Let me start by voicing the thoughts of all when it comes to ebikes – Range Anxiety – it’s definitely a thing. Nothing makes your heart sink more than when you see that red dot come on for the first time. That said, I’ve done many long runs and never run out of the magical spark juice yet!
So how is the bike fairing after what has been a fairly hefty three months of ownership?
Well the first thing that I noticed is that the “built to a price” thing is very obvious. The places where the compromises have been made are really showing and I’ve had to make good a few things.
The biggest problem I’ve had is the handlebar hinge. The pin has a habit of working it’s way out if there is any play in the main stem all at. I keep an eye on it, check it every few rides, and tap it back in with a hammer and screwdriver if it does it.
The range is quite variable – especially on the colder days – it’s often wheezing down on one bar after just 10 miles as the batteries just don’t like the cold (actually, no batteries do!) but as I said I haven’t run out yet!
The battery gauge is a best guess effort. I’d say guidance only. I usually lose the first bar after about a mile of riding and then most of the rest of the journey is spent flicking between 1, 2 and 3 bars depending on how much the motor is loaded up. A serious hill will take it all the way from 4 to 1 but after you level out the meter returns to 3. Running the bike with my multimeter connected to the charge socket made me realise the 4 bar meter is simply showing voltage from the battery and so it’ll never be a good way of indicating battery level.
I’d say you’re good for 10 miles in winter before anxiety starts to kick in, but honestly, if you do run out – it’s not an electric car – you don’t just stop! Just keep pedalling and use muscle power, although bear in mind it is a heavy beastie!
The Shimano Derailleur has had a few tweaks, and because of how low it sits a couple of knocks too. The low hanging chain tends to go through a lot and it ends up grease free and brown in very little time at all. I use a cheap chain cleaner and then lube it up with Muc Off every couple of weeks.
The brakes are noisy. A few people have commented that, and with very little adjustment available it’s often a case that if mud gets into them they make scraping noises until it clears. They also squeal from time to time, but I rather like that as it’s less forceful than a bell at saying “I’m behind you, can I pass please”?
The little rubber flaps on both mudguards tore off after just a few weeks. Very poor.
The tyres have fared better than I thought they would for no-name Chinese cheap tyres. They cope fairly well with even some quite intense mud and I’ve even ridden in snow and ice.
I would suggest if the road surface loses purchase though that you turn the assist down to medium or low – the high setting can become a bit wild if grip is lost.
The weight of the bike is a bad point which I can’t get away from. It’s almost 20kg and by God do you feel it when you have to carry the bike for a while. It also doesn’t help that the bike doesn’t really like to stay folded when carried. I find that dropping the bars and saddle and carrying it with the frame extended is easier as it’s less likely to enter attack mode.
Having said that, it passes Sheffield Supertram’s folding bike rules – regular cycles aren’t allowed on the network. Foldies are provided they are small.
The front light, whilst acceptable, isn’t great – I’ve had to ride at night using it and the beam is a very intense for with very little spread. Also it’s noticeably crooked and I’ve never been able to get this straightened due to the bracket being out of shape. There isn’t a rear light – I’m not sure why!
Riding is seriously comfy – I’ve done 10 miles with no issues, and the suspension really absorbs all the bumps and jolts, although I’d recommend you don’t go over seriously rough terrain as it’s quite unsettling.
Assisted it’s good for around 12-16mph on most ground, and it slows down a little up hill, but not as much as I’d have thought. The little geared motor generates enough torque to cope with some seriously gradients and with a lower gear human assist I don’t think you’ll be to concerned about even some of Sheffield or Rotherham’s steeper hills. I’ve made it up the likes of Upperthorpe and Fargate with no issues, and even High Street didn’t really faze the little beast.
It’s a cute if oddly angular little thing, it definitely turns heads and draws attention – and for around £500 it’s still an absolute hoot to ride. Very manoeuvrable, very agile, and with swift response and a mighty power delivery. Just be aware that it’s definitely intended as a commuter bike and not for long distance. If your commute is up to about ten miles I don’t think you’ll have an issue.
Just be aware that compromises were made to bring it down to that price, but they can all be worked around.