UBCO vs Talaria Sting: electric farm bike ‘review’.

I made the jump into EV territory with an electric motorbike. I bought an UBCO last year, returned it, and bought a Talaria Sting instead.

I thought I’d do an informal comparative ‘review’ that may be of some assistance to others considering such a purchase – for a variety of reasons. I do need to say up front that the Talaria is probably at a disadvantage in this review because it’s designed to be close to a trail bike, ridden for fun, while I was really wanting something to get me from A to B (and A to B to C to D to A) safely and not necessarily in record time – happy to just potter along. I should also point out that I was last dealing with UBCO in September 2023, and Talaria in October 2023, so their offerings may have changed.

The backstory to how I came to have had two makes of electric bike is a bit of a narrative in itself, which is worth going through, because the process actually involved three UBCO bikes. I ordered the UBCO farm bike first up, noting that it was eligible for conditional road rego for farm use, according to the bike’s information sheet. I wrote to our roads authority to ask whether I’d need to get a motorbike licence to be able to use the conditional rego, and learned a few things:

  • The UBCO Farm Bike would not qualify for conditional farm use rego (here in Tasmania), despite the info sheet saying it would. The info sheet on the website still says it qualifies for conditional farm use rego.
  • It doesn’t qualify because it doesn’t have the ‘accessories’ like mirrors and turn indicators.
  • My two ATVs also don’t have mirrors and turn indicators, but they continue to qualify for restricted farm use rego, because when they were first registered 25-30 years ago, those requirements didn’t exist. They’re effectively under ongoing amnesty.
  • Yes, if I did take a farm motorbike on the road under restricted farm use rego, I would need a motorbike licence (but not for an ATV).

None of this was particularly problematic because road use was just a handy option to have – my farm is divided by a main road and the upper reaches are sometimes more easily accessible by road.

But when the UBCO arrived, the lack of road use option soon became problematic, because the UBCO is rather gutless in terms of hill climbing. More on that later, and suffice to say for the moment that it became clear that I may actually get up the top faster by going the ‘long’ way around on the road.

I emailed the UBCO sales department to ask “what’s the story” with the false advertising about the restricted road rego, and to my pleasant surprise they offered to replace the farm bike with their adventure bike which, I was told, is exactly the same spec as the farm bike except for those road accessories like indicators. The only catch was that I had to take the work bike into the local dealer so they could swap things over from the work bike to the adventure bike they had in store. It was a demo bike but I was happy to have it sooner rather than later.

I did that, left it with them for several days, and then went in to collect the adventure bike. On unloading it at home, I fired it up to find a fault code on the display. At this point I was pretty annoyed because I’d done a nearly two-hour round trip just to pick it up, having left it at the dealer to make sure it was all swapped out and ‘ready to go’. I contacted the sales manager again and he agreed to ship a brand new adventure bike out.

When the new one came, I only had a few days’ use of it before the rear shock absorbers jammed into compressed position. The sales guy offered to come out and replace the shocks personally, but by this time I was feeling pretty burnt by the whole experience (which was compounded by the performance of the bike itself – more later), so I asked for a return and refund, which was processed within a couple weeks. The sales manager came and collected both the UBCOs I had in the shed at that time.

Then I ordered a Talaria Sting.

My primary reasons for getting an electric bike were getting from A to B across the farm (multiple cattle moves daily can mean I need to be able to get a couple of kilometres across the farm and back, regularly), and saving fuel. My thinking was if I had any genuine work to do, like carrying heavy stuff around, I’d use an ATV or pull my finger out and fix another vehicle. So this was primarily going to be transport.

The comparison follows.


UBCO wins hands-down. The Talaria manual, while equally comprehensive, is effectively a work of fiction. For example, the Talaria manual says it takes 4 hours to charge a flat battery, when it’s closer to 3. It says there are 12 settings on the shock absorbers, and it’s more like twice that. It says the crankcase takes 120-150mL (which?!) of oil but I couldn’t get more than 75mL into it even if I ran the bike after I filled it, to try to get any air bubbles out and throw the oil around the crankcase walls. The assembly instructions for joining the control wiring were wrong. In short, pretty much on a par to what experience has taught me to expect from Chinese-translated instructions.

That said, the UBCO manual wasn’t without issues either. One of the default (hidden security) settings it cited didn’t align with the state my brand new bike arrived in, which caused me some confusion.

Design decisions


The UBCO looks like it’s meant to do work. It has a full-length chassis with a multitude of mounting lugs all over it, which means you can bolt stuff to it everywhere. UBCO has accessories like front and rear racks and panniers designed to use these mounts, but you can of course custom build your own gear. I mounted my Kiwitech bike mount to the front rack but only used it once in the time I had it.

There is no factory towing feature. You could MacGyver something up around the mounting lugs, and I spoke to the sales guy about this and he did propose an unofficial (and undocumented) towing limit and suggested if I was going to go down that route, tow from as close to the bottom centre of the chassis as possible – while not recommending it.

The Sting looks just like that – an insect sting. It’s in no way intended to be a farm bike as far as I can tell, just an electric trail bike. Most people who see it say, “so it’s basically an electric mountain bike”, but the torque is far more like a trail bike hitting power band. There is nowhere to mount anything, except perhaps putting a mobile phone mount on the handlebars. I have resorted to keeping a day pack in close proximity to the bike, so that if I know I’m going to need to carry some gear, I put my backpack on. I’m happy with this, but if Talaria were to build an actual for-purpose farm bike, that’d be pretty exciting.

Again, I’ve been thinking about making a tow bracket up and mounting a wishbone contraption from the foot pegs. The bike has the grunt to pull, but zero in-built chassis capacity to do so. Which in reality has meant on occasion (to save having to go back to base and get another vehicle) I’ve towed a 100m hose by putting it over my shoulder while on the Sting, which is quite challenging in terms of balance and control.

Also – not really a ‘chassis’ item but this is the closest fit – the UBCO has hand guards that wrap around the hand grips, which are quite reassuring and also prevent brakes being activated when driving through long grass (which, on a regen farm, can actually be an issue with the Talaria).

Kick stand

This might seem like a weird thing to include, but it’s actually proved to be a big difference for me. I ended up with two kickstands on the UBCO, one either side, because one of the exchanges resulted in an extra one on hand, which I figured I may as well mount, and this was actually quite handy in terms of being able to stop in either direction on a slope. If I was buying an UBCO I’d get a second stand. The UBCO stand is much more practical than the Talaria’s. The UBCO has a broader foot, while the Talaria’s relatively needle-like stand very easily sinks into the ground. I spend far too much time trying to find the perfect spot to get off the Talaria, where it’s on just the right angle to not roll or tip. I expect I’ll end up welding a bigger foot onto it.

Regenerative braking

For anyone not familiar with the concept, regenerative braking harvests energy by effectively switching the electric motor into a dynamo: rather than using electric energy to create movement, it uses movement to create electric energy, which charges the battery.

The UBCO and Talaria implementations of regen breaking is one comparison I’m a bit conflicted about which I prefer.

The first big difference between them is in the underlying assumption of when you would want regen braking to be activated. UBCO assumes you only want it when you’re actually braking (i.e. when the brake lever is being used), while Talaria assumes that if you’ve backed off the throttle, you’re effectively braking.

The second big difference is how the feature settings are implemented: both makers allow you to change the ‘level’ of regen braking to be applied, but UBCO allows that via a phone app, while Talaria has the control on-bike.

The UBCO brake levers are effectively two-stage brakes. If you squeeze them a little, the regen braking kicks in. If you squeeze them more, the actual brakes are engaged. I had the UBCO’s regen braking set to full (i.e. harvesting as much velocity as possible – therefore braking more) and really enjoyed the level of control you get going down a hill. You can pull the one lever just far enough to engage braking on one motor, or both levers to engage both, and enjoy being ‘held back’ by the motor without wearing out brake discs and pads. On the steep sections I’d be pulling harder for the actual brakes as well.

Switching to the Talaria seemed very unintuitive after the UBCO, primarily because the regen braking has nothing do the with the brake levers, physically. To engage the regen braking, you back right off with the throttle, so you’re braking even when you’re not braking.

This would, I think, be a serious design flaw if it weren’t for the fact that the Talaria’s regen brake setting (from 1-4) can be switched with a thumb switch on the bike. On my steepest tracks, I’m maxed out on 4, which holds me back (in dry conditions) to a comfortable 15-20km/hr without having to use the disc brakes at all like I had to with the UBCO. My steepest pastures are too steep for anything to hold you back, except your feet on the ground (even if you use the actual brakes, gravity beats traction and the wheels will just lock up and slide). When I get back to the river flats, I knock the Sting’s regen braking back to 1 or 2. On setting 4, if I’m riding along a flat gravel track and back off the throttle, the rear wheel will lock up and slide – that’s how extreme level 4 is. After a couple of weeks it became second nature to switch the regen brake levels with terrain changes, so it’s not a big deal for me but, on balance, I think UBCO’s implementation, overall, is better, though it would be better again if they could match the kind of regeneration Talaria gives on level 4, so that the disc braking wasn’t required – but then you’d want to be able to switch it on-bike, not on-app (more on that later). So, that’s a lot of caveats, really…

Talaria’s throttle-based brake is also less forgiving than UBCO’s brake lever: when hurtling down a hill, it’s easy to ‘twitch’ the throttle slightly, accidentally deactivating the regen brake. It also requires a significant ‘dethrottling’ to activate the regen brake, which effectively means you sometimes find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having to give the bike a ‘squirt’ downhill before being able to back off suddenly to activate the regen brake.

Another facet of the regen braking which I think is worth mentioning as a bit of a design fail by Talaria, is that regen braking will never be activated if the battery charge is at or above 90%. This is ostensibly to protect the battery from over-charging. The logic here is bizarre, because if the electronics have the capability to prevent regen braking at 90%, the electronics also have the capability to prevent regen braking at 100%… i.e. why not just change that 90% threshold to 100%, or even 99%?!

The practical implication of this arbitrary 90% limit is that you don’t actually know how your bike is going to perform unless you are mindful of this limit and are keeping an eye on the battery level. On the flats, this isn’t such an issue, but if I head up the hill after a full charge, I’ll be coming back down on around 96%, and as a result I’ll have to be on the disc anchors the whole way down. As a result I usually prefer to not fully charge my bike if the cattle are on the hills, which is a bit of a pain, because it means I have to charge it more regularly.

Motor configuration

The UBCO has a hub motor on each wheel, while the Sting has a central motor driving a chain (i.e. the same as a conventional trail bike, except electric rather than petrol).

I think it’s very clever to relocate the motors to the wheels where they need to do the work (and if you’re interested in truly revolutionary ways of exploiting the opportunities this shift offers, check out hubless wheels), and there are arguments for and against. I’ve already had to do my first gear oil change on the Sting – no such maintenance required on a bike with wheel motors. I’m not yet convinced that putting a motor at the very front of a farm bike is the best decision in terms of keeping it safe.

But the genuine design fail on this matter is UBCO’s implementation of 2WD. They have a motor on each wheel, so it is genuinely 2WD, unlike the Sting which has chain drive to the rear wheel only. The thing I could not believe about UBCO’s 2WD is that there is nothing replicating a limited slip diff, or traction control. As an entirely electric and electronic drive, this would’ve been easy to implement, and the technology is not new – traction control has been around for 50 years.

The practical ramification of this design shortcoming is that, on a farm like mine, having 2WD instead of just rear wheel drive, is a massive bummer: going uphill, the front wheel of the UBCO is continually breaking traction, meaning power is being wasted on a wheel that is doing no actual transport work (and you’re wearing out grip on the tyres, and causing continual punctuated strain on the front hub motor, and chewing up your pasture), when that power could’ve been electronically diverted to the rear wheel as required.

Not only is there no automatic traction control, there is no capacity to manually change the power distribution between wheels. This design ‘oversight’ is even more mind-boggling when you consider that the UBCO does allow you to change riding ‘modes’ (effectively ranging from ‘eco’ to ‘power’) and also to change the level of regenerative braking that’s applied at the hub motors. The technology is clearly possible, they just haven’t done it.

This oversight was so striking that I quizzed the sales guy on whether I’d missed a setting somewhere, but he confirmed that there was no option to change the power balance between wheels.

I am yet to encounter a situation where the Talaria’s single, rear-wheel drive only, hasn’t beaten the absolute crap out of the UBCO’s white elephant no-traction-control-2WD.

App control

Seriously, why? What is the obsession with putting settings in apps? No, UBCO, I don’t want to use my phone to turn my headlights on, change my ‘riding style’ (eco vs power), or set my regenerative braking level. Even less do I want this to be the only way I can do it.

Apps should be reserved for stuff like diagnostics, firmware updates, maintenance schedules – things that would result in a bloated interface on the bike (for little day-to-day use) – rather than the stuff you’re likely to play with every day.

The UBCO app installed painlessly, but didn’t pair trouble-free with any of the three bikes I had. I’m an ex-IT consultant so it wasn’t a drama for me, just an annoyance. An app update towards the end of my UBCO experience resulted in the user interface of the app being completely rearranged, so after I’d just got used to where stuff was, they changed it radically with no warning.

It includes usage stats, fault code diagnostics, a ‘technician-only’ area that I didn’t explore (and hoped fruitlessly that this is where the traction control settings lived), riding style, regen braking, headlight settings, and other stuff I’ve since forgotten.

The Talaria Sting has no app, which also suggests no updates, which I’m fine with. There is an ‘eco’ and ‘sport’ mode via thumb switch, and the regen braking level is also set by thumb switch. There are other settings available via these switches, but I can’t even remember off the top of my head what they are, which is an indication of how often they’re used – I suspect for initial setup only.

Screen size

The UBCO display (for the speedo, charge remaining etc) dwarfs the Sting, and that is becoming a problem for me as a 50 year old whose parents both had glasses by 30…

You don’t spend a lot of time looking at the screen, but I am finding I often have to stop moving to be able to see the battery level clearly on the Sting.

The Talaria’s trip meter also (annoyingly) resets to zero after 1000km. I’m calling it a ‘trip meter’ with an optimistic hope that there’s an actual odometer – that doesn’t reset – buried in the settings somewhere.


The UBCO has a nice push-button fob which allows you to remotely activate and deactivate the bike. That’s pretty nifty compared to the Sting which requires you to turn on the key.

The UBCO also has a nice ‘timeout’ which powers the bike down after a short time. The Sting, in contrast, will sit there with the headlight on for hours if you forget to turn the key off.


Rider comfort

Weirdly, the Talaria wins hands-down here, even though it’s far from a smooth ride. Despite the Sting being, effectively, a trail bike, and the UBCO a cruiser, that difference works in the Sting’s favour: the shocks are a better standard. The UBCO has a much more comfy seat (the Sting’s is almost like a board with a slither of a kitchen sponge on top, like they never really expected anyone to sit on it) but, overall, due to UBCO’s appalling shock absorbers, the ride is still much smoother on the Sting. I seriously started to wonder if I was going to induce retinal detachment on the UBCO. I do find myself wishing for a comfier seat on the Sting, if I’ve had a lot of riding time.

As with most trail bikes, the mudguards on the Sting are rather ineffective. I’ve always got a solid line of mud and shite splatters up my back if it’s wet.

This section is probably the best place to note that I now have mixed feelings about the safety of a 2-wheeler vs. a 4-wheeled ATV. I assured my wife when I first went electric that a two-wheeler would be infinitely more safe than an ATV, simply because it’s not going to squash you to death. I was riding motorbikes from the age of 8, so I know the drill. It’s also much easier to take a 2-wheeler across the side of a steep hill than it is an ATV. There are many slopes on this place that I simply wouldn’t attempt on an ATV, but happily tackle on the Sting. But I have already ‘come a cropper’ off the Sting more times than I can remember, while I can count on one hand the number of accidents I’ve had on the ATVs (in around 30 years). Those ATV accidents were also more memorable because they did come closer to killing me (I can still remember thinking “so this is probably how I die” as the weight of an ATV bore down on my temple as it rolled over me and somewhat miraculously lightened due to some other point of balance being reached).

Just tonight, coming home after dusk on the Sting, I hit an unseen branch lying in mud, almost parallel to my direction of travel, meaning the front wheel was forced off track and I toppled off. That wouldn’t happen in an ATV, and at 50 I’m not enjoying these experiences.

So, a healthy respect is certainly still required.

Riding power

The UBCO has a 1kW hub motor on each wheel for a total of 2kW, while the Talaria has a motor giving ‘up to’ 11kW. I have no idea how accurate that stat is, but the performance is certainly ‘chalk and cheese’. To get up the top of my farm on the UBCO, I would allow 10-15 minutes, because I was tacking up hills in places, and where I wasn’t, I was going at a snail’s pace because it was such a rough ride. If I want to scare myself, I can do the same trip in 3-4 minutes on the Talaria. Suffice to say that the hills I was forced to tack up in the UBCO, I am zipping straight up on the Sting, and holding the front wheel down so it doesn’t pop up.

The UBCO has a few riding modes, but none of them climb my hills. It’s likely that the UBCO would, if they simply put the 2kW of power on the rear wheel where it needs to be going up a hill. The Talaria has ‘eco’ and ‘sport’, and for anyone who’s been go-karting on electric go-carts with a short-term ‘boost’ feature, that’s what the Sting’s ‘sport’ mode is like, but permanently… to a point. The Talaria running below 20% battery power starts to get like internet speed after you’ve maxed out your bandwidth allowance… the electronics ‘shape’ your power and the difference between ‘eco’ and ‘sport’ becomes less distinguishable below 20% and virtually non-existent below 10%, until you may as well get off and walk under 3%. I’ve never actually run the battery flat, though, which is an indicator that the behaviour is fairly predictable once it’s familiar.

Battery charge and range

UBCO cites 6 hours for a full charge, as does Talaria. I don’t think I actually timed the UBCO but the power reading never surprised me, so I assume it was pretty accurate. The Talaria actually charges around 30% every hour. In terms of range, I don’t recall a massive difference, but this is likely confounded by the fact that on the UBCO I was driving further per trip up the hill since I was tacking.

My pasture climbs 300m in the space of 1.5km, and that return trip knocks about 10% off a full charge on the Sting. I’m usually heading out to the cattle 4-6 times a day, but I’m very rarely doing that full climb, so I can get a few days off a charge, but more often than not I charge every couple of days, or even daily, to keep the charge in the sweet spot.

Build quality & Service backup

I was actually grossly disappointed with the trouble I had with the UBCO. Finding a fault code on a demo bike that had just been serviced by the local agent, was seriously appalling. UBCO’s response, however, was A1 – they immediately agreed to ship a brand new one.  That brand new one had locked shocks in quick time, and again the response was A1 – they basically indicated they’d just keep fixing anything at their cost. But I didn’t want a bike that needed constant fixing – I’d spent thousands of dollars and had spent more time waiting for a bike I could actually use, than I had spent riding one.

The Talaria simply seems to be more robust. The brakes seem better and the shocks are better and these are pretty important features on a farm bike. However, there’s also some pretty crappy componentry on the Talaria. Within a couple of months the brake line outer sheathing had worn through by rubbing on the bracket that held it. I popped it out of the bracket and duct-taped it up. If these do wear through that’s significant, as they’re hydraulic lines. Similarly, the battery cable has worn through its outer layer of insulation, presumably rubbing on the very tight battery/housing assembly.

There is no local Talaria agent. I got mine from an importer in NSW. Every enquiry I have made of them has been answered, though I’m yet to ‘test’ them with an issue as significant as the locked shocks or fault code of the UBCO. This lack of local support is obviously a risk.

On the other hand, Talaria enjoys more of a ‘home modification’ community and after-market part selection – there are lots of YouTube videos and Reddit threads on tweaking your ride.

In short, neither of these situations strike me as ideal. I’m nervous about the longevity and support I’ll get from the Chinese-built, imported Talaria. I had complete confidence that UBCO would stand by their product, but as far as I’m concerned it was never fit for purpose even when working perfectly, despite being expressly designed as a farm bike.

In summary

Many of the Talaria’s “failings” aren’t inherent failings, they’re just a function of a fun trail bike being used for farm work (the lack of mounting points/racks and the needle-like kick-stand are perfect examples). Overall build quality and support is, I feel, a bit of a gamble.

UBCO’s biggest failing is one of its most appealing design features, on the surface – the 2WD. Combined with its woeful shock absorbers, you’re left with a brilliant full-length chassis that promises so much, but is actually close to unrideable at anything other than a crawl, requiring flat and even ground.

I simply don’t understand why UBCO would not just implement better shocks and the ability to divert power to the rear wheel (or simply put a 2kW motor on the back and leave it off the front). However, even if they did do that, you’d still want to take it for a test drive if you’ve got hilly country.

I really wanted to love the UBCO. I have workwear and fencing gear made in New Zealand and they are exceptional. UBCO looked like it would be, but it wasn’t, which was so disappointing given the amount of time they’ve had to mature the product.

Don’t get me wrong, though – UBCO could be absolutely perfect on your farm and do everything you need it to do. For me though, knowing that I can get from A-B effortlessly and with my eyeballs in my sockets, has – so far – been worth the unwanted gamble with unknown build quality and support.