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C.B.T. Italia UB77 review - An e-bike lightweight

Carbon and electricity. A lightweight carbon frame, a well-hidden e-motor and smart software that adjusts the power according to your pulse rate. Will the UB77 from C.B.T. Italia put a smile on your face or dampen your spirits?
C.B.T. Italia cleverly installs the 378 Wh battery on the down tube. It adapts to the shape, but is not invisible.
C.B.T. Italia cleverly installs the 378 Wh battery on the down tube. It adapts to the shape, but is not invisible.

E-bikes may be heavy, but they have a motor. This is not so simple in the case of the UB77, as C.B.T Italia wants to show. Behind the somewhat cryptic name is a bike manufacturer from Italy that specialises in racing bikes - and in sport e-bikes. The UB77 is supposed to be an everyday sport bike, particularly for commuters who want to get to work without a sweat. The included fitness tracker is primarily intended to take care of this, because the measured heart-rate determines the support from the motor. Find out here how the UB77 performs in everyday life and on vacation. 

Equipment and appearance - Fine carbon racing bike with high handlebars

The highlight of the fitness and urban bike is the frame. If you leave out the handlebars, which ensure a comfortable seating position and can be adjusted in height via the stem, you have a slim racing bike standing before you. A few stickers that change colour depending on the light set the tone. The frame itself is painted black, but the use of clear lacquer at a number of points accentuates the carbon structure. The scales make clear that this is not just for show: with Shimano PDS clipless pedals (not included), we recorded an overall weight of 14.3 kilograms, including the motor, battery and all the trimmings.

The battery itself encloses the down tube in a U-shape and only weighs 2.24 kilos. The cells come partly from Samsung, partly from Panasonic, while the system and battery management were developed by C.B.T. Italia. Even if the battery nestles against the frame quite well, the different colour and unpainted stickers still make it appear out of place. Its capacity is stated at 378 Wh. 

Equipment
Gears Shimano Alfine 1x9
Brakes Shimano Sora Disc 180 mm
Battery 378 Wh
Motor output 250 W
Max. torque 25 Nm
Battery weight 2.24 Kg
Total weight (with pedals) 14.3 Kg

Shimano components

The UB77 comes with solid Shimano equipment, the gearshift and braking components are a mix of the Sora and Alfine groups. The gearshifts are nice and crisp, the brakes have bite without causing shock moments. We only wish that there were mounting points for everyday mudguards, but at least there is a suitable luggage rack in the C.B.T. range of accessories. The bike also offers the option of mounting two bottle holders on the frame (i.e. on the battery). Wires and cables are housed inside the frame, all connections between motor and battery are IP65 certified.

The paint has a fine texture in some places. C.B.T. Italia manufactures the carbon frames itself.
The paint has a fine texture in some places. C.B.T. Italia manufactures the carbon frames itself.
The battery contains cells from Samsung or Panasonic and weighs only 2.24 kilograms.
The battery contains cells from Samsung or Panasonic and weighs only 2.24 kilograms.
Brake and gearshift components come from Shimano and are solid in everyday use.
Brake and gearshift components come from Shimano and are solid in everyday use.

Smart features - C.B.T. supplies a fitness tracker

The included fitness tracker is disappointing. Operation, display and translation also fall short.
The included fitness tracker is disappointing. Operation, display and translation also fall short.

Here the UB77 falters. A special feature of the bike is the coupling with a fitness tracker, which is also included in delivery. In theory, the concept sounds nice and simple: you set a heart rate that you don't want to exceed and the bike/motor adjusts the support accordingly - not just at the start, but throughout the entire ride.

The result is mixed: during a leisurely tour through the city and at a very low chosen pulse threshold, the UB77 makes for a comfortable ride and the rider reaches the destination without a sweat. Test ride 2 - with sporty aspirations - started with a hefty climb to the top of a pass, and the pulse threshold was set high. Here it becomes noticeable that the bike's gear ratio is only comfortable as long as the motor works - which is not always the case. By the time support kicks in, the rider is already exhausted. So you take out your smartphone, reset the threshold, agonise until the next bend, nothing happens, smartphone comes out again (and the pulse meanwhile drops). After a few attempts, the procedure was discontinued and the levels manually selected, which always worked perfectly. For use in the city, such as commuting, the function works as it should. However, for sport riding, the automatic pulse mode was cancelled after a short time and switched to manual. Annoying is the fact that when automatic pulse mode is activated, it cannot be adjusted by the rider via the buttons. In general, the software could use some fine-tuning.

The app is currently only available for Android smartphones and only in Italian. C.B.T. Italia has promised an update for May, when the software will also be available for iOS and in English, French, Spanish and German. Thanks to the enclosed instructions and an explanatory video on the website, pairing also works with the Italian language setting. Once the smartphone is paired with the bike, it serves as an extension for the display. Various values can be shown in three display areas - as shown in the "C.B.T. Italia app" picture - such as motor support (in percent), speed and heart rate. 

In the mountains, the UB77 is a lot of fun, but the automatic pulse mode reached its limits here.
In the mountains, the UB77 is a lot of fun, but the automatic pulse mode reached its limits here.

Fitness tracker included

The second problem is the fitness tracker itself, which is several notches below the bike in terms of quality. The main points of criticism are the display and the operation. While the tracker is still readable indoors, this is almost impossible outdoors - where it comes into use. You can scroll through the menu functions item by item in one direction simply by pressing a touch-sensitive spot. A long-held press takes you to a submenu or confirms a selection, which is tedious and doesn't feel futuristic at all. In addition to heart rate, the tracker also aims to measure blood pressure and sleep quality, but the values determined showed large deviations compared to other test devices. Moreover, the translation of the software, at least in German, is poor. A real pity that changing the pulse values and various other settings of the e-bike is only possible with the included fitness tracker. The option of using your own smartwatch, which many people wear in everyday life anyway, would have been real added value here. 

The display of the bike is fixed to the handlebar with two screws and cannot be removed without tools. It is operated via a unit on the handlebars and displays the current speed, the battery status (with five bars), the time, the chosen support level and support power in watts. You click through top speed, total mileage, trip mileage and travel time with the control unit. Two bars also show the current speed and the asistance provided by the motor. The display also has two levels of brightness that can be selected automatically and adjusted manually. If you are out and about in full sunshine, however,  the higher setting is not bright enough to read all the information.

On the other hand, the USB output on the display is practical; it can be used as a charging port for a smartphone on the handlebar. The bike battery must always be removed for charging - charging in the installed state is not possible. A fairly small three-pin Phoenix connector is used here.

The C.B.T. Italia app is currently only available for Android and only in Italian, both of which are set to change in May 2022.
The C.B.T. Italia app is currently only available for Android and only in Italian, both of which are set to change in May 2022.
The battery has to be removed for charging, the Phoenix connector is quite delicate.
The battery has to be removed for charging, the Phoenix connector is quite delicate.
The display has two brightness levels. Under bright sunlight, however, it reflects strongly and is not bright enough.
The display has two brightness levels. Under bright sunlight, however, it reflects strongly and is not bright enough.
The tracker is set up via the Runmifit app, where the data is collected. A link with Google Fit is not possible.
The tracker is set up via the Runmifit app, where the data is collected. A link with Google Fit is not possible.
The data of a cycling tour is very sparse, the route is not recorded.
The data of a cycling tour is very sparse, the route is not recorded.
The tracker can also display messages and remind you to drink a glass of water.
The tracker can also display messages and remind you to drink a glass of water.

Ride impression - The UB77 comes off as a conventional bike

The UB77 rides quite differently from most e-bikes on the market, mainly because of its weight. Big bump on the path? Jump over it! Turn around? Just move the rear wheel with your foot on the pedal. Stairs? Carry the bike swiftly up the stairs on your shoulder. The test bike functions more like an conventional road bike than a standard e-bike. The rear-wheel motor is also wonderfully quiet, so that no permanent buzzing disturbs the ears. The Italians have also succeeded in ensuring a smooth transition between levels of assistance provided by the motor all the way up the maximum speed of 25 km/h. The motor does not repeatedly cut in and out, nor are there any sudden skips in pedalling: the transition often goes completely unnoticed. This is great fun and means that the tester was not obsessively concerned about not reaching the threshold, but could simply concentrate on pedalling or cycling.

The late start of the motor takes some getting used to. It takes almost a full turn of the crank under full exertion for assistance to kick in. A quick spurt to get going or climbing a steep section is not enough; the system depends on uniformity. In return, it rewards with an equally uniform power output. Only in tight bends or on crests does it become noticeable that there is some system delay. On hairpin bends, for example, the wheel continues to push for about a second, even though pedalling has already stopped. After a few bends, however, you get used to it.

The UB77 conveys a lot of safety

The ride itself is extremely stable and conveys a lot of safety. This means that fast descents are no problem at all. The UB77 rides like a good racing bike with a well trained rider, even after a winter without training sessions. The gear ratio of the 9-speed gearshift is also sufficient for steep climbs with activated assistance. On even or downhill paths, the gear ratio is sufficient to avoid making the pedalling too easy of a job, even at 40 km/h. The mounted Zaffiro Pro IV tyres offer a surprising amount of grip, even on wet roads or on residual snow. Unfortunately, the frame is very narrow at the rear wheel and thus severely restricts tyre width. This is because the bike's strong handling would also tempt you to take a detour onto a forest path. However, standard cyclocross tyres do not fit in the frame.

The range of the UB77 is convincing. On a 50-kilometre ride, the battery indicator only fell two out of five bars two kilometres before the finish. However, the battery indicator on the display differs from that in the smartphone app. In addition, the display was erratic in the test: the bars sometimes disappeared only to come back a short time later and last for several kilometres at a time, which does not necessarily inspire confidence.

The UB77 was not spared in the test. The mounted Zaffiro tyres convinced with surprising grip reserves, even on snow residue.
The UB77 was not spared in the test. The mounted Zaffiro tyres convinced with surprising grip reserves, even on snow residue.
Thanks to electric support, mountain stages pose little issue. The heart rate monitor is better left off, however, and the controls set to manual.
Thanks to electric support, mountain stages pose little issue. The heart rate monitor is better left off, however, and the controls set to manual.
Unfortunately, the frame offers little room for wider tyres. We imagine that the UB77 could work very well as a cyclocross bike.
Unfortunately, the frame offers little room for wider tyres. We imagine that the UB77 could work very well as a cyclocross bike.

Verdict - Superb everyday bike with software potential

Review: UB77 from C.B.T. Italia. Test bike provided by C.B.T. Italia.
Review: UB77 from C.B.T. Italia. Test bike provided by C.B.T. Italia.

The UB77 aims to be a mixture of fitness and urban bike, and it succeeds. The e-motor makes commuting easier and ensures sweat-free rides. The low weight takes the anxiety out of narrow spaces and stairs. At the same time, the bike is fun to ride in your free time. Long distances do not pose a problem, nor do fast sprints. Here, the smooth assistance provided by the motor ensures a lot of fun and, at higher speeds, you simply forget that there is even a motor.

The bike absorbs peak loads, especially on climbs, and thus ensures nice, relaxing rides. Thanks to the long battery range, the ride back is also stress free.

With the current fitness tracker, however, C.B.T. Italia is squandering potential. The idea is good, but its implementation falls short. The app can certainly be improved, but the tracker also has problems on the hardware side. Moreover, no software updates are planned for the bike.

Price and Availability

C.B.T Italia is asking 4,535 Euros for the UB77. Dealers are currently only available in Italy, but shipping is possible via the online shop.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > C.B.T. Italia UB77 review - An e-bike lightweight
Benedikt Winkel, 2022-04-30 (Update: 2022-04-30)