Recently, Snapcycle sent us a new bike to review: the Snapcycle R1. At first glance, it might not appear to be anything special in its price range. After spending some time with the bike, I’ve realized that it’s not only a great deal compared to the competition, but that it’s my new favorite fat tire e-bike. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.
How It Compares To What I’ve Been Riding
Let’s start with my two favorite e-bikes so far: the Townie Path Go! and the 2019 Radover. The reason there are two favorites and not a #1 and #2 favorite is that these bikes are for two very different jobs. The Townie is a Dutch-style utility bike that happens to be electric, and has premium parts, but it wouldn’t be very good off-road riding. The Radrover has been a favorite because it can easily take on desert trails, even when things get sandy.
I was expecting to get something fairly similar to my Rarover, but was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was so much better.
First off, it has a very sleek and smooth frame design, with the battery integrated into the frame. It has a keyhole on the side of the bike to release the battery, along with a safety latch to prevent the battery from falling out onto the ground. Turn both, and the battery easily slips down right behind the front wheel.
The battery pack and motors are another step up. With 14 amp-hours of Samsung 35E cells, it’s definitely going to be pushing me around for years. The battery management system is CE-certified, and has its own thermal protection against high or low temperature (many other e-Bikes don’t come with this), so I don’t have to worry about safety. The included quick charger puts out 3 amps, which means less time charging and more time riding.
More importantly, it doesn’t come with the weaker 750 watt maximum motor that my old bike has. Instead, it has a motor rated for 750 watts continuous draw, with the real maximum around 1200 watts for short bursts. This unleashes 85 Nm (about 63 lb-ft) of torque. Hills, bumpy sections, and other things that challenged my old Radrover just aren’t as much of an issue, while flat-terrain acceleration is noticeably better.
I also notice that the bike’s other components are a step up from what I’ve been riding. Hydraulic disc brakes, a slightly better derailleur, a beefier controller, and other things make it pretty clear that it’s a real step up all in all. The components aren’t as good as my Townie, but it’s about half the price of that bike.
Very Competitive Pricing
Speaking of pricing, that’s another thing that surprised me about this bike.
Newer versions of the Radrover with only some of these upgrades come in at about $2000. A quick search for other fat-tire e-bikes with hydraulic brakes shows that this is the going rate, with the cheapest competitors coming in at about $1900, but many over $2000. Few of these bikes come with fenders and a cargo rack and the quality of components, even at prices north of two grand.
The Snapcycle R1? You get all of this for $1,699. It’s a total steal at that price.
How Does It Ride?
When I took it out for testing, I thought that maybe I’d find a catch there. Surely, at that price, there must be a catch, right?
Wrong. It actually rides very nicely. Once again, it’s no $3000-4000 bike, but it’s not that far off in experience. It’s smooth, has even power delivery, decent LED lighting, and is otherwise a pleasure to ride. It powers through dirt, up and over hills, and doesn’t lose its mojo on moderate terrain.
One small downside is that I’d like to be able to configure the pedal assist a little more. It stops assisting much at a certain speed for each assist level, and then surges majorly up to the next speed if you go up to the next level. Level 1 loses steam at around 7 MPH, leaving you doing a lot of pedal work at 10-12 MPH. If it could be configured to give a consistent wattage at different power levels instead of basing its assist level on speed, that would be helpful.
But, then again, not everyone goes out on rides with someone exercising a dog on a bike tow leash. On rides where I’m able to set my own pace, and not be limited by what a dog can safely do for long distances, the system works great. It’s only awkward if you need to limit your speed in awkward ways between what speeds the pedal assist system is designed to help you with.
What About Service?
If there’s a corner that companies like to cut, it’s service. Does the Snapcycle’s low price mean you can’t get help if something goes wrong? Not at all.
When mine arrived, I noticed that the pedal assist wasn’t working. I called them and got connected immediately to someone in the United States natively speaking English. When they couldn’t solve it, they passed my contact information to a higher team, who got back to me within hours. They shipped out a new sensor quickly, and got the bike back on the road. I was able to change the part easily, but they made it very clear that I could do a video chat with them or contact them any other way needed to make sure the part got put on right.
I didn’t tell them until late in the service process that this involved a review bike. This is exactly the same level of quick and helpful service any customer can expect from Snapcycle. So no, they definitely aren’t cutting corners on service.
If you’re in the market for a fat-tire e-bike in this price range, I’d recommend giving Snapcycle a serious look. They’re offering a lot more bikes for a lot less money than their competitors. More importantly, they’re not cutting any corners to get there.
This post is supported by Snapcycle. All photos by Jennifer Sensiba.
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