A newbie and the cheapest folding bike

gctkaz

New Member
Greetings from the Canadian west coast. I have been a lurker for a few months, and just got my first e-bike for occasional commuting, a portion of which will involve about 1.5km of 10-15% grade.

A little wall of text background first - I'm a man of rather limited means, and getting married has turned that into a man constantly living on the brink of poverty; I'm sure many of you can relate. So, when it comes to buying things for my own use, I get the cheapest thing I can find and I make it work, or at least I live with very low expectations.

Given that I was looking for ultra-cheap, I gave the Ancheer folder serious consideration but due to uncertainties particularly with the battery interface and brake configuration (have a look at the promotional images and tell me what's wrong), I ended up some other unknown bike on eBay. I won't give the link, but you can see the pictures and have a search yourself. It cost me USD$519 for the bike with free shipping - I had it sent to a cross border receiver and paid another $35 or so in duties when I imported it about 5 days after purchase. (Spoiler: I have been so impressed with this bike that I bought another one for a relative, this time for USD$479).

What drew me to this was firstly the price, and also the frame style which is similar to the updated Voltbike Urban, which I hoped would mean the battery is compatible too. 7 speeds compared to the Urban's 6 so I can possibly change the cassette if I need a different gear spread. Everything else I can deal with as a compromise.

Quick overview:
  • The frame seems sturdy and has a replaceable derailleur hanger. The welds look good. All of the bolts on the bike were torqued well. Frame folding latch is solid, adjustable, and has a safety stopper, as does the stem folder.
  • Battery is 5-pin, 36V, and 8.8Ah on the sticker, which is 10% more capacity than advertised.
  • The rear rack and mounting tabs are sturdy, I sat right down on it and it didn't flex or budge.
  • The black rims with black spokes look sharp, and run true side to side with good spoke tension.
  • Brake levers are 4-finger and have motor cut-off.
  • I estimate weight to be a bit over 50 lbs. Hard to carry when folded, but not too troublesome when unfolded - I have no problem carrying it up a flight of stairs and I'm a pretty scrawny guy. (update - it's much heavier with the rear basket and a Kryptonite 1090 chain)
  • No water bottle bosses
  • No V-brake bosses, if that matters
  • No support stand for folded bike
  • No magnets or other retention to keep the bike folded
Assembly was straightforward - just to install the plastic folding pedals, the front wheel, and front fender/light. The front axle is a bolt-on, and the fork dropout uses a retaining washer like I have seen on some BMX bikes. The derailleur guard was bent quite a bit, I just bent it back until the derailleur could move through its complete range. The only real adjustments I had to make were some barrel adjustments to the derailleur for proper indexing, moving the brake calipers slightly to eliminate rotor rub, and tightening the headset to remove some play. As expected, the derailleur needed minor adjustments for the next few rides while the cable stretched out.

A few specs and measurements:
  • Fork - steel suspension fork, threaded headset, 1-1/8" (guess)
  • Crankset - 170mm arms, square taper, 46T chainring
  • Cassette - 7-speed, 14-28T
  • Shifter - Shimano 7-speed (Tourney?)
  • Pedals - plastic folding
  • Stem - Folding, telescoping with quick-release handlebar clamp
  • Handlebar - Riser, 24" width (guess)
  • Brake levers - Wuxing, 4-finger with motor cutoff
  • Brakes - No name (Filet) mechanical disc with 160mm rotors
  • Grips - Wuxing hard plastic/rubber
  • Throttle - twist throttle with headlight rocker switch and horn pushbutton
  • Seatpost - ~500mm, 33.9mm diameter
  • Wheels - 20", 36-spoke. BR Rainbow DA-20 rims (black) with black spokes, bolt-on hubs front/rear
  • Tires - no-name
  • Electronics - 250W rear hub motor, 5-magnet cadence sensor, USB accessory port, LED console with 3 levels pedal assist, 36V 8.8Ah locking battery with 5-pin connector, no connectors on the cables
  • Accessories - metal fenders, rear carry rack without spring latch, integrated 4-LED front headlight, side kickstand, 2A Li-ion smart charger, two keys
Quick impressions:
  • The key needs to be inserted and turned on in order to use power. Battery can be charged in or out of the bike.
  • Pedal assist is fairly late kicking in. This is probably mainly due to having only a 5-magnet cadence sensor. Will see about upgrading or sticking more magnets onto it later.
  • The pedal assist itself feels good. Level 1 is about what I like for casual riding, level 2 lets me move a bit more quickly. I rode up about a 10% grade for a while, and level 2 makes it easy. I like to pedal a bit, so level 3 is almost too much unless I'm in a hurry. For commuting I expect most of my time will be spent on level 2.
  • The brakes once tuned are decent, and can lock up the wheels when needed. The gearing is a bit high for trials, otherwise I would try pedal-kicking this thing. I may replace them with Avid BB7 down the road, but for now they work well.
  • The grips are HARD. Almost plastic hard. I have already replaced them with ODI Rogue lock-ons.
  • The twist throttle, while I figured I would like more than a push throttle, takes up a lot of handlebar space. When I installed the ODI grips, the shifter and lever were pushed almost to the curve in the riser bar. However, due to the added grip length, I can now pull the levers using just 2 fingers, and I no longer plan to replace the levers with shorter ones.
  • the gearing is on the low side, so speeds will remain fairly casual even in the tallest gear. That's a compromise I might take as I would rather be able to ride the bike uphill if the battery runs out.
  • the suspension fork is supremely ****ty. While I feel it's sprung OK for my weight and it definitely smooths out road bumps, if I really jump down on it, it will bottom out with a hard thunk (and also tops out), and there is some play between the upper stanchions and lower legs. Not sure what I can replace it with when it wears out, but for the price I paid I'll be happy if it lasts three years.
  • the pedals are small compared to what I'm used to, and feel like there is a small amount of give to them. I have a pair of Xpedo KCF01AC quick release platforms on order to replace them.
  • the stem is telescoping but I don't even need it - I just run it all the way down. I'm fairly average in height, but if I raise the stem, it can go up to my chest at a standing height. Ridiculous.
Other thoughts/additions:
  • I am about 95% confident that the rear wheel uses a cassette/freehub system, but the retaining ring doesn't look like the usual type I have encountered with the inner splines, but rather has the notches on the outside for removal using a hook spanner. Would love to replace this with a 11-28T (or 11-30T) cassette for a bit more speed. Going to 8 speeds on an 11-32T would be even better, but I'm uncertain of the freehub width and I think the throttle may prevent me from installing any kind of Rapidfire-type shifter.
  • I have added a Klickfix quick-release rear basket to the bike. Easy on and off, and locks with a key. Pricey, but so convenient...
  • Also added a Mirrycle side mirror... having been on motorcycles for a while, I always feel a bit blind on a bicycle...
  • The steering feels very odd to me, but I think it has to do with me being very accustomed to a wide riser handlebar and a little bit of forward extension on the stem of my mountain bike.
  • The manual seems to indicate this bike was originally produced (or branded) for GearBest, one of those relatively famous Chinese e-commerce websites, but I was unable to find any record of this particular model.

For the price, I am very happy with the bike. Everything works well and is solid, with the exception of the front fork. With that said I will add so far my expectations have been exceeded, but this might be best for someone who isn't afraid to turn a wrench on his own bike, and doesn't mind putting in a little leg power to go along with the 250W power plant. I'll post some updates once I have had a chance to really put some distance on this thing over the next few weeks. Sorry for the pictures, many of them were taken in only a semi-lighted environment... Feel free to request pictures on specific parts of the bike, I'll be happy to share what I can.

outside.jpg battery.jpg charger.jpg hub.jpg rim.jpg controls-stock.jpg controls-new.jpg
 

Nova Haibike

Well-Known Member
  • I am about 95% confident that the rear wheel uses a cassette/freehub system, but the retaining ring doesn't look like the usual type I have encountered with the inner splines, but rather has the notches on the outside for removal using a hook spanner.
Unfortunately, it is a freewheel, like this one.

Bike looks decent for $500.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
I'm also sure the price point means freewheel, but you can buy a DNP 11-28T for under $30 USD. We have two 20" folding bikes with DNP's and the teeth haven't shredded yet, as predicted in some online forums.

It's good that you know your way around bikes. Having to unbend a derailleur is probably typical when a lower cost bike comes in a box, but it would unhinge many internet buyers. Glad it's working out for you.