still, everything comes to an end at some point—and loaner bikes have to return from whence they came. So, after spending a few weeks with the UBCO 2x2 ADV, what are my lasting impressions?
- Even though speed is limited to an indicated 31 miles per hour, it’s an absolute blast to ride. It’s super fun and zippy, with that great electric moto characteristic of wanting to go pretty much as soon as you twist the throttle.
- The lights—head, tail, and turn signals—are SUPER bright. I didn’t take it out at night, but I did take it out in some overcast, rainy weather. While I did also have a hi-viz vest on over my motorcycle gear, I definitely wasn’t worried that my lights weren’t visible to other traffic. (Whether the other traffic was paying attention or not, of course, isn’t always contingent upon having decent lights … but that’s another story.)
- The display is super clear and easy to read, even at a glance—and even with sunglasses on. You’d think this wouldn’t need to be said, but some people still haven’t got the hang of display visibility through polarized lenses. That’s not a problem for UBCO; it’s totally visible, even with my polarized sunglasses.
- Having AWD on a motorbike is absolutely a revelation—even at such a low speed. I highly recommend trying it, because it will almost make you feel invincible. The combination of AWD and knobby tires also makes you realize how much you need to give it a try on some trails, even if they’re not your natural environment.
- Styling is rugged and utilitarian, in an extremely good way. It’s low-key, it’s unpretentious; It’s here to be an electric workhorse and help you get stuff done.
- The seat is quite comfortable, and the pegs are sturdy and reassuring both when sitting and standing on them.
- The app is intuitive, and the ability to dial in your preferred level of efficiency and regenerative braking is nice. Also, the ability to take over-the-air firmware updates via the app is helpful, particularly if you’re a DIY sort of person and/or you either don’t want to or don’t have the ability to run to an UBCO dealer.
- The 2x2 Field Kit isn’t only well-packaged and adorable—it's also incredibly useful. It comes with a selection of full-sized, fairly robust tools that you can use to do final assembly on your UBCO 2x2 ADV once it gets to you—or do roadside repairs and adjustments. It also comes with a spare set of brake pads, which is super thoughtful. Full, illustrated instructions are also included, and the entire thing seems very thoughtfully put together.
- Side stand. You’d think that would be obvious, but don’t take it for granted—it's trickier to navigate parking even a comparatively lightweight bike without one.
Could Be Better
- An option for less-flat, less-wide handlebars would be nice. If you’re on the 2x2 ADV for a long time in a seated position, the hand and arm position isn’t as comfortable as it could be. Maybe it’s different if you spend most of your time standing up on the pegs? That last part, I can’t say for sure—but options are always helpful.
- An option to unlock a slightly higher top speed limit would be nice, as well—sort of like how A2 bikes sold in Europe can be derestricted once riders have achieved their full-fat motorcycle licenses. Of course, that would also necessitate stronger brakes than are currently installed on this bike. (Please note, the brakes currently installed work fine for this machine as it’s currently configured—even in the wet.) I’m not talking highway speeds—just maybe 40 to 45 or, at an outside limit, 50 would be perfect for getting around most surface street situations in urban settings.
As you might expect from any battery-powered device, the UBCO 2x2 ADV’s battery does slowly lose power if it sits unused and is not plugged in. That’s just a fact of battery-powered life. Even knowing that the battery state of charge was a little lower than expected, I had a small errand close by that I wanted to run. It would involve a total of about five miles of riding, and I thought it seemed perfectly reasonable. I’d get home, throw the bike on the charger, and not worry about it. Right?
Sadly, it wasn’t that simple. Most of the way to my destination, the Charge warning light came on—and the available battery bars dropped to nothing. Literally, there were zero bars on my display. Finally, there it was—total range anxiety.
Since I was about a block from my destination, I pressed on while I still had power. I shut off the bike, locked the fork with the manual key that’s on the electronic fob, ran my errand, and came back out to ride home. I distinctly remember thinking that I’d probably have to push it at least part of the way, and was glad that it’s as light in weight as it is.
I turned the bike back on, and still had both zero battery bars and a flashing Charge light (which just looks like an orange electrical plug, so it stands out from the rest of the display). It clearly still had some power, though—so I resolved to ride it as long as I could.
I took it easy on the throttle, coasting with momentum where I could—and headed home along some side streets. As I got closer and closer, I could feel a mingled sense of both relief and worry that at any moment, I’d completely lose power and have to push the rest of the way.
Luckily for me, that moment of total power loss never came. I made it home uneventfully, except for that anxiety—and of course, I plugged the battery in right away for my next ride.
That incident made me contemplate whether the 2x2 ADV perhaps had some kind of battery reserve function—because it seemed strange that I’d been able to make it so far with a state of zero charge indicated on the display. If it did, I figured, that could be an interesting feature for riders coming from combustion bikes—because we’re used to having fuel reserves.
So, I did what anyone would do—and I asked about it. According to the UBCO team, there is no battery reserve—that's just how it acts when the battery is in a low state of charge. As with all battery-vehicle-related things, how long you can go before you completely run out will depend on how you ride it. Going easy on the throttle can help to preserve the battery, but of course that will only get you so far.
Now it’s time to tell you about the other big panic moment I had with the 2x2 ADV—which, funnily enough, happened on the very last day that I rode it. Like many motorbikes sold in 2022, it comes with an electronic key fob, and does not use a physical key to turn on and operate. The electronic key fob should be in proximity (such as in your pocket), but the only time you need to take it out and use a manual key (of sorts) is if you want to lock the fork when you’ve parked it.
I knew my time with the 2x2 ADV was coming to an end—and I was absolutely determined that I needed to take it out for one last ride. I got all my gear on, made sure I had all the usual necessities—and I headed out.
It was a beautiful, sunny day. There was a slight breeze, the temps were in the high 70s, and you probably couldn’t ask the weather gods for a nicer riding window. I rode to a trail that wasn’t too far away, and then proceeded to find out that I would absolutely love to spend more time on this bike off-road. (Hey, it was also on the way to another errand I wanted to run, I swear!)
Afterward, I rolled up to my only planned stop, backed my rear tire up against the curb—and promptly realized that I didn’t have the key fob anywhere on my person. Naturally, I didn’t realize this until after I’d already hit the kill switch and shut the bike completely off. (I wanted to lock the fork, you see—which is why I was rummaging around in my pockets to try to find the fob.)
This time, the battery was almost fully charged—as it had been freshly charged when I left the house. However, I figured I might have to push it home for another reason—my own stupidity. Since the bike was already turned off, I figured there wasn’t much I could do other than complete my task, come back, and see if it did, by some miracle, power back on.
Resigning myself to the fact that either I would be pushing the thing a few miles to get home (and wishing it had pedals the whole time), or else waiting until someone could come pick me and the bike up, I went about my business. I was hot, I was sweaty in my gear—and I was both worried and frustrated with myself for leaving the bloody key fob at home.
Luckily (again), and to my complete surprise, it … started right up when I pushed the button. I wasn’t sure how or why it was working—but I was relieved that at least I’d be able to get it home. At the same time, I was also concerned—if all I had to do was push the button, then anyone else could walk up and do the same while it was parked.
Not wanting to waste my seeming good luck, I immediately rode home with absolutely zero issues. I parked, went in the house, and saw the key fob sitting right where I’d left it—on the kitchen counter.
At first, I wondered if the UBCO app had smartphone-as-key functionality, as some similar systems do. (Note: As of August, 2022, the app does not have this functionality.) I also pulled out the Field Kit to consult the little paper manual and see if there was any information to help explain what I’d just experienced.
It turns out that if you input a special code, you can render the 2x2 ADV completely operable without a key fob. That could definitely be useful if you're using it as a farm bike, particularly if a bunch of people are going to constantly be hopping on the thing and riding it around, and no one has time to think about where the key fob is while it stays roaming a single property.
In an urban runabout context, though, that could prove more of an issue. This was a press loaner bike, and I wasn’t the one who deactivated the need for a key fob to operate the bike. (While I won’t go into the steps needed to do it, it’s crafted in such a way that you pretty much have to do it intentionally—it would be extremely hard to do by accident.)
It’s a feature that could absolutely be useful in the correct context, but could also make your bike extremely easy to walk away with in the wrong hands if it’s active and you don’t know about it. According to the manual, UBCO says that bikes ship from the factory with a requirement for key fob proximity to operate. It’s something to be aware of, and use at your discretion—although the fact that it was apparently accidentally deactivated totally saved me in this case.
The UBCO 2x2 ADV is a good-looking, useful, fun little bike. As long as you respect what it is and what it can do, and you find those things useful in your life, then you should have a perfectly good time with it. You may even find yourself wanting to go out in the rain and bad weather, or eagerly tackle your nearest sketchy road construction on your way to or from somewhere else you’re going.
I found myself strategizing new routes to accomplish regular tasks because of the speed limitations of this bike, and the comparative speed limits of surface roads in my area. While I found it fun to rethink and experience the area differently than I was used to, I also recognize that not everyone may have either the luxury or the desire to do the same. (I mean, I knew I’d be writing about the experience later, which helped—while most people probably just want to go get their loaf of bread and be on their way.)
At the same time, it gave me more confidence to explore off-road than larger bikes would—mainly because I knew that if I got into trouble, I could probably get myself out of trouble pretty easily. I find that kind of security with a trail bike, as well—although trail bikes don’t have AWD.
For the right person, in the right circumstances, this is a solid little bike—as long as you respect what it can do, and when you need to charge it. Also, keep your key fob in your pocket at all times to avoid accidentally stranding yourself.