Bikes > Cycle

Breeze through traffic and heat with the Nakto Breeze

A practical electric bicycle for urban commuting

You don't need to be flexible to get on and off the bike. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

If you value your time, wellness, and finances, active mobility is the way to go for personal urban commutes. But what if you’re not fit enough to be biking, or you don’t want to get all tired and sweaty? Well, that’s where pedal-assist bikes come in. The Nakto Breeze is an electric bicycle that costs P59,000, and it’s a no-frills commuter ride that makes transport cycling, er, a breeze.

At first glance, the Breeze looks like a mamachari (a common bike in Japan) with its step-through frame, which makes mounting and dismounting easy. It rolls on a pair of 26-inch by 2.1-inch tires. Combine that with a suspension fork and you get a plush ride for the rough roads of Metro Manila.

The Nakto Breeze is loaded with useful accessories. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Pedal assistance comes in the form of a 500W rear-hub motor, which is activated via a cadence sensor. Turn the crank and the motor starts running, so you won’t have to break a sweat. The five levels of pedal assist dictate the motor speed. Meanwhile, hydraulic disc brakes bring the vehicle to a stop.

A throttle is also present for short bursts of acceleration, such as when taking off at intersections. Energy is supplied by a 48V, 10Ah battery located behind the seat post.

The maximum range is said to go as far as 60km, but that will depend on conditions such as speed, weight, and incline. That’s more than enough for me since my commutes rarely exceed 10km (one-way).

Still, range anxiety isn’t a problem. The battery is removable and can be plugged into an ordinary wall socket. Should it run out of juice, the electric bicycle can always be pedaled like a regular one. And if somehow one battery isn’t enough, you can bring a spare on long rides.

The six-speed Shimano drivetrain lets you adjust your cadence. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Beginners will appreciate the handling of the Nakto Breeze. The slack front end plus the weight from the suspension fork and the rack result in sluggish steering. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it means the bike remains stable even when going downhill or rolling over bumps and potholes.

The electric assistance isn’t instantaneous with the cadence sensor. However, once you learn how to use the throttle in conjunction with the pedal assist, you’ll gain more confidence riding this electric bicycle.

You won’t be faster than the cars around you, but that won’t matter the moment you catch up at the red light. Bike-commuting isn’t a competition so there’s no need to ride hard as if you were in a race.

Just because the Breeze has a top speed of up to 35km/h doesn’t mean it’s wise to be traveling that fast all the time. In residential streets or stop-and-go traffic, you’re better off moving slowly and smoothly to minimize the need for hard and abrupt braking.

Pedaling the fully loaded e-bike was no problem with the powerful motor. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

If there’s one thing holding back the Nakto Breeze, it’s the weight. You won’t have a good time carrying the heavy e-bike up and down the stairs. Lifting it is awkward, too. There is a carrying handle in the middle of the frame.

But the weight is centered toward the rear, so you’re better off carrying it with one hand on the seat post or the rear rack. If you can leave it in the garage or somewhere ground level, then living with this e-bike will be much easier.

Upgrades are tempting when purchasing a brand-new bicycle. However, that isn’t the case with Naktos. The Breeze comes with most accessories needed for commuting: racks, fenders, a kickstand, and an integrated front light.

There’s no mounting point for a bottle cage, so a stem bag or pouch is needed to hold a water bottle. The included front basket is convenient, but the hook for the cover isn’t secure when the road gets bumpy. For grocery-shopping and cargo-hauling, a pair of panniers will be useful.

Walking is faster than sitting still in traffic. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

All of the Breeze’s features came into play during a 7km bike ride from Ayala Avenue (Makati) to Kapitolyo (Pasig). I had just arrived from an overnight trip with food (or pasalubong) in addition to my clothes and photography gear.

Loading all of these onto the e-bike wasn’t a problem, thanks to the racks and the basket. Despite the weight of all the cargo, the ride felt stable and the hydraulic brakes instilled confidence when stopping.

I left around 4pm so traffic was bad, especially on McKinley Road where the gutter was more like a single-track trail. The gnarly terrain wasn’t an issue, though, with the thick tires and the suspension fork. Since the handlebars aren’t too wide (compared to my mountain bike), the bike was still maneuverable in tight spaces.

And when I wasn’t confident with my balance, the step-through frame allowed me to easily dismount and walk. Once I was faced with the inclines in Kapitolyo, the powerful motor made climbing a breeze. After only 36 minutes, I arrived home safe and sound, free from the stress of rush-hour traffic.

According to Nakto, a full charge can take as long as six hours. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Within the lineup of Nakto, the Breeze sits in between the Flex and the Ranger. The former is an electric folding bike that’s better for bimodal trips, such as when riding public transport or a car. The latter is an electric mountain bike for those who enjoy trail-riding.

The Breeze lacks the portability of the Flex, but it offers better ride quality with its bigger wheels—without being as cumbersome and bulky as the Ranger. This makes it highly versatile as shown by its diverse users including working moms and food-delivery riders.

Electric bicycles make cycling more accessible. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Traffic has never been worse, and temperatures have never been hotter. That’s why pedal-assist bikes make sense now more than ever. You spend less time on the road. And because you get to enjoy fresh open air, there’s no need for air-conditioning. Just make sure to dress comfortably and drink lots of water.

The Nakto Breeze is a solid commuter ride for those who want to enjoy the benefits of cycling—without the exhaustion. Although none of the parts are drool-worthy, they get the job done in a reasonable package. It may be pricey, but you will get the return on investment with all the time, money, and energy you save the more you use it in your day-to-day life.

This is distributed by Exion Cycles, and if you’re interested in getting one, you can check out this site.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.