To say e-bikes are not cheap is an understatement. The most affordable I’ve tried so far, the Volt Metro and Raleigh Stow-E-Way (opens in new tab), are £1,500 and £1,400 respectively. So my head was turned by the £700 E-Trends Fly. I hoped I’d have an experience akin to the cheaper end of the sports headphones market, where you can find perfectly serviceable options for a small fraction of the price of top-end products. Unfortunately I was left disappointed.
Anyone who’s as tall as me certainly shouldn’t even consider the E-Trends Fly, and I’m a not-what-I’d-call-freakish 1.82m (just over 6ft). When setting the saddle I tend to start at hip height and fine-tune from there. When set at its highest, the Fly’s seat came just to the top of my thigh. As well as being uncomfortable it meant I felt like a circus bear on a tiny bike, which was particularly odd because I’ve also been riding a Brompton Electric and hadn’t felt like that – even though the Brompton has the same 16in frame and even smaller wheels than the 20in ones on the Fly.
I also found the feel of pedalling odd. There are no gears or varying assistance settings (not necessarily a bad thing and something I’d have accepted as a cost-saving measure), but the assistance is slow to kick in – it takes a good few seconds – and keeps going for a noticeable period after you’ve finished pedalling. It did help me get up hills, but on steep inclines the assistance wasn’t enough and I found I had to put in more effort than I’d have expected to on an e-bike.
The single gear also offered minimal resistance so I often found myself pedalling furiously to go at what felt like a medium speed. Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing – I cycle regularly so making the single speed easier will make the bike more suitable for a wider range of fitness levels. But if it’s for a smaller, perhaps less fit person, then it’s not great as a folding option because of its heavy steel frame. At 23.5kg I found it unwieldy to carry from my front porch to the back door, a trip of a mere seven metres.
Some folding e-bikes can be rolled on one wheel when folded, but that requires a way to securely attach the front section to the back. That’s lacking on the Fly; if you use the seat and pannier rack to wheel the folded bike around, the front wheel flaps about.
The bike does have integrated lights, a well-padded comfy seat, a kickstand, a pannier rack and mudguards as standard, which more expensive bikes often make you pay for. All the tools you need to put it together are also included in the box. There are fold-up pedals and a stand in the middle so it sits securely when folded, and at 86cm x 33cm x 63cm it doesn’t take up more space than other standard hinged bikes (Brompton being the notable exception).
The bike hinges in the middle and on the handlebar stem, but rather than just using a latch, there’s a latch and bolt mechanism. It’s a little more fiddly but you can still do it even if your hands are cold or you're wearing gloves.
The battery range is 24-30km, about half of what folding e-bikes twice the price do. The battery also has a key lock on it, both to unlock it so you can remove it from the frame to charge it and also to turn it on. In fact, you have to turn the key to the On position and leave it in there while you ride. On one hand it’s a neat security feature. On the other hand I can imagine myself locking the bike up and leaving the key in the ignition by accident for anyone to grab.
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Security-wise, there is a loop around the seatpost to secure a bike lock through. Bikes without crossbars, like this one, can be a bit trickier to lock up so it’s a welcome addition.
I would love a workable folding e-bike option under £700, and the E-Trends Fly gets a lot of the basics right. However, I found the ride so disappointing that it’s not really suitable for riding any appreciable distance. You’d almost certainly be better served by an even cheaper, non-electric bike with gears.
Buy from E-Trends (opens in new tab) | £699.99
Jonathan Shannon has been the editor of the Coach website since 2016, developing a wide-ranging experience of health and fitness. Jonathan took up running while editing Coach and has run a sub-40min 10K and 1hr 28min half marathon. His next ambition is to complete a marathon. He’s an advocate of cycling to work and is Coach’s e-bike reviewer, and not just because he lives up a bit of a hill. He also reviews fitness trackers and other workout gear.
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