I hope you’re ready for more bike talk, because this post is about my first ebike that didn’t come from Rad Power Bikes. I thought that a folding class one bike would be as much fun as a big, expensive, heavy Rad…but I was wrong.
So what was this less-awesome bike? It’s a $400 folding bike that I found on Amazon (read: bargain ebike). I was bewitched by the foldability, a handful of positive reviews, and low price. At the time of writing, the exact item is so unavailable that the page isn’t indexed on Amazon anymore, so I can’t tell how long this bike has been unavailable. Thanks to my Amazon purchase history I can still scrape the original title for you; I bought a “METAKOO Electric Bike M1, 12″ Folding Electric Bicycle with Rear Suspension, Top Speed 15mph, Up to 37miles Travel Range, City Electric Commuter Bike with Headlight and Tail Light” and I didn’t love it.
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So I bought…a $400 folding ebike. Specifically a class one folding bike from an unknown-to-me seller on Amazon.
Electric bikes are bicycles with some level of battery assistance. American buyers enjoy four levels of ebike classifications. Bikeflights.com reminds us that
- Class 1 : under 750W, limited to 20mph, pedal assist.
- Class 2 : under 750W, limited to 20mph, throttle and/or pedal assist.
- Class 3 : under 750W, limited to 28mph, pedal assist.
- Class 4 : over 750W, over 28mph, throttle and/or pedal assist.
My current experience is with Rad Power Bikes, and all models (for USA buyers at the time of writing) are class two ebikes with throttles. This little Metakoo is a class one bike whose electric assist only turns on after pedaling up to about 5mph; no throttling out of stops with Metakoo!
So why did I buy this little ebike at all? Portability. And the idea that a cheap little bike would be as much fun as an expensive Rad bike. Overall, $400 is cheap for an ebike, and common for an electric scooter. It was worth the gamble, and I can probably sell it easily.
I was initially concerned about a few little things. One was comfort – specifically pedaling with such short crank arms. Another was towing ease – because the whole point of traveling with a bike was so Kid Jupiter and I could see more than our immediate sidewalks and pavement (at the time of writing, we live in a town with zero bike lanes, and lots of hills. Biking in the streets is unsafe, so we must travel to ride safe trails). I wrote all about my first ebike and towing Kid Jupiter in So I Bought…an Electric Bike.
It’s definitely small, and a little awkward pedaling, but not a chore.
As soon as it arrived I unpacked it, and plugged it in. I took it on a short ride as soon as I could, and that short ride included the smallest hill in the neighborhood. With me alone using maximum available power the bike struggled. I got back home without needing to walk the bike, but that test showed me that 350(?) watts is too little for me. I questioned its towing capacity (Kid & trailer are 50lbs combined, I’m 140lbs).
The plastic bell was crushed on arrival, so I removed it entirely and replaced it with a bell that I had available. I liked the overall simplicity. It has one basic power button, four levels of battery assistance, one internal battery, and a plushy saddle.
Some of the photos I provide show a seat post-mounted child seat (instead of the trailer that I show in So I Bought…an Electric Bike). This seat was a $30 gamble, and a bad match with this little Metakoo ebike. Just like the bike, this seat is also no longer available, but the title was “DYRABREST Bicycle Seat for Kids, Child Bike Seat, Portable Front Mount Baby Carrier Seat Bike Carrier Safety Stable with Handrail, Foldable Foot Pedal.” The problem is that Kid Jupiter can easily reach all of the buttons…so he can (and has) turned off the bike whenever he wants to. But also the hard plastic seat is easy for him to slip and slide in, but I digress – this post is about a silly bike, not a silly seat!
- Metakoo Direct on Amazon (the bike isn’t listed at the time of writing; August 2021)
So using the bike in our hilly neighborhood was an immediate bust. But that’s not the end of the world. I bought the Metakoo M1 for transportation ease, so we planned a family ride along the river.
For clarification I bought a second trailer attachment for the Metakoo to pull our Schwinn trailer. The axle mount was definitely a bit silly because Metakoo’s rear axle is so close to the ground but the geometry didn’t give us a lot of options (scroll down for more photos). In this case the trailer attachment only fit after removing kickstand.
- Schwinn trailer that Kid Jupiter rides in (single seat, but doubles are available)
- Additional trailer hitch (on Amazon)
- Public Note; re: researching bike seats for kids
We took a Jupiter Family bike ride! Mister Jupiter on his RadRunner+, I was on my little Metakoo, and Kid Jupiter was in his trailer like usual. I forgot to turn on my trail-recording app, so I don’t know how long we rode…maybe five miles? Regardless, the Metakoo M1 folding bike just wasn’t as much fun as my RadCity ST3. The plushy saddle was definitely nice, and I never felt the trailer; so that was a nice surprise (I definitely expected to feel drag).
The few trail inclines required a lot of pedaling, which wasn’t unusual but the tiny crank circumference was awkward. It was an okay bike, but not my first choice. I haven’t reattached Kid Jupiter’s trailer to the Metakoo ever since! The big positive about the Metakoo M1 is that 8mph feels fast, so I was able to “go fast” without worrying about Kid Jupiter’s trailer speeds (conversely, my CityST3 punches up to 20mph easily, so I do have to watch that speed), be advised that the Metakoo does not come with any display, so speeds are unknown.
Overall, I learned that the Metakoo M1 does not compare to a Rad bike. Well, that’s not true; they are both electric bikes…but that’s it. I picked Rad Power Bikes over others for the available juice (again, we live among significant hills), and this bike confirmed my decision.
Don’t get me wrong, Metakoo isn’t bad; this bike just didn’t meet our needs or expectations. I would have loved this in my late teens when I walked a few miles to work; but as a toddler-toting suburban stay-at-home-blogger…it was too little for us. Too few watts, too small crank circumference, plus not being able to throttle out of stops – it’s these little things that coalesced into a dealbreaker.
Well, someone else is going to enjoy this wee bike. It doesn’t have a realistic place in our lives, and I would like to recover a few hundred dollars. So my next step is to take a few photos and try to sell this class-one bike to someone who’s ready for a little juice, but doesn’t need much or doesn’t want to spend a lot.
For the record I did find my almost-perfect bike later on Amazon. It had the wattage I need, it folded for portability, and had a regenerative battery! So of course, I bought it.
But my order wasn’t acknowledged within Amazon’s third-party seller timeline, so I wasn’t charged, and my order was never filled. But then the price went up after they ignored my initial order – so I tried again. I made a second order at the new higher price, and that order was also never acknowledged, charged, or shipped. This was very frustrating because I just wanted the bike, but the seller wasn’t fulfilling orders for whatever reason.
So what did I do to solve my problem? I went back to the seller I know that actually sells bikes, and bought a RadMini – the only folding bike that Rad makes. Be advised that foldability is not equal to being lightweight! I really enjoyed a piece of advice that recommended you haul a 70lb bag of concrete for practice because moving a folded RadMini would be similar.
At the time of writing my beautiful folding RadMini ST2 is in the garage. In the end, I’m happy that I tried the Metakoo M1. Sure, it’s under-powered for my needs, but that’s not a bad thing because it’ll be great for someone else. I’m happy that I tried to buy a different brand, because I learned that not all sellers are in the business of moving product. So the universe just gave me a lesson in being patient and I am still learning.
That’s all for now! Thank you for joining me in this new “So I bought…” Series post. If you have questions about this ebike, or suggestions overall, just comment below!
TL;DR [Too long; didn’t read synopsis]
I bought a cheap folding bike but it was too under-powered for me. I thought it would be fun, but it was “meh.” So after trying to buy a different brand (twice!), I went back to Rad Power Bikes, made a third purchase…and now I finally have a powerful folding ebike!