- A value priced folding fat-tire ebike at that comes in 2 colors (matte black or matte white) and features a front suspension fork, comfortable saddle and grips, as well as powerful hydraulic brakes
- Comes in either a 500 watt or 750 watt (Canada-USA) Bafang fat-tire specific hub-drive, 48v 17ah high capacity battery, with thumb throttle and 9 modes of cadence based pedal assist
- A lot of great features like included plastic fenders, battery integrated lights in the front and rear, bottle cage bosses, adjustable length kickstand, and rear rack
- You must keep the keys in the battery to operate it, and you must remove the seat to get the battery out if you want to charge off the bike, wires can get stretched at maximum stem adjustment length
To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by Spark Bikes. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of Spark Bikes.
Spark Bikes is a new company to me, but they have been out for a while now, so I was excited to check out their bikes and see what there are all about. Today we are looking at the Spark Bikes Spark Mini, a hub-drive fat-tire folding bike made to take on just about anything you can throw at it. The Mini is a value priced ebike at $1,599 ($1,899 in Canada) and comes in 2 colors (matte black or gloss white) and 1 frame size. There is also a $1,299 USD version that is a bit cheaper that comes with a smaller rated battery and mechanical brakes, but for today, we are reviewing the $1,599 version. The mid-step frame is very approachable, and these smaller 20” wheels give it a good stand over height. Although there is only 1 frame size, you do get some adjustability with the telescoping stem. Usually when I see these on folding bikes, they can be stretched and strained so that that wires and tight and don’t allow you to make a sharp turn, so do be aware of that. The Mini can handle quite a bit, and that is thanks to the Kenda Krusade Sport fat tires with 60 threads per inch casing. As mentioned before, the tires are 20” x 4” and rated for a 5psi-30psi… the lower levels, such as 5psi, really work well on various terrain such as sand or snow, I highly recommend dropping that tire pressure if you want to take it out on adventures because it makes a world of difference. But these tires here keep everything comfortable since each of those little knobs somewhat act as mini absorbers for the bumps on the road. Unfortunately, there is no puncture protection or reflective sidewall here. Assisting the tires with comfort is the front fat-tire specific MOZO suspension fork. It looks like it has about 60mm of travel with some fairly large stanchions. There is some nice adjustability here like the hydraulic lock out and preload adjust as well. Other comfort points include ergonomic stitched grips and a Velo plush saddle with rubber bumpers underneath. I am really impressed with all the attention to detail here, it looks like they are using 13 gage spokes to keep everything sturdy as well as a sturdy bolt on rack too. This is rated for 25kg, so about 55lbs all together and hangs panniers well as well as making use of a spring latch. Another great detail here are the battery integrated lights. I love that more and more bikes are becoming standard with these and it really is a nice feature to have it run off the high capacity battery power. The Spark Mini has both an integrated headlight and an integrated rear light as well… the rear light is 2 LED that is kind of protected since it is tucked under the rack, while the front is kind of a custom headlight that is very bright. Other features include an adjustable kickstand mounted in the rear to eliminate pedal lock, flick bell, bottle cage bosses, aluminum alloy folding pedals, neoprene slap guard, and these included 100mm wide plastic fenders to keep you dry. Quite a lot of included features, so it is gonna bring the weight to about 63.4lbs.
Diving the Spark Mini is either a 750 watt (USA) or 500 watt (Canada) planetary geared Bafang geared hub-drive motor with 80nm of torque, 9 modes of pedal assist, and a thumb throttle. It has a 12 magnet high resolution cadence sensor, which used to be kind of a premium setup, but nowadays it is considered somewhat older technology. Compared to todays top of the line systems, it tends to feel sluggish because it has this very pronounced on or off feeling, so I recommend using the throttle to ramp up your speed if you want that smoother feel. It kicks up to 20mph with no problem and stopping is nice since they also equipped it with motor inhibitors. On the mechanical side, they have a 7 speed Shimano Acera derailleur which is a step up from the typical entry level derailleurs I usually see on value priced ebikes. I love that it has a derailleur guard too, that really helps protect these systems in the shipping process of if the bike gets knocked over. It has a 11-32 tooth on the cassette… so a little bit better than the standard 14-28 tooth you sometimes see on value priced bikes. In the front you have a 52 tooth chain ring and it is all brought together nicely with trigger shifters. Stopping the Mini are these 180mm rotor hydraulic disc brakes with motor inhibitors. 180mm is a massive setup for a bike like this and really a big win, it works so well given the smaller 20” diameter wheel size along with the powerful motor to give you a real mechanical advantage.
Powering the bike is a 48v 17ahlithium ion battery pack. I would consider this a high capacity battery with that 17ah rating. The amp hour designation refers to how long the battery can perform at its peak, while the volts act as the peak itself. With a rating such as this, it would be able to go the extra mile and then some. The battery has an LED charging indicator, weighs 9.1lbs, and mounts behind the seat post. The bike is setup very well, but most of my gripes have to do specifically with this battery. Mostly, you must have the keys in at all times to operate it, so it can be annoying to have them jingle and bounce around. In addition to that, you have to take the seat all the way off if you want to remove the battery and charge it off the bike. Charging is done with this 1.6lb 3amp charger, a little bit quicker than the standard 2amp you sometimes see on value priced bikes. To really care for this and other lithium-ion packs, I have heard that storing in a cool dry location vs. extreme heat or cold will extend the life and try to keep it about 50% full when not using for long periods so you won’t stress the cells. Try not to let it run down to zero, because that’s really hard on the cell chemistry.
Operating the Spark Mini is straightforward, in fact, it’s using a nice industry standard display that you sometimes see on other bikes. The LCD is large, backlit (if you hold the up arrow), and adjustable angle to reduce glare. It is not removable, but there does appear to be a disconnect spot for easy replacement if you experience damage at some point down the line. All of the standard readouts about current speed, battery capacity, and assist level are shown, and if you tap the power button (the little rubber button on the remote pad) it will cycle through advanced readouts like average speed and max speed. Holding down on the button pad activates walk mode, and double tapping the power button opens a menu where you can adjust the maximum speed of the bike, though you’ll need to enter a password of 1919 to do so. This cold be handy for people who want to ride slower for safety reasons… but you can always just arrow down on assist for less power. The real consideration is how fast the throttle will get you going, because it’s always offering up full power when pushed all the way down. I was able to reach just over 20 miles per hour in the highest assist level during my tests. I would have been happy with a 5 level assist vs. 9 because I don’t love clicking through so many levels when trying to focus on riding. At least the display is within reach and easy to learn (there are only three buttons). After a bit of practice, it’s easy to click up or down without even looking at the display for feedback. The one thing I have noticed about this particular button pad is that if you snag the buttons with fabric or somehow bump them when parking, the plastic cover can get bent up and become vulnerable to breaking off. I have only seen this once, but I have never seen the rubberized buttons get broken, so I consider it a point of consideration and extra care.
All in all, the Mini is a great bike if it falls under your consideration, but there are some tradeoffs I should mention. For example, I noticed that adjusting the telescoping stem, you have a set of wires that could become pinched if not careful if you raise it too high and make a tight turn. Also, when folded, the bike cannot be walked quite as easy as some of the other competing folding bikes currently out there and there are no straps or magnetic claps to keep it folded. Probably the biggest tradeoff however would be with the battery. You have to keep the keys in at all times to operate it leaving them to bounce around and make noise. And finally, the seat itself must be removed if you wish to take the battery off the bike to charge it. All these may seem like nitpicking, and for a bike priced at $1,599, it is hard to fault. Spark Bikes has really impressed me for the price point, and on top of that, they also offer free shipping for both the US and Canada! Truly a capable bike that is well supported and has a lot of attention to detail. I would like to thank Spark Bikes for inviting me out to check out their lineup.
As always, I welcome questions and feedback in the comment section below. Whether you own the bike, have taken a test ride, or are brand new to the space, my goal is to provide an objective and honest resource. You can also join the Spark Bikes ebike forums and share your own photos, videos, and review updates to help others! Have fun out there, and ride safe :)
- A value priced electric folding fat-tire bike at $1,599 ($1,899 in Canada) and comes in 2 colors (matte black or matte white) and features a comfortable front suspension fork
- Kenda Krusade Sport 20” x 4” fat tires, rated for a 5psi-30psi, and has some bump absorption with its knobby tread
- A front suspension fork with 60mm of travel and some fairly large stanchions, preload adjust, hydraulic lockout, and is fat-tire specific
- Comes standard with battery integrated headlight and rear light, something that more bikes are doing these days and I love since it adds visibility and safety
- The adjustable kickstand included is mounted away from the pedals in the rear, so that eliminates pedal lock, an annoying occurrence when reversing a bike with the kickstand down that this bike doesn’t have to worry about
- A lot of comfort here like the front suspension fork, fat-tires, ergonomic stitched grips, and a Velo plush saddle with rubber bumpers underneath
- Sturdy rear rack is rated for 25kg, so about 55lbs all together and hangs panniers well as well as making use of a spring latch
- A big win here are the 180mm rotor hydraulic disc brakes with motor inhibitors, 180mm is a massive setup for a bike like this given the mechanical advantage of the smaller wheel size
- The 750 watt (US) and 500 watt (Canada) rear hub motor is powerful, everything feels very zippy from the smaller wheel mechanical advantage, overall a really capable electric setup
- The 48v 17ah battery is a high capacity for this setup, it really can go the extra mile since it doesn’t have to work as hard with these smaller diameter wheels with a mechanical advantage
- A lot of cool little touches like a neoprene slap guard, derailleur guard, aluminum alloy folding pedals, included steel fenders
- The price is very competitive and also includes free shipping for both the US and Canada
- I noticed when folded, the bike cannot be walked quite as easy as some of the other competing folding bikes currently out there and there are no straps or magnetic claps to keep it folded
- When you are telescoping the stem, be careful not to take a tight turn with it raised to the top, this can strain the wires that go from the handle bar to the bike systems
- The headlight is fork mounted, so you could get some bouncing in visibility if you were riding on rough terrain
- There is no USB ports or charging on the battery, a shame you cant take advantage of that high capacity battery pack
- To operate the bike, you have to keep the keys in at all times on the side of the battery to operate it, this leaves them hanging around to bounce while riding as well as make noise
- 9 modes of pedal assist may be a real treat for some, but for me personally, I did not enjoy scrolling through all the many levels to get to the one I wanted
- The controls for the display have a groove in them that can catch cloth and other material, so if you are wearing gloves for example, be aware of that
- Using this battery setup means the seat itself must be removed if you wish to take the battery off the bike to charge it, kind of an annoyance
- Official Site: https://sparkbikes.ca/