The ET-Cycle F1000 folding fat tyred ebike is not just a bike – it’s guaranteed conversation starter and will provoke reactions! Most people think it looks great, “like a mini motorbike!”, and a few (specifically my kids) think it looks rather daggy. Looks are subjective, but luckily functionality can be extensively tested.
After several weeks with this bike, I’ve seen where it shines and what its limitations are. I’ve also experienced a shift of mindset when it comes to commuting, and have an idea of what sort of rider would suit this bike.
ET-Cycle is road legal ebike with a 250W motor that is on available in two configurations; the F720 at $1,799 with mechanical disc brakes and a 15Ah, 720Wh battery, and the F1000 for $2,399, as tested, with hydraulic disc brakes and a 21 Ah, 1008Wh battery, these ebikes represent excellent value for money if you line them up against the going-prices for ebikes.
Most comparable folding ebikes will usually be lighter, but they will also usually have a much shorter battery range and quite likely a motor with far less “oomph”. So it’s up to you to weigh-up battery range against the ease of management. Even the base model F720 bike has a far larger battery than most of the comparable folding ebikes on the market, and the F1000’s huge battery capacity really does allow for longer rides with no range anxiety.
Constructed with a (folding) aluminium step-through frame, the hand and saddle contact points were made for rider comfort. A powerful 48V motor has the torque to get you cruising speed quickly and easily. The F1000 was quite an excellent little commuter and was put into service for quick shopping trips and errands that would otherwise have seen me using the car. I found myself enthusiastically opting for the ebike by choice as much as I could.
Focussing on the the motor, the Das-Kit 48V system has the Australian road legal 250 watts (maximum) of motor assistance while you are pedalling up to 25kmh. Beyond this speed, as with all road legal ebikes, the motor doesn’t provide any further assistance.
As the sensor that controls the motor first has to detect pedalling before engaging, there is a lag of about one full second before the sensor detects the cranks rotating and kicks in. This lag takes some getting used to, especially when slowly navigating this heavy bike through tight turns or when needing to crossing busy roads quickly.
Conveniently, there is a handlebar-mounted “walk” switch that instantly gets you moving up to about 5-8kmh. From there, you can begin pedalling and get back under way. This feature is actually intended to make walking alongside the 34 kilogram bike effortless as it can propel itself at low speeds.
You will definitely want to shift into an easier gear before you come to a stop. As powerful as the motor is when engaged, there’s no denying the weight of the bike when you’re trying to pedal without assistance. It also takes around one second to disengage the motor when you stop pedalling so this requires some anticipation from the rider to control the motor cutting in and out as required.
There are six levels of power assistance and having the motor kick-in strongly with a big boost of speed isn’t ideal for slow speed manoeuvring, the large buttons on the power controller are convenient to reach for adjusting the power assistance level to suit your required speed. The buttons are large and easy to operate, even while wearing winter gloves.
Pulling on the brakes will immediately disengage the motor’s assistance so this negates any concerns of the motor pushing you against your will. The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes deliver reliable all-weather stopping with the easy modulation and light lever action that are typical for hydraulic brakes. I feel that hydraulic disc brakes are almost always the better choice over mechanical discs on any bike and this is an update that is worth budgeting for.
The 6 available power levels control the speed at which the motor stops giving you assistance. Starting with level 1, assistance will cut off at roughly 10kmh, then 13kmh, 16kmh, 19kmh, 22kmh and finally the maximum 25kmh at level 6. Level zero (0) provides no assistance, without needing to shut the system down entirely, as restarting takes a few seconds.
Information such as speed, trip computer, battery life and assistance level are displayed on the large clear LCD screen that is easy to read on the go, and has a backlight for riding on low light conditions.
During my commutes, to test the battery life under the harshest conditions, I mostly stayed in the maximum assistance level 6. However when manoeuvring through traffic, reducing the power level and associated top speed will prevent the bike from running away from you.
The million dollar question for any electrically assisted mobility vehicle is – how far can you go before recharging? The manufacturer claims a rather optimistic 150-200km “in ideal conditions.” I tested this bike almost entirely on maximum level 6 assistance, with the integrated front and rear lights always on, and repeatedly managed 75km before the battery dropped to one bar of the maximum 5 bars of charge when full. This is a pretty impressive range that suggest lower power levels will take you quite a distance on a single charge.
Recharging the large capacity, removable battery from one-bar to a full charge using the 3 amp charger took roughly 5 hours. The charger has an internal fan that does make some noticeable noise while charging.
As it is a particularly heavy bike, I didn’t fancy pedalling it home without assistance so I never rode it until the battery was exhausted. Based on the range I could consistently achieved, dialling down the power slightly I would anticipate that I should easily reach over 100km on a single charge for ‘real world’ usage.
One detail I would like to point out, the battery includes a USB port so you can charge your phone while out and about. That is a very nice detail for riders using their smart phone for navigation.
As noted, the core of this bike is the aluminium alloy folding frame. Due to its 34kg weight (which includes the large range battery), most buyers will likely never use it as a folding bike. Though it is still attractive because of the convenience of the step through frame, and the overall look of the bike.
The human-to-bike contact points on the F1000 are all about plush comfort. The Promax suspension seat post and wide comfortable Selle Royal saddle, combined with the low pressure “squish” of the 4 inch wide fat tyres, help soak up bumpy broken footpaths and misaligned concrete seams.
Personally I found the saddle a little too slippery and this lead to my weight shifting further forward on the saddle than I prefer. This wasn’t hugely uncomfortable, but is was not my preferred riding position. Saddles are a very personal thing and what works for one may not work for another so don’t be afraid to swap the saddle if this is needed.
The 45mm of travel provided by the RST suspension fork is quite soft and lightly tuned. The soft spring setting allows the fork to easily compress and use all of its short travel when encountering bumps. There is also a lockout switch if you prefer a firmer ride.
The leatherette grips, also by Selle Royal, are very comfortable and have a flange for your palms to rest on. The large stylish stitching on one grip did start to unravel although if this were my bike, a drop of superglue would fix it in a flash.
Folding pedals are a standard feature on folding bikes, but unless you are regularly folding your bike for storage or transport and using the folding pedals as intended, you may wish to swap them for something with better grip and larger surface area. I found them too small and quite slippery, and looking at the big picture, I found this to be the only big drawback of the bike.
The metal racks front and rear are very sturdy, and come with rubber tie-down straps with silicon grippers. The single sided bike stand was rock solid, easily supporting the F1000’s weight, and was not bothered in the slightest even when loaded with my wife’s panniers full of shopping. Having the assistance of the powerful 48V motor means you barely even notice the added weight of anything extra you are carrying.
My heels clipped the panniers a bit while test riding, but as with any cargo mounted on a bike, you’ll need to adjust your setup to suit.
Integrated front and rear LED lights are powerful enough to safely ride in darkness, and the integrated mudguards protect the rider from water or sand being sprayed up from the road.
Despite the excellent coverage that the mudguards provide, the electrics of this bike are not fully weather sealed. While riding on wet roads and in light rain is okay, it’s not recommended to ride the ebike in steady heavy rain. The supplier’s recommendation is that if any brand of ebike gets caught in a heavy downpour, all electrical components should be wiped dry and checked as soon as possible after the ride.
The global parts shortage due to COVID19 means the 1 x 8 shifting is handled by an LTWOO A3 rear derailleur rather than a more familiar shimano branded part. Despite being a lesser known brand, the SRAM-style thumb push levers shift up and down crisply and reliably.
The 50 tooth front chainring was combined with a 11-32 rear cassette to provide a large range of gears. Taking into account the 34kg but also the powerful 48 volt motor assistance, the ET-CYCLE F1000 flattens out hills and completely powers through headwinds that would otherwise have even strong road cyclists struggling. I was even able to spin my way up a 20% gravel climb where I was testing the wide 4 inch tyres.
The suitably named “Big Boat”, 4 inch fat tyres’ from brand CST has a large enough footprint that allows you to run fairly low tyre pressures for comfort. The tyres make crossing grassy parks a breeze. Soft sand is also dealt with comfortably and the bike is sure-footed on gravel and limestone nature paths.
Unfortunately, on my very first short test ride, I inadvertently found a patch of Goat Head (Doublegee) thorns, that defeated the Big Boat tyres, despite the “anti-puncture” claims. Keep in mind that Leon Cycles is a German brand and comes from a country where there are fewer natural threats for bike riders.
So I can hardly criticise the tyres considering I have also experienced a flat car tyre from a Doublegee thorn. Two of the thorny devils made it through the Big Boat tyres and punctured the tube, but I also removed 6 other thorn fragments that had stopped short of puncturing the inner tube in other locations. The tyres provide a decent amount of puncture protection but are not impenetrable.
However the puncture did lead to quite a struggle removing the front wheel due to the overall weight of the bike and the lack of quick release axles. Even after removing the battery to lose a few kilograms, the tight fit of the nuts into the fork meant my adjustable spanner wouldn’t easily fit and I had to use an open ended spanner to remove the wheel. I discovered that the axle system is comprised of several washers and spacers along with the main axle, which I dropped all over the floor and had to reassemble.
After this struggle, I injected tubeless tyre sealant into both tubes to prevent further incidents. In fact, I strongly recommend that anyone buying an ebike uses tyre sealant, changing a tyre on a very heavy bike is not easy!
The upright riding position of this folding bike is not ideal if you are seeking maximum power from your legs and it is the total opposite of aerodynamic. But the powerful motor fills in these gaps and the relaxed riding position and comfortable contact points encourage you to slow down, take it easy and enjoy your ride as mild exercise rather than pushing for that hard and fast workout.
You never go truly fast, but you don’t slow down much either. This is not a race bike and doesn’t pretend to be one.
Commuting on this unique machine is a very different experience to my normal lycra-clad road cycling approach where I mix it up with traffic on the roads, moderately pushing myself on the short, undulating commute to try and beat my Strava PRs.
While exclusively riding the F1000 for commuting, my mindset changed entirely. Initially I found myself trying to pedal fast and push hard as I’d normally do, but I quickly came to realise this is not the personality of this bike. It became all about comfortable cruising.
I’m able to wear regular work clothes rather than lycra. I ride on the footpaths instead of the roads (which is legal in Western Australia). And I’m happy to cruise along at or around the 25kmh limit, above which the electric assistance cuts out. I can even wear a backpack without getting sweaty. The heat of summer riding won’t stop you from sweating entirely of course.
My heart rate monitor reported around 100bpm while commuting, up from my resting rate of 70bpm, so even gently turning the legs over and letting the motor do the work is equivalent to walking around the block.
In fact, various studies have concluded that regularly riding an ebike can even have a greater net health benefit than riding a conventional bike on the premise that you are more likely to ride the ebike far more often and incorporate it into your daily routine! Irrespective of this, gentle, regular exercise is better than sitting in your car to commute, or driving to the shops.
As a point of curiosity, the overall commuting time on my road bike and the ebike were about the same. While I cover the distance much faster on my road bike, I need 10 minutes to shower and get changed. The F1000 has a longer travel time but I step off the bike and am instantly ready for work.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the F1000. It’s been a comfortable, practical, reliable ride with loads of personality. I’ve commuted more days per month during my time with it than any other month with my regular bikes. And even though most buyers will not use it as a folding bike (according to Leon Cycles), the step-through frame design really is a practical choice for a commuting and cargo-carrying bike. I even taught myself to ride no hands for the first time ever, which tells you how much I was able to trust this bike!
Given the power of the 48V motor, the enormous battery range, the integrated racks, mudguards and lights, and hydraulic disc brakes, the $2399 asking price of the F1000 represents very good value for money when comparing it against other bikes in the folding ebike category.
Those chasing outright speed need not apply, but for anyone looking for a solid, practical, long range and, dare I say, funky looking all-rounder that can help them use their car less and get riding more often, the Leon Cycle ET.CYCLE F1000 will fit the bill.
Learn more about this bike from the retailer Leon Cycle: leoncycle.com.au