Testing a price range Chinese language e-bike for an American experience
When I visit China, or actually anyplace in Japanese Asia, I’m all the time amazed at simply how prevalent electrical bicycles are. E-bike adoption could also be on the rise in the US, however it’s merely the usual strategy to get round in a lot of Asia. And so I needed to check how a typical Asian e-bike might carry out when taken out of its component and dropped within the West. To take action, I hopped on the newly launched F-wheel A5 e-bike.
The F-wheel A5 electrical bike has all of the hallmarks of an e-bike widespread to japanese Asia.
It sports activities small wheels, a small body, a large battery, seating for adults and children, and is straightforward to maneuver in and retailer tight areas.
And when you’re prone to see tons of all these e-bikes zipping round nearly any metropolis in China, it’s a reasonably out-of-the-ordinary e-bike within the US. However since F-wheel simply launched gross sales of the bike to the US (and with free shipping, no less!), I figured this was a good time to present the bike an actual take a look at.
To see the F-wheel A5 e-bike in motion, watch my video evaluation beneath. Then maintain studying for all my musings on this electrical bike.
F-wheel A5 video evaluation
F-wheel A5 e-bike tech specs
- Motor: 350W steady rear hub motor (most likely 500 actual watts)
- Prime pace: 25 km/h (15 mph)
- Battery: 48V 7.5 Ah (360 Wh) or 21Ah (1,0008 Wh)
- Vary: 40 km (25 mi) for small battery, 110 km (68 mi) for big battery
- Weight: 22.5 kg (49 lb)
- Tires: 14″ x 2.125″
- Body: Aluminum alloy
- Suspension: Entrance spring fork, suspension seat publish
- Brakes: Mechanical disc brakes
- Extras: LED show with battery meter and PAS stage indicator, entrance and rear LED lights, keychain alarm fob, electrical horn, fenders, rear rack/bench seat
What’s an “Asian e-bike” anyhow?
I ought to most likely clear this up proper at the beginning in order that we’re on the identical web page.
Sure, nearly each electrical bicycle offered within the US is an Asian e-bike. There are VERY few US-built e-bikes, and naturally there are a rising variety of European-built e-bikes, however the overwhelming majority are inbuilt Asia.
Once I name the F-wheel A5 an Asian e-bike, what I imply is that it makes use of the widespread design of e-bikes I’ve seen throughout a lot of East Asia. And sure, technically talking, e-bikes like these from Rad Power Bikes, Juiced Bikes and others are Asian e-bikes within the sense that they’re constructed there. However these are clearly designed for American riders in an American market, and in order that’s probably not what we’re speaking about.
Little wheels, little bike
The F-wheel A5 appears nearly nothing just like the form of e-bikes we normally see within the US.
Its small 14-inch wheels and minimalist body make the bike pretty mild at simply 49 lb (22.5 kg). Positive, that’s heavy relative to a pedal bike, however take into account that standard US folding e-bikes just like the RadRunner weigh 30% extra, whereas huge boys just like the Juiced Scorpion weigh twice as a lot, and also you’ve received a comparatively light-weight e-bike right here.
The small wheels additionally assist the small bike match simply up staircases, into small elevators, and tucked into the nook of small flats.
They provide a nice experience on easy streets, however potholes, cobblestones, and even pavers could be a nightmare for small wheels. To offer you again a little bit of hope on less-than-perfect terrain, the F-wheel A5 consists of each entrance suspension and seat publish suspension. Neither is top quality, however each really work decently effectively. The seat publish suspension is surprisingly efficient.
In fact the little passenger on the rear rack doesn’t get any profit from the seat publish suspension. As an alternative, there’s only a skinny pad providing their rear finish any respite. However hey, youngsters are robust. Proper?
There’s additionally a definite lack of footpegs again there, which looks as if a significant oversight. My nephew simply put his toes on the ends of the rear wheel axle, however that looks like an answer that wouldn’t fly as effectively within the US because it does elsewhere. So I’d advocate F-wheel embrace both a set of footpegs or a pair of kid-sized curler skates with the bike.
What’s the vary?
There are two fashions of the bike with two completely different batteries: a 360Wh mannequin and a large 1kWh mannequin. The battery instances are the identical they usually look similar, however one provides a pair extra kilos and almost 200% extra vary.
The smaller battery is rated for 25 miles (40 km) whereas the larger battery is rated for 68 miles (110 km). That’s not unhealthy in any respect!
What in regards to the energy?
Whereas the bike might look small, it isn’t puny within the energy division. It runs a 48V system, which should you aren’t aware of e-bike voltage ranges, is a reasonably highly effective system. Many bigger European e-bikes use a 36V system, so that you’re getting round a 3rd extra energy right here than you get with loads of huge bikes. The bike had good acceleration even with a passenger, in order that tells me we’ve received greater than commonplace low cost e-bike energy.
Technically the bike claims a 350W rear motor, however the acceleration is sort of highly effective and so I’m guessing we’re one thing that’s extra like 500W steady and even 750W peak — although I wouldn’t wish to demand a sustained 750W from the motor. With an electronically restricted pace of 15 mph (25 km/h), the bike looks like it’s neutered too low. However then once more, it’s designed for dense city residing and 15 mph in a motorcycle line appears completely affordable. I wouldn’t wish to do this on the facet of a busy highway although.
You may need additionally observed that the rear wheel motor is in a magazine wheel, as is the entrance wheel. There aren’t any spokes right here, that means nothing to fall out of tune or break. There’s additionally no derailleur or gears of any type. Once more, there’s nothing to tune, regulate, or break. It’s a single-speed e-bike that simply retains working.
Whereas I initially put the single-speed nature of the bike in my psychological “cons” class, it began to develop on me. The small wheels imply the bike is already geared very low, so that you don’t have to downshift for hills. And with such small wheels anyhow, your derailleur can be hanging millimeters off the bottom. Higher to only get rid of it altogether and take away yet one more trouble/expense from the bike.
In relation to commonplace upkeep, the one space that can finally require some mechanical consideration are the disc brakes. In fact, we’re not going to get hydraulic disc brakes at this value, so we’ll need to accept these low cost mechanical brakes that can finally require some adjusting to maintain them in tip-top form.
However all in all, the bike is designed to be as no muss, no fuss as potential. It even comes with a couple of additional options that I didn’t anticipate, similar to a full lights together with purposeful brake mild, horn, fender set, and a pedestrian noisemaker.
That final one I might do with out. Like, significantly. The noisemaker is very annoying (watch my video above to listen to it). Maybe there’s some new legislation in China that claims e-bikes above 12 mph (20 km/h) want a noisemaker. As a result of the factor beeps as quickly as you get going that quick. It’s terrible. I hate that half. I wish to lower the wire to the noisemaker and I simply may do this, although I think about I’ll lose the horn operation. That’s a worthy sacrifice if I’ve ever seen one.
In the end, I discover the bike to be fairly respectable for city use, so long as you may put up with the constraints. The 15 mph (25 km/h) prime pace is annoying and the noisemaker above 12 mph (20 km/h) is past annoying. However the bike really works and it really works effectively. Personally, I match on the bike nice, however I’m solely 5’7″ (170 cm) and 155 lb (70 kg). I might see it working for me nonetheless if I had one other 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm) of peak. However when you get shut to six toes (182 cm), you’re going to begin to appear to be a clown automobile state of affairs and steering together with your knees.
In the event you’re trying to find a leisure e-bike for trails or a quick e-bike for cruising, this pet ain’t it. However should you’re on the lookout for a small, mild, and peppy utility e-bike that may carry a child or a cargo field in a densely populated city surroundings, this could be the ticket. For just $700 (for the 360Wh mannequin) or $955 (for the 1kWh mannequin), you get a low upkeep two-seater e-bike that matches a metropolis life-style and suits into a metropolis house.
Simply be sure to don’t match the entrance wheel proper down right into a pothole.
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