What do real-life owners of FreeGo Folding electric bikes really think? Read on…
My husband and I are in our 60s and never thought we would be fit enough to ride again. I suffer a lot of back pain if I walk too far and wanted the exercise. While camping in Somerset I stopped to talk to a couple who were both in their 70s and who were just leaving the site on their electric bikes. He had just had a triple heart bypass and she needed two new hips. I discovered that although he could hardly walk they had ridden some 160 miles in one week and loved it.
“I finally found the FreeGo brand which ticked all the boxes”
I then started to look on the internet at what was available having no previous knowledge of electric bikes. After some 50 hours reading every available review and trying to understand the difference between a 24v and 36v battery power; a range of battery amperage from 8ah to17.5ah; and a 200 brushless motor against the 250 brushless, I finally concentrated on bikes under £1200. We were not set on a folder but liked the idea of easy storage and putting the bike in the car without effort. Incidentally a well built folding or step through bike can also go on a car carrier even though you have no crossbar on the bike. You will simply need to get a cross bar bracket to connect from the saddle rod to the handle bar support.
I finally found the Freego brand which ticked all the boxes. The standard Freego Hawk bike specification is identical in every way to their folding bike so the choice was easy. I liked it for a number of reasons but most of all because it was one of the more substantial folding bikes on the market but no heavier, except for the small commuter bikes. This was also the only folding bike on the market that takes the larger 36v 17.5ah battery. It can take a 36v 10ah battery which is enough power but we live on a hill and thought for the extra £200 it was worth it.
The bigger battery also gives you 15-20 extra miles totalling up to about 60 miles on pedal assist which is more than enough for us. If you use the throttle facility and little or no pedalling then there will be less charge retained in the battery but still ample for moderate trips.
“I can understand why it is one of the best selling folding bikes”
This bike is simply amazing and I can understand why it is one of the best selling folding bikes on the market. It is very nippy with such enormous power, which you need especially when going up hills. You have quick take off power from stationery on just throttle control, so easy and safe at traffic junctions. We have been up a 1 in 3 hill, which makes me breathless when walking. On the bike you need hardly pedal and it is as if you are being pushed by an elephant. On hills there is no need to use throttle alone because pedal power is so easy on the legs and you would simply use up your battery more quickly. If you use your gears correctly then hills are even easier.
On level roads it is so easy to pedal without battery that you simply switch the power off. After all you need to justify getting some exercise!. You have 3 settings of battery pedal assist power and you really do not need more than low setting unless on an incline because the bike goes too fast and you do not really want to keep braking more than is necessary.
Even on a moderate hill you do not always need the highest setting and you hardly need to pedal on a flat surface if you do not wish to. On reading previous reviews on hill pedalling this was not made clear. I have weak legs so was delighted to find that hills are a doddle.
Once I found the make we wanted, I tracked down on the internet the Freego main office in Hampshire, where you can find your nearest dealer. You can also phone them for a chat. I easily found our local shop in Coulsdon, Surrey and they were happy to arrange a test ride on different bikes which I strongly recommend.
We also found them at a local agricultural show so had been given a lot of useful information which confirmed my research on the bike.
We test rode the Freego Hawk and the folding bike and liked both but because we have a small garage and no car bike support still liked the idea of the folding option. The smaller battery was ample, so we were tempted, but because your dealer needs to modify the battery holding lug to hold a bigger battery we thought it was better to go for it now rather than as a replacement at a later date.
“Our shop in Coulsdon checked very carefully that this bike was suitable for our use”
There are so many makes on the market it is very difficult to work out what will suit everyone, and we found our shop in Coulsdon checked very carefully that this bike was suitable for our use on local trips to shops etc and cycling in the countryside.
Our Freego dealer (Cycling Made Easy) puts a special gel in the tyres so if you get a puncture the holes are simply filled and very little maintenance is needed other than occasionally ensuring the tyre pressure is correctly maintained. Freego offers accidental cycling insurance from ETA who can also give a quote for covering the insurance replacement cost of the bike. We found our household insurers simply added ours to our policy for £5 each per month providing it is kept locked when not used.
The Freego specifications are readily available on the net and the weight is similar to other bikes, this one is 22kg without the battery (if carrying it folded or on a bike carrier you may wish to remove the battery). The battery only needs about 4 to 5 hours charge after initial set up and you can top it up when needed rather than letting it completely drain. You have a charger indicator showing used up charge both on the battery itself and on the handlebar control box.
The battery charger is so small you can take it with you in a pannier if you need to go further than your charge which we consider very unlikely. It is very cheap to charge up so if you are camping and have a hook up that is inexpensive and easy.
The bike comes with a rack at the back and we were advised that you need to be careful that you choose the right pannier so it does not foul the wheels. The wheels are 20inch so not that small. The light at the front is run off the battery and you have a fitted light at the back with ordinary batteries which is a safely feature.
One warning though, if you have short legs or a bit under 5ft 6in then the larger 17.5ah battery may not fit because the saddle will need to be lower. It has to be a certain height to accommodate the bigger battery. You could always have the Hawk which is the standard version or a10ah battery which is adequate for most people’s use and cheaper. There are also other Freego models.
You get an enormous warranty on these Freego bikes which are built in China- 4 years bike parts, one year components and 2 years on the 17.5ah battery. The 10a battery does about 500 lifetime charges and the 17.5, does about 1000 charges before needing replacement.
– Glenys, London