The EVELO Quest One is a unique folding electric bike because it offers a Gates Carbon belt drive and is lighter than most of the others I test out. It’s clean, reliable, and quiet because of the belt, but you only get one speed to work with… and in my experience the optimal pedal speed is around 15 miles per hour. This can make starting difficult if you decide to pedal unpowered or rely on pedal assist only, requiring extra leg power before it kicks in, but thankfully there’s a throttle-on-demand feature. As someone with sensitive knees, I’m a big fan of trigger or twist throttles because they make stop signs and traffic signals a breeze and keep the riding fun vs. painful or just annoying. It’s a great setup, however I did experience some delay with the throttle at times, which caused me to push further, and when it did finally click on, I got more of a zip than I really wanted. My advice is to ease into the throttle and keep in mind that there could be a slight delay, just be patient with it. This electric bike comes in two unique colors, a glossy crimson red and metallic granite grey. The seat post is thicker and longer than average and the stem telescopes upwards, so it seems like the single frame size could accommodate a wide range of riders. Even with the plastic fenders and rear rack, this bike rode smooth and quiet on bumpy torn up streets. I didn’t have to worry about the chain dropping because the Gates belt has a center track design to keep it stable. Apparently, belt drives like this one can last longer than chains! The downside here, is that single speed… many full-sized electric bikes with belt drives have an internally geared hub with 3, 5, 7, or 8 speeds (usually from Shimano) and those add weight and cost. Priced at just under $2k, this thing is already on the expensive side for a folding electric bike, but it does offer a quality display, average sized removable battery, reflective tires, disc brakes, and a fantastic warranty with some of the best customer support I have seen in the industry. Evelo also recently opened a factory store in Seattle so you people can test ride and buy in person. I do not know if all of the hardware on this product is rust proof but I would expect the Aluminum alloy frame, plastic fenders, and belt drive to hold up well in wet conditions. Folding e-bikes see like a good fit for RVers, boaters, and people who just have limited space in their home or apartment. For me, the light weight is so applicable in folding, removing the battery, changing flats, or lifting into storage on the go that it makes this bike very attractive.
Driving the Quest is an 8Fun branded internally geared hub manufactured by Bafang. This thing is legendary, in the sense that it is commonly used on entry-level and mid-level electric bikes and sold in kits. In my experience, it’s zippy, lightweight, reliable, and produces a bit of electronic whirring sound when operated at high power or higher speeds. You can hear it in the video review when I test the throttle while climbing a hill. The motor is rated at 250 watts nominal, which is on the weak side for US electric bikes but legally the maximum in Europe. It seemed like Evelo may have overclocked the motor a bit because they said it peaks around 540 watts and delivers up to 45 Newton meters of torque… There’s no way for me to validate any of this information, but I can guess that it will sip energy from the battery vs. draining it if you ride with pedal assist in the lower two or three levels, and that it gains torque because of the smaller 20″ wheels. These wheels bring the bike lower to the ground and offer increased strength (even more so because of the thicker 13 gauge spokes). The motor benefits from a mechanical advantage because of the smaller diameter but this also changes how pedaling feels. Many times, I will see folding electric bikes, with smaller wheels like this, that have enlarged chainrings to make pedaling feel natural. If they didn’t do this, pedaling would feel fast and you would quickly need to shift gears and possibly max out your gears before reaching the oft-maximum 20 mph top speed. Since the Evelo Quest One only has “one” speed, they chose to use a much larger chainring that feels best pedaling around 15 mph for me. Again, this makes starting a bit slow and even delays the cadence sensor because the 10-magnet disc is also rotating slower. I would probably always use the trigger throttle to help me get going… so thank goodness it is active in all five levels of assist and offers full power at all times vs. making you arrow up and get distracted with the display.
Powering this bike is a very average sized 36 volt 10.4 amp hour Lithium-ion battery pack. Average is not bad when you’re trying to conserve weight and minimize bulk. And this would still be average for a heavier full sized electric bike… so in some ways, it’s a bit above average for a folder. I love how the battery pack slides into the frame and is protected and hidden there. You can peek in at it from the left side of the frame where a triangular rubber cover reveals the charging port, an on/off switch, and a standard sized Type A USB port. You can charge this battery on or off the bike and the generic 2 Amp charger works great, I love how the charging wire is not in the way of the left crank when charging on the bike as so many other electric bike charging designs are. The battery charger only weighs about 1.5 lbs and could easily fit into a trunk bag like the Evelo branded bag that also has zip-out panniers. One note about the battery is that you may need the key to slide it out of the frame tubing. Whether it’s locked in there or not, the battery seemed tight (Alex, an Evelo rep told me that reduces rattling) so just insert the key and unlock but then turn a bit to one direction and pull with the key to get it to slide out. Take your time and be careful learning how to handle the battery. This is one of the more sensitive and expensive parts of the bike. Evelo offers an incredible 2-year comprehensive warranty on their products and a sliding-cost battery replacement option so you shouldn’t be left hanging. They even offer a trial period for buyers, so you can decide whether it’s right for you and return if necessary. This is incredible and very unique for a direct-sale electric bike company in my experience.
Operating the Quest One is a two-step process starting with the battery on/off toggle switch and then the rubberized on/off button on the control pad (mounted near the left grip). Once it’s on, you can enter into the settings menu to adjust units and other options by double tapping this power button. Anyway, the control interface is very compact and simple. You get an up arrow, the power button in the middle, and a down arrow. Hold the up arrow to activate the lights and watch as the color LCD display goes from a bright white background to a darker background to reduce distraction in low-light conditions. Very cool! Unless, you want to ride with lights during the day for extra safety, then the display could be a bit more difficult to read. It’s hard to offer “everything” but still make a display simple to use. Another quick consideration is that the plastic up/down arrow keys can get bent up if snagged by clothing or if you crash or fold the bike roughly. I have seen it happen, and while the display may still work, the plastic cover might stick up permanently and eventually get ripped off entirely. Just be careful with it and know that the control pad is replaceable and has a quick-disconnect point in the wire bundle up front. Speaking of wires, most of them are organized and even hidden on this bike. Not internally routed, but hidden in a plastic channel along the bottom of the main tubing section. The front wheel has quick release for easy flat-fixes or tire replacement but the rear requires a pair of wrenches and you will have to disconnect the motor power cable… and that’s easy to do thanks to another quick-disconnect point below the right chain stay.
All things considered, this is a unique and enjoyable folding electric bike. It can be very expensive and difficult to offer belt drives on traditional frames because belts cannot be opened and reconnected like chains, they are permanently a loop. Many frames require a special cutaway section to make this possible but the Evelo Quest frame has a horizontal dropout and single-tube seat stay / chain-stay so it’s belt-ready. This is a somewhat generic frame that I have seen from other companies in the space, and many of them offer suspension forks and multi-speed cassettes but weigh a lot more and are noisier. The Quest is quiet, light, clean, durable, and still gives you all of the safety and utility features you might want while compensating for a single-speed drivetrain with the throttle override feature. Though I wish the throttle worked more immediately, perhaps this delay is intentional to reduce accidental bumps when mounting / dismounting and folding? I suggest always turning the bike off before attempting any of these actions. Big thanks to Evelo for partnering with me on this post and inviting me out to their store in Seattle. There were plenty of hills to test on and I felt that the motor performed very well on these (at least for me as a ~135 lb rider). The Quest was stable, and even though it didn’t have suspension, the softer grips and saddle paired nicely with the larger tires for a satisfactory ride. Both of the main folding mechanisms had safety locks and felt sturdy, also, I was able to ride with no hands and the bike tracked well.
- Very few electric bikes come stock with the Gates Carbon belt drive but it’s an awesome feature, lasting longer than a chain, weighing less, getting less dirty, being less likely to fall off because of the CDX center-track design
- Plastic fenders keep you dry and clean, the flexible rubber mud flaps won’t get bent, cracked, or rust the way that metal ones would, which is nice when folding or riding over tall obstacles like curbs
- Two integrated LED lights that run off the ebike battery improve safety and convenience, they won’t get left on accidentally or be as easy to steal as aftermarket lights, the reflective tires further increase your visual footprint
- I personally think that this folding electric bike looks great, the battery is integrated and protected inside the frame (also keeping weight low and freeing up the rear rack for cargo) and the hub motor is compact and almost hidden between the cassette and 160 mm disc brake rotor, you also get two color choices!
- Evelo offers some of the best customer service in the industry based on what I hear and have experienced as a customer when they were just getting started in 2013, you get a 2-year comprehensive warranty, a sliding-scale battery replacement plan, and they now have a factory shop in Seattle where you can take test rides
- The display is large, bright, colorized and easy to read, I love that it shows battery percentage vs. just a 5-bar infographic and that it changes to a dark background when the lights are enabled (to reduce distraction) the motor control system offers both pedal assist and throttle on demand so you can get started from stop signs and traffic signals easily vs. always having to push
- It’s very common for folding electric bikes to weigh as much as a full sized ebike, so I was excited to find out that this one is only ~41 lbs vs. 50+ lbs
- The frame is very purpose built with protective cable housing and good weight distribution front to rear, the front wheel offers quick release but they sell locking hardware for people who are worried about theft
- I love that the display has a standard sized USB port in addition to a second USB port on the battery pack! This means that you could charge portable electronics while riding and use them up at the cockpit without a lot of extra cable mess, but you could also use the battery pack as a backup power source off of the bike
- In addition to the integrated lights, reflective tire stripes, and standard plastic reflectors in the pedals, I like that the bikes come with a flick bell for signaling in a friendly way
- Minor pro here but the bike seemed slightly easier and simpler to fold than some competing models, I love how the seat post supports it and protects the chainring with plenty of room to spare
- Evelo sells a few optional accessory packages and I LOVE the trunk bag option, it has reflective fabric and fold-out panniers for those times when you really need extra space… the bag is awesome and works perfectly with this smaller rack design, full sized panniers may hang down and rub (though I have not tested them)
- I feel like Evelo found the perfect balance of control and safety with their throttle design, it is not active at assist level zero or when the brake levers are pulled, you can only activate the throttle in 1-5 assist and the trigger is mounted near the right grip (which feels natural for me as a right handed person), it’s still a good idea to always shut the bike off before folding or mounting/dismounting just to be safe
- Even with the fenders and rack, which sometimes rattle on electric bikes, the Evelo Quest rode very quiet, even across the bumpy grass sections we tried
- The extra-long seat post and telescoping-height stem make this a suitable platform for a wide range of riders (even though it only comes in one size option), it felt solid and stable to me (even when riding one-handed and filming)
- The power cable leading back to the hub motor is a bit exposed on the right side of the bike, this is not uncommon to see, just be careful not to snag it or let the bike tip over onto this cable because it could bend and break
- No suspension on the fork or seat post, these smaller-wheeled electric bikes tend to be less comfortable because of the higher attack angle (the tires fall into potholes an cracks vs. spanning them) but at least the saddle and grips are soft and you get fatter 2.125″ tires
- The kickstand offers some adjustability but is mounted near the left crank arm which means it can prevent the bike from being walked backward and just get in the way if you’re doing service on the drivetrain
- The display panel swivels but is not removable which means it could take some damage from weather if parked outside frequently or get scratched during the folding process, there’s no magnet or rubber clasp to keep the frame folded so it could bounce around during transport (consider using your own adjustable bungee strap like these)
- The cadence sensor is fairly responsive but not as quick as a cadence + torque or pure torque sensor (the most magnets I have seen is 12 and this one uses 10 for sensing, it can take a moment to respond because of the single gear size and slower cadence at start)
- Minor grip here but I don’t love the pedals, they are a basic plastic folding platform design but aren’t as easy to fold as some with an internal finger release, for these you have to push the pedal in to fold and it requires more hand strength and balance
- Because of the extra large chainring, getting started on this bike can require more leg strength and there’s only one gear, so it’s nice that the bike has a throttle to help you get going, I felt most comfortable pedaling at ~15 mph
- I’m not sure why this was happening, but there seemed to be a delay in the trigger throttle, which resulted in me pushing further (to get it working) and then feeling a jerkier zoom vs. smooth start, it just seems like there’s a delay for some reason