Regardless that electrical bicycle costs within the West are dropping, with many decent e-bikes found in the sub-$1,000 range, China remains to be king of the cheap e-bikes. So I needed to see how considered one of these ultra-affordable e-bikes stood as much as the kinds of e-bikes within the US and Europe.
My purpose: Discover considered one of these e-bikes and produce it to the US for testing.
[Note: This entire saga happened before the COVID-19 pandemic.]
So the hunt to snare a super-cheap e-bike was on. The very first thing I needed to do was discover a bike, which was truly fairly simple, contemplating how enthusiastically China has embraced e-bikes.
Xiaomi’s crowdfunding platform YouPin has been utilized by the corporate to launch plenty of inexpensive e-bikes over the previous couple of years.
We’ve seen $375 electric bicycles, $420 electric mopeds, $284 e-bikes that blur the line with electric mopeds… you identify it, Xiaomi has funded an e-bike to suit it. For me, I needed the least costly one but, the $261 Himo V1 that I lined right here on Electrek.
These ultra-budget electrical bicycles are largely produced for the home market in China. Whereas you’ll find lots of them on direct-from-China shopping sites like AliExpress, the value is normally jacked up for the Western market.
As an alternative, I went with the private method. I known as up a buddy of mine dwelling in China and instructed him my plan. I’d wire him $261 and he’d go get me a motorbike.
We’ve all heard about how worldwide transport is backed in China, so I figured he may ship it over to me within the US for pennies on the greenback.
I despatched him the cash and some days later he had a vivid orange Xiaomi Himo V1 e-bike for me. The one drawback was that transport turned out to be much more than I anticipated for the massive field. Ultimately, I wired simply over $100 extra, and we have been in enterprise. Two weeks later, probably the most beaten-up field I’ve ever seen arrived at my doorstep.
I unboxed the bike and was stunned by how small it was.
I knew it will be small, however not that small!
It arrived with a lifeless battery, which obtained me fearful when it wouldn’t activate, however I figured an preliminary cost would remedy that. So I hunted by way of the carcass of the field for the charger, solely to return up empty-handed.
Dangit, my buddy forgot to mail the charger!
Now I used to be going to have to go looking for a suitable charger. Within the meantime I continued to take a look at the bike. There was a small zippered pouch behind the battery compartment that appeared odd, so I unzipped it to see what it held. Out popped a coiled charging cable! Because it seems, the bike has a built-in charger on board. Oops, sorry Bin.
A fast cost and I used to be in enterprise. The bike fired proper up.
I took it on a pleasure experience the place I obtained to really feel your entire thrill… or lack thereof. With a 250W motor and a prime velocity of 20 km/h (12 mph), this isn’t precisely a speedy e-bike. Although to be honest, the small diameter 12-inch wheels imply the little motor is definitely fairly torquey.
It’s obtained respectable pull on hills, but it surely additionally has pedals (unlike many “bikes” of this size), which suggests you may assist it on hills. The gearing isn’t actually that tall, that means you received’t have the ability to add a lot pedal help on the prime finish. However once you’re slowing down on a giant hill, the pedals are fairly useful. And once more, these small wheels imply extra torque.
The draw back of the small wheels is that you just really feel the bumps extra, stand up extra shortly on obstacles, and drop down deeper into potholes. And naturally there’s no suspension at this value.
Nevertheless, the bike truly feels good and nimble, using a lot better than I anticipated it to experience. The 220Wh battery isn’t going make it an incredible distance machine, however with the decrease prime velocity I can nonetheless get round 12-15 miles of vary on throttle solely.
For these of you questioning, I’m about 5’7″ and 150 lb (170 cm and 70 kg), and the bike certain suits me alright, although I can see the way you 6 footers on the market may have a problem.
Probably the most elevator-friendly e-bike on the planet?
So what’s my verdict right here? To be trustworthy, I’m truly stunned by how good of a motorbike you may get for $261 (or about $370 shipped). Not solely is it a totally purposeful e-bike that’s extra highly effective than I believed, but it surely folds, has an LCD display screen, entrance and rear LED lights, a built-in charger, disc brake (simply the one!), fenders, and even a ridiculous little rear rack. That’s quite a lot of options for an e-bike that prices across the identical as one month of automobile insurance coverage and fuel!
And whereas this e-bike is small, it actually match me simply high-quality and might deal with my wants as a metropolis commuter e-bike. It might simply match within the trunk of nearly any automobile on the market and can be a wonderful last-mile car for drivers that want a set of wheels for inner-city journey. Or it might be a cheap little campus runaround bike.
So I’m pleasantly stunned by what I obtained for my cash. It’s not a nice e-bike, but it surely’s a good e-bike for the value and the use case.
Now that we’re beginning to see extra of those inexpensive Chinese e-bikes hitting international markets, I’m excited for what’s to return sooner or later.
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