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Folding Electric Bike

Folding Electric Bike
Folding Electric Bike

SWAGCYCLE EB5 Plus Folding Electric Bike

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Just a quick update — Folding Electric Bike sat for most of the winter and seemed to hold a charge despite not being used. Took it for a spin today. I’m still pleased with it after roughly 6 months of ownership.

To start off, I’m a moderate “department store” cyclist who has commuted in some zany ways over the years, including by traditional skateboard. I’ve been toying with the idea of purchasing an ebike for years but never took the plunge. I’ve also had goofy and cheap no-name folding bikes in the past that I more or less got my money out of. Based on my first weeks of owning an EB5, I’d say the EB5 is a fun and sturdy product that automakers might end up scared of.

I’m 6’1 and probably at the top end (but not the max) of this bike’s capacity — but more because I prefer an upright bike. The seat pole seems plenty long with room to go but I generally don’t like being bent over towards the handlebars, which is how I end up on this bike — not ridiculously hunched, but not feeling like on an upright bike. I wish the handle bar stem was a tad longer, but it is not terrible as-is.

I compare riding the EB5 favorably to using a rental e-scooter. About the same speed (15mph tops) when using the throttle (pedal assist actually seems to slow the bike down compared to the throttle) and a similar sensation and stress on shoulders for taller folks. Additionally, the bike handles bumps better than a rental scooter, I think, and there’s capacity to add a handlebar basket and/or a rear rack and there are holes drilled in the frame (a single horizontal bolt) to add a cheap fender if needed. I like using the rental electric scooters, but I’m thinking the EB5 is a better purchase (I considered buying a similarly priced commuter scooter or a sit-down scooter with no pedals).

The bike itself seems very sturdy and easy to fold compared with the cheapo folding bikes I’ve had in the past. I won’t say it crushes down like origami but it should fit into a car trunk without any problem. I purchased a bag via Amazon for $30 (that is a little oversized) to make transporting it easier, and the bike is light enough (not feather light — about 30lb?) that I can wear it packed in a bag like a shoulder bag if I had to. A bag isn’t a terrible idea as the bike does not click together when folded and could potentially wing out when transporting it (but it doesn’t seem apt to do this as it does fold pretty tight).

Others have commented about the bike gearing. I tend to use the pedal assist only on inclines or when I want to try to catch up with another cyclist and the throttle alone isn’t strong enough. A great feature, I think, is being able to turn off all assistance at a press of a button and pedal the bike normally — I have confidence in the bike as a bike with the power off, navigating more challenging terrain and downhills or if I would ever go beyond the battery range. However, the torque is very strong on flat ground using pedal assist–I found myself unexpectedly popping wheelies using it in a few cases from a dead stop (I’m pretty lean), and the best I could manage was a three pedal then coast cadence that just felt weird, and especially compared with the smoothness of the throttle, which is a little addictive. I don’t have experience with pedal assist on other bikes, but I could see how this bike could be a very strong hill climber given the wheel size, gearing and e-boost.

I don’t get some of the comments / the one repeated comment about the bike being “difficult” to pedal. There’s not much if any noticeable resistance with the power off (and it’s easy to switch the power on and off) and the handbook doesn’t suggest that you shouldn’t ride with the power off, so . . . if you’re worried about range, it does seem like you could ride this like a bike if you would ever lose power or just want to get some exercise. The handbook suggests a potential range of 30 miles (my guess, an exaggeration). As said, I mix riding the bike with the power off (through some stops or more congested or challenging areas) and on with the press of a button.

In my case, the bike drops only one of five bars after 9 miles of mainly riding full throttle on flat terrain. It does seem to lose a little steam/speed after prolonged use, but not terrible. The small wheel size does make riding the bike without power feel weird, but it’s been a number of years since I’ve been on a bike with such small tires and it’s just part of the experience of riding small wheel bikes. The brakes feel fine to me (I like that they are not electric or disc), the wheels seem to spin true, and I did add some air to the tires before I rode — taking them up to roughly 30 psi for now. Set-up out of the box was a breeze. I simply removed packaging (lots of zip ties to cut) and re-assembled the bike from a folded position.

I do wish the battery slipped out of the frame, which would make charging easier. But this is a sub $500 ebike after all. At different points in my career, the EB5 would have been my commuter vehicle of choice — especially as a way to work, with the aim of arriving on time and without breaking a sweat.

In our traffic conditions (with some red lights, etc), I can cover 3-4 miles in 20-25 minutes. It keeps pace with other cyclists and does well with traffic in 25mph zones. with great acceleration from dead stops and through intersections. The electric is just so smooth, and it does make a hum which gives some notice that you’re on an e-bike to at least pedestrians.

I feel like I have a range of options with this bike (unlike with an e-scooter) — including the capacity to carry some cargo with a bike basket or rear rack. It looks like you can work on it, for sure. At the very worst, you could strip the EB5 down and end up with an okay traditional folding bike if the e-components ever do go bad (my guess, eventually the battery). I’ve enjoyed the YouTube reviews I watched before purchasing this bike and hope a community of users and modifiers does develop.

I like that the EB5 is so earnest — no app, simple components, seemingly solidly built. It’s a surprisingly handsome looking vehicle in the matte black but the white might have been a safer / higher visibility choice if you plan on doing more night riding. I’m happy with this gamble so far. If you’re more serious about the potential pedal bike use of this (and care less about the size / folding capability of it), you might want to go the next size up (EB7?) in wheel size for a more comfortable pedal cruise. But there’s a lot to like about the minimalist design of the EB5 as-is! Despite some little gripes, I’m giving it 5 stars for now.

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