- A sturdy, folding electric bicycle, that can handle weight up to 330 lbs, available in four color choices with affordable second-battery option, the 250 watt geared hub motor is lightweight and efficient vs. powerful
- Lighter than many other folding ebikes at 43.5 lbs, the front wheel has quick release, the battery is easy to take off for storage or charging, and the bike can be carted along when folded vs. having to pick it up
- Sleek integrated lights keep you visible but aren't aimable, slightly fatter tires add comfort but don't have reflective stripes or puncture protection, 160 mm mechanical disc brakes stop well and have motor inhibitors
- Responsive 12-magnet cadence sensor and twist-throttle allow you to ride however you wish, the display panel provides limited feedback and can be difficult to read in bright light but the bluetooth app is deeper and you can charge your phone from the display panel with USB
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[UPDATE] EBR has received many comments on this review, the YouTube video, and I personally have been emailed and called by backers who have expressed that they did not received the bike. This is a frustrating place to be in… I performed this review the same way I do many others, after being contacted by Agency 2.0 who was working with Xing Technologies through Indiegogo. I was told that Indiegogo introduced the Zycle team to Agency 2.0 and, that gave us early credibility as to the creators of the project appearing to be backed by Indiegogo and therefore, trustowrty. I have worked with both Agency 2.0 and Indiegogo in the past to cover the Sondors and MOAR products, which were both successfully delivered to backers. The nature of crowdfunding is that sometimes things take longer to fulfill or may fail entirely, it’s part of being an early backer and getting a lower price. I tried to communicate this possibility in my review but realize that showing and riding a bike on EBR carries a lot of weight and bring a sense of trust because I have worked in this space for many years and always strive for quality. I’m sorry that this trust was violated through the review of the Zycle, which seems to have not been delivered. I’ll continue to do my best, balancing fresh ideas and great deals against the trustworthiness I sense from the project leaders and companies that approach me. At this time, based on communications from parties involved, I am under the impression that Xing Technologies has gone quiet for both Agency 2.0 (who is still owed tens of thousands of dollars for their marketing efforts), and Indiegogo, as well as you, the backer. My hope is that something good may yet come of this original review content, which I plan to leave online, but that this intro letter may serve as guidance to backers and a warning to others who may still be considering backing. Sincerely, Court Rye (EBR Founder & Reviewer). As always, I welcome your comments and feedback below.
Zycle is the first folding electric bike from Xing Technologies to be introduced into the United States via an Indiegogo campaign in early 2018. Xing Technologies appears to be a larger Chinese manufacturer that is investing in new markets, and also successfully introduced and delivered a folding e-scooter in March of 2017… so I trust them a bit more than some of the smaller upstarts that have used crowd funding sites in the past. This product is being shipped direct to consumer, but comes with a comprehensive one year warranty. It’s available in four colors, and apparently you can mix and match the frame color and battery casing color… which seems like a logistics nightmare, but makes it fun! As with most folding e-bikes, this thing is only available in one frame size but has a longer adjustable seat post to accommodate short and tall riders alike. The seat post is extra thick, with at 31.8 mm diameter, and that makes it sturdy. The post also acts as a pin, securing the rear portion of the frame, which otherwise twists forward for folding. It’s a very unique folding design, the first time I have seen anything quite like it. Perhaps they named it the Zycle because it looks like the letter Z when viewed from the left? Most other folding bicycles rely on a hinge at the center of the frame that bulges out a bit for strength, and my girlfriend once bruised her knee on this type of design, so I really love how sleek and narrow the Zycle folding mechanism is.
It’s very nice looking electric bike in my opinion, with integrated wires, a compact nearly-hidden motor, mid-frame battery pack, and many black accents that blend together. Everything from the motor casing to the spokes, stem, cranks, and touch points are black. And, you may notice that the colorful part of the frame is rounded and uniform. There are strong lines here with black paint isolating the color and allowing busier hardware to fade away. I noticed that Xing Technologies is using a geometric bird as their logo, and that reminds me a lot of Tern, which uses an origami bird (designed to evoke folding and honor the tern bird), so I wonder if Xing noticed this company and immitated it? Whatever the case, the Zycle is not nearly as refined or expensive as most of the Tern folding ebike models, like the Vektron. Anyway, I really appreciate that the Zycle isn’t covered with stickers, busy accent marks, or too much branding. Officially, this e-bike priced at $1,499 but that’s a lot higher than the crowd funding price of ~$650, plus $99 shipping. I was told that there are some stretch goals which could add a rear rack and phone holder, and the phone mount would be nice because the Zycle is compatible with a Bluetooth smartphone app. There’s a full-sized USB port on the right side of the display panel, so you could even charge while using the app for GPS directions, speed, and battery percentage feedback. I love that the bike has integrated lights, even though they aren’t aimable, aren’t super bright, and the headlight doesn’t point where you steer. I love that there are bosses for adding front and rear fenders (and apparently a rear rack), but there are no bottle cage bosses… which is pretty common on folders. In many ways, this product is using entry-level basic parts. The motor isn’t super powerful and the battery has a lower than average capacity, but the 12-magnet cadence sensor, motor-inhibiting brake levers, and twist throttle (with on-off toggle button) let you ride however you wish. You can pedal with minimal support to extend range and then occasionally twist the throttle to climb a hill or catch up with a friend.
Driving this ebike is a compact, relatively lightweight, 250-watt, internally geared hub motor from Bafang. It produces up to 35 Newton meters of torque, and feels more powerful on the Zycle than full sized bikes because it’s built into smaller 20-inch wheels, which provide a mechanical advantage. The motor is painted black to match the spokes, and hides neatly between the 160 mm disc brake rotor on the left and 7-speed cassette on the right. I could hear it producing an electrical whine at high speed, but it wasn’t too noticeable. Unlike mid-motors, which are becoming popular due to their balanced mid-frame position and efficient operation (leveraging the cassette), hub motors don’t interfere with shifting at all. However, very few mid-drive motors offer throttle support, and in some ways, they just aren’t as fun and satisfying. The trade-off would have been to go with a higher powered but heavier motor, then sap the battery quicker… which begs for a battery capacity upgrade, which adds even more weight and cost! The only breakdown I see here is that the Zycle MSRP is similar to some of the competing folders which do offer more powerful motors, batteries, fenders, racks, and even suspension forks sometimes. To me, the real win with the Zycle is aesthetics, the narrower frame design, lighter weight, and higher weight capacity. That said, what good is a 330 lb weight capacity if the bike is struggling to move and climb? I don’t know, it worked great for me as a ~135 lb rider, and the frame felt stiff and sturdy. The 13 to 28 tooth 7-speed cassette works well with the 44 tooth chainring to deliver comfortable pedal speeds from zero to ~20 mph, which I believe is the top assisted speed. You can definitely pedal past 20 mph, but the cranks start spinning pretty fast. The pedals felt average, I do like the lever-folding design of the pedals vs. the push-in folding design because it’s more predictable, but all folding plastic platform pedals that I have tested suffer from flex and just aren’t as stable as non-folding alloy platforms. You can find some decent folding pedals that are Aluminum, which strike a balance between stiffness, size, and foldability. So, pedaling worked alright and I didn’t have any issues shifting through the seven speeds, but wasn’t able to do so as quickly or easily with the large thumb shifter. These shifters require an awkward reach up with prolonged press vs. a little reach down with quick clicks. The reason they chose this part, I’d guess, is that it provides space for an on-off toggle switch on the half-grip twist throttle. I’m a big fan of this on-off option, because it can reduce the potential for accidents when gripping and steering on bumpy terrain, or if you are mounting and dismounting the bike. The best approach is to always turn the bike off before mounting, dismounting, or folding it.
Powering the Zycle motor, integrated lights, blue LED display panel, and potentially your portable electronic devices, is a compact Lithium-ion battery pack. I have a love-hate relationship with this pack because it’s cute, has its own USB port (in addition to the control panel), can be charged on or off the frame, and is available in four color choices… but it’s also a bit difficult to take off the frame, doesn’t have an obvious handle to carry safely, and just doesn’t offer that much power? Rated at 36 volts and 6.6 amp hours for a total of 237.6 watt hours, this battery pack is about half the capacity of most full sized ebikes in 2018 and slightly lower than the 350 watt hour capacity that I consider average. And so, we’re back to the weight, cost, performance trade-off consideration. I do love how good this battery looks when mounted to the frame, it’s hidden in plain sight! The weight of the battery is positioned low and center, which improves balance, and the right edge almost acts as a chain guide, in combination with the plastic chainring guard, to minimize chain drops. The demo bike I looked hat must have been dropped or perhaps the battery was bumped at one point, because the red plastic cover on the right side of the pack had started to come loose. This is something that a bit of super glue might fix, but another reason to be very careful when dismounting and carrying the battery around… larger Lithium-ion packs tend to be expensive to replace but Xing Technologies is selling them for just $199 with free shipping! That’s not bad at all… and you can maximize the life of the battery by storing it in a cool, dry location and keeping it at ~50% full when you won’t be riding for a while. Suddenly, the question of range becomes less of an issue, because you could easily toss one of these compact spare batteries into a backpack or maybe into a trunk bag on the rear rack. Even if you didn’t use it to power the bike, you could always have extra power for your phone or other USB-chargeable devices.
Operating this bike without the smartphone app is very simple, and I like how the control pad feels. You simply mount the battery pack, listen for it to click as you slide it in from the left side of the frame. Next, hold the little M button between the + and – buttons on the display. It boots up quickly, and blue LED lights communicate how full the battery is and also what level of assist you are in. There’s 0 to 5 levels of assist, and you can override with full throttle power at anytime, as long as the throttle on-off button has been clicked in to on. There’s also a little power icon and bluetooth icon near the top left corner of the display. And, there’s a little rectangular button positioned at the lower left edge of the control pad, which turns the lights on and off. In my opinion, this control pad works very well for simple riding, but can be difficult to read if it’s bright out. The background color of the assist number and battery capacity readouts is white, and it reflects sunlight compared to the black plastic shell. When the blue LED light is active, it only barely shows up next to the white, and left me squinting and using my hand to block the sun. There have been other LED display panels that seemed too bright for me in the past, so I like that this one is a bit muted, it’s just not as easy to read as I wish it was. At the end of the day, if you need more power from this ebike, it’s easy to twist the throttle or click + a bunch of times regardless of how well you can read the display. Occasionally, you might have to stop and squint to see how full the battery is, but it works well enough. I was not able to play with the smartphone app during the review, but was shown some screenshots. It looks well done and offers a lot of profile and social extras, so you can save your routes and share with friends. This isn’t something I have ever done, I just like how the app will show a battery percentage vs. five 20% bars, and that you can plan routes with GPS, all while charging your phone from the main battery. One last note, I cannot say for sure, but it seems that if you hold the throttle constant for a few seconds, it activates cruise control and keeps that speed even if you let go of the throttle.
It’s always fun to review unique electric bikes like this. Sometimes, unique can mean ugly or difficult to use, but that’s not the case with the Zycle. The folding procedure may take some time to figure out, and it’s not as compact as most other models I have folded, but it could be tipped onto end, and is easy to cart around. Not having to worry as much about bumping your knee, about being too heavy for the bike, or about having the motor overpower you and delay (thanks to the higher resolution cadence sensor and motor inhibiting brakes) is nice. The 160 mm mechanical disc brakes worked well, and offered good stopping power for the smaller wheels. It would be nice if there was a magnetic clasp or bungee strap to keep the bike folded, and maybe a rubber stopper to keep the quick release lever on the fork from bumping into the rear sections of tubing. You can purchase an adjustable plastic bungee strap pretty affordably online to keep the bike from rattling or coming unfolded. When sitting down in the folded position, you may have to keep an eye on where the front of the bike is resting. If you rest on the base of the seat post, the bottom could get scraped and sharp. If you rest on the frame, it could get scratched up and the plastic chainring protector could be vulnerable. It seemed like there were a few options for how the bike could fold and that’s nice, but it can also get a bit confusing. For someone who appreciates the design and colors offered on this bike, wants to avoid bumping their knee, and is alright with a less powerful motor and smaller battery, the Zycle could be a great fit. It’s the kind of folding bike that is satisfying to pedal around, even with the motor off. It felt more comfortable than I expected, considering that there’s no suspension fork, and I liked the display design, even though it was a bit more basic. Big thanks to Xing Technologies and Agency 2.0 for partnering with me on this review. There is always some level of risk with crowd funded electric bikes because the design could change and delivery could be delayed. Use your best judgement and share your comments and questions below, where I will do my best to help answer :)
- Unique frame design supports an impressive 330 lb max weight capacity, I think it looks nice with bold color and strong lines, the motor and battery are very integrated, paint-matched, and hidden, along with the internally routed cables and wires
- Even though the Zycle uses a weaker 250 watt geared hub motor (vs. 350 or 500 on some competing products priced in the same range) the smaller 20″ wheels provide a mechanical advantage and it climbed fairly well for me (though I only weigh ~135 lbs), the motor should use energy more efficiently
- With a higher resolution 12-magnet cadence sensor, the Zycle starts and stops quickly with pedal assist, I love that you can override with the twist throttle or disable it completely for safety
- The 160 mm mechanical disc brakes are a slight upgrade, and should stay clean while providing good stopping power, but my favorite part is that both brake levers have motor inhibitors built in to stop more immediately
- It appears that you could add fenders and Xing Technologies may be releasing a rear rack option as well, the plastic chainring protector helps the chain stay on track and clear pant-leg fabric, the integrated lights are a wonderful safety feature and they look beautiful
- Even though the display panel is limited and sort of tricky to read in bright light, I love that it has a full-sized USB port on the right edge so you can power your phone and use the Bluetooth app for more advanced feedback! the battery pack also has a USB port built-in, so you can use it for portable power off of the bike
- I reviewed the Zycle when it was being crowd funded, but I trust the parent company, Xing Technologies, because they successfully introduced a folding scooter in March 2017 called the Xscape, and they sell other ebikes in Asia
- The swivel fold design allows for a really clean look, there’s no bulging hinge in the middle of the frame that could bruise your knees
- Available in multiple color combinations, apparently you can choose both the frame color and battery pack casing color to mix and match, there are four color choices
- Hub motors operate independently from your pedaling, so you won’t have as many issues with gear mashing or have to shift as frequently as a mid-drive in order to reach the maximum assisted speed, the downside is that they aren’t as energy efficient
- Minor pro here, the folding design of the plastic pedals is easier to use for me than the kind where you push the whole pedal in, this design has a little grab lever to release and fold
- Sometimes, folding electric bikes can feel flexy or wobbly because of the joints and telescoping stem but the ZyCycle felt solid to me and the stem is more fixed
- When the bike is completely folded, you can use the main tube like a handle and sort of wheel it around vs. lifting it up, just be careful how you set it down to avoid scraping parts of the frame, the bottom of the seat post, or the plastic chainring guard
- With slightly wider 1.95″ tires, the bike feels relatively smooth and stable, I liked the Selle Royal gel saddle and ergonomic grips
- This won’t be a pro forever, but the crowd funding price is quite good, perhaps the MSRP will come down too? Considering that this appears to be an online-only product, it’s nice that they offer a one year comprehensive warranty
- The mid-step frame design and smaller 20″ wheels bring the entire bike closer to the ground and make it easier to mount, this is great for people with shorter inseams or limited hip and knee movement
- The LCD control pad provides very limited readouts (just your assist level 0-5 and battery charge level 5-dots) so you can’t tell how fast you’re riding or how far you have gone… I also found that it was difficult to read in bright daylight
- I was surprised that the battery pack weighs almost 5 lbs considering it’s about half the capacity of some competing products, like the Bosch Powerpack 500, that weighs just 5.8 lbs, the bigger gripes were that the pack doesn’t have a handle and would be easier to drop and that the plastic cover felt a little delicate and was coming off of the demo unit, you have to push hard or slap the pack to slide it out from the middle of the frame
- The drivetrain isn’t bad, but it uses the most basic entry-level derailleur from Shimano, the Tourney groupset just isn’t as crisp or lightweight and the thumb shifter mechanism is big and requires more reaching and pushing than triggers
- There are some drawbacks to this pivot folding frame design, it doesn’t get as compact as traditional mid-frame hinge designs, doesn’t rest on the ground quite as stably (or have a metal bar to protect the plastic chainring guard), and it doesn’t have a magnetic clasp or bungee to keep it from coming unfolded
- The motor and battery pack are both limited, 250 watts is the base level of power we see in the USA and that means it won’t feel as zippy or climb as well, especially if you’re a heavier person
- Minor gripes, the kickstand isn’t adjustable and the pedals are a bit flexy (just like all plastic folding pedals), the motor power cable is a bit exposed on the right side, and my pant leg got caught in the chainring when pedaling which probably wouldn’t happen if there was a guide or larger chain cover, consider using a reflective velcro strap or rubber brand to bind up loose clothing that could get caught here
- The stated MSRP of $1,500 seems high to me, this ebike looks great but doesn’t come with suspension, fenders, a rear rack, or have a suspension fork or more powerful motor… the style, USB charging ports, and smartphone app are the most interesting parts
- I tested the Zycle on smooth sidewalks and it felt good, but there’s no suspension here to absorb the bumps of rougher terrain, just the slightly larger tires, gel saddle, and hard ergonomic grips
- Because the headlight is built into the main tube, it doesn’t point where you steer, and is more of a “be seen” design than a “see the trail” because it’s aimed straight vs. down and isn’t super bright
- I wonder if the rear light would get blocked if you add a rack or fenders? Keep an eye on it and consider adding additional lights to your helmet, backpack, or the back side of a trunk bag to stay safe… especially on a lower bike like this
- The battery charging port is very close to the left crank arm, just be careful not to bend the plug or snag the cable if you’re charging while the battery is mounted to the frame