You check your E-mail and you find a message that offers you a week with a brand-new folding E-bike. Think twice? I think not. And to make it even better, when it arrives, there are two of them. This was last week’s scenario and it was a fun one. Thanks to Victor at CEBC Inc (California Electric Bike Company), my wife and I were able to enjoy these two folders on a long pleasant ride at the bay and the local Taco Tuesday Night Ride.
These simple, inexpensive bikes were more than up to the task of delivering the goods. On the first couple of rides I took, I got the early impression that they were better suited as camp bikes, pit bikes, or for use in large gated communities. The more time I spent with them, the more I realized that they are much more versatile than that. We racked up quite a few miles on both bikes with smiles and many questions from the people that noticed them and got to try them.
The simple part? These are single speed bikes with a free wheel. No shifting, cables, derailleurs or the such needed. Just get on and ride. Of course the lack of extra gears made the motor work harder on the steeper grades. And going real fast was out of the question. The efficient motor (250 watts) is not the most powerful one I’ve ridden. But that kind of goes with the theme of these bikes. A simple, light, folding E-bike that you can use to make life easier.
Built on an aluminum frame with an intergraded rear rack, the package is pleasing to the eye. The frame folds in half and the handlebars fold down to make a fairly small package. The front suspension fork has two tabs that make wrapping and hooking a bungee cord around it very easy. Without too much grunting, it wasn’t hard to load them both into our little car to take them where we liked. Normally I might consider removing the battery to load them, but at less then 50 lbs, it seemed easier to leave it in the frame.
Riding them was fun. The steering is kind of fast, but we became accustomed to that quickly. I even did my steer with one hand and snap photos with the other routine with no worries. They have a built-in multi-LED headlamp that was bright enough for the pace we rode. The interesting sounding horn was just right for warning pedestrians on the pathway at the bay. The factory installed fenders have cool mud flaps that should prove quite effective. A very complete package at a low price. (3 figures with a 25% off sale at the moment).
This bike has twenty inch tires that offer a raised rib in the center (for a smooth ride on the street) with a mildly aggressive tread on the sides that should handle dirt and gravel with ease. The twenty inch size gives a good feel compared the sometimes smaller wheels on folding bikes. CSE E-bike Pro tires are on the bike. I think some thorn-resistant tubes and green goop would round out the rolling parts just right. The rims seem very strong and they turned true.
The motor is in the rear hub. It is a brushless geared motor that is not silent, but the hum it makes can be soothing. It has a big lithium battery that should allow this electric-motored bike a lot of range. The flyer says 18-25 miles between charges, but we did an easy 18 miles on one ride and the battery charge indicator never wavered. Once again, not the fastest and most powerful E-bike, but very efficient.
A dual mode control system is installed. A full-sized twist throttle (with ergonomic grips) and a automatic pedelec control feed power to the motor. The pedelec mode has three levels of power-assist. When you use the twist throttle, it overcomes the pedelec mode immediately. It has safety cut-off switches in each brake lever. The pedelec control can be a little touchy at low speeds, so the cut-off switches can come in handy. If this were my bike, I think I would wire in an additional switch to disable the pedelec mode when I felt the need, and just use the twist throttle to control the motor.
During many of the rides I took, a old Beach Boy tune would play in my head. “First gear, it’s alright–Second gear, I lean right–Third gear, hold on tight–Faster, it’s alright.–It’s not a big electric bike, just a groovy little folding E-bike–It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys, that two wheeled bike–We’ll ride out of the town, to any place I know you like.” I hope that doesn’t get me in trouble.
So there wasn’t much about this bike I didn’t like. It seems strong and dependable. I wish it came with a longer seat post to match my 6 ft + frame. The sensitive steering was not a problem at the lower speeds you will ride this electric-assist bike. The fact that it is not a fast road bike is part of it’s charm. The only reason I would want more power is to attack the hills better. CEBC is working on a five-speed version of this bike that would add some speed and hill climbing ability. Somehow, this single speed model seems just, or more desirable than a multi-speed one.
CEBC Inc is located in Monrovia, CA. That is in the general LA area. They have many bikes on the floor and are designing and offering different E-bikes as you read this. Their website is being expanded and should be complete by the end of the month. After two years of planning and designing, their bikes have been on the market since the beginning of this year. Victor is a long time and very active cyclist who has been in the import / export business most of his life. He knows bikes and the way to bring them to the public.
Speaking of bringing, when John (his very knowledgeable and pleasant shop guy and driver), picked up the two matching folding E-bikes, he dropped off one of their new comfort E-bikes for me to spend some time with. Now this is my kind of bike. Thanks Victor, thanks John. By the way, the black bike they lent me is Victor’s personal bike. With a custom paint job and some other cool accessories, I really enjoyed the special attention it brought.
I am off to play with the comfort E-bike. See you on the E-bike trail, Turbo Bob.
“This astonishing feat demonstrates that the bicycle is a most efficient form of human transport.”—James Starley, early bike innovator, after riding 96 miles in one day.
Find them on Facebook or their expanding website