Swagcycle EB5 Plus Folding Review
Cons: Only one pedal assist mode, limited rider height range, shorter distance range, less steady handling
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Our Analysis and Test Results
In addition to having a catchy name, the Swagcycle EB5 caught our attention for its convenient folding design, reasonable price, and positive consumer reviews. This bike weighs just 36 lbs and 10 oz and collapses down to a very small size making it ideal for transport or storage. Its minimalist design includes a battery integrated into the frame, and it has a simple user interface. It can be ridden with the power off, or in throttle or pedal assist modes at speeds up to 15.5 mph. We tested this small folding model against a diverse field of the best affordable electric bikes on the market to see how it compared to the competition.
The Swagcycle has a ride quality that is largely a product of its small wheels, compact size, and foldable design. Riding it feels a lot like riding a large electric scooter with a bike seat attached so you can sit while you ride. Considering its size, weight, and foldable design, we feel that it's generally fine, but it does feel a bit twitchy and awkward when compared to full-size bikes with larger wheels and multi-speed drivetrains.
The EB5 has a very compact geometry with a short wheelbase and a steep headtube angle. These elements combine to give it a short turning radius, although they detract from its stability in turns and at speed. While it may have a short turning radius, we did find that the small front wheel, narrow-ish handlebar, and steep angles resulted in a somewhat unsteady steering and handling feel when turning. The small wheels roll a fair amount slower than larger wheels, and we had a difficult time getting this bike to break the 20 mph mark, even on a steep downhill. That said, it only took a little time to get accustomed to the way this bike felt, and its ride quality was about as we expected, considering its design.
The simple single-speed design of the EB5 helps to make it relatively hassle-free as there is no tinkering or adjustment required to keep the drivetrain running smoothly. At the same time, that simple drivetrain makes this bike somewhat of a bear to pedal around, especially uphill, should you run out of battery. We found the V-brakes to work as well as the mechanical disc brakes found on all of the other competitors, and we were able to stop this bike from its top speed in 22 feet.
During testing, we spent several hours sitting on the seat of the EB5, and we have no complaints about its comfort. That said, our six-foot-tall tester with a 32-inch inseam found the range of seat height adjustment to be inadequate for his height to achieve proper leg extension for pedaling. This was a non-issue when using the throttle only and only became a concern when pedaling the bike. In contrast, our 5-foot 7-inch test assistant found the range of adjustment to be perfect for her needs. Swagtron doesn't specify a recommended user height range, although they do claim a maximum rider weight of 264 lbs. While we feel that the sizing of this bike is suitable for a huge range of riders from kids to adults, it may be a bit small for taller users.
The Swagcycle EB5 traveled the shortest distance of all the models we tested in our throttle-only range test. That said, we were actually pleasantly surprised by how far it went considering the fact that it has a smaller battery storage capacity than the competition. While we wouldn't necessarily recommend it for long-distance rides, we feel it has plenty of range for use on shorter commutes, errands around town, or casual bike path cruises.
With only 270Wh of battery storage capacity, the Swagcycle holds the least power of all the models we tested. Yet, it was still able to travel 12.12 miles with 630 vertical feet of elevation gain/loss in 59 minutes while using the throttle only on our test course. During that test, the average speed was 12.45 mph with a maximum speed of 18.1 mph. While testing, the EB5 provided the same level of power output the majority of the time, but it was notable that at the very end of its battery life, it entered what we assume is a power save mode. The last five minutes or so of our range test was spent cruising right around five mph.
Sure, that is the shortest range in the test, but we still feel it is respectable given the lightweight and foldable design of the EB5. Swagtron claims 15.5 miles of range on a charge, and we would speculate that it could probably travel that distance on perfectly flat ground with the throttle only. One could also significantly increase the range of the EB5 by using the pedal-assist mode as opposed to just the throttle.
The Swagcycle EB5 has a 250W brushless rear hub motor that provides a reasonable power output for this small folding electric bicycle. It is the simplest of all the electric bikes we tested, and it has three modes, throttle, pedal assist, or off/no pedal assist. Under throttle, power delivery is strong, and this bike can easily get up to its 15.5 mph top speed on flat ground. Its single pedal-assist power output mode feels like it is around 70% support, though it is a little jumpy, inconsistent in its delivery, and slower than the competition. While riding, the use of the brakes shuts off the power in both the throttle and pedal assist modes.
When using the throttle, we were relatively impressed with the power output of the 250W rear hub motor. We found it to be very responsive and quick to accelerate to its top speed of 15.5 mph. On gradual hills, we were surprised to find that it was able to maintain speed slightly better than a couple of the other bikes with larger wheels, cresting our test hill at 10 mph. During our test period, we found the power output to remain relatively stable, and it didn't diminish over time or repeated use.
The Swagcycle has only one pedal-assist mode, and it is automatically on whenever the bike's power is on. It isn't specified, but the pedal-assist support feels to be around 70%, similar to the middle mode on competitors with three output settings. The assistance comes on after about a quarter pedal stroke, and it comes on relatively strong, almost jumpy, and stays on for about a full second after the pedals stop turning. It provides the same amount of pedal assistance regardless of how fast the pedals are turning or how much input the rider is putting into pedaling. We found our top pedal-assisted speed to be closer to 13 mph, as this bike's lack of gears made it hard to get above that speed.
The SwagCcyle lost a bit of ground to the competition for its incredibly basic user interface. While there is something to be said for simplicity, the display and controls on this bike just can't compete with the competition.
This bike's controls consist of a single power button by the right grip. This button is used to turn the bike on or off, and that is all that it really needs to do. There is only one pedal assist setting, and that is automatically on when the power is on. The display is attached to the power button, and it is a small screen with 5 LED light bars that display the remaining battery charge. A full battery is displayed as five green bars, and as the battery is depleted, the lights turn red progressively from left to right. It's nothing fancy, but it works. We noticed that in bright sunlight, it can be challenging to see what color the battery life indicator lights are. The throttle is also integrated into the right grip, and it is a similar thumb twist style like those found on the other models we tested.
The battery of the Swagcycle is cleanly integrated into the main tube of the frame. It can't be removed, so you will need to be able to get the bike relatively close to an outlet for charging. The charging port is located on the underside of the frame and is sealed with a small rubber cover. Due to its somewhat hidden and hard to see location, we found that it was sometimes a little challenging to plug the cord into the charging port. This bike did not come with keys; it can be turned on by anyone when it is in its unfolded/rideable position.
The Swagcycle EB5 easily took top honors for its ease of assembly. This model arrived in a box about half the size and 2/3 the weight of all the other competitors. Upon opening the box, we realized that the bike was already fully assembled and had been packaged in its smallest collapsed size. We removed it from the box, took off all the protective packing materials, and it was set up and ready to go in approximately 10 minutes. This straightforward and quick process was a nice departure from the more involved and time-consuming assembly required of the competition.
The Swagcycle comes with short but sweet printed instructions that lay out the basics of folding and unfolding the bike. Since it comes preassembled, that's all you really need to know to get it up and running. Simply fold the main frame into position and lock the clamp into place, fold the handlebar up and lock that into place, then adjust the handlebars and seat to your liking and secure them with their quick-release levers. The only other steps are to unfold the folding pedals and to charge the battery. This bike has no gears, so there is no derailleur to adjust, and our test bike came with V-brakes that were properly set up out of the box.
At its retail price, the Swagcycle EB5 is a relatively affordable electric bicycle. It is quite basic in terms of its features and performance, but it is unique in its low weight and small collapsed size. This bike will certainly represent the best value to the user who prioritizes its portability and storability and is less concerned with ride quality and power output. There are less expensive folding options, but none that can rival the convenience of the Swagcycle.
The Swagcycle EB5 is a lightweight and convenient folding electric bicycle. This bike ships fully assembled and folding and unfolding it couldn't be easier thanks to their intuitive and user-friendly design. This is the lightest weight model we tested by far, plus it collapses down quite small for transport or storage. Considering its size, it impressed us with a 15.5 mph top speed under throttle and a respectable distance range. It is somewhat basic with just one pedal-assist mode and a simple user-interface, and due to the nature of its size and design, it also has a predictably less stable ride quality. That said, we feel this affordable electric bike is a convenient portable option for short commutes or those with limited space.
— Jeremy Benson