- A feature-packed folding electric bike available in six beautiful colors, telescoping stem and extra long seat post allow it to fit a wider range of riders, established brand with good support
- Large 180mm mechanical disc brakes provide above-average stopping power, both brake levers have motor inhibitors and the 12-magnet sealed cadence sensor is fairly responsive
- Twist throttle mode overrides assist for instant power, modest 350 watt geared motor feels smooth, integrated lights keep you visible and run off of the battery for convenience
- Paint-matched alloy fenders, sturdy steel rack with bungee attachments, puncture resistant tires are wider than average to improve comfort, very basic suspension fork, the stock saddle is a bit hard
To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by the Electric Bicycle Center which is based in in Fullerton, California. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of Motiv products.
I’ve been reviewing Motiv electric bikes for several years now and the Stash is their first folding model. Each year they keep finding ways to improve this bike while keeping the price point basically the same. It features an internally mounted battery, pedal assist and throttle mode, and this year they’ve added paint matched alloy fenders, a rack and lights (great if you ride in the rain or at night), while keeping the price at $1,549, the same as last year’s model where you had to add those on for an additional $99. Way to go team Motiv! This is one of the nicest looking folders I’ve seen because of the curved top tube and six color choices (matte black, matte blue, white, aqua, sea foam and turquoise). Weighing in at ~50 pounds vs. last years ~45 (due to fenders, rack and lights) it’s not the lightest contender, but it is one of the most comfortable and that’s due to the basic Tempo suspension fork (with roughly 63mm travel), and the oversized Kenda 2.125” tires. I appreciate an upright and “full sized” ride because my back and neck tend to get sore on bumpy terrain, especially when I’m leaned forward, and the Stash delivered on these points. I’m 5’9″ and the extra long seat post delivered full leg extension, something not always easy to find on a folding bike.
Motiv stuck with the 350 watt planetary geared hub motor which, when combined with the smaller 20″ wheel size, offers a lot of torque. It’s zippy and responsive, and I like that I always felt in control because I could override the five levels of assist with the twist throttle instantly and both brake levers have an integrated motor kill switch so there were no delays. The brakes are well thought out, they’re Tektro Aires with 180mm rotors, rubber lined levers, and an integrated bell on the left. Many other affordable ebikes like this go with flick bells that usually don’t produce the same loud ring and tend to crowd the handlebars. The cockpit on the Motiv Stash is clean and allows easy access to the control pad on the left (up, mode, and down for interacting with the display) and an oversized thumb shifter on the right for shifting through the eight speed cassette in the rear. Two improvements they made this year are the upgraded Shimano Acera rear derailleur vs. last year’s entry level Tourney, an upgrade of several steps, and a 12-magnet sealed cadence sensor vs. last year’s six. The cadence sensor is more of an on/off feel, but the motor ramps up fairly smoothly and at least this sensor is higher resolution, it responds faster with 12 magnets vs. 6. And again, it’s worth mentioning that these upgrades don’t raise the price from last year’s model.
Motiv has been working on this new electric bike for some time and the attention to detail really shows. I especially like the battery design which is hidden inside the frame and yet can still be charged on or off the bike. It can also be switched off when mounted, to keep people from tampering with your display, and it even has a USB Type A charging port positioned far forward on the main tube, so you can actually use it while riding. This is something I haven’t seen from many other companies. I’d recommend using a right angle USB adapter to keep the cord from getting kicked while pedaling, and use some zip ties to route up towards the handlebar. I also appreciated the matching accessories and the fact that black wires tend to blend in, especially on the darker color choices. With this bike, you’re getting upgraded 180mm Tektro Aires mechanical disc brakes, (vs. the 160 mm from last year’s model), locking grips and a quick release front wheel. I like that they still included folding pedals but the plastic isn’t as stiff or sturdy as an alloy pedal, but for the price point and all the upgrades your getting I would consider this a fair trade off for stow-ability and convenience.
The LCD display is easy to navigate and features a backlit mode, which also turns on the front and rear lights. Again, this is another upgrade as last year’s model had only the front light wired in. I also appreciate that the battery display has five bars (the outer perimeter around the battery display counts as one) vs. four bars found on many other displays. It allows you a more accurate reading of battery life, which is really a nice feature for longer commutes. Still, it would be even nicer to have 10 bars or even a battery percentage, but this display balances compactness with ease of use and gets the job done. Besides the five levels of assist, the Stash also features a walk mode, which might come in handy if you’re walking your bike up an incline, or if you get a flat tire. You do have to hold your finger on the button for walk assist to operate though, which some people find to be a bit of a hassle. It’s a nice option to have, whether you use it or not. As with many displays, this one is not removable but can swivel a bit to reduce glare. Do be careful with the display when folding the bike so that it doesn’t get scratched against parts of the frame or wheel. This is a challenge or consideration with most folders, especially if they end up on one side during transit. I sometimes use a blanket or towel for added protection :)
The updated Motiv Stash is a winner in my book, it comes with lots of good upgrades, keeps the price stable, and offers above-average customer support. In many ways, the 2018/2019 model exceeded my expectations. The rack holds 55lbs. And, combined with the fenders and lights, this bike could make for an excellent commuting platform. It’s peppy, responsive and comfortable for a folder, and even on bumpy terrain I had a blast riding it with Sam. One additional area for improvement might be to add a derailleur guard, to protect the derailleur when folded or from tips. I like that you get eight speeds (vs. last year’s seven) and a larger 52 tooth front chainring, which helps to balance pacing and feel more like a normal full sized bicycle. The largest rear sprocket is 32 teeth vs. 28 on many competing products, and that offers a great mechanical advantage for climbing. As always, I welcome questions and feedback in the comments below. I also invite you to post pictures, recommend accessories, and connect with other owners in the Motiv electric bikes forum.
- Suspension fork, even though it’s not adjustable and doesn’t have lockout, it adds a lot of comfort given the more compact frame and smaller diameter 20″ wheelset
- Larger than average 2.125” tires with added puncture resistance provide both comfort and stability
- paint matched fenders in alloy won’t rust, wrap around supports won’t come loose or go out of place as easily
- 350 watt motor is on the upper end for folding bikes and this one is a Bafang 8fun, a brand I’m familiar with and trust
- nice chain guide keeps the chain on track, which is especially nice given the smaller wheels which tend to bounce around more than larger ones that span cracks
- Upgraded Shimano Acera vs. tourney rear derailleur, 11-32 tooth 8 speed cassette is an upgrade from the older Stash
- Mid step frame, highly adjustable seat post and stem accommodates a wide range of rider sizes
- I like that the frame, motor, spokes, wheelset and pedals are all black, this is a sleek looking bike and the wires blend in well on the matte black and blue frames, and even on the lighter colored frames the wires are well wrapped and routed and do not look busy or cluttered
- You get five levels of pedal assist, walk mode, throttle only mode and throttle override at full power all the time, with motor inhibitors on both brake levers
- Good weight distribution, the battery is hidden and protected inside the frame, it locks as well for security and there’s an on/off switch and USB charging port for charging portable electronics, the pack can be charged on or off the frame
- sealed cadence sensor that’s responsive and stays clean vs. the older large magnet style
- Bottom bracket support arm, another upgrade as the older models didn’t have one
- 180mm Tektro Aires mechanical disc brakes are much larger than other folding ebikes that seem to go with 160mm, this larger size provides a mechanical advantage for powerful stopping and requires less hand strength
- Solid one year warranty, Motiv has been around for several years now and the founder, Cameron, is supportive for dealers and customers and I trust him
- battery has an on/off switch built in, along with a USB Type A port for charging accessories (5v 500ma)
- Both lights run off of the main battery pack vs. using disposable AA cells, this is convenient and more sustainable
- Six color choices (Matte Black, Matte Blue, aqua, sea foam, white, turquoise)
- Stock saddle is a little firm, might want to swap for a comfort saddle or get a long suspension seat post
- No magnet or bungee clasp to keep the bike folded, consider a regular bungee cord with plastic ends so it won’t scratch the frame
- Kickstand is in the middle of the bike, which can cause pedal lock when backing up
- Matte paint shows finger prints and smudges more than a satin or gloss finish, I talk about this in the video
- The headlight might bounce up and down being mounted to the suspension arch vs. the headset or handlebar
- The middle folding joint is a bit large and could be an area to watch out for, so you don’t bump your knee when pedaling
- At 50 lbs. it’s not the lightest folding bike, but again, with the rack lights and fenders it’s definitely not the heaviest either