Wheels

Torque of the town: E-Trends Fly electric bike review, nimble but no fly-weight

I’m hyper-ventilating. The blood’s rushing to my head and there’s a pounding in my ears as my furious pedalling reaches its crescendo. I’m tackling a hill that – on my regular cycle – invariably defeats me whenever I attempt it. But, this time, amazingly, I’m winning… I’m actually going to make it. Because, this time, I’ve got voltage and current on my side…

I’m on a E-Trends Fly electric bike, folks. Marketed as a solution for families who are tight on storage space and commute to work, this Chinese-built model is offered up as a hassle-free, foldable and portable solution that ‘makes taking your bike on public transport easy’. Let’s see how it fares…

E-Trends Fly electric bike – Description

At £899 (reduced to £699 for orders received by December 18, 2020), this is one of a growing number of budget options for multi-modal commuting. An all Chinese-built affair, its direct competitors include models like the Compass Comp (£899, via GoOutdoors), Carrera Crosscity E (£999, via Halfords) and the BTWIN Tilt 500 E (£799, via Decathalon).

As billed, it is indeed a compact package when folded, easily accommodated in a garage, hallway or in the boot of a car or caravan. 

The E-Trends e-bike is indeed a compact package when folded, easily accommodated in a garage or in the boot of a car…

Sadly, unlike many other ‘folders’, this one doesn’t incorporate built-in closure magnets to keep itself ‘folded’. As a result, the front half and handlebar post can flap around awkwardly (top tip: keep a bungee or strap upon your person). 

But there’s grimmer news: you’re really not going to want to move this around on your own. With its battery in-situ the Fly weighs in at a vertebrae-crushing 23.5kg, making it one of, if not the heaviest models in its class. If you are silly enough to lift it onto a train carriage, say, then dear god, you’d better have a good osteopath on speed-dial. Trust me, even hauling it up into a SUV boot is a two-person lift. A fly-weight this assuredly ain’t…

Visually, the design eschews fashion for function but a decent feature count offers some compensation. Front/rear mudguards, handlebar-mounted battery indicator and horn, foldable pedals and (effective) integrated LCD front/rear lights come as standard. Plus there’s a pleasingly practical rear pannier, integrated with the bike’s welded frame. 

Drive to the rear wheel comes from a single-gear, hub-mounted 250w motor, juiced up by a (lockable) key-operated 36v/270Wh Li-ion battery that weighs 2.5kg. This can be charged, either on or off the bike, using the supplied 4.2v/2amp charger in around four hours. The charger-to-battery connection is an XLR type (the sort you’d typically find on a pro audio amp). Odd choice but it gets the job done.

E-Trends Fly electric bike – Ride experience

The adjustable seat post and telescopic handlebars allow riders of most heights to get comfy, aided by a decently cushioned saddle and 20in wheels. These all combine to give an upright ‘Dutch’ riding position and a comfortable ride on all but the most lunar of road surfaces. 

The makers claim a maximum range of 19 miles/30km (verified over the space of a couple of weeks) which, in truth, isn’t particularly special for this sort of battery/motor combo.

As stated, there’s only a single-gear but that won’t be much of an issue on relatively slow and congested urban commutes. What will be irksome is discovering that the throttle refuses to give you a boost if twisted while pedalling. That’s pretty counter-intuitive and, if you’re going up a really steep hill, just a little soul destroying. 

Stopping power comes via regular alloy ‘V’ type brakes – no fancy hydraulically operated discs here – but despite the bike’s weight, they proved more than up to the task. One quirk I did find unnerving, however, was how noisily the battery rattled about when going over broken roads. Noisily enough, in fact, to draw some inquisitive glances from pedestrians who turned, plainly expecting to see an antique boneshaker advancing past. 

Out on the open road, the bike is enjoyably nimble although, occasionally, it can feel a little twitchy. That’s mainly because the handlebar has no rearwards offset from the stem and the rider’s weight is set quite far back over the frame. But you quickly learn to compensate and it’s easy to make rapid and confident progress.

Does the electric assistance make a difference? Absolutely and in a wholly positive sense. Commuting is currently obviously on hold but I found myself using the Fly to replace umpteen short car journeys to the shops, parks, PPE emporia etc. Looking forward to them, even. That’s modal change happening, right there!

E-Trends Fly electric bike – Verdict  

Let’s get the elephant in the room – a regrettably appropriate simile – out of the way first. Unless you’re an accomplished weightlifter you won’t be single-handedly carrying the E-Trends Fly when it’s folded. Ever. Anywhere. And especially not on public transport. 

But while it’s impossible to easily lug around, in absolute terms the Fly actually works very well as a bike and is undeniably good value. Yes, there are a couple of notable caveats but overall this is a solid, enjoyable performer, one that deserves serious consideration if your particular commute won’t require you to carry it folded. Recommended.

Specifications

  • Adjustable handlebars and saddle
  • Front & rear mud guards and reflectors, battery indicator
  • Single speed (no gears)
  • Front & rear alloy V-brakes
  • 20-inch wheels with aluminium rims
  • For riders up to 120kgs  
  • Dimensions: 155cm x 51cm x 109cm  
  • Folded dimensions: 86 cm x 33 cm x 63 cm 
  • Total weight: 23.5 kg / 52 lbs (includes rear pannier)
  • 36V/7.5AH Lithium ion removable/lockable battery (spares available at £179.99)
  • Recharge time of 4 hours
  • 250W motor
  • Pedal power-assist up to 15 mph/24 km/h and 6 km/h in ‘pushing’ mode
  • Range of 15-19 miles / 24-30 km (dependent on terrain, style of riding, weight carried and level of assist)
  • Battery warranty of 2 Years / 700 charges (battery must be fully charged at least once a month).

Price: £899 (£699 if ordered by 18/12/2020)
www.e-trends.co.uk

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An experienced PR professional who’s represented some of the world’s best-known technology brands, Kulwinder began his career as a journalist and then editor, with stints on legendary British car magazines Supercar Classics and Fast Lane.

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