Trying to figure out which e-bike to buy in light of how saturated the market is. Zectron’s new e-bike, first launched in Indiegogo, carries a unique folding frame design with an embedded display, great lights, and promises of tech features that will let you track your bike’s location. The company also says that the e-bike can last up to a week on a single charge. That’s some big promise for a product that has yet to be officially released.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been walking around on an early prototype of E-bike Zectron, and even had other riders test it to gather their opinions on its performance. From what I’ve seen so far, ride comfort, strong battery support, and turn responsiveness are what separate the Zectron from the rest of the market. But is it slick enough to warrant your investment?
|Engine size||350W . brushless gear reducer motor|
|Pedal support||Five levels|
|Range||70-mile pedal support. Optional external battery 150 miles|
|Max speed||20 miles per hour|
|Battery capacity||36V 417.6Wh|
|Display||Built-in 3.9 inches|
|Lights||Front and rear LED lights provided|
|Gear||Shimano 7 speed|
|Fenders||Front and rear optional at purchase|
|Tire||20″ x 2.125″ with large wheels|
|Folded size||33 x 25 x 31 inches|
|Riding, unfolding, size||59 x 26 x 42 inches|
|Cargo capacity||265 pounds|
|Bike weight||55 pounds|
Open the box and the first look
Two boxes have arrived to set up the Zectron e-bike, but your experience may change when the final commercial version is shipped to customers. A box holds the bike in an extended position, with the handlebars folded down and the front wheel removed. The other box contains the saddle, seat post, kickstand, front axle, folding pedal and frame shock absorber. For what it’s worth, packing components separately should give each part enough space for safe and undamaged transport.
Assembling the e-bike is not as complicated as the two boxes seem. Remember, the main frame comes pre-installed, so all you really have to do is attach the smaller components – most of which don’t require anything other than an Allen wrench and/or screwdriver. The shock absorber frame attaches to the frame under the seat area with two clearly visible fixing points. All the hardware and tools needed for the final assembly were provided by Zectron, and it took me just a few minutes to set everything up.
There are a few elements that go into getting the bike ready to go once all the parts have been installed. The steps include:
- Open main frame: Rotate the front half of the bike forward and align the main frame. Flip the metal locking mechanism until the lock locks into place. Large frame lever, with buttons below.
- Front of body: Turn the front body up with the handlebar assembly and lock it into place. The front trunk does not adjust and remains at a single height.
- Slide onto the seat post: Release the quick locking clamp and raise the chair to a level suitable for your height. You can keep the seat in the forward position if you don’t want to make the folding position compact.
- Flip the pedal down: The pedals double to create a smaller stowage factor, so be sure to flip them down and into the correct position before riding.
The front light is installed and ready to go out of the box. The large and bright taillights are mounted behind the main frame and come on automatically when you apply the brake.
The 3.9-inch screen is integrated into the center of the steering wheel and the lights are illuminated at a high level for easy visibility when driving outside. I’ve tested e-bikes with dimmer screens, and they’re generally unreadable in direct sunlight. That’s not the case here, and I’m happy about that. The only problem I currently have with the display is that you can set the Unit System (SI).
The buttons for controlling the display are on the left side of the steering wheel, although one of the buttons on this first model is a bit off-centre and needs to be pressed into place to activate. I’ll keep an eye on the watch when the product officially launches to see if the buttons are fitted properly.
As for the sound that comes out of the screen when you press a button, I find it too loud for comfort. Sometimes, I don’t need everyone on the block to know that I’m riding an e-bike. While it’s always realistic to have a confirmation sound, other people who’ve cycled in the past few weeks have commented exactly the same. Zectron told me this will be tweaked before commercial release, so I’ll keep an eye on that as well.
One aspect that stands out from all the other e-bikes I’ve tested is the invisible wire. The wires on the Zectron are hidden inside the frame so all you see is a set of cables leading down from the handlebars and then a short cable from the front lights to the frame. As for how messy e-bikes might look, I was struck by the clean and modern look of this bike.
The model I tested had a built-in, non-removable battery with an advertised range of 74 miles. An external battery option will be available when the bike officially goes on sale for retail, which will double the bike’s battery range. Obviously, that benefit comes at the cost of extra weight and money.
The unique frame and suspension system is designed to give the driver a comfortable driving experience – even over long periods of time. The saddle is suspended by a frame and shock absorber, so when you go through bumpy roads, the feeling of riding will be less turbulent. Once the car is shipped, buyers will be able to choose different sized shock absorbers to match their dimensions. It is a beauty that makes the e-bike more user-friendly.
In terms of battery life, the Zectron’s 74-mile rating is assuming you have pedal assist enabled. The range obviously varies based on rider size, terrain and engine method used, but this bike is clearly designed with endurance in mind. I only charged it twice during my testing over the course of a few weeks and never felt a need to worry about battery life.
Although the handlebar height cannot be adjusted, I tested the bike with people from 5 feet, 4 inches to 6 feet, 1 inch, and it is very comfortable for all riders. The saddle can be adjusted to suit the rider’s height, and the handlebars seem to be positioned just optimally enough to not have to be balanced.
Finally, a powerful 350W motor is present on the American model, with a top throttle speed of 20 mph. I was able to hit that speed and also hit 10 mph up very steep hills thanks to pedal assist and a 7-speed Shimano gear system.
There are many folding e-bikes out there today but the Zectron model offers one of the most comfortable rides and a clean and modern look thanks to its hidden wiring. It folds down to a size small enough to fit in the trunk of a car or stash in a closet, but it doesn’t fall short thanks to its large screen, powerful motor, and large wheels.
My appeal is as follows: There’s currently no option to switch to an SI unit on the screen, the button press sounds are loud, and the bike is pretty heavy at 55 pounds for a foldable bike. A few of these things could be worked out as the bike continues to be refined for a commercial release. There is also a smartphone app and connectivity in development with future options to enable the tracking device on the bike.
Zectron offers five cool colors — we tested bumblebee black and yellow — with prices starting at $1,999. The company is active a crowdfunding campaignHowever, that offers the base model for just $899.
Alternatives to consider
If you want an e-bike that rarely needs to be charged and rarely has to be pedaled, the Fiido L3 is a great choice. There are many other folding options to consider.