- A sturdy, wave style step-thru, folding electric bike available in a wide range of colors, comes with lots of useful accessories like a rack, fenders, and LED lights
- Removable high-capacity battery pack is easy to charge on or off the bike thanks to a flip-up saddle, adjustable height stem and suspension fork improve comfort
- Plastic guide keeps the chain on track at all times while protecting loose clothing like pants or skirts, derailleur guard protects the drivetrain, sensitive pedal assist with throttle override
- At over 50 lbs, the bike is compact but not super lightweight, the display panel works well but is not removable, center-mount kickstand gets in the way of the left crank a bit
The Ness Icon is a value-priced folding electric bike with deep step-thru frame design and a wide range of color options. While it only comes in one frame size, not uncommon for folding bikes, it does have an adjustable seat height and telescoping stem to accommodate a wider range of riders. It comes with sturdy Aluminum alloy fenders, a well-positioned rack that stays clear of the saddle and is high enough to support small panniers, and lights. The headlight is wired in and can be controlled by the display panel while the rear light is stand-alone, using two AA batteries and having an on/off switch that you’ll have to remember when you start and stop riding. In the world of electric bicycles, there are many drive system configurations and the Icon has one of my favorites. You can pedal with five levels of assist support and override with full power using the twist throttle at any time. This means you can get help starting from a stop sign or traffic signal, boost yourself up to speed without changing gears or arrowing through assist, and get extra help during a climb if the terrain changes. But the pedal assist design isn’t half bad and stands alone very well, it uses 12 magnets for quicker response to pedal movement vs. some of the older or comparable value-priced folding electric bikes that have just six magnets. The drivetrain is very basic, an entry-level 7-speed Shimano Tourney with enlarged thumb shifter, but it’s easy to understand and the larger shifter works well with gloved hands. The chain appears to be rust proof and is kept on track by a plastic guide on the large chainring. The derailleur and motor power cable are well protected behind a Steel derailleur guard at the back. This guard likely plays a role in shipping and could come in handy when the bike is folded up and stored in the trunk of a car, boat, or private aircraft. The sensitive bits won’t get banged up if the bike tips… but you might want to purchase an adjustable bungee cord to keep the bike in its folded position. Ness doesn’t include a magnetic clasp or rubber band system like some other products.
Driving the bike is a compact, planetary-geared hub motor that’s encased in the rear wheel. Rated from 200 to 350 watts, it may not sound as impressive as some full sized ebikes rated 350 to 500 watts, but keep in mind that the smaller wheels provide a mechanical advantage. By using a compact motor like this, Ness was able to keep weight down and use battery power more efficiently. The battery is a more powerful 42 volt design vs. many 36 volt options I have seen. In short, the motor does a fine job and I was more impressed with how responsive it was and how much control I had using the throttle than how powerful it is said to be. Note, that because this is a geared motor, it produces a bit more whirring noise under power. But, since this is not a mid-drive it does not interfere with the chain and derailleur at all and allows for that deep step-thru design… it’s also a lot more affordable. The motor supports up to 20 mph top speed but you can actually dig into the display settings and lower the top speed if you want to. Another approach is to use lower levels of assist which use less power, extending your ride, and don’t go as fast.
Powering the motor, backlit display panel, and headlight, is a removable 42 Volt 13 Amp hour battery pack. While not as hidden as some competing folding electric bikes (which have batteries that fit into the main tube horizontally), it still looks good in my opinion and offers greater capacity. I was told that it contains Lithium-ion Samsung cells, which are known for being lightweight and long lasting. The light silver Aluminum battery casing blends in with the white frame and is very durable. At the top, a plastic cover houses an LED readout to communicate how full the pack is, but you might have to turn the bike on to get it to light up? There’s also a handle at the top for sliding the battery off of the bike and carrying it around safely. Note, that you have to unlock the battery before removing it by inserting the key into a slot near the base and twisting… but then pull the key out of the pack! If you leave the key in and try to slide up, you may bend the key as it collided with the left seat stay tube. I have seen and tested many electric bikes with a vertical battery design like this but not all of them felt as secure and smooth. I feel that the battery weight is well positioned on the bike and the battery itself is solid. You do have to insert the key into the pack and twist to “on” in order to ride with electric assist, and the key must remain in. For those using a keychain, this could result in some rattling noise and does make snags more likely… but if you just leave the key without any kind of keychain, the top portion does fold to stay out of the way which is nice. The only thing is, just leaving the key makes it easier to misplace or get stolen. I prefer battery packs that don’t have a key requirement or on/off switch… where you just rely on the power button at the display panel.
The LCD display on the Ness Icon was new to me, but it worked very well. It is not removable, but is positioned securely near the left grip, within reach of your left thumb while steering. It shows battery capacity, speed and trip stats (cycle through by tapping power once it’s on). You can hold the up arrow to activate backlighting and the headlight, or hold down to activate walk mode and let the bike push itself along slowly. weighing in at ~51 lbs, this is not the lightest-weight folding electric bike I have seen, not by a longshot, but it brings a lot of utility that others do not. If you want the versatility, safety, and easy-approach of such a low-step frame… then this is a solid option. Some other features I have seen on competing electric bikes are USB charging ports for portable electronics and adjustable-angle displays to reduce glare. Perhaps this display panel could be forced forward or back, maybe if you loosen the mounting bracket just a bit you could achieve this. The wires at the front of the bike are bundled nicely with a neoprene Ness-branded wrap. And there are a lot of wires here because of the two brake lever motor inhibitors. Once the bundle reaches the head tube, most of the wires go into the frame for protection and improved aesthetics. This is a good looking bike for being so feature rich in my opinion.
I was able to meet the founders of Ness and learn a bit about their company during the course of this review. Having been in business in Florida, USA since 2015, they are now selling through a handful of shops and their e-commerce website. Rather than try to launch a complete line of ebikes, the founders have focused in on folding models like the Icon here and their slightly different Rua which comes in black vs. white color scheme. Having seen and tested the bike, I feel like the major decisions for utility, control, and durability have all been addressed well. It’s an above-average product at a very reasonable price. I do wish it was lighter, but am not sure I’d trade the fenders, rack, and larger battery for that. The deep wave frame is unique and well executed. Even the cast rims, which tend to be more durable than spokes… and certainly colorful in this case, are an upgrade of sorts, but they do add weight. Big thanks to Ness for partnering with me on this review and meeting me way out in Vancouver Canada! We had a good time and both models held up great in the light rain.
- Ness is based in Florida and offers a pretty good warranty for a relatively new, smaller company, they provide one year comprehensive with five years on the frame, I like that they offer free shipping in the USA (Canada costs $200 for shipping)
- Five color options let you personalize the bike a bit, or get a pair and have slightly different colors to keep the bikes separate, I like that the Icon model uses a white background because it will be more visible to cars in low-light conditions
- Included fenders and a rear rack setup make the bike more capable if you plan on commuting, transporting groceries, or live in an area like Vancouver BC (where I filmed this) that experiences frequent rain
- I was comparing the Ness to the Rua model and noticed that the Ness had cleaner wiring, they ware bundled and integrated through the downtube vs. tacked onto the outside
- As someone who has transported a lot of e-bikes, folded them, and ridden on varied terrain using throttle and pedal assist, I have experienced chain drops frequently and seen derailleurs bend when bikes tip onto their side, so I like that the Ness bikes have plastic chain guides to keep the chain on track and a steel derailleur guard to protect the sensitive bits (including the motor cable)
- Instead of using spokes, the Ness Icon has solid cast rims that won’t get bent as easily and can probably support more weight, they are paint-matched and look great, the rear rim encases the motor for added protection
- This is one of the lowest frame designs I have tested on any folding electric bicycle, that makes it very easy to approach, mount, and stand over at stops, if you have hip or knee sensitivities it would be a good choice
- I love that the saddle has a lever at the back allowing it to flip forward and make way for the battery to slide on or off the frame, just make sure you unlock the pack at the base and then take the key out or you could bend the key while sliding the pack up because the left seat-stay is very close to the edge of the pack
- You get 160 mm disc brakes offering good stopping power and motor cutoff (both levers have motor inhibitor switches), the left Tektro lever also has a bell built in for friendly signaling, Mechanical brakes can require a bit more hand strength to actuate compared to hydraulic but they cost less and still have some advantages over rim brakes (staying cleaner than rim brakes in wet or muddy conditions)
- Minor plus here, the seven-speed drivetrain gives you plenty of pedaling options for urban riding and the large shifter, while basic, is easy to understand and use for most people I speak with, it may also work better with gloves than tiny triggers since the paddles are so big
- Ness is using a higher definition 12-magnet cadence sensor here that will be more responsive to pedal start and stop but you also get a twist throttle that can override assist and work at zero, it’s a great setup
- The headlight runs off of the main battery pack and is controlled by the display panel, the rear light requires two AA batteries and has its own on/off switch but is positioned nicely below the rack so it won’t get blocked, both lights are name brand and fairly large, it’s cool that they come included
- Considering the relatively low price and feature set here, I feel like the bike offers a lot of value and appreciate that it comes with an LCD display vs. a 3-led console or something very basic, the display isn’t perfect (the battery indicator only has four bars) but it is easy to read, easy to reach and interact with, allows you to enter settings like top-speed (to make it slower if you want), and I think it looks nice
- Sometimes folding electric bikes have magnets, rubber straps, or other tie-down mechanisms to keep them from rattling and clinking together during transport, the Icon does not have this but at least it has a metal support tube that’s welded onto the bottom bracket to help protect the plastic chain guide
- Cast may be heavier than spokes and don’t flex as much for comfort, but given the small 20″ wheel diameter, spokes would probably have felt rigid as well so I love the choice of ergonomic grips (even though they aren’t locking and could twist easier) and the suspension fork (even though it doesn’t have lockout)
- This bike only comes in one frame size which is very similar to the Ness Kua, so it’s great that the stem telescopes upwards to match the seat post, this allows for taller riders to optimize leg extension
- Minor gripe here but it appears that the right chainstay does not have a slap guard, this isn’t as big of a deal given how short the chainstays are and how large the chainring is… and you could always add one yourself like this aftermarket
- The battery pack design stands out a bit, there are other folding e-bikes that have tube-integrated batteries but they often don’t provide as much capacity, at least the pack is positioned towards the middle of the frame for balance and is silver to blend in with the white paint job
- In order to activate this ebike, you have to put the key into the battery pack ignition and turn to on… and then leave it in there, you can’t take the key out while riding and this means it could rattle around or get snagged (especially if you have a keychain and other keys attached) but at least the key folds and the ignition slot is positioned high up and mostly out of the way
- As with most folding electric bikes I review, the Ness Icon does not have bottle cage bosses, consider using a trunk bag like this with a bottle holster if you plan on bringing water for a longer ride
- The kickstand is mounted near the bottom bracket by the left crank arm, not quite far back enough to stay completely out of the way if you walk the bike backward but it does sort of push to the side if you force it so it’s not quite as inconvenient as the kickstand on the Ness Kuo and some other models where you literally have to pick the bike up and pedal forward to clear the kickstand
- The fenders, rear rack, and key can produce a bit of rattle noise when riding on bumpy terrain, you can see and hear this in the video, the motor also produces some whirring noise under full power