Just before the holidays, we got a cool little e-bike from Aventon to review. I’ve got a shed full of e-bikes, and several that don’t fit in the shed, but this one was unique in that I have room for it anyway. Why? Because it folds down into a fairly small size when I’m not riding it. But unlike many folding bicycles, this one feels almost like a normal bike when it’s folded out and ready to go.
The Delivery Experience
Like most e-bikes, the Sinch came in a box and came directly to my door. It wasn’t nearly as big of a box as the full-size Rad or Trek e-bikes I’ve reviewed, but it was still fairly big and heavy. If you order one, be sure to have a friend or family member around to help bring it in. But, despite being a heavy box like all e-bikes, this one required almost zero assembly. By design, it folds down into a small size, so you just need to take off the protective packaging and do some very minor assembly.
Looking at the parts the bike comes with, it’s comparable to what you’d get on a non-electric bike from a local bike shop in the $800-1000 range, so the quality is there. The e-bike doesn’t come with top-of-the-line EV parts (that would make this bike cost around $3000-4000), but they’re also not anywhere near bottom of the barrel either. For $1699, you’re getting your money’s worth for sure, parts wise.
Unfortunately, things do go wrong in shipping. One of the plastic guards for the running gear came loose, and allowed the wheel to move around in the box. This bent one of the parts in the rear derailleur, crippling the bike. But Aventon had me covered. The company found me a local bike shop they already work with, arranged for me to drop it off, and it got repaired just like new. No company can guarantee nothing bad will happen, but what sets the good ones apart from the bad ones is how they take care of you.
So, the quality and the customer service are both there.
The Small Bike That Feels Like A Big One
Making things smaller is almost always a compromise. Cars get less roomy as they get smaller, but tend to be more efficient. Little concealed carry pistols hurt your hand when you shoot them, and aren’t as accurate as their bigger cousins. A small house or apartment saves on rent or mortgage payments, but you don’t have room for as many people or things. A small phone fits in a pocket or purse easier, but doesn’t have the screen room that a tablet does.
In all of these situations, we’re always trying to find ways around the inevitable trade-offs. People in the suburbs buy a shed or two for more room, while people in dense cities rent a storage locker somewhere. Just a few days ago, Samsung revealed a smartphone that folds out on two sets of hinges to become as big as a tablet, and another tablet that becomes almost as big as a small TV.
Bikes are a similar struggle. The best fat-tire e-bikes are very comfortable to ride, can handle some rough terrain and sand, and feel very stable, but they’re hard for many people to fit in an apartment. Even if you have plenty of room at home, trying to ride an e-bike to the office means you need to have room for it there, too.
To get around this, bike manufacturers started offering quick-release wheels for easier storage and transport. This helps a LOT. Then, we started seeing all sorts of folding bikes, which helps in some situations. But, in many cases, too much was lost in translation, and you end up with an e-bike that looks like something a clown would ride and handles like a kick scooter. Those bikes are easy to stash somewhere, but too much of the riding experience gets lost.
This is where the Sinch really shines. It strikes a decent balance between compactness when folded and rideability/capability. Once you’ve folded the handlebars up, closed the tube hinge, and folded the pedals out, you’ve got a bike that still feels stable and rides well.
You won’t be able to fit this in a suitcase or a small car’s trunk, but it’ll fit in most closets and easily in the back of a hatchback or SUV. It also won’t take a bunch of space up in an office. It’s still pretty heavy folded up, but you can roll it around kind of like a backwards wheelbarrow, so it’s not terrible to move short distances (for a longer walk, you’d want to leave it unfolded if possible, and walk it like a normal bike).
How It Rides As A Bike & As An E-Bike
As with all new e-bikes I review, I first rode it for a few without any power assist to see how it was as a normal bicycle. Like most e-bikes, it’s heavy, but has gearing low enough to get out of its own way without killing your leg muscles. It has a 7-speed rear derailleur, so there’s plenty of gearing for getting up to 20-25 MPH if your legs are good for it. Even around 20 MPH on a sprint, it still feels stable.
If you were going to regularly use the bike as a bike on pavement, you’d probably want to max out tire inflation to reduce rolling resistance and make for an easier ride. Or, if you’re going to regularly encounter sand, cut the inflation back a bit to allow for more grip as needed.
Next, I put the bike in PAS (Pedal assist) 1, the lowest setting. The first thing I noticed is that there’s a slight delay and the power tapers in over half a second or so. This is actually a good thing, as it’ll keep you from destroying the gears in the hub motor assembly. Once the power does kick in, PAS level 1 is unusually powerful at low speeds compared to my other e-bikes, so having that taper was definitely important.
The high surge of power does ease off after a couple of seconds, so the bike doesn’t run away from you. In PAS 1, you max out at around 10-12 MPH assisted. Turning up to higher PAS levels raises the power it gives as well as the top speed possible with mostly assist power. PAS 5 can definitely push most any rider up to the advertised 20 MPH top speed.
Like pedal assist, the throttle seems to have a slight delay and taper programmed in. Once again, this keeps the bike from damaging itself by stressing the gears out too much (a repair you definitely want to avoid). On throttle, it will push nearly any rider up to the advertised top speed, no problem.
My only complaint about the throttle is that it’s a thumb throttle and not a twist throttle. On smooth pavement, the thumb throttle isn’t a problem at all, as your thumb can basically stay in the same spot for consistent power to the rear wheel. If you hit bumps, your thumb does tend to move up and down a bit, making for uneven power that can make the bumpy parts of a ride feel rougher. At worst, you can get a feedback loop where the bumps cause you to bump the throttle, which makes you feel the bumps more, which makes the throttle get agitated more and so on. When this does happen, it’s best to just release the throttle for a second to let things even out, and use the pedal assist instead if you need some power to get past the bumps.
Minor Off-Road Performance
This doesn’t seem like the kind of e-bike that you’d want to take on the hardest trails, but I did take it on some irrigation ditches and a particularly awful stretch of railroad easement near my house to test its abilities on sand, bumps, and even downed branches/yard waste. Nothing stopped it.
Loose dirt and even some mud from recent rains never made it slip, even at 20 MPH on full throttle. Small rocks, branches, yard waste someone threw out next to the railroad track, and even bits of wood and trash didn’t bother it. It could even climb some minor grades with loose dirt and mud on pedal assist or throttle without slipping around.
When running at around 15 MPH, I still had some reserve power and acceleration available to push through tough sections of loose material or debris before slowing down a bit to get that reserve of available power back. Doing this, it felt like a little dirt bike, even if 15-20 is slow by dirt bike standards. Just having that surge of power on throttle or pedal assist ready to go made it feel like it was something more than just a bicycle.
I’m a lot more impressed with this e-bike than I thought I was going to be. I figured that a doofy folding e-bike would have made a lot more compromises, but the Sinch strikes a very good balance that gives you not just something faster than walking, but also leaves some room for fun and off-pavement work.
Its ability to give you a surge of power when needed, but without risk to the drivetrain, makes it like a little dirtbike that you can fold up and put away. That alone makes it worth considering.
This article is supported by Aventon. All photos credit: Jennifer Sensiba.
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:
I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...