The Snapcycle R1 — CleanTechnica Tested

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Recently, Snapcycle sent us a new w-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-bike reviews so far: the Townie Path Go! and the 2019 Radrover. 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 Radrover, 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, this e-bike 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.

snapcycle e-bike review
The Snapcycle R1 comes with hydraulic brakes standard, even at its low price point.

Very Competitive Pricing

Speaking of pricing, that’s another thing that surprised me about this e-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 $1699. It’s a total steal at that price.

snapcycle e-bike review
Snapcycle includes accessories like the cargo rack at no extra charge.

How Does This e-Bike 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. This e-bike 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.

The Snapcycle R1 during assembly. All parts that require precision in assembly were already assembled. It was mostly a matter of installing the handlebars, front wheel, and included accessories.

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.

Final Thoughts

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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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 2021 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba