Lots of flexibility in a really small package! With the IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+, Kalkhoff aim to squeeze out maximum functionality out of a small ebike. Super compact dimensions, a high maximum permissible weight of 170 kg, and a chic design are its other characteristic features. Is this city ebike speedster a tiny strongman or has it bitten off more than it can chew?
Flexibility is king! This doesn’t only apply to jobs today but even more so to urban transport. To fulfil all the tasks that life throws at you, you need to constantly adapt and be resilient. The Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ promises to be your compact yet flexible go-to for everyday mobility. With the MIK luggage carrier system, a high maximum permissible weight, and a few other clever features, it aims at being a small but dynamic all-rounder. But can a minimalistic ebike really be flexible, and chic while being functional and also fun to ride?
Minimal ebike = a lot of flexibility? What makes the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ special?
The Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ does not immediately reveal all of its clever features, some of them are even quite well hidden. Despite having just 20″ wheels, the small ebike is permitted to carry a total weight of up to 170 kg. This means, for example, that a person weighing 75 kg can still carry a load of just over 90 kg.
Up to 27 kg of load can be transported on the MIK luggage carrier. The rack system features a variety of compatible baskets, bags and containers mounted with a click system – even child seats are available. The rest of the potential ballast can be distributed among the many different mounting options thanks to multiple bosses located on the fork, the down tube, and the crossbar extending from the seat tube to the head tube. This connecting tube also serves as a handle to carry the bike.
At first glance, the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ doesn’t reveal how much it can handle. The design looks chic and urban, and is equipped with practical features, although some of them are rather hidden. For example, the carrying handle above the bottom bracket is not recognisable as such at first glance. The neatly finished aluminium frame is that of a premium compact bike. The two colour options, silver-grey and a bright yellow, are both excellent choices for the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+. All add-on parts such as the front and rear racks as well as the Bosch Performance Line mid-motor fit in perfectly with the overall appearance. Not quite so seamlessly integrated are the removable Bosch PowerPack battery, and the HERRMANS H-Black MR4 headlight. The light is positioned under the front rack, and its beam gets obstructed when the rack is loaded.
With 545 Wh capacity, the battery of the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ is absolutely sufficient for a compact city bike. The 75 Nm motor output is significantly more than would be necessary to power the ebike, weighing 22.4 kg, which leaves some reserves for heavy loads. The hydraulic Shimano MT200 disc brakes however seem a little undersized, even though they aren’t exactly small at 180 mm. We’d opt for a larger disc. The power transmission uses the GATES belt drive, and the Shimano NEXUS drivetrain offers a choice of 5 gears that you can change with a rotary shifter.
Small pack mule with big impact – What is the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ capable of?
Who would have thought that such a small pack mule would be so much fun to ride! Although there are no suspension elements on the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+, the comfort level is absolutely fine, especially considering the small wheels. The seating position is pretty relaxed – the wide backward curved handlebar creates a genuine Easy Rider feel. The handlebar height is easily adjustable via a quick release, but to change the saddle height, you’ll need an Allen key. The small ebike offers great riding pleasure thanks to the direct, easily controllable handling, and the swift acceleration of the Bosch motor. The low step-through provides an easy hop-on/hop-off feeling that is not impaired by the crossbar, which doubles as a carrying handle, and allows the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ to be carried comfortably over thresholds, and even up and down the stairs.
Really practical for everyday use are the eye bolts, which allow accessories such as a bike lock or panniers to be easily attached. They also facilitate weight distribution, which plays a central role in the riding safety of the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+. For example, if you put too much on the rear carrier, the bike tends to become rear-heavy, which can result in the front wheel lifting off on climbs.
The Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ is not made for extremely hilly terrain, given it has only 5 gears with a gear range of 263%. The GATES belt drive reliably transmits the rider’s input and is very practical due to its maintenance-free design.
Who is the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ for?
Busy city dwellers looking for an extremely compact and versatile ebike will be quite happy with the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+. The small ebike is great for bikers of all body sizes who want to transport things between places. On trips with a motorhome or camper van, the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ is the ideal companion to run errands or explore the surroundings. However, if you live in the foothills of the Alps and fetch your milk from the farm on unpaved roads and steep uphills, you might be better off opting for a different ebike.
Our conclusion about the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+
The Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ is not exactly a bargain at € 3,899 but is definitely worth the price. Its cool design and high maximum permissible weight make this small pack mule an excellent compact bike with integrated tailwind. It is the ideal two-wheeled partner with many possible uses. For such a small ebike, the Kalkhoff IMAGE C.B ADVANCE+ aimed high – and delivered!
- very high maximum permissible weight
- comfortable and intuitive riding feel
- many mounting options for luggage and accessories
- the centre of gravity shifts quickly to the rear on climbs
Tuning tip: Quick release on seat post for an easy adjustment of the saddle height
Words: Martin Staffa Photos: Peter Walker