Green Technology

Cycrown’s CycFree Folding Bike Gives You A Lot For Less

A few weeks ago, Cycrown sent me a folding bike to review. It’s not only got the features you’d expect in a folding fat-tire e-bike, but it delivers them at a price that can’t be beat. In this article, I’ll share some key facts about the bike and cover my riding impressions!

Basic Information and Specifications

I could regurgitate the full specifications from the manufacturer, but I don’t want to waste my time or yours doing that when you can find all of that information here. Instead, I’m going to cover the most important things real quick.

The most important thing: it’s a folding electric bike with 20×4″ fat tires. It’s powered by a 500w motor, which feeds from a 960 Wh battery pack. So, you could peg the throttle for almost two hours before it goes dead! That means the estimated range of 48 miles (without pedaling) is probably accurate, but I didn’t have time to take a 50-mile ride.

They put that much power on a small bike by putting the battery behind the step-through frame and ahead of the rear wheel. This means you need a flip-up seat to remove the battery, which is something I’ll get to more in a minute.

The folding mechanism makes for a bike that can fold small enough to fit in many cars, but just pulling the seat and folding the handlebar post down alone makes for a lot of space savings. The folder mechanism seems sturdy enough to be safe. But, despite being able to fold up, it still has a rear cargo rack, fenders (mud guards), and both a front fork suspension and seat suspension, which makes for a comfortable ride.

Overall weight is 82 pounds, but the battery is a big contributor to the weight, so it’s easier to load it into a vehicle or onto a bike rack if you remove the almost-kilowatt-hour battery and load it separately. It’s also got disc brakes, so you can stop all of that weight when you need to.

Price is normally $1149, but as of this writing, they’re selling it for $1049, which is a pretty good deal considering the parts quality. I’ve seen bikes in the $1500-2000 range that have similar shifter, derailleur, and other components. So, it’s a decent price that doesn’t come at the expense of quality.

What I Love About The Bike

Despite being a folding bike that needs to be pretty small, it rides a lot like a big bike. Part of this obviously comes from spinning chunky 20″ fat tires, which stabilize the ride quite a bit. The general heft of the bike itself also helps keep it feeling planted. The seat raises pretty high, as does the adjustable handlebar post, which I keep on a lower setting.

Despite the weight, it’s a pretty easy bike to ride even without electric power. You’re probably not Lance Armstrong, and you won’t go 20 MPH like that, but I was able to comfortably pedal the thing for miles under my own muscle power for miles. I’m not in great shape and have asthma, so that’s pretty impressive, all things considered. So, if you do end up out of battery, you won’t necessarily feel stranded for the much harder ride home.

I also really liked the step-through frame. With the seat extending a good bit above the frame (to keep the bike relatively small when folded), it would be harder to flip a foot over it to sit. But, the bottom of the frame is fairly low, making it easy to step over and get on.

Another interesting feature is the independent horn and headlight control. Instead of needing to simultaneously hold two buttons on the controller to turn the lights on, there’s just a simple click-in, click-out headlight button. This means that even if you’re out of juice and can’t get some pedal power, the headlight will probably still work. It even works with the motor controller turned completely off. The same is true for the horn, which makes a somewhat irksome low beep, not unlike what you’d find in a police car.

Between all of these features, it’s definitely a good bike for the price, and the industry seems to be trending down on that front.

Things That Could Have Been Better

This is the second bike I’ve reviewed that has a battery behind the seat, between the seatpost and the rear wheel. While this kind of design is great for squeezing in more battery capacity than frame-integrated and water bottle batteries, the downside is that you need to get the seat out of the way to remove the battery and take it inside.

The easiest way to do this is to have a flip-up seat mechanism, which isn’t a bad idea at all. You can attach other seats to this mechanism, so you’re not stuck with the stock seat, and it’s easy to flip the seat up and out of the way.

The problems seems to lie in the suppliers e-bike manufacturers are turning to. The only flip-up seats that I’ve seen so far have a built-in shock absorber, which can be cool, but doesn’t let you lower the seat very far. This leads to a seat that can’t adjust down very well to the needs of shorter people, including average-height women. I’m taller than average, and it barely works for me. I could easily put on another seatpost to let the seat be lower, but then I’d have to remove the seat every time I remove the battery.

What e-bike manufacturers really need to do is come up with a seatpost with the flip-up mechanism but without the built-in suspension.

One small nag I have is that the key can’t be removed from the bike while riding. Like a car, it makes sense to keep the key captive in the “on” position, but if you were to crash this bike just right, it might break the key off in the ignition, leading to needing a locksmith or a new battery. It seems that more and more e-bikes are doing this these days, so maybe I’m just being picky.

Overall, It’s Good For The Price

If you can afford a nicer e-bike, I wouldn’t recommend buying this one to save the money. But, keep in mind that I’m talking about a bike that’s actually nicer. This bike hits above its weight, and is as nice as many bikes in the $1500 range. So, if you’re shopping in that price range and feature set, be sure to give this one a look.

All images by Jennifer Sensiba.


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