- An affordable folding electric bike with deep step-thru frame for easy mounting, reinforced downtube reduces frame flex and mid-mounted battery improves stability, three beautiful color choices
- Utility upgrades include alloy fenders with rubber mud flaps, a rear rack with spring latch and bungee connector points, a bottom bracket protector for folding, and a steel derailleur guard
- Zippy 8Fun motor feels very capable with the 14-amp controller and 48-volt battery, responsive 12-magnet cadence sensor and trigger throttle with override for on-demand starts
- It's great to have lights but both require AAA batteries and independent activation vs. being wired in, the key must be left in the battery for the bike to be ridden, no magnet or rubber band included to keep the bike folded, basic pedals, grips, and bell, suspension fork is not adjustable
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Amego is an ebike brand and a leading electric bike shop based in Toronto Canada. They’ve been importing and selling electric bikes since 2010 with their first folding model released in 2012. The 2018 folding Freedom model shown in this review is their eighth iteration. Most of the little quirks have been worked out but there are some compromises to consider, hardware that was specced down to hit the great price point of $1,349. Whether you’re in the US or Canada, Amego offers free shipping and this model is particularly easy to unpack and get going because it comes nearly fully assembled. There’s only one frame size but the stem and seat post are highly adjustable. The top tube and downtube have been combined into one sturdy main tube which is sloped down for lower stand over height and easier mounting. The founder of Amego, Virginia Block, accompanied me for this review and demonstrated that the saddle can be lowered enough for riders who are ~5’2″ and taller to sit down and still put their feet flat on the ground for stability. This won’t offer the best leg extension, but it’s a nice way to go if you intend to rely primarily on the throttle and just want to feel secure. I like how the main folding joint has a two-step unlock process, so the bike won’t rattle loose accidentally, and that the joint itself isn’t especially wide or high up because that can result in bumped knees. The head tube and seat tube area of the frame have been reinforced to reduce frame flex and the mid-mounted battery keeps weight relatively low and centered on the frame. The bike didn’t flex a lot or feel unstable… in large part because it utilizes higher volume balloon tires from Schwalbe. These things are great, and they aren’t cheap! In addition to the stability and comfort that they bring, there is also some puncture protection and reflective sidewalls for improved safety. Folding electric bikes usually have smaller 20-inch wheels to make them more compact. This smaller size results in a lower attack angle, which feels less comfortable on cracks and bumps, but benefits the motor with a mechanical advantage. Folding ebikes tend to be lower to the ground, so it’s excellent to see the reflective tires and lights, even though they aren’t wired in to the main battery. Both lights require an on/off activation and the powerup process requires two steps (turn the key on in the battery and then hold the power button on the display). Where this product really shines, in my opinion, is in the three unique colors (rose gold and brushed aluminum look great and stand out more at night) and with the suspension fork, suspension seat post, comfortable tires, and ergonomic grips.
Driving this bike is a mid-level, widely known and used, geared hub motor from 8Fun (manufactured by Bafang). It’s compact, relatively light weight and surprisingly zippy at 350 watts nominal, compared to smaller 250 watt options. The motor produces a bit of electronic whirring noise at full power, but with six levels of assist to choose from and a throttle-override, it can be quiet too. I love that the motor spins independently from any pedaling and shifting because that reduces wear on the chain, sprockets and derailleur, but of course, it’s less efficient than a mid-drive. Mid-drive ebikes have gained in popularity in recent years but I still enjoy the instant power (especially for starting from rest) that a throttle offers, and it keeps the price down as well. I feel like you get full control with this setup and was very impressed with how responsive the 12-magnet cadence sensor was. I didn’t have to pedal even a half-stroke before the motor kicked in! Note that the left brake lever had a motor inhibitor built in so I could cut power just by squeezing the brake. Unfortunately, the right lever did not have an inhibitor but Virginia said that this is something they are working to add someday. The rear wheel is bolted on and has a power cable extruding from the right, which is protected by the steel derailleur guard, but the front wheel has quick release. A lot of mid-level products have this sort of protection, and there’s a second metal support at the bottom bracket which keeps the plastic chainring guard from getting cracked and scratched up. Note that the wheels use thicker spokes to help handle the forces of electric motor power and any additional cargo strapped onto the rear rack. The seven-speed drivetrain uses an entry level Shimano Tourney derailleur and the brakes are mechanical linear pull vs. disc. This hardware gets the job done and should be reliable if you keep it clean with occasional tuneups. Note the extra large 52 tooth chainring up front which helps to slow the pedal cadence by offsetting the smaller 20 inch wheels. One small area of improvement with the drivetrain of this ebike would be to have a slap guard sticker to protect that nice paint… you can always use clear boxing tape as a slap guard, and I’d do that before the frame gets too banged up or dusty/dirty so that the tape looks nice. The Amego Freedom is a Class 2 electric bike by default, meaning that it can reach 20 mph (32 km/h) and has a throttle, but the throttle can be easily disconnected if you want to ride as a Class 1 (pedal assist only) in different areas that might have strict rules.
Powering the bike is an efficient, larger-than-average, 48 volt 10 amp hour Lithium-ion battery. It’s housed in a rectangular box that slides down behind the seat tube. Sometimes this same battery box mounts using plastic guides but Amego went with metal for strength and the pack is surrounded by frame tubing and encased in Aluminum so it really feels secure. This ~8 lb battery, along with the alloy fenders, lights, and suspension features push the weight of the bike above 50 lbs, which is on the high side for folding electric bicycles. At the top of the pack is a flip-up handle for secure transport and LED power indicator so you can see how full it is even if you’ve got it stored away from the bike. The best way to keep this pack going is to charge it up every month or so when not in use and store it in a cool, dry location. On the left side of the pack is the keyed ignition and charging port. I appreciate how this port is positioned up high, out of the way of the left crank arm. That said, the kickstand is not out of the way and can create pedal lock if you back the bike up while it’s deployed. Anyway, you can flip the saddle up to slide the battery pack off (even when the bike is folded) and that’s very handy for charging and simply reducing the overall weight for lifting the bike. The frame does not come with magnets, a strap, or bag to keep it from coming unfolded, but you could always get some adjustable bungees aftermarket for this purpose. Note that the charger is very generic and standard, putting out 2 Amps and weighing under 2 pounds. Toss it in a trunk bag to extend your rides and create a space for bringing a water bottle since there aren’t any bottle cage bosses on the frame. Note that neither the battery pack or display panel on this bike offer USB charging, which is too bad considering the large capacity.
Once the battery is charged, mounted to the frame, and the key is inserted, just twist the key to the right in order to power it on. From here, press the gray power button on the display pad and watch it flicker to life with a six-bar battery indicator, speed readout and six levels of pedal assist. Many ebikes only show four bars for the battery capacity and offer four or five levels of assist… so the Amego Freedom system (using a Das-Kit display) is a bit more advanced, which is nice. I like having the choices but didn’t feel overwhelmed and could appreciate the simplicity of a display with integrated buttons vs. an independent button pad with a larger center-mount display like Bosch and Yamaha offer. The one area to be careful around is when folding and transporting the bike because the display is not removable and could get scratched. Reaching over to the display to click up or down isn’t difficult but it’s less intuitive than fancier systems with just two or three buttons that can be operated without looking down. Pedal assist is nice, but it’s great to have a throttle as well (for starting and relaxing) so it’s cool that the Freedom has this. I love how the throttle overrides assist and can be operated from standstill, but it does require some hand flexibility to reach on the right because of the grip shifter. There are frequently trade-offs like this to consider with electric bikes that have gears because the shifters crowd the throttle or you need to switch to a twist throttle which then pushes the shifters out. Hub motors aren’t as efficient as mid-drives because they can’t leverage your gears… but you can still extend range by pedaling along in one of the lower levels of assist with only occasional bursts of energy from the throttle to top a hill or pass another cyclist. I use the throttle to start from rest most of the time because my knee is sensitive but this uses the most power of all. Ease into it if you’re going for range. I did appreciate that the display is backlit (just tap the power button to make it glow), and that it has walk mode (hold the + button) for those moments when you need help pushing the bike through grass.
At the end of the day, I feel that Amego has done a wonderful job balancing performance, utility, and comfort against value. There are lots of folding electric bikes to choose from but Amego has earned my trust as a brand because of how long they have been around. It was neat to speak with the founder and test ride several models (not just the folder) to see the attention to detail that has gone in. A couple of quick tips: look for that minimum insertion point on the stem and don’t go above it because the front wires could get pulled tight when you turn the bike, causing them to disconnect. Don’t twist too hard on the grips because they are not locking and could loosen up or spin over time… you could always replace them with locking grips like this, just make sure the right grip is half-length to work with the grip twister. If you decide to purchase pannier bags vs. a trunk bag, make sure you get shorter ones that won’t hang down too far, even if they do however, the derailleur guard should keep them from snagging or interfering with the drivetrain. I like that Amego opted for rubberized brake levers to improve comfort given the extra hand strength required to pull mechanical v-brakes. Note that the plastic folding pedals used here are pretty basic and that you could always swap for non folding platforms like this or get some alloy folders if you have larger feet or are a heavier rider. Big thanks to Amego for partnering on this review with me. I’ll do my best to answer questions in the comments below and welcome your feedback and pictures in the Amego electric bike forums.
- There’s only one frame size here but the seat post and stem can be adjusted up and down to fit different riders, I love the three unique colors that Amego is offering: matte black, brushed aluminum, and especially metallic rose gold
- Excellent tires! they are one of the major highlights on this electric bike for me because they are balloon style (wider, higher air volume) which improves comfort and stability, they have reflective stripes to keep you visible at night and are puncture resistant
- Lots of comfort upgrades here, the name brand Selle Royal gel saddle works well with the basic suspension seat post and ergonomic grips, the suspension fork smooths out big bumps pretty well even though it’s not adjustable
- Great utility upgrades here including alloy fenders with rubberized mud flaps, a rear cargo rack with bungee attachments at the base, a sturdy derailleur guard and bottom bracket support arm to protect the chainring when folding and unfolding
- The deep step-thru frame is very approachable compared to some other folding models, it’s easier to step over and stabilize but still felt sturdy because of a reinforcement plate near the head tube and an extra bar near the seat tube, I like how the battery is positioned near the center of the bike vs. a rear rack which can sometimes cause frame flex and balance issues
- The battery pack can be charged on or off the frame and is very easy to remove, notice the big plastic handle that flips up and the swiveling seat mount so you don’t have to remove the seat each time you want the battery off… I almost always remove the battery before folding and lifting bikes like this to reduce weight
- 8Fun motors are known for being zippy and this one gets a big mechanical advantage because it’s spoked into a smaller 20″ wheel, it felt very capable to me during the test rides
- The chainring has a big plastic guide to help keep the chain on track, even when you fold the bike and lay it on one side
- I appreciate the simplicity of the grip shifter vs. triggers because it keeps the cockpit clean and is less likely to be bumped when transporting
- The Das-Kit display used here is nicer than average with four buttons, a large LCD readout, and more detailed menus, I like that the Amego Freedom also comes with a flick bell for friendly signaling
- Responsive and well-sealed 12-magnet cadence sensor provides faster starts and stops but can be overridden by the brake levers which both have motor inhibitors built-in, it’s a good design and also nice to have a trigger throttle for easier starts and extra power when needed
- The folding joint is positioned low and out of the way, some competing designs have larger joints that are positioned higher which can bump your knees while pedaling
- I really like how the display lets you loop around from the lowest level of assist down to the highest or jump from the highest back down to the lowest… this saves clicks compared to other displays that make you click down, down, down, down, down to get back to the lowest
- It’s great to have front and rear lights, but they both run on independent disposable AAA cells, you have to remember to turn them on and off for each ride which takes extra time and energy but at least the backlight has a large reflective case as well (in case it does run out of batteries)
- The headlight is attached to the fork arch and will travel up and down as the suspension activates on bumpy terrain, ideally it would be positioned on the headset, stem, or handlebar to be sprung and higher up for safety, I usually attach additional lights like this small rechargeable handlebar model and a bright flashing rechargeable one on my backpack… you could even add a Selle Royal compatible light to the base of the saddle because there’s a little clip-in point
- The kickstand worked well enough, holding the bike up straight, but is directly in the path of the left crank arm, this means you can get pedal locked when backing the bike out if you don’t first stow the stand
- Even though the bike looks small and folds, it still weighs a bit at nearly 50 lbs (22.7 kg) because of the high capacity battery, included rack, fenders, and lights… thankfully, that weight is distributed pretty well and positioned low on the frame
- This isn’t a huge complaint, it might actually be good for some riders, but the throttle is always active once the bike is turned on, even in level zero, so be careful not to bump it accidentally when mounting or dismounting
- Minor complaint, there are no bottle cage bosses present on the frame for adding a water bottle, folding lock, or other accessory, so consider adding a basic trunk bag on the rear rack with a bottle holster like this
- It’s not uncommon to see cheaper components on folding electric bikes (like the basic suspension fork and entry-level derailleur here)… maybe because this type of bike isn’t ridden as far or people don’t want to pay as much for a part-time travel bike? but at least the price point on the Amego Freedom matches and is fairly low at ~$1.3k
- I’m not sure this is really a con but the brakes are linear-pull vs. disc, sometimes this type of brake can be more durable if you’re parking at a bike rack but they can also get dirty easier as the rims are closer to the ground… hydraulic disc brakes would be my first choice because they don’t require as much hand strength to operate
- The display is not removable, be extra careful when folding and transporting since it’s so large and nice, it would be sad if it got scratched or cracked
- The battery is designed in such a way that you have to insert and twist the key to activate the bike and then leave it in while riding, this bothers me because I usually keep my keys on a keychain which can jingle around or get snagged more easily in this position
- Some of the full sized Amego bikes have USB charging ports on the displays or batteries but the folding Freedom model does not, this means you cannot tap into the battery to charge your mobile phone or other electronics on the go
- In the lowest level of assist, level 1, the bike feels a bit zippier than I expected… Virginia said that they are working on smoothing it out but you could also just use the trigger throttle to ramp up slower
- Sometimes folding bikes will have magnets or rubber bands to help keep them from coming unfolded but the Amego Freedom does not, I’d recommend getting your own adjustable bungee cords for this purpose, so the frame won’t rattle around and maybe get scratched if you’re transporting by car, boat, or airplane
- On the one hand, the trigger throttle is positioned in far enough that it’s less likely to get bumped if you activate the bike before sitting down, but it also takes some reaching to use while riding, it’s just not as close to the right grip as some other designs because of the grip shifter hardware
- Minor gripe, the right chain stay does not have a slap guard so the chain could bounce down and chip the paint over time, consider using some clear boxing tape for a cheap easy solution