JackRabbit's XG e-bike adds more range, power, fun and expense

The 'mini electric motorbike' is a fun way to crush the commute.

Photo by James Trew / Engadget

In a world of generic electric bikes, the JackRabbit is hard to ignore. The micro, pedal-free ride blends the convenience of a scooter with the sitdown comfort of a bicycle. We loved the original, but there was plenty of room for improvement. That room has been dramatically reduced with the unveiling of the JackRabbit XG — a newer, more powerful and slightly (just slightly) bigger version available starting today.

The XG initially looks very similar to the “OG” (as it has since been dubbed) that came before it. What you will notice is that it sports a more conventional diamond-style frame. There are also two batteries this time around for up to 20 miles of range (double the original). As mentioned earlier, the wheelbase is a shade longer, but only by an inch or two. The result is a more refined bike with not only more range but, thanks to a new 500W motor, more power for going up hills with the same 20 mph max speed.

The quality-of-life enhancements also extend beyond extra power and range. The JackRabbit XG comes with an actual bike computer so you can see real time speed, trip length and a more refined battery life gauge. Before, the only feedback you had for anything were three LEDs to indicate remaining power. Additionally, there are new all-metal footpegs, which is great as the original used rubber “shoes” on its pegs and they easily fell off — I lost both within two short rides.

The addition of the extra battery, combined with that new motor are what really makes the JackRabbit XG feel like an improvement on the original. I stated in my review that the battery life was perhaps on the shorter side and if you ever ran out of juice, like I once did, it wasn’t a very fun time getting back home on, effectively, an adult balance bike. Thankfully, with double the amount of cells, the XG now reaches up to, and maybe even beyond 20 miles of normal usage putting it well on par with what you’d expect from a scooter. (There are no pedals here, so that range is motor-only.)

A close up of the Jackrabbit e-bike's handlebar-mounted ride computer.
A close up of the Jackrabbit e-bike's handlebar-mounted ride computer. (Photo by James Trew / Engadget)

One of the first things you noticed when you rode the original was the higher center of gravity which gave the JackRabbit a “lively” riding experience. Thankfully, the XG feels a lot more stable and doesn’t seem to feature any of the twitchy physics at higher speeds. And thanks to the three power modes, you have more control over the maximum speed (and thus range and ride feel) of the bike.

Naturally, that extra battery and longer frame add a bit of heft. The OG model weighed in at 24 pounds, while the XG adds another eight to that. You can still easily lift the bike with one hand though, and a dash up the subway stairs with it is still perfectly manageable. By keeping with the same battery as the OG, upgraders might even have some spares ready, but also the double battery bay means you can ride on just one cell if needed, or if you just fancy a lighter ride with less range. Thankfully, the batteries no longer require a key to unlock them for swapping out, with new permanent clips on the underside of the XG instead, which is much easier and saves having to carry another, easily losable, key.

Some smaller details show how the JackRabbit is maturing. For example, the bike now comes with powered front and back lights which connect to a new power port on the side. There’s also a front brake now to augment the rear one so you won’t have to pull a rad slide in certain strong braking situations. That said, there are a couple of other listed features that are perhaps more creative on the marketing side than practical for the user. For one there’s a “walk mode” — which typically has the bike roll itself along slowly as you stroll. But here that mode is achieved not by holding down a button to engage the throttle slightly, instead you loosen the handlebars, rotate them 90 degrees (so that the bike is “thin”) and Jackrabbit’s “walk mode” is “activated.” That said, the same process does easily allow for tidy storage of the bike.

A close up of the rear fat-tire of the Jackrabbit e-bike.
A close up of the rear fat-tire of the Jackrabbit e-bike. (Photo by James Trew / Engadget)

It’s in the riding that the XG comes to life. The OG model would pull away when you pressed the accelerator, but the new model requires you to push off first, much like on a scooter. It’s a minor change, but one that does stop the bike pulling away from you if you accidentally activate the throttle. In “high” mode, you don’t need to push off to start moving, so if that’s what you prefer you can keep it in that setting. Having the three power modes is a welcome way of moderating battery usage without having to be as judicious with the accelerator. I won’t lie though, “high” is the most fun and that’s where I find myself keeping it now that it sports the extra range.

The OG model had a few rough edges, but was a fun alternative to scooters or small e-bikes. The XG feels much more refined and practical with all the major pain points addressed with very little tradeoff — though it’s a shade larger and heavier making it just that much less convenient than a foldable scooter. With all these changes though comes a much higher price tag. The original was $1,200 when we wrote about it but has since dropped back to $1,000. The XG will cost $1,750 at launch.

That’s a decent step up, but it bests its younger sibling in every conceivable way. That also puts it up in the same price range as many regular e-bikes. If you’re considering the XG purely as an alternative to a scooter then it’s clearly a pricier option. If, however, you want the flexibility of a bike that can perk up your daily commute and go on adventures that scooters can’t, the JackRabbit XG suddenly seems much more attractive.